« FöregåendeFortsätt »
EDITOR OF THIS EDITION
Few books have been published in the English lan. guage that have been so well received as the Pilgrim's PROGRESS. It has passed through a great number of edi. tions, and has been translated into several languages. Its admirers have been of two classes. Some have read it with raptures, merely as a Novel; or, The Life and. Adventures of a Pilgrim. As such, the importance and variety of the incidents, the characteristic propriety, the ease of the transitions, and the simplicity of the language, have recommended it to general esteem. Even in this point of view, Bunyan, considering the disadvantages of his education, appears a great man. Those critics who. have represented him as an enthusiast, have admitted, that he was a man of genius. “ His original and poetic genius (says one) shines through the coarseness and vulgarity of his language, and intimates, that if he had been a master of numbers, he might have composed a poem worthy of Spenser himself," Another acknowledges, that his invention was like that of Homer-and that the PILGRIM's PROGRESS is composed in a style enlivened. like his, with a proper mixture of the dramatic and nara. fative;" and therefore admirably adapted to general use: and esteem*.
• Biog, Brit, 2d edit, vol, ii, p. 11.
But those, who have a taste for evangelical truth, have admired it on another account. They have considered it as a just picture of the christian life, or an epitome of experimental religion, very happily represented under the idea of a pilgrimage, or journey ;-an idea strictly consonant with the holy scriptures, which describe a real christian, as a stranger and a pilgrim in this world-as seeking a better, that is, an heavenly country; and as looking for a city which bath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. The conviction, conversion, conflict, and comfort of God's people, are depicted with a masterly hand; and demonstrate, to all competent judges, that the author was no enthusiast, but a scribe well instructed in the mysteries of the kingdom.
“ One can scarcely meet with a case or character, amidst the vast variety of persons and incidents, that daily occur to our observation, to which we cannot easily point out a counterpart in the Pilgrim." And we may say
of it, what can rarely be said of other books, that those who read it repeatedly, still find something new upon every fresh perusal.
To render the Pilgrim's PROGRESS of still greater use, this edition is presented to the public in a form entirely new. The work is divided into distinct sections, of convenient length; the design of which is to oblige the reader to make a frequent pause: for so entertaining is the narrative, that the heart becomes interested in the event of every transaction, and is tempted to proceed with a precipitation that excludes proper reflections: so that it may be justly feared, that thousands have read it with no other advantage than temporary amusement, without the least conception of its spiritual design.
The reader is then assisted to improve those pausies, by the explanatory Notes. The Editor has availed himself of that assistance towards an explanation of the Author's meaning, which several useful annotators have offered in their editions of the work ; but he has sometimes ventured to differ from them in some particulars, and also to enlarge upon some passages which they have not noticed : for it has been complained of, that in some works of this kind, that has been explained, which needed no explanation, while obscurer parts have been omitted. The Notes are not placed at the bottom of the page, as usual, because some of those readers, whose edification he would study, may either not know how to use them when so disposed, or may entirely pass them over; which, he hopes, the younger sort of readers especially will not be so apt to do, in their present form. As they are now placed, few intelligent persons will refuse to give them a reading
Several ministers have thought it a pleasing and profitable exercise, to read and explain the PILGRIM to their people in private meetings. Should any, into whose hands this edition may come, think proper to pursue such a method, they will find some assistance from ihe division of chapters made ready to their hand, as well as by some hints which possibly might not have occurred to them.
It is also submitted to the consideration of heads of families, whether the Pilgrim, in this form, may not be 'well adapted for the purpose of reading to their children and servants on Lord's-day evenings; as affording a grate. ful variety between courses of sermons generally used at such times. The subject matter is so entertaining, that the attention of all would be secured; and the practical improvements might tend, by the blessing of God the Spirit, to enlighten their minds in the grand truths of the gospel of Christ.
The serious reader will perceive in this book, what were the religious views of our ancestors; and the important connexion subsisting between evangelical truth and christian experience. Let the proud rationalists of our day brand the former with the title of“ The Corrup. tions of Christianity,” and the latter with the name of • Enthusiasm ;” those who are taught of God will still prefer the good old way, and think it safest to trace the footsteps of the flock.-True religion is one and the same in every age, however opposed or vilified; one Spirit actuates the church of God, and travellers to Sion speak the same language. The christian, in perusing this book, will be often surprised to find how his own experience corresponds with the Pilgrim's, and to perceive how remarkably true the pictures of carnal worldlings and mere professors are drawn.