An Appreciation of John Bunyan [for his Feast Day] by Charles D. Bell (1883)

While under the thraldom of superstition, he continued to indulge in his besetting sins; he was a Sabbath-breaker and a profane swearer, and took much delight in all that was evil. A sermon which he heard on the holiness of the Lord’s Day smote him to the heart, and for a time almost drove him to despair. But he shook off these convictions, and,“kicking against the pricks,” played the madman at such a fearful rate, that even wicked people were amazed at his audacity. On one occasion, while he was garnishing his discourse with oaths at the beginning and the end, an abandoned woman who stood by severely reproved him, and told his companions to quit his conversation, or he would make them as bad as himself. This unexpected reproof cut him to the quick, and, standing by the shop-window, he hung his head in silence and in shame. “While I stood there,” he says, “I wished with all my heart that I might be a little child again, that my father might learn me to speak without this wicked way of swearing.” From that moment he left off this sinful habit, and one by one he relinquished the other sins which so easily beset him, though he was as yet a stranger to the love of Christ, and had a heart alienated still from the life of God. He was under the lash of the law. He had only reached Mount Sinai, “that burned with fire, and the blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words;” and he was distracted by terrors and alarms. “Poor wretch as I was,” he says, “I was all this while ignorant of Jesus Christ, and about to establish my own righteousness; and had perished therein had not God in mercy showed me more of my own state by nature.”

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