Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Bunyan-Burrough Debate > Kuenning dissertation, chapter 8

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     More than on any other single topic, the debate as it proceeds focuses on the Quaker doctrine of the Light within. The 8% of Some Gospel Truths Opened which directly attacks the Quaker interpretation of John 1:9 (supposedly a digression according to Bunyan's formal outline) is answered by 25% of The True Faith; this in turn is answered by 21% of Bunyan's Vindication, which is answered by 39% of Truth the Strongest.1 These figures do not include material on the same topic generated by other passages in Some Gospel Truths Opened, such as the second of the devil's lies in Bunyan's opening epistle.2

Touching the Nature of Conviction

     Bunyan's section on the Quakers' light, introduced as a criticism of Quaker interpretation of John 1:9, closes with this formula: "And thus much I thought necessary to be spoken at this time, touching the nature of conviction."3 For Bunyan, the chief practical error of Quakerism is its confusion of two apparently similar but really distinct experiences, both of which may be called "conviction of sin" but only one of which is properly part of the salvation process.

     The importance of conviction of sin can be seen in Bunyan's opening epistle for Some Gospel Truths Opened, where he outlines the devil's strategy for ensnaring the reader's soul. This strategy consists of a simple initial ploy supplemented by a series of increasingly subtle tactics to be applied sequentially to souls that do not succumb to the devil's easier methods. The first stage is carnal security, in which the devil tries "to keep thee in love with thy sins and pleasures" and "to keep thy conscience asleep in security and self-conceitedness." If necessary, this tactic is reinforced with progressively more soporific treatments to benumb the conscience and lull it to sleep again, "keeping thee in evil company, as among rioters, drunkards, jesters," or seeking "to persuade thee it is but a melancholy fit." A second tactic applies to those who actually leave the City of Destruction; these encounter the Slough of Despond: "then, in the second place, his design is to drive thee to despair, by persuading thee that thy sins are too big to be pardoned." Failing this, the devil turns to that stratagem most familiar to classical Protestantism, salvation by works: "the next thing he doth beset thee with, is to make thee rest upon thine own righteousness . . . thou must earn heaven with thy fingers' ends." Yet even this may require a further refinement, for "now peradventure thou seest that thou art not profited by the works of the law, nor thy own righteousness," and so the devil will see to it that "thou forgettest thy trouble of conscience, and slippest into a notion of the gospel, and the grace thereof," while yet "thine heart be empty of sanctifying grace."4 To forget one's trouble of conscience is so dangerous that Bunyan enumerates three wrong ways of "putting off thy trouble of spirit."5

     Throughout this process the soul is becoming gradually more aware of its own sins and their relation to the wrath and grace of God. Yet even at the last stage mentioned, "thou art like to perish if thou die with this notion in thine head," and it is these "notionists" and some of the "legalists" of the preceding stage that Bunyan believes are most in danger of being seduced by the Quakers.6 Their problem is that their awareness of their own sinfulness is not yet adequate to drive them to rely on Christ and Christ alone for justification. Any faith they may have acquired so far is therefore merely theoretical, not properly connected to their own real condition. If they then make the further mistake of accepting the devil's latest heresy, they will acquire "a new and false faith" in a "new and false Christ," namely "to apprehend this Christ crucified within, dead within, risen again within, and ascended within."7

     Bunyan is therefore repeatedly concerned, throughout Some Gospel Truths Opened, to sensitize his readers to the difference between adequate and inadequate conviction of sin. The difference, it turns out, is not a matter of the number or seriousness of the sins discovered. It consists rather of two points: first, whether the agency of conviction is natural or supernatural, and second, correlated with this, whether the sins discovered include only sins against the moral law or also the crucial sin of unbelief. Before we examine this in further detail it will be helpful to place the problem in historical context.

     Bunyan is here wrestling with a difficulty endemic to Protestantism. Having declared that justification was by faith alone, sixteenth-century Protestants found that they had to distinguish between true faith, which actually saved, and an imaginary, temporary, notional, or merely historical faith, which did not. This was necessary both to deal with the observable fact that some apparent believers eventually apostatized (despite the assurance of ultimate perseverance that was inherent in true faith) and to answer the Catholic charge that Protestant doctrine would obviate the need for works of love. The solution was not that something else, love or perseverance, was needed in addition to faith, but that not everything that looked like faith was real faith. By definition, then, any apparent faith which failed to produce the predicted fruits of faith was not genuine faith to begin with. The result was a tension between the need to make true faith easily distinguishable from false faith (so that true believers could attain the promised assurance of their salvation) and the need to describe false faith as easily mistaken for true faith (so that the concept could retain its explanatory power when apparent faith proved transitory). The difficulty of the problem may be gauged from the fact that Calvin himself, writing in the Institutes on "True and false faith," says on one page that false faith "differs much from" true faith and on the next that "there is a great likeness and affinity between transitory faith and living and permanent faith."8

     By Bunyan's time various approaches to this problem had evolved within English Puritanism. One prevalent school of thought advised doubting believers to search themselves for the signs of true faith in the form of its fruits, for if credible evidence of a sanctified life could be found, it would follow that true faith and justification must have gone before. The present author has described in a previous publication the effects of this model on some troubled souls who, finding it unhelpful, eventually turned to Quakerism.9 Bunyan knew at least one work which advertised itself in this genre, Arthur Dent's The Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven; Dent says in his Epistle to the Reader that his book "sheweth the markes of the children of God, and of the reprobates: together with the apparant signes of saluation, and damnation."10

     But although Bunyan mentions Dent's book in Grace Abounding, he has little favorable to say about it, for it "did not reach my heart, to awaken it about my sad and sinful state." Quite different is his judgment of Luther's Commentary on Galatians: "I do prefer this book of Martin Luther upon the Galatians, excepting the Holy Bible, before all the books that ever I have seen, as most fit for a wounded conscience."11 Bunyan will have none of the approach that would put believers upon seeking the evidence of their salvation in the fruits of their faith, for this would amount to seeking it in their works, and works are useful only to prove one's faith to others, not to oneself:

So that we conclude a man is justified by faith without the works of the law in the sight of God, and so his own soul also, and his faith is justified, or made manifest to be indeed that which is right, both to believers, and to the world by its works.12

     Instead of urging people to look for the fruits of faith in their lives, therefore, Bunyan attacks the problem of true and false faith from a different angle. The difference between a saving and a merely notional faith is to be sought not in their effects but in their causes. This is the importance of conviction, for only the right kind of conviction can lead to the right kind of faith.

     Bunyan therefore distinguishes conviction of sin into two kinds, depending on the agency by which it is worked:

there are two things spoken of in the Scriptures, which do manifest sin, or convince of sin. First, The law, as saith the Apostle . . . "For by the law is the knowledge of sin." Secondly, the Spirit of Christ doth make manifest, or reprove of sin, as it is written, John xvi.8,9: "And when he, the Spirit, is come, he will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me," saith the Son of Mary, which is Christ. Now the law doth sometimes, by its own power, manifest sin without the Spirit of Christ. . . . Again, Sometimes the Spirit of Christ takes the law, and doth effectually convince of sin, of righteousness, and judgment to come.13

Only the Spirit can "effectually" (i.e. savingly) convince, because only the Spirit can supplement the moral convictions of the law ("as of swearing, lying, stealing, murdering, adultery, covetousness, and the like")14 with the soteriologically decisive conviction that "they believe not on me." Without this Bunyan's reader will not recognize "that thou hast no faith in the man Christ Jesus by nature" and therefore will not seek it from the Spirit, from whom only it can be received. Further, only the Spirit will go on and convince the soul not only of sin but "of righteousness," an expression which Bunyan gets from John 16:8 and interprets to mean that the Spirit convinces the soul "of the sufficiency of that righteousness that Christ, in his human nature, hath fulfilled; so that they need not run to the law for righteousness."15

     Bunyan therefore urges his reader to "beg of God to convince thee by his Holy Spirit, not only of sins against law, but also of that damning sin, the sin of unbelief."16 Suitable questions for self-examination are these:

When did God show thee that thou wert no Christian? When didst thou see that? and in the light of the Spirit of Christ, see that thou wert under the wrath of God because of original sin? . . .
     When did the Spirit of the Lord Jesus show thee that thou hadst no faith in thee by nature? And when did the Spirit of Christ convince thee of sin, because thou didst not believe in him? . . . when didst thou see thyself a lost creature for want of faith in the Son of Mary?17

     It is from within this framework that Bunyan views the Quaker preaching of a light that enlightens everyone, which will convince of sin and thereby lead to salvation. Since "light" is not a primary term of Bunyan's theology, he must find something within his own ontology to which the Quakers could possibly be referring. That they might be speaking of something which does not exist, a mere figment of their own imaginations, is not a serious alternative for him, for it is obvious that those who heed Quaker exhortations to mind the light are turning their attention to something; the only question is what it is. It is apparently something that can convict of sin; and according to the Quakers, citing John 1:9, it is something everyone is born with.

     It is clear to Bunyan that this entity cannot be the Holy Spirit, for the Spirit is not given to everyone. Even to the elect, the Spirit is first given only during the process of conversion. It must therefore be some part of the natural human constitution. Yet the Quakers attribute to this light salvific powers which belong only to the Spirit. Such a procedure is idolatrous: "because it can control and chide them for sin who give ear unto it, therefore must it be idolized and made a God of?"18 Worse yet, this doctrine is likely to captivate the attention of sinful souls vainly hoping to be saved, distracting them from seeking salvation where only it is to be found, from a Spirit they do not yet have which will direct them for justification to the man Christ without them.

     The only one served by circulating this doctrine is "this merciless butcherer of men, the devil," who

endeavours to persuade the soul that its state is good; that it hath the Spirit of Christ in it; and for a proof of the same, saith he, turn thy mind inward, and listen within, and see if there be not that within thee that doth convince of sin.19

Bunyan is astonished at the devil's ingenuity as he "begins to counterfeit the work of grace." Not only are these deluded souls led into a strict moralism which controls most of their outward sins, but they are encouraged to think they are attaining a supernatural perfection as their inner guide forces them into difficult ascetic practices. Though Bunyan's statement that "like Baal's priests, they must lance themselves with knives" is merely an analogy and not intended literally, the other practices he cites are meant to represent the experienced inner guidance of some or all Quakers of 1656: "Now they must wear no hatbands; now they must live with bread and water. . . . Now they must not speak, except their spirit moves them. . . ."20 By the end of this account it is somewhat ambiguous whether Bunyan is attributing these impulses to "the light that they brought into the world with them" or directly to the devil, who "doth transform himself into an angel of light."21

Call It Nature Itself

     In order to counteract this error, Bunyan sets out to explain what John 1:9 is really about. In what follows we note that the more recently preferred interpretation, "The true light which enlightens every person was coming into the world," does not appear in the debate; all sides are discussing the King James Version, "That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."22

     Bunyan's entire argument depends on these opening sentences:

Now in this ninth verse he speaketh of man as he is in his coming into the world, and not as he is a regenerate person. Now every man as he comes into the world receives a light from Christ, as he is God, which light is the conscience, that some call Christ, though falsely.23

Bunyan's aim here is to make the giving of light strictly a matter of creation, with no role in redemption. He makes his point explicit in the Vindication: "Christ, as he is a mediator, a man between God and man, so he doth not lighten every man that comes into the world, though as he is God he doth."24 Christ's manhood, necessary for the redemptive process, did not exist at the time of creation (Bunyan does not realize that Burrough believes it did). If the light given to all in John 1:9 can be categorized as a matter of creation, Bunyan can conclude it is not a factor in redemption.

     To some extent this reasoning depends not merely on having a conceptual distinction between creation and redemption, as any form of Christianity must, but on having a sharp dichotomy between them. Bunyan seems to be relying on the Anselmian argument of Cur Deus Homo to prove, not simply that Christ had to become man in order to satisfy for man's sin, but that every stage of the salvation process must be accomplished by Christ "as man." Anything he does strictly "as God" can have no role in salvation at all. Similarly, any inner or spiritual gift which is provided to all people must be distinct from saving grace, since within a Calvinist framework saving grace is irresistible and is not given at all to the reprobate.

     This dichotomy between Christ's creative and saving work reappears when Bunyan answers Burrough's identification of "the Light of Christ Jesus, wherewith he hath lightned every man that comes into the world" with the light which Christ says he himself is in John 8:12.25 Bunyan asks:

I pray where was Christ when he spake those words? Was he, I say, within his disciples, or without them, when he said, "I am the light of the world?" He was without them, and walked up and down in the world with them from place to place, a very man. Therefore, he did not mean at that time any light within, but himself, who was without.26

Bunyan would of course have to admit that as God Christ was everywhere (and he does not know that Burrough would say the same of Christ as man). When he argues here that Christ "spake those words" as "a very man," he implicitly makes Christ's "I" refer to himself as man only, for only so can he arrive at his desired conclusion. We have seen earlier that Bunyan is aware of the fallacy of thus limiting the meaning of a personal pronoun referring to Christ, and that he can explain the error involved at some length.27 That he fails to see he is here committing the same fallacy suggests that his attention is not really on the argument he uses but on the inconceivability of Christ "as God," i.e. as creator, doing anything to apply the fruits of redemption.

     Having thus briefly established, to his own satisfaction, that the giving of light in John 1:9 is a work of creation (and therefore not of salvation), Bunyan can easily conclude that the light thus given is a created principle and need only find a suitable identity for it among the known works of creation. On this point he has a good deal more to say, describing the inward activities of the light, as recognizable in common experience, and tying these in with various scriptural statements (none of which, as it happens, explicitly identify their own subject matter with that of John 1:9).

     Bunyan is not, in fact, totally consistent in how he identifies the light among the works of creation. In Some Gospel Truths Opened he states definitively that this "light is the conscience."28 In the Vindication he states, just as definitively, that "that light . . . is the soul of man, which . . . hath one faculty of his own nature, called conscience, which hath its place in the soul."29 Elsewhere he shows a little flexibility about the exact terminology to be used: "if not conscience, then call it nature itself; for all have not the Spirit."30 (By "nature itself" he means the principle Paul cites by this name in 1 Cor 11:14 which will teach the proper length for a man's hair.31) As the last clause indicates, what really matters to Bunyan here is that the light must not be identified with Christ or the Spirit.

     In all this exegesis of John 1:9, of course, Bunyan is not concerned solely with the proper interpretation of a text of scripture. Bunyan discusses John 1:9 because the Quakers cite it and refer the light there spoken of to something in their own experience. It is because Bunyan takes for granted this identification of text with experience that he is so concerned to show the true meaning of the text. When he enumerates the works of the light of John 1:9, he has one eye on what the Quakers say their light will do:

This light, or conscience, will show a man that there is a God, and that this God is eternal. (Rom. i.20.) This light doth discover this eternal God by his works in the world; for, saith the scripture before named, "The invisible things of him" (meaning God) "from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made: even his eternal power and godhead." This light also will reprove of sin, or convince of, and make manifest sins against the law of this eternal God: so that man, before he is regenerate, is able by that light to know that sins against the law are sins against God. . . .32

Burrough, running down this list, checks off the items one by one as correct. Bunyan has here described elements of Quaker experience so accurately, even referring them to the same text in John 1:9, that Burrough can hardly believe Bunyan wants to concede this much to the Quaker position: "Thus far thou art forced to confess Truth, (I think against thy mind) and thus far in words only we agree as in this particular."33 What Burrough does not see is that Bunyan has accepted this much identification of Quaker experience with the light of John 1:9 only in order that he may then, by imposing his own exegesis of that verse, give an entirely different meaning to the experience.

     The meaning Bunyan gives to the Quaker experience is shown in his statement that the light will "make manifest sins against the law of this eternal God"—sins against the law, but "none other than sins against the law." It will not manifest the sin of unbelief. Of its own power, without the aid of the Spirit, the light will convict of sin, but not savingly. It will not direct a soul to Christ: "neither doth it show the soul a Saviour, or deliver (for that is the work of the Spirit) from the curse wherewith it doth curse it."34

We Are about the Light

     In replying to Bunyan on the light, Burrough usually misconstrues Bunyan's expression "a light from Christ, as he is God." For Bunyan, as we have seen, "as he is God" means "in his role as creator but not in his role as redeemer." For Burrough, Bunyan's expression (which he eventually reduces to "the Light of Christ as God"35) appears to mean "the divine light of Christ." This, the very opposite of Bunyan's actual meaning, allows him to collect a number of Bunyan's statements as blasphemous self-contradiction:

O unutterable ignorance! can a sober man read this, and not be ashamed, to hold forth, that the Devil deceives souls by bidding them follow the Light of Christ (as God)? . . .
     He saith Conscience is the Light of God, and yet in another place saith, Conscience is defiled, what concurrence is here, let the Reader judge, to hold forth that the Light of God is defiled, his words plainly shews. . . .
     He saith, The Light of Christ, as God, is Conscience, and Nature it self; Mark, nature is sinful, and wicked, and all are children of Wrath, in it so are all by the Light of Christ as God wicked and children of wrath if Joh. Bunions doctrine be true, let him make it good as he can: O wonderful trash, and muddy stuff, unheard of before.36

     At Bunyan's first use of the expression, indeed, Burrough does appear to have an inkling of his meaning, but he dismisses this possibility as nonsense, and chooses not to refer to it later:

     Answ. What less hast thou said then we, except thou wilt say, he hath not lighted man as he is Christ, and so divide the Father, and the Son, which is error; for what the Father doth, the Son doth also, and they are equal in power and operation, and cannot be divided.37

Burrough is here gropingly attacking Bunyan's implicit dichotomy between the works of God in creation and in redemption. As yet the issue has not been clearly stated on either side, and Bunyan cannot see that "Father" and "Son" in the above quote are correlated with creation and redemption; he therefore replies:

Though this be true, that the Son doth what the Father doth; yet it doth not appear, that either the Father or the Son hath given the Spirit to every one that comes into the world.38

     Matters become clearer, however, when Bunyan restates his position thus: "Christ, as he is a mediator, a man between God and man, so he doth not lighten every man that comes into the world, though as he is God he doth."39 Burrough now has an explicit denial to which to reply, quite similar to what he had guessed at earlier ("except thou wilt say, he hath not lighted man as he is Christ"). He promptly turns to the text in dispute:

let any man read that first of John, and see whether he doth not speak of Christ as Mediator; he saith, He was in the beginning with the Father, and was made flesh and dwelt with the Disciples; and his Life was the Light of men, and the Light shined in Darkness; and that was he which lighteth every man that comes into the World; and he came to his own, but they received him not, but as many as received him, to them he gave power to become the Sons of God, &c.
     What sayst thou? Was not this spoken of Christ as Mediator?40

     Burrough here takes the opening verses of John out of order, indiscriminately mixing material that Bunyan would certainly wish to separate into distinct categories regarding Christ as creator and as mediator. But Burrough does not necessarily sort them in the same way that Bunyan does. Since he does not quote here the verses on all things being made by the Word, it is likely that Burrough does not think he has included material on Christ as creator, but rather understands of Christ as mediator some verses which Bunyan would apply to Christ as creator. "And the light shineth in darkness" (John 1:5) is one such, for the mention of darkness leads Burrough to regard it as part of God's response to the fall. The revelatory function is thus an important part of Christ's work of bridging the gap between God and fallen man.

     For Burrough, the light spoken of in John 1:9 is a primary theological datum. He can call it "the First principle of Religion; Even that which Condemns thee."41 It is important to recognize that this "first principle" is the light itself, not a doctrine about it. When he tells Bunyan to "learn" this first principle, he is proposing in the first place a moral and spiritual exercise, not a theological or exegetical one: Bunyan must submit to conviction of sin.

     Unlike Bunyan, Burrough does not believe in two sources of conviction of sin which differ in their content:

And surely by this which doth convince of sin, is every man in the world inexcusable; so it works for God in all men, either to justifie or condemn. And tell me, is not the Spirit or Light of Christ the only thing which doth convince of sin? Or doth any thing convince of sin contrary, or besides, or without the Spirit of Christ?42

Burrough therefore becomes impatient with Bunyan's persistent attempts to put a difference between light and Spirit.

     Even more irritating are Bunyan's efforts to put in Burrough's mouth the statement that "every man hath the Spirit of Christ" in a sense that would contradict Jude 19 (referring to some who are "sensual, having not the Spirit"). The problem here is twofold. One aspect is that Bunyan insists on using the ambiguous word "have." Burrough tries to teach Bunyan the difference between having (suffering) an inner judge and having (embracing) an inner teacher:

when thou canst learn to distinguish between a thing being given, and a receiving of such a thing, then thou mayst be answered in thy self. It is one thing in God to give the Spirit, and another thing in the Creature to receive it: He gives it to many that receive it not, to follow it and to be guided by it.43

But Bunyan (for whom there is no such thing as resistible grace) merely turns this into nonsense with an inaccurate paraphrase:

But you would make a difference between having and receiving: but I tell thee, he that hath it hath received it, (Gal. iii.2,) and he that hath not received it, hath it not. (Jude 19.)44

     The other reason Burrough resists Bunyan's attempts to turn all his statements about the light into statements about the Spirit is that Bunyan has initially set out to criticize the Quaker exegesis of John 1:9, and this way of paraphrasing Quaker doctrine appears to be an attempt to settle the question by sleight-of-hand:

then thou sayst, How feeble an argument is this to prove, that every one hath the Spirit, &c.
     Reply, Thou blind man, did I go about to prove any such thing or make any Argument thereupon; we are about the Light which Christ hath given, or lighted every man in the World withal, which Light convinceth of sin, and is not contrary to the Spirit of Christ; unto this was I speaking, and this I stand by, and thou conceives another thing from my words, and fights against thy own consequences, like a man too irrational to understand common English, &c.45

     It is in the light of this repeated frustration that we must understand Burrough's retort somewhat further on:

thou sayst, My speech bewrayeth me, that I am one of them [that utter "sad Blasphemies and horrible Doctrines"], because sayst thou, I say that every man hath the Spirit of Christ.
     O thou lying tongue, when wilt thou cease thy wickednesse! I never said, nor thought so.46

Burrough has indeed said things that are at least verbally similar to this, but never in the sense Bunyan attributes to him (that every man accepts the Spirit of Christ), and he is by this time fed up with repetitions of the charge.

     Experientially, the main point at issue between Bunyan and Burrough is how many ways there are of being convinced of sin. For Bunyan there are two, for Burrough only one. The difference in content which Bunyan sees between his two types of conviction is that the Spirit convicts of more than sins against the law. To this Burrough retorts: "It seems there is some sin, against which there is no Law, by thy confused Story, or that the Law is not against all sin."47 Unbelief, the exception Bunyan has in mind, is no exception at all in Burrough's mind: "this thou canst not do, though thou wouldst prove, if thou couldst, that unbelief is not a sin against the Law of God."48

     For Burrough, therefore, it makes no sense to urge people, as Bunyan does, to seek to be convinced of sin in the right way. To do so could amount to an evasion of the only kind of conviction of sin there is—particularly if Bunyan's doctrine frightens people off from the rebukes of the light:

this thou makest a thing of little account, to be convicted of sins against the Law, by the Light of Christ; for there is nothing else that doth convince of sin. (mind that)49

     Just as, for Bunyan, conviction by the Spirit, which includes conviction for unbelief, leads to a saving faith in Christ, so for Burrough, conviction by the light (when not resisted) leads to the revelation of Christ within:

And thou sayst, It doth not shew the Soul a Saviour, or Deliverer, &c.
     Answ. Thou art here in a Lye, for the Light which comes from Christ doth manifest a Saviour, and Deliverer, and nothing else; for if the Light of Christ doth not shew Christ, what then can, unto every one that walkes in the Light?50

In doing so it also leads to righteousness, both in the extirpation of the sin that the light condemns and in the acting of righteousness by Christ who lives within:

for he which convinceth of sins against the Law leads up into the fulfilling of the Law; and though thou and thy Generation would leap over the Law, yet must the righteousness of it in Judgment be fulfilled upon you, and by Christ Jesus in you, if ever you receive the Salvation to your Souls. Learn what it means.51

(The expression "leap over the law" which Burrough uses here appears, on the basis of another exchange,52 to be his rendition of Bunyan's "not to seek or look for justification thereby."53)

     It would be interesting to have a more extensive description by Burrough of how this process works, but it appears that he is not inclined to provide systematic accounts of the steps of salvation. Following the role model provided by Fox in Burrough's own Quaker conversion, Burrough sees his task as a preacher to be that of bringing people face to face with the light that will convince them of sin; if he is successful in this he will not need to urge his hearers to seek conviction or to explain how they can recognize it, for they will have arrived at it, and the light that shows them their sins will be sufficient to show them their Savior.

     Perhaps, therefore, the nearest thing we can find in Burrough to a description of the process of conviction and conversion is his autobiographical account. After telling of his early pilgrimage through various sects and persuasions, he comes to his encounter with a prophetic minister who brings him face to face with conviction by the light:

then it pleased the Lord to send his true and faithful Servant and Messenger, who is called according to the flesh, G. Fox, he spoke the language which I knew not, notwithstanding all my high talking, for it was higher, and yet lower: And it pleased the Lord to speak to me by him, that I was in the prodigal state, and above the Cross of Christ, and not in the pure fear of the Lord, but full of corruption and the old nature, though I had professed freedom, yet it was but such as the Jews professed; for I saw my self to be in bondage to my own Will, and to my own Lust;

This leads to an inner apocalypse typical of Quaker convincements of the 1650s:

and through the Word of the Lord spoken to me by him, I began to see my self (the witness being raised) where I was, and what I had been doing, and saw I had been making an image to the first Beast, which had the Wound by a Sword and did live, whose deadly Wound was healed, and was full of Airy Notions and Imaginations, and was worshipping the image which I had made; and then I saw my self to be a Child of Wrath, and that the Son of the Bond-Woman lived, & that Harlots had been my Companions, and was no more worthy to be called a Son: Then trouble and distress came upon me, such as was not since the beginning of the world, and I was at my wits end, and a day of thick darkness and trouble, a day of weeping, and mourning, and misery, and a day of vengeance and recompence, came upon me, such as I had never known; one vial of Wrath after another, the great Whore was to be judged, and to drink of the Wine of the wrath of God, which had made me once drunk with the Wine of her Fornication,

Thus far we have what Burrough calls "the righteousness of it in Judgment . . . fulfilled upon you"; what follows corresponds to "and by Christ Jesus in you":

and then I separated from all the glory of the World, and from all my Acquaintance, and kindred, and betook my self to the company of a poor despised and contemned people called Quakers . . . and now I am despised of my neighbors and carnal acquaintance, and is not greater then my Lord who was called a Blasphemer and a Deceiver, as now I am; but praised, praised be the Lord for evermore, who hath separated me from the World and worldly glories, and hath made me a partaker of his Love, in whom my Soul hath full satisfaction joy and content: Thus have I travelled through the World, even unto the end, and am now come to the beginning of that which never shall have end, which the dark mind of man knows not. E. B.54     

Burrough thus leaves us with the sense that we will never really know what he and his Friends have come to until we follow on the same path.


     1. Bunyan, Some Gospel Truths Opened, 55-64; Burrough, The True Faith, 15-22; Bunyan, Vindication, 162-182; Burrough, Truth the Strongest, 32-46 (appendix, 298-323, cols. 1, 2, 3, 4).

     2. Bunyan, Some Gospel Truths Opened, 17 (appendix, 260, col. 1).

     3. Ibid., 64 (appendix, 323, col. 1).

     4. Ibid., 13-15 (appendix, 250-251, col. 1).

     5. Ibid., 25 (appendix, 272, col. 1).

     6. Ibid., 15-16 (appendix, 251, 257-258, col. 1).

     7. Ibid., 20 (appendix, 266, col. 1).

     8. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, III.ii.12; ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1965), 556, 557.

     9. Larry Kuenning, "'Miserable Comforters': Their Effect on Early Quaker Thought and Experience" (Quaker Religious Thought #76, Oct. 1992), pp. 45-59.

     10. Arthur Dent, The Plaine Mans Path-way to Heaven (London, 1601; reprint, Amsterdam: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum; Norwood, N.J.: Walter J. Johnson, 1974), page before 1.

     11. Bunyan, Grace Abounding, par. 15-16, 130.

     12. Bunyan, Vindication, 159 (appendix, 289, col. 3).

     13. Bunyan, Some Gospel Truths Opened, 59-60 (appendix, 316-317, col. 1).

     14. Ibid., 60 (appendix, 318, col. 1).

     15. Ibid., 62 (appendix, 322, col. 1).

     16. Ibid., 24 (appendix, 270, col. 1).

     17. Ibid., 93-94 (appendix, 341-342, col. 1).

     18. Bunyan, Vindication, 147-148 (appendix, 262, col. 3).

     19. Bunyan, Some Gospel Truths Opened, 58 (appendix, 309, col. 1).

     20. Ibid., 59 (appendix, 312-313, col. 1). Both Burrough and Fox in commenting on this passage object more to Bunyan's value judgments than his reporting: Burrough, The True Faith, 19 (appendix, 313-314, col. 2); Fox, Works, 3:345.

     21. Bunyan, Some Gospel Truths Opened, 59 (appendix, 312-313, col. 1).

     22. The present author is more inclined toward the older interpretation, on the grounds that in the relatively simple Greek of John's gospel erchomenon is too close to anthropon to be easily construed with en to phos.

     23. Bunyan, Some Gospel Truths Opened, 55 (appendix, 299, col. 1).

     24. Bunyan, Vindication, 162-163 (appendix, 299, col. 3).

     25. Burrough, The True Faith, 9-10 (appendix, 260-261, col. 2).

     26. Bunyan, Vindication, 147 (appendix, 261, col. 3).

     27. Above, 133-135.

     28. Bunyan, Some Gospel Truths Opened, 55 (appendix, 299, col. 1).

     29. Bunyan, Vindication, 147 (appendix, 261-262, col. 3).

     30. Ibid., 163 (appendix, 300, col. 3).

     31. Bunyan, Some Gospel Truths Opened, 56 (appendix, 301, 303, col. 1).

     32. Ibid., 55-56 (appendix, 300-301, col. 1).

     33. Burrough, The True Faith, 16 (appendix, 303, col. 2).

     34. Bunyan, Some Gospel Truths Opened, 64 (appendix, 323, col. 1).

     35. Burrough, Truth the Strongest, 35 (appendix, 303, col. 4).

     36. Ibid., 57-58 (appendix, 373-374, col. 4).

     37. Burrough, The True Faith, 15 (appendix, 299, col. 2).

     38. Bunyan, Vindication, 163 (appendix, 300, col. 3).

     39. Ibid., 162-163 (appendix, 299, col. 3).

     40. Burrough, Truth the Strongest, 33 (appendix, 299, col. 4).

     41. Ibid., 23 (appendix, 265, col. 4).

     42. Burrough, The True Faith, 17 (appendix, 306, col. 2).

     43. Ibid., 26 (appendix, 354, col. 2).

     44. Bunyan, Vindication, 188 (appendix, 354, col. 3).

     45. Burrough, Truth the Strongest, 34 (appendix, 301-302, col. 4).

     46. Ibid., 43 (appendix, 315, col. 4).

     47. Burrough, The True Faith, 22 (appendix, 321, col. 2).

     48. Burrough, Truth the Strongest, 46 (appendix, 321, col. 4).

     49. Burrough, The True Faith, 10 (appendix, 261-262, col. 2).

     50. Ibid., 22 (appendix, 323, col. 2).

     51. Ibid., 10 (appendix, 264, col. 2).

     52. Burrough, Truth the Strongest, 46 (appendix, 321, col. 4).

     53. Bunyan, Vindication, 181 (appendix, 321, col. 3).

     54. Burrough, A Warning from the Lord to the Inhabitants of Underbarrow (1654), in Memorable Works, 15-16.

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