Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Bunyan-Burrough Debate > Kuenning dissertation, chapter 4
In a 1654 attack on the priests of the state church, Burrough relies on an exegesis of Deut 18:
Let all people read Deut. Chap. 18. from verse 9. to 15. there the Priests and the Levites which were ordained of God, were to have no Inheritance among the people, but the Lord was their Inheritance, and they were to have it of that which was offered up to the Lord, and this was a figure of the everlasting Priest-hood which ministreth out of the everlasting Treasure; and the Lord God commanded Israel, not to do as they did when they came into the Land, nor to go after their abominations, as you may see, but gave Israel their Land to possess that did hearken unto such as the Lord had not sent, which was Abomination to him; and the Lord said to Israel, Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God; and in the 15th verse, The Lord thy God will raise unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy Brethren, like unto me, unto him shall ye hearken; And so to the end of the Chapter; he that hath an eye may see, and the Lord is the same that he was, and he will not suffer the abominations that are committed in this Land, but is discovering the abomination of it: A horrible and a filthy thing is committed, which Jeremiah cryed against, Covetous Men preach, Drunkards preach, Swearers preach, Lyars preach, Strikers preach, and Proud Men preach: Oh wonderful! where are your eyes? Try your Priests by the Scriptures. . . .
These Blinde-Guides that are in this Land, deny the Prophet which Moses wrote of, which is the substance of the Priest-hood, which was before, and here they are found in the same Generation, in the Sorcery and in the Witchcraft, which the Lord commanded should be put out of the Land, where the Children of Israel went to possess.1
Burrough here finds all three of the major divisions of Deut 18 relevant to the problem of true and false ministry in 17th-century England. The first section, 18:1-8 (mistakenly referred to as 9-15), serves to show that the priests of Israel had "no inheritance among the people," so that the tithes they received were not comparable to those of the Church of England. Calling this "a figure of the everlasting priesthood" is an implicit reference to the argument of Hebrews, where a passage such as 7:17-18 could be used to show that Christ had rendered the Old Testament priesthood obsolete, and with it the law on which it was based and the tithes commanded in that law. Similarly Deut 18:15-22 serves as a standard Quaker argument that Christ as the risen prophet like Moses is the true teacher who is to be heard in the new covenant times.2
The middle portion of Deut 18, however (whose verse numbers Burrough cites in the wrong place), may seem less obviously relevant to Burrough's purpose. It is not usual to think of Puritan ministers as practicing witchcraft and divination. Burrough manages to make this connection in two ways. First, he connects the term "abomination," which in Deut 18:12 summarizes the various magical practices of the Canaanites, with the "horrible and filthy thing" of Jer 5:30, explained in 5:31 as "the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means." This enables him to conclude that priests who "prophesy falsely" (e.g. deny that the prophet like Moses can be heard within) and "bear rule by their means" (i.e. oppress the people with tithes) are therefore "found in the same generation" with the Canaanites, "in the sorcery and in the witchcraft."
Burrough's second method of attributing divinatory practices to Puritan ministers is through the phrase "divinations of thy own brain," as seen earlier in the same pamphlet in answer to a query by Philip Bennett:
2 Quer. Whether did the Man Christ Jesus the Son of God, slain, (in respect of Gods Decree and Efficacy of his Death) from the foundation of the world really and indeed suffer death, or dissolution of Soul and Body, as upon the Cross at Jerusalem, more or oftner than once.
Answ. Here in this query thou, Diviner, art found adding to the Scripture thy divinations of thy own brain, whereupon the plagues of God is to be added unto thee, and poured upon thee, for as thou sayst, the Man Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God, slain (in respect of Gods Decree and Efficacy of his Death) from the Foundation of the World. Oh thou Lyar, let all people see where there is such a Scripture that speaks as thou speakst here; but in the Light of Christ thou art seen, and in the life comprehended, and art for condemnation.3
Burrough here objects to the insertion of the parenthetical phrase into the text of Rev 13:8, threatening the perpetrator with the plagues of Rev 22:18. He objects, of course, because the insertion expresses an interpretation of that text which he cannot accept; the same disagreement recurs when Bunyan cites the same text.4 What is of interest here is Burrough's explanation of how this misinterpretation has arisen. In Bunyan's case he writes, "Only I find thee wresting some Scriptures, whether through subtilty, or for want of wit, I shall not judge, especially this hast thou encreased, Revel. 13.8."5 But in Bennett's case (two years earlier) Burrough does judge: "thou, diviner, art found adding to the scripture thy divinations of thy own brain."
This is an unusual usage of "divination," but unlike the cases covered in the previous chapter it is not a matter of the definition of a word. Burrough is willing to use other magic-related terms such as "sorcery" and "witchcraft" in the same connection. This is not a semantic but a conceptual realignment. Magical practices are set not in opposition to reason, as an increasingly rationalistic age would be inclined to do, but in opposition to revelation. Reason itself, therefore, can be subsumed under the concept of divination when it is used to arrive at pretended divine knowledge without waiting for genuine divine inspiration. It matters little, from this viewpoint, whether a "diviner" gets his data from the entrails of slaughtered animals or from his own brain; if God has not directly inspired his speech, he is pretending in either case that a mere natural happenstance can convey clues to God's meaning, and in either case this is a false and prideful assumption.
This concept probably underlies Bunyan's complaint that Quakers "have told me to my face, that I have used conjuration and witchcraft, because what I preached was according to the Scriptures."6 We must of course allow for Bunyan's paraphrasing here; while the shocking accusation of using "conjuration and witchcraft" is probably a direct quote, the basis for it ("because what I preached was according to the Scriptures") is most likely Bunyan's own account of what he did that provoked the insult. In Bunyan's mind, to preach according to the Scriptures is to cite scripture texts and expound them correctly. But Bunyan's Quaker antagonist no doubt saw him as expounding scriptures incorrectly, applying lengthy but perverted reasoning processes to the text, foisting uninspired meanings on the inspired words instead of depending on the inspiration of the same Spirit that gave forth the text.
For a more detailed sense of what it looked like for a minister to preach "the divinations of his own brain," we may turn to Burrough's earliest pamphlet, an attack on the priest of his home town, who (Burrough warns the inhabitants) "doth bewitch you":
Your souls are kept in the death under your dead Minister, and under his dead Doctrines, dead Reasons, Points and Uses, which he speakes from the Saints conditions and experiences, but is an enemy to the substance, and to them in whom the same conditions are made manifest in the power of Truth . . . your blind Guide and you are ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the Living Truth by his Ministry: He lays heavy burdens upon you . . . He doth bewitch you to observe, That calling is an Ordinance of God, which he never commanded: Poor people! your souls lies in the death under the power of darkness and corruption, under your dead Minister, and under his dead carnal Observances; and your dark Minds, your Wit and Reason is only fed. . . .7
Burrough's impression of a purely intellectual ministry which feeds only "your dark minds, your wit and reason" seems to derive at least in part from the priest's derivation of "dead doctrines, dead reasons, points and uses . . . from the saints' conditions and experiences." These "doctrines . . . reasons, points and uses," with the constant references to the Bible as sourcebook, are of course the staple of Puritan preaching. It is the same model that Bunyan follows, not only in his attacks on Quakerism but in most of his expository works.
In Some Gospel Truths Opened Bunyan deliberately presents his material in a highly structured format. He outlines large blocks of material in advance, covers the subject as promised, and sometimes summarizes it when done. He develops topics in sequences of numbered points, sometimes with further sequences of subpoints nested within them. He distinguishes doctrine from application, first expounding a theological topic and supporting it with exegetical arguments before explicitly turning to the practical uses he hopes his readers will make of it. Occasional imperfections in Bunyan's organizational structure cannot conceal the obvious fact of its presence as an intended feature of the discourse.
Because the Stebbing edition, used here for both hypertext and appendix, habitually smooths over inconsistencies in Bunyan's numbering, one must refer to Underwood's edition to verify the actual extent of Bunyan's use of numbered points. Imperfections in numbering usually amount to the omission of one or more numbers in a series of numbered points, but in most cases one can easily infer where the missing numbers belong. For instance, at the end of the following sequence, it is clear enough that the "Againe" represents the promised third major point, and that a subpoint 1 within it is probably implied by the following "2.":
Now, that thou mayest not be deceived in a matter of so great concernment, have a special care of these three things. First, have a care of putting off thy trouble of Spirit the wrong way, which thou mayest doe three wayes. . . . [Three numbered subpoints follow.]
But Secondly, if thou wouldst not be deceived, then have a care to avoid false Doctrines, which are according to the spirit of the divel, and not after Christ. . . . [Three numbered subpoints follow.]
Againe, if thou wouldst not be deceived, then, beware of slighting any known truth that thou findest revealed, or made known to thee in the Gospel; but honor, and obey it, in its place, be it (as thou thinkest) never so low, Joh. 14.15.
2. Have a care that thou doe not undervalue, or entertain low thoughts of God, Christ the Son of Mary and the holy Scriptures. . . .8
Although a precise count is impossible because of cases less clear than this one, it appears that there are about fifty-three sets of numbered points in Some Gospel Truths Opened, of which five (in which the points are developed at length) are preceded by explicit outlines and three are followed by explicit summaries, while thirty-five (in which the points are treated more briefly) are nested within the points of superior sequences, sometimes three deep. The length of sequences ranges from two to sixteen points, with an average of 3.9. Even in the Vindication, where the method of point-by-point refutation hinders the development of a structured outline, there are about thirty sequences of numbered points, seven of them nested, ranging in length from two to twelve points with an average of 3.8. By contrast, Burrough's two pamphlets together contain only five numbered sequences: two lists of questions (his own and Bunyan's), two lists of alleged oral statements by Bunyan and members of his church, and an abortive attempt to number all the responses in his point-by-point refutation (given up after only two items). The most obvious candidate for numbering, Burrough's concluding list of Bunyan's hundred or more "lies," remains unnumbered.
If these are Bunyan's "points," his "reasons" are no harder to find, for the main body of Some Gospel Truths Opened consists of doctrines that Bunyan explicitly sets out to "prove." He begins:
Now that there is such a thing as a Christ, I shall not spend much time in proving of; only I shall shew you, that he was first promised to the Fathers, and afterward expected by their children.9
What is disparaged here ("I shall not spend much time") is not the general usefulness of proving things, but the difficulty of the first proof to be undertaken, that Christ exists. Before long Bunyan has completed this first proof and goes on to a second:
And thus have I in briefe shewed you. 1. That there is such a thing as Christ. 2. That this Christ was promised and signified out by many things before he did come. 3. How he was waited for, and expected before the time that God had appointed in the which he should come.
The second thing that I will (through the strength of Christ) prove, is this, that he that was of the Virgin, is he that is the Saviour.10
Bunyan continues in this mode throughout most of the treatise: "And therefore that Christ is very God, I shall first prove";11 "The next thing that I am to prove, is this; namely, that by this Jesus Christ, the Son of the Virgin, the world was made";12 "yet again, in few words, through grace, I shall show, that he was made, that is, born of a woman";13 "I shall prove by several scriptures that he was buried";14 and so it continues through the "proofs" of Christ's resurrection, ascension, heavenly intercession, and second coming. Bunyan offers us "another Scripture argument,"15 "another Scripture demonstration,"16 "the testimony of God himself touching the truth of this,"17 and even, at one point, "another infallible proof."18 If the reader retains any doubts that Bunyan has proved one of his points it is not for lack of Bunyan's saying that he has done so.
Only near the end does the pattern change. Suddenly Bunyan shifts, in the course of a single numbered outline, from promises to "prove . . . that that man shall come again" and to "shew you that his coming will be very shortly," to two topics simply stated with no mention of proof: "what shall be done at his coming" and "who shall stand when he shall come, and who not."19 When he reaches the first of these he begins it with the usual pattern, "I shall shew you, what shall be done when he is come," but insensibly moves into a pattern of answering questions and objections. By the time he reaches the final topic he is no longer enumerating points but instead makes the reader state the question: "But you will say, Who shall stand when he appears?"20 He thus passes from an expository to a hortatory mode without a break in his outline.
Bunyan now begins to tell us what his doctrine is good for: "These things, though plain, yet if the Lord set them home upon thy conscience, may be profitable both to thee and me."21 "Seeing this is a truth of so great concernment, I beseech you seek to be thoroughly rooted into it by faith. . . . and the advantages will be many."22 He enumerates them: "it will comfort thy heart against persecutions, temptations, and cross providences"; "it will, through grace, wean thy heart and affections abundantly from this world"; "hereby thou wilt be able to judge of all doctrines whatsoever"; "thou wilt not be taken with any other doctrine"; this faith "will make thee labour in the work of God in the world."23 He pictures the doctrine itself as "speaking" to all people to urge them to put its implications into practice: "Now seeing the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is so nigh, even at the doors, what doth this speak to all sorts of people under heaven but this?"24—namely, another list of exhortations, to see to it that they have "laid hold on the Lord Jesus Christ" and, if they have done so, to "lay faster hold" on him.25 Bunyan's concluding paraenetic material, then, corresponds to the "uses" of the doctrine in a typical Puritan sermon.
Without attending an earthly university, then, simply by associating with men like Gifford and Burton, Bunyan has learned to preach like a Puritan, expounding his doctrines with "reasons, points, and uses." This is the very sort of preaching that Burrough denounces in the priest of Underbarrow. Bunyan's preaching style must have served to stereotype him, in the eyes of Burrough and other Quakers, as one who preached the saints' experiences of former times without himself living in the same Spirit as they did. That Bunyan "preached what I felt, what I smartingly did feel"26 probably did nothing to save him from the charge of preaching a divination of his own brain.
Though Bunyan continually outlines his upcoming arguments for the reader, the logic behind his arrangement of topics is not always easily discernible, and more than one plausible arrangement can be suggested. In his editorial introduction, Underwood offers the following outline:
Underwood's roman-numeral divisions are obvious enough, but within section III his grouping of the material, plausible though it seems, does not correspond to Bunyan's. The discovery of Bunyan's own grouping is a benefit of creating the hypertext edition, since the task of matching his outlines and summaries with the material they refer to necessarily draws attention to his own account of the arrangement.
Bunyan does not begin the treatise (Underwood's section III) with an outline of its entire contents. Instead he outlines only a small initial unit, Underwood's section A.28 Upon completing this, he summarizes it and proceeds to identify "the second thing that I will (through the strength of Christ) prove," which is Underwood's B1.29 Only after this "second thing" has been proved does he give an outline that effectively covers the remainder of the treatise.30 This outline consists of four points, which correspond to Underwood's B2a, B2b, C1, and everything else (C2-4 and D). As late as the third of these points Bunyan is still aware of his numbered outline, because he begins it "Now in the third place."31 Upon reaching the fourth point, which is much the longest, he again gives an outline reaching to the end of the treatise, this time in seven points without numbering.32 These seven correspond to Underwood's C2 (in two parts), C3 (in two parts), C4 (in two parts), and D. Probably, however, the last three ("second coming, resurrection of the body, and eternal judgment") should be considered a compound term designating what is now called eschatology, for when Bunyan reaches the first of these he calls it "the last that I promised," and once again gives an outline reaching to the end of the treatise.33 This final outline divides Underwood's C4 into three sections and leaves D as a unit.
Thus, attending solely to Bunyan's outlining and not yet regarding the content of the material, we have this arrangement: an introductory section, in two parts (A and B1), is followed by the body of the treatise in four main sections (B2a, B2b, C1, C2-D). The fourth and longest of the main sections is further divided into five parts (C2a, C2b, C3a, C3b, C4-D). Hidden among the subheads of this fifth part (C4a, C4b, C4c, D) is the transition already noted from proofs to paraenesis or "uses." Filling this in with content (and with some of Bunyan's more detailed outlines) we obtain a new outline as follows:
In this outline we see that there are two accounts of salvation history, each arranged in chronological order. Bunyan is writing nothing so academic as a systematic account of the "person and work" of Christ. He is concerned with the historic drama of salvation, a fitting theme for the man who would later write The Pilgrim's Progress and The Holy War. Though he is influenced by university-trained pastors, their influence is felt in his Reformed orthodoxy and his preaching style, not in his theological method. Not all of the course material of the earthly university could be taught in the "heavenly university" of the Bedford congregation. The subjects taught were those deemed most urgent for the salvation of souls.
But Bunyan's outline reflects only one facet of his dual agenda. This becomes especially obvious at his excursus on the nature of the light mentioned in John 1:9. Bunyan's introduction to this material highlights it as extraneous:
But in the ninth verse of this first chapter of John it is written, "That was the true light, which lighteth every one that cometh into the world." Now seeing the Lord hath brought me thus far; and because the Quakers, by wresting this scripture, do not only split themselves upon it, but endeavour also to split others, I shall therefore, before I proceed any further, speak a few words to it; and they are these that follow.34
This is designed to look like an extemporaneous digression: Bunyan has happened upon the text in John 1:9 because his main topic has brought him to that chapter. Divine providence may have planned this coincidence, but Bunyan himself has only this moment thought of the connection.
The disguise of extemporaneity is rather thin. Only a few sentences previously, Bunyan has introduced the topic of Christ as creator with these words:
Secondly. The next thing that I am to prove, is this; namely, that by this Jesus Christ, the Son of the Virgin, the world was made. And here I shall be brief, having touched on it already. Only I shall lay down some of the scriptures that hold forth this to be a truth, and so pass to the next things that I intend to speak of.35
Unlike the excursus, this purports to be part of Bunyan's original plan: it is one of those things that he is to prove, and has rated a major heading in his outline, alongside Christ's divinity, his earthly life, and his resurrected life.36 Why it should rank thus is, on the surface, unclear: Christ's divinity, the first heading, is included because Bunyan's Anselmian plan of salvation demands a Savior who is both God and man, but nothing depends specifically on Christ's role as creator. It ought to have ranked as only a detail in the preceding proof of Christ's divinity, where indeed, as he notes, Bunyan has "touched on it already." His promise to be brief on this topic is well kept, for the scriptures that hold it forth need only to be laid down, with little explication except to ensure that the references to God's Son or Word are understood to mean the son of the virgin. But his further promise, that he will then "pass to the next things that I intend to speak of," is ambiguous. It ought to refer to the next point of his outline, Christ's birth, righteousness, and death. But what in fact follows is the excursus on John 1:9.
Thus it appears that Bunyan's real purpose, in making Christ's role as creator a major point in his outline, is to provide an occasion for the excursus. The supposedly extemporaneous digression is in fact material that Bunyan feels a compelling need to include whether it fits his outline or not. And indeed it fits quite poorly. Not only would Bunyan, apart from this excursus, have no need to emphasize Christ's role as creator by giving it a prominent place in his outline, but within the excursus itself it turns out that his real interest is elsewhere. What matters in this excursus is not that Christ is the creator but that the light mentioned in John 1:9 is created. Although Bunyan states that "every man as he comes into the world receives a light from Christ, as he is God," it would make no difference to his argument if he had merely said that every man as he comes into the world receives a light from God. His point is not that the light is from Christ but that it is not Christ; hence he continues, "which light is the conscience, that some call Christ, though falsely."37
Bunyan is here fighting defensively on ground chosen by his opponents. John 1:9 plays no important role in Bunyan's own theology. It is important in Quaker theology, and Bunyan treats it "because the Quakers, by wresting this scripture, do not only split themselves upon it, but endeavour also to split others." The fact that Bunyan does this, and does it by wresting his own purported outline of positive proofs, shows that a second agenda is at work besides that suggested by the outline of his treatise. He is concerned not only to promote truth but to refute error. This might be unremarkable except that the errors attacked are no heresiological miscellany. With one exception, every time Bunyan attacks the errors of named or identifiable groups, the Quakers are on the list, sometimes in company with Ranters or others.38
Bunyan seems ambivalent about whether to acknowledge his dual agenda. On the one hand, Some Gospel Truths Opened ends with a set of "Some Questions to the Quakers, or a few Queries to those who are Possessed with a Spirit of Delusion in this Generation," where of course the "or" is intended as synonymous parallelism: the Quakers are the group possessed with a spirit of delusion in Bunyan's time. On the other hand, in his Vindication, Bunyan indignantly replies to Burrough's negative evaluation of his work:
Friend, the sum of our discourse is of the birth, righteousness, death, blood, resurrection, ascension, intercession, and second coming of the Son of Mary the Virgin, by which righteousness, blood, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and intercession we are saved. And dost thou count this a corrupted grain of Babylon's treasure?39
This duality in Bunyan's work leads Burrough to characterize it as "secret smiting the Innocent, with secret Lyes and Slanders," and to count its author among those who "Smite secretly, and Shoot in the Twilight, between Profession and Prophaneness, and forge secret Slanders, and Lyes, and seek the Life of the just One."40 These peculiar expressions well represent Burrough's style, learned in a different school from Bunyan's. To it we now turn.
Early Quakers often used language that was described by their opponents as "railing." In reply to an accusation by Giles Firmin that "the Quakers Light . . . teacheth men to revile, and throw filth upon the true Ministers, and the true Churches of Christ," Burrough replies:
for we judge it not, (neither doth the Lord) to be reviling and throwing filth upon the true Ministers and Churches, to call you greedy dumb Dogs, that seek for your Gain from your Quarter, and can never have enough; and Hirelings, that preach for Hire, and divine for Money; and Devourers of the Flock, who feed your selves with the Fat, and make a Prey through Covetousness upon the People; acting the horrible filthy thing, which Jeremiah cried against; and to call you evil Beasts, and Slow-bellies, which teach for filthy Lucre, as Paul did: And much more such like may truly be spoken of you, by the Spirit of the Lord, and no railing against the Ministers of Christ, no more then the true Prophets, which spoke the same Language. . . . for you are the blind Leaders of the Blind, and shut the Kingdom of Heaven against men, and enter not your selves, nor will suffer others, This is true upon you, and so are proved to be the Generation of Vipers, and Serpents, and Hipocrites: This is no reviling, but the Language of the Spirit of God, which Christ once spoke to such as you. . . .41
In defending the use of this harsh language "by the Spirit of the Lord," Burrough takes for granted that the Quakers he defends speak not of themselves but as mouthpieces of the Spirit. Hence he describes these terms of abuse as "the language of the Spirit of God": this is the way God habitually speaks. God has his own linguistic style, and those who are inspired by the same Spirit as the biblical prophets and apostles will be led to speak in similar terms.
Feeling himself divinely led to write, Burrough produces a text studded with features reminiscent of the English Bible. Particularly striking in this regard is the opening lament of The True Faith, which can easily be arranged in the form of Hebrew poetic parallelism:
How long ye crafty Fowlers will ye prey upon the Innocent,
and shoot at him secretly?
How long shall the Righteous be a Prey to your teeth,
ye subtil Foxes who seek to devour?
The just One (against whom your Bow is bent)
cryes for Vengeance against you in the ears of the Lord,
yet you strengthen your hands in iniquity,
and gird your selves with the zeal of Madness, and Fury;
you think to swallow up the Harmless,
and to blot out the Name of the Righteous,
that his Generation may not be found upon Earth:
You shoot your Arrows of cruelty, even bitter words,
and makes the Innocent your Mark to prey upon:
You dispise the Way of Uprightness, and Simplicity,
and the path of craft and subtilty you tread;
your Dens are in Darkness,
and your mischief is hatched upon your beds of secret whoredoms.42
Neither Burrough nor his intended readers can have been instructed in the stylistic features of Hebrew poetry. The style of this passage (of which only the opening lines are quoted) can only represent the influence of the biblical text itself, both directly and by way of the speeches and writings of other Quakers and the expectations of an audience steeped in scripture.
Not only the arrangement but also the vocabulary of this passage is reminiscent of Old Testament poetry. The last line quoted, for instance, could have been expressed more prosaically as "your idolatry leads you to do evil"; instead it brings in echoes of the hatching of the cockatrice egg as an image of evil-doing from Isa 59:5, the conception and birth of mischief and falsehood from Ps 7:14, and the whoredoms of Israel and Judah from Ezek 16 and 23, blended into an image of illegitimate birth. A more explicit allusion, scattered across several lines, is to Ps 64:3-4:
Who whet their tongue like a sword,
and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words:
That they may shoot in secret at the perfect:
suddenly do they shoot at him, and fear not.
(The italicized words here correspond to Burrough's "shoot at him [the innocent] secretly," "against whom your bow is bent," and "arrows of cruelty, even bitter words.") The just one who cries for vengeance may derive from the denunciation of the rich in James 5:4-6, conflating the oppressed reapers whose "cries . . . are entered into the ears of the Lord" in v 4 with the just who is killed in v 6.
Burrough makes other allusions in the continuation of the same paragraph beyond the section quoted above. He has "grind the face of the Poor" from Isa 3:15; "the Lord, who knows your thoughts afar off to be wicked" conflating Ps 138:6 with 139:2; "as with a Whirle-wind will he scatter you" echoing Zech 7:14; "your name shall rot" from 10:7; "the deeper you have digged the Pit for another, the greater will be your own fall" based on Prov 26:27; "your desolation, which comes upon you suddenly, in a day you expect not" from Isa 47:11; "the Song of Drunkards" from Ps 69:12; "the Diviner is gone mad, and the Wise-men are become Fools" based on Isa 44:25; and "shall fall together" probably echoing a misremembered "shall fall down, and they all shall fail together" from Isa 31:3. These are a sampling of the more obvious allusions in a single paragraph.
Burrough opens The True Faith with this heavy dose of prophetic style in order to set the tone for the entire work as written under the guidance of the Spirit speaking in him. In many of his works dated 1654-56 he manages to sustain a similar style throughout an entire treatise, especially when warning particular classes of people to repent43 or exhorting the saints to faithfulness,44 but also in some of his controversial tracts when giving long answers to a limited number of short statements or questions.45 In The True Faith he seems less able to maintain the literary style of prophecy, though as we shall see in the next chapter he still shows more interest in rebuking Bunyan for his sins than in clarifying theological concepts. The stylistic difficulty may derive from his need to engage with Bunyan's connected argument (however inadequately he may do so from Bunyan's viewpoint). Fox, answering Bunyan in The Great Mystery, seems more adept than Burrough at keeping up his usual patchwork of scriptural allusions and quotations, but he does this at the price of completely ignoring any continuity in Bunyan's argument, replying only to arbitrarily selected sentences without regard to context.
Despite the stylistic difficulties involved in writing his reply to Bunyan, Burrough never completely loses his grasp on displaying the authority of the Spirit speaking in him. This stands out especially in his repeated exhortation, "Learn what this means,"46 which copies the words of Jesus to the Pharisees, "go ye and learn what that meaneth" (Matt 9:13). Jesus' words "go ye" imply that he is not about to give the Pharisees detailed instruction on the spot, and it is left unclear how they are to discover his meaning47 on their own. In just the same way Burrough leaves Bunyan to discover by himself the meaning of a cryptic saying, a Spirit-given oracle that Bunyan must wrestle with before God. It is taken for granted that there is a right answer which, when found, will reveal not only Burrough's meaning but God's. Burrough also borrows, to a similar purpose, the words of Mark 13:14, "Let him that reads understand."48
Bunyan too, we should note, can imitate the style of scripture to set the tone for his treatise. At the opening of the main body of Some Gospel Truths Opened he creates a variant of Luke 1:1-4 (the italics here indicate where Bunyan's wording is identical to Luke's):
For as much as many have taken in hand to set forth their several judgements concerning the Son of the Virgin Mary, the Lord Jesus Christ; and some of those many having most grosly erred from the simplicity of his Gospel, it seemed good to me, having had some knowledge of these things, to write a few words, to the end, if the Lord will, souls might not be so horribly deluded by those several corrupt principles that are gone into the world concerning him.49
Like Burrough, Bunyan wishes to be seen as doing the same sort of thing as his exemplar. But in this case the biblical author being imitated is not consciously prophesying by immediate revelation, however much the text is believed to be inspired: Luke is rather compiling a historical and theological treatise with the full use of his rational faculties, and writes "it seemed good to me" instead of "thus says the Lord." It is Luke's diligent study and spiritual understanding that Bunyan claims as his exemplar, not his status as an inspired writer. This is emphasized by Bunyan's change of "having had perfect understanding of all things" to "having had some knowledge of these things," by which he disclaims for his own work the perfection attributed to scripture.
Also, having once staked his claim to be writing in the same manner as Luke, Bunyan immediately drops the stylistic device of imitating scripture and launches upon his "doctrines, reasons, points, and uses" in the standard manner of a Puritan sermon or lecture. He sustains this throughout Some Gospel Truths Opened. The imitation of Luke has served its purpose and need not be kept up.
In the Vindication, where he finds himself replying point by point to Burrough's point-by-point reply, Bunyan's preferred sermon style partially gives way, just as Burrough's preferred biblical style does. Although he continues to use numbered points within limited passages, he can no longer impose a coherent outline on the whole. The debate takes on a life of its own, forcing both authors into a framework that is harder to control. In the following chapter we shall examine the resulting patterns of interaction.
1. Edward Burrough, Answers to several Queries put forth to the despised People, Called Quakers, by Philip Bennett . . . (1654), in Memorable Works, 35.
2. Lewis Benson notes the importance of Deut 18:15 and its citation by Peter and Stephen in Acts 3:22 and 7:37 in Fox's Christology: "The speeches of Peter and Stephen are the principal sources of Fox's teaching that Jesus, who combines the role of eschatological prophet and suffering servant, is accessible to us while he occupies his exalted position on the right hand of God." "George Fox's Teaching About Christ," Quaker Religious Thought 16 (1974-75) nos. 1-2, 35. He cites Fox: "And this is the prophet like unto Moses, that God hath raised up, whom we do hear and see, as Stephen did, and have seen the heavens open, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God." Fox, Works, 5:86. Benson does not, however, note how early Quakers used the first part of Deut 18 to attack the validity of the established priesthood of 17th-century England. For Burrough, as we see here, the entire chapter serves as a single unit in contrasting the false priests with the true heavenly prophet.
3. Burrough, Memorable Works, 30.
4. Bunyan, Some Gospel Truths Opened, 30 (appendix, 274, col. 1) and connected passages.
5. Burrough, The True Faith, 11 (appendix, 274, col. 2).
6. Bunyan, Some Gospel Truths Opened, 86 (appendix, 337, col. 1). At Vindication, 185 (appendix, 337, col. 3), Bunyan names the speaker as Anne Blackly (Anne Blaykling, according to Underwood's note, ibid., 397).
7. Edward Burrough, A Warning from the Lord to the Inhabitants in Underbarrow, and so to all the Inhabitants in England . . . (1654), in Memorable Works, 2.
8. Bunyan, Some Gospel Truths Opened, 25-27 (appendix, 272, col. 1).
9. Ibid., 30 (appendix, 274, col. 1).
10. Ibid., 36 (appendix, 278, col. 1).
11. Ibid., 48 (appendix, 294, col. 1).
12. Ibid., 54 (appendix, 297, col. 1).
13. Ibid., 64 (appendix, 323, col. 1).
14. Ibid., 68 (appendix, 325, col. 1).
15. Ibid., 43 (appendix, 282, col. 1).
16. Ibid. (appendix, 282, col. 1).
17. Ibid., 49 (appendix, 295, col. 1).
18. Ibid., 72 (appendix, 327, col. 1). This need not represent any exalted estimate by Bunyan of his own powers of argument. He is here citing Luke 24:36-44, one of several resurrection appearances of Jesus summarized in Acts 1:3 as "many infallible proofs."
19. Ibid., 82 (appendix, 334, col. 1).
20. Ibid., 92 (appendix, 341, col. 1).
21. Ibid., 93 (appendix, 341, col. 1).
22. Ibid., 98 (appendix, 344, col. 1).
23. Ibid., 98-99 (appendix, 344, col. 1).
24. Ibid., 99 (appendix, 344, col. 1).
25. Ibid., 101 (appendix, 345, col. 1).
26. John Bunyan, Grace Abounding, par. 276.
27. T. L. Underwood, Introduction, in John Bunyan, Miscellaneous Works, 1:xxxi-xxxii.
28. Bunyan, Some Gospel Truths Opened, 30 (appendix, 274, col. 1).
29. Ibid., 36 (appendix, 278, col. 1).
30. Ibid., 47-48 (appendix, 294, col. 1).
31. Ibid., 64 (appendix, 323, col. 1).
32. Ibid., 68 (appendix, 325, col. 1).
33. Ibid., 82 (appendix, 334, col. 1).
34. Ibid., 55 (appendix, 298-299, col. 1).
35. Ibid., 54 (appendix, 297, col. 1).
36. Ibid., 48 (appendix, 294, col. 1).
37. Ibid., 55 (appendix, 299, col. 1).
38. The sole exception is the attack on Jewish exegesis of Gen 49:10, ibid., 39-40 (appendix, 280, col. 1). This is probably occasioned by the fact that Bunyan's outline of proofs about Christ calls at this point for some standard Christian apologetic from messianic prophecy, and the Jews have always been the stock opponents for this type of argument.
39. Bunyan, Vindication, 136 (appendix, 241, col. 3).
40. Burrough, The True Faith, 2-3 (appendix, 240, col. 2).
41. Burrough, Memorable Works, 171-172. A marginal note on the first part of this selection cites "Isa. 56. Mich. 3.5 Ezek. 34. Jer. 5. Tit. 1.11."
42. Burrough, The True Faith, 1 (appendix, 236, col. 2).
43. E.g., A Warning from the Lord to the Inhabitants of Underbarrow (1654; Memorable Works, 1-17); The Visitasion of the Rebellious Nation of Ireland (1655; Memorable Works, 77-95); A Trumpet of the Lord Sounded forth of Sion (1655; Memorable Works, 96-114); The Crying Sins Reproved (1656; Memorable Works, 168-182).
44. E.g., To the Camp of the Lord in England (1655; Memorable Works, 64-67); Several Epistles to Friends in London (1655; Memorable Works, 68-73).
45. E.g., The Walls of Jericho Razed down to the Ground (1654; Memorable Works, 18-28); Answers to Several Queries (1654; Memorable Works, 29-44).
46. Burrough, The True Faith, 8, 10, 17 (appendix, 247, 264, 304, col. 2); Truth the Strongest, 36 (appendix, 304, col. 4).
47. In context, his interpretation of Hos 6:6.
48. Burrough, The True Faith, 15 (appendix, 293, col. 2).
49. Bunyan, Some Gospel Truths Opened, 30 (appendix, 274, col. 1).