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The Immortal Dreamer

JOHN BUNYAN, the Bedford tinker, author of the
       Immortal Allegory, "Pilgrim's Progress," was awak-
ened through a conversation which he heard among three
women.   Here are his words:
   "This morning as I went through Bedford, intent
upon my calling, it was my lot that I should pass through
one of the streets that are nigh the High Street.
There sat three poor women in the sun, and as they
talked in the doorway I heard some of their speech.
I drew nigh to listen; but alas! ’twas such talk as I never
dreamed of ever before!   They spoke of a new birth, of
how God had worked in their hearts to show them their
lost state, of how they were once under the curse of God
for their guilt and iniquity; and then they spoke comfort-
ably of the loving-kindness of God in giving His dear
Son to die for them, and how they had been led to trust
Christ, and found in Him peace and rest for their souls.
Methought that is what I much want, yet how to obtain
it I knew not.   Then they talked of how God had visited
them and refreshed them; and said one (Mary Fenne, by
name), ‘I mind how now once when I was sore grieved
and vexed, for that the Sheriff's man seized my kettle
and lace-pillow for a church rate, I walked in darkness
by the river bank, and, as I watched the dark waters that
swept under the bridge nigh the black prison, I remem-

bered the river that Ezekiel saw, and methought its
healing waters came even to my marshy and barren heart.
It rose upon me, the sweet mercy and comfort of Jesus,
until I felt that it mattered little what men took from
me, so that they left me Christ and His Divine grace and
mercy.   Oh, but I was strong in Him, and I felt His sweet
comfort down in my poor heart, and I felt as if I must
shout to the clouds and trees of the gladness that burned
like fire in my bones.   Talk of mirth! there was never such
light-heartedness round the Maypole as filled me then.’
   "‘Aye,’ said a wrinkled and worn ancient woman
they termed Norton, ‘’tis even so.   I have known depths
of sorrow, but they have been times of deep delight to
my soul.   When my husband died of the wounds he re-
ceived in battle, my soul was stayed upon God, and I
felt my faith grasp His sweet, strong promise; and look
ye, gossips, though I have but a penny per week to call
my own, I would not give it up with the love of God to be
the great Earl of Bedford himself!
   "It seemed to me as if they were in another world far
above me; but when they talked about their temptations,
methought I knew what they meant, at least in some
degree.   Yet they declared that they had oftentimes
gotten the victory and all through the Word of God.
Methought this is indeed news to me.
   "I was struck all a-dumb at their wisdom, yet it was
sweet to me, like the droppings of the honeycomb.   And
when I opened my mind to them they made no mock
of my distess, nor did they make light of it, but bade
me come the next day to talk to their teacher, on Dr.
Gifford, and by God's grace I went to him."

   Bunyan procured a Bible, but read only the historical
books, avoiding with a strange perversity the Epistles of
Paul.   He set the Commandments before him as his way
to Heaven, and for a year lived a reformed life externally.
He was looked upon as a prodigy of piety.   His neigh-
bours, who had been shocked by his daring wickedness,
were much pleased with the change, and Bunyan, ever
eager for the sympathy of others, rejoiced greatly in their
esteem and commendations; yet was inwardly conscious
that they were not fully deserved; "for" he writes, "had
I then died, my state had been most fearful."

   "Wife," said Bunyan one day in course of conversa-
tion at home, "is there such a Scripture as ‘I must go to
  She replied, "I cannot tell;" therefore he stood
musing to see if he could remember it.   In the course
of a few minutes he recalled what is written in the twelfth
chapter of Hebrews: "ye are come unto mount Sion [Zion] . . . to
God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made
perfect, And to Jesus the [M]ediator of the new covenant [Testament],
and to the blood of sprinkling[.]"
  Then with joy he told
his wife, "Oh, now I know, I know!"   He writes, "That
night was a good night to me; I have had but few better; I
longed for the company of some of God's people, that I
might have imparted unto them what God had showed to
me.   I could scarcely lie in my bed for joy, and peace,
and triumph through Christ.   All my former darkness
had fled away, and the blessed things of Heaven were set
in my view.   These words have oft since that time been
great refreshment to my spirit.   Blessed be God for having
had mercy on me!"

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