A note

This blog exists to allow me to post on Jessica Hoff’s blog here:

http://jessicahof.wordpress.com/wp-admin/

I will use it from time to time to post things unsuitable for that forum.

 

GRSS

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Why Bedford Gaol?

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(c) Museums Sheffield; Supplied by The Public Catalogue FoundationBunyan wrote one of the greatest works of English Literature there. When I was a lad, Pilgrim’s Progress was one of few books in our house. My father, who was not a believer, indeed was the opposite, nonetheless thought Bunyan a great Englishman, and his book one I should read. Not that he’s buy it me, for that it was necessary to save my pocket money. I did, and for 2/6d I bought my copy in the good old Everyman Library series; I have it to this day.

Bunyan was in gaol because he broke the law of the land. It was a very bad law, as those passed by sectarian parliaments often are. The Conventicle Act of 1664 was designed to stamp out Nonconformity and drive us all back into the Church of England. What fools those folk were. A true-born Englishman told how he should worship? Had they not seen our forefathers in the previous generation depart for Plymouth Rock? Well, more went then. But many more stayed. Our forefathers went to gaol rather than bow the knee. If we were a stiff-necked set of fellows before they tried bullying us, we were twice that after.

Our forefathers abided on the hill-side like the people of Israel listening to Jesus. We were not to be controlled, we were not to be frightened or coerced. It produced what what sort of thing does – winnowed wheat.

It also produced what is still, for me the greatest work of literature produced by an Englishman. The story of Pilgrim’s journey to the Celestial City is one not, I fear, oft read now. But it should be. There’s a story for us all in it.

In the picture on the banner I pay a tribute to my other hero – John Wesley. I began as a Methodist, and ended as a Baptist, but the love of Wesley has never left me.  Bunyan and Wesley were the best type of free-born Englishman. May their memory live forever.