Acacia John Bunyan

Life and Death
Mr. Badman,
Presented to the World in a
Familiar Dialogue Between
Mr. Wiseman and Mr. Attentive.

By J O H N.B U N Y A N.


Published two years after Pilgrim's Progress.


The life of Badman is a very interesting description, a true and lively portraiture, of the demoralized classes of the trading community in the reign of King Charles II; a subject which naturally led the author to use expressions familiar among such persons, but which are now either obsolete or considered as vulgar. In fact it is the only work proceeding from the prolific pen and fertile imagination of Bunyan, in which he uses terms that, in this delicate and refined age, may give offence.

Note from Judith Bronte: George Offor wrote these words in the 1800's.

So, in the venerable translation of the holy oracles, there are some objectionable expressions, which, although formerly used in the politest company, now point to the age in which it was written. The same ideas or facts would now be expressed by terms which could not give offence; and every reader must feel great pleasure in the improvement of our language, as seen in the contrast between the two periods, and especially in the recollection that the facts might be stated with equal precision, and reflections made with equal force, in terms at which the most delicate mind could not be offended.

Those who read the writings of Bunyan must feel continually reminded of his ardent attachment to his Saviour, and his intense love to the souls of sinners. He was as delicate in his expressions as any writer of his age, who addressed the openly vicious and profane–calling things by their most forcible and popular appellations. A wilful untruth is, with him, 'a lie.' To show the wickedness and extreme folly of swearing, he gives the words and imprecations then commonly in use; but which, happily for us, we never hear, except among the most degraded classes of society. Swearing was formerly considered to be a habit of gentility; but now it betrays the blackguard, even when disguised in genteel attire. Those dangerous diseases which are so surely engendered by filth and uncleanness, he calls not by Latin but by their plain English names. In every case, the Editor has not ventured to make the slightest alteration; but has reprinted the whole in the author's plain and powerful language.

The life of Badman forms a third part to the Pilgrim's Progress, not a delightful pilgrimage to heaven, but, on the contrary, a wretched downward journey to the infernal realms. The author's object is to warn poor thoughtless sinners, not with smooth words, to which they would take no heed; but to thunder upon their consciences the peril of their souls, and the increasing wretchedness into which they were madly hurrying. He who is in imminent, but unseen danger, will bless the warning voice if it reach his ears, however rough and startling the sound may be.

The life of Badman was written in an age when profligacy, vice, and debauchery, marched like a desolating army through our land, headed by the king, and officered by his polluted courtiers; led on with all the pomp and splendour which royalty could display. The king and his ministers well knew that the most formidable enemies to tyranny, oppression, and misgovernment, were the piety and stern morality of the Puritans, Nonconformists, and the small classes of virtuous citizens of other denominations; and therefore every effort was made by allurements and intimidation to debauch and demoralize their minds. Well does Bunyan say that 'wickedness like a flood is like to drown our English world. It has almost swallowed up all our youth, our middle age, old age, and all are almost carried away of this flood. It reels to and fro like a drunkard, it is like to fall and rise no more.' 'It is the very haunts and walks of the infernal spirits.' 'England shakes and makes me totter for its transgressions.'

The gradations of a wicked man in that evil age, from his cradle to his grave, are graphically set before the reader; it is all drawn from reality, and not from efforts of imagination. Every example is a picture of some real occurrence, either within the view of the author, or from the narratives of credible witnesses. 'All the things that here I discourse of, have been acted upon the stage of this world, even many times before mine eyes.' Badman is represented as having had the very great advantage of pious parents, and a godly master, but run riot in wickedness from his childhood. Lying and pilfering mark his early days; followed in after life by swearing, cheating, drunkenness, hypocrisy, infidelity and atheism. His conscience became hardened to that awful extent, that he had no bands in his death. The career of wickedness has often been so pictured, as to encourage and cherish vice and profanity–to excite the unregenerate mind 'to ride post by other men's sins.'
[1] Not so the life of Badman. The ugly, wretched, miserable consequences that assuredly follow a vicious career, are here displayed in biting words–alarming the conscience, and awfully warning the sinner of his destiny, unless happily he finds that repentance that needeth not to be repented of. No debauchee ever read the life of Badman to gratify or increase his thirst for sin. The tricks which in those days so generally accompanied trading, are unsparingly exposed; becoming bankrupt to make money, a species of robbery, which ought to be punished as felony; double weights, too heavy for buying, and light to sell by, overcharging those who take credit, and the taking advantage of the necessities of others, with the abuse of evil gains in debauchery, and its ensuing miseries, are all faithfully displayed.

In the course of the narrative, a variety of awful examples of divine vengeance are introduced; some from that singular compilation, Clarke's looking-glass for Saints and Sinners; others from 'Beard's theatre of God's Judgments' and many that happened under the author's own immediate knowledge. The faithfulness of his extracts from books has been fully verified. The awful death of Dorothy Mately, of Ashover, in Derbyshire, mentioned, I had an opportunity of testing, by the aid of my kind friend, Thomas Bateman, Esq., of Yolgrave. He sent me the following extract from the Ashover Register for 1660:– 'Dorothy Mately, supposed wife to John Flint of this parish, forswore herself; whereupon the ground opened, and she sunk over head, March 23, and being found dead, she was buried, March 25.' Thus fully confirming the facts, as stated by Bunyan. Solemn providences, intended, in the inscrutable wisdom of God, for wise purposes, must not be always called 'divine judgments.' A ship is lost, and the good with the bad, sink together; a missionary is murdered; a pious Malay is martyred; still no one can suppose that these are instances of divine vengeance. But when the atrocious bishop Bonner, in his old age, miserably perishes in prison, it reminds us of our Lord's saying, 'with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.'

Bunyan's pictures, of which the life of Badman is a continued series, are admirably painted from life. The extraordinary depths of hypocrisy, used in gaining the affections of a pious wealthy young woman, and entrapping her into a marriage, are admirably drawn, as is its companion or counterpart, when Badman, in his widower- hood, suffers an infamous strumpet to inveigle him into a miserable marriage, as he so richly deserved. The death-bed scene of the pious broken-hearted Mrs. Badman, is a masterpiece. In fact the whole is a series of pictures drawn by a most admirable artist, and calculated to warn and attract the sinner from his downward course.

In comparison with the times of Bunyan, England has now become wonderfully reformed from those grosser pollutions which disgraced her name. Persons of riper age, whose reminiscences go back to the times of the slave trade, slavery, and war, will call to mind scenes of vice, brutality, open debauchery and profligacy, which, in these peaceful and prosperous times, would be instantly repressed and properly punished. Should peace be preserved, domestic, social, and national purity and happiness must increase with still greater and more delightful rapidity. Civilization and Christianity will triumph over despotism, vice, and false religions, and the time be hastened on, in which the divine art of rendering each other happy will engross the attention of all mankind. Much yet remains to be done for the conversion of the still numerous family connections of Mr. Badman; but the leaven of Christianity must, in spite of all opposition, eventually spread over the whole mass.

Homely proverbs abound in this narrative, all of which are worthy of being treasured up in our memories. Is nothing so secret but it will be revealed? we are told that 'Hedges have eyes and pitchers have ears.' They who encourage evil propensities are 'nurses to the devil's brats.' It is said of him who hurries on in a career of folly and sin, 'The devil rides him off his legs.' 'As the devil corrects vice,' refers to those who pretend to correct bad habits by means intended to promote them. 'The devil is a cunning schoolmaster.' Satan taking the wicked into his foul embraces is 'like to like, as the devil said to the collier.'

In two things the times have certainly improved. Bunyan describes all 'pawnbrokers' to have been 'vile wretches,' and, in extortion, the women to be worse than the men. Happily for our days, good and even pious pawnbrokers may be found, who are honourable exceptions to Mr. Bunyan's sweeping rule; nor do our women in any respect appear to be greater extortioners than our men. The instructions, exhortations, and scriptural precepts and examples to enforce honest dealing, interspersed as reflections throughout this narrative, are invaluable, and will, I trust, prove beneficial to every reader.

I have taken the liberty of dividing this long-continued dialogue into chapters, for the greater facility of reference, and as periods in the history, where the reader may conveniently rest in his progress through this deeply interesting narrative.


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[1] Reynolds' preface to God's Revenge against Murder.