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ELSTOW. Every one who knows any thing of John Bunyan, the immortal author of the “ Pilgrim's Progress,” is aware that he was born at the little village of Elstow, near Bedford.* Our engraving this month gives a general view of that place from an original drawing lately made, the cottage on the left-hand, being that in which our author first saw the light, and in which he resided.
Bunyan has furnished so full an account of himself in his tract entitled “ Grace abounding to the chief of sinners,” that his subsequent biographers have added little to this interesting narrative. Born in very humble circumstances, he passed his youth in all kinds of vice and profligacy,t not however unchecked by occasional qualms of conscience, which at times induced him to set about an outward reformation ; but he does not appear to have received any permanent impressions for good until his interview with the good women of Bedford, so touchingly described by his own pen. After this, he opened his mind
• See our volume for 1846, page 211.
This has been doubted; but we think unjustly, if we rightly read $. 9, and other passages in his “Grace Abounding."
to "holy Mr. Gifford,” under whose ministry he sat, and who appears to have been a chief instrument in his edification and growth in grace.
Of this good man, few particulars are before the public: it is therefore with peculiar gratification that we publish the following cotemporary account, transcribed verbatim et literatim from the old church book of his own meeting-house, at Bedford, entitled “ A BOOKE containing a record of the Acts of a Congregation of Christ, in and about Bedforb. And a Briefe account of their first GATHERING."
“When it pleased God (who had before appointed that holy ordinance of the communion of saints) to shew His mercy to this people, he placed Mr. John Gifford among them for their minister in Christ Jesus, and to be their pastor and bishop, and the steward of God, to communicate unto them the knowledge of his will in the holy mysteries of the gospel. Of whom (because there appeared a more then ordinary hand of God in his call to the ministry, and his place and office among them) take this short relation of him both before and after grace received.
“Mr. Gifford was a Kentish man, a great Royalist ; and an officer (viz. : a major) in ye king's army: he had also his hand in that rising that was in that county, for which he was also apprehended, and adjudged with eleven more to the gallowes. But the night before he was to dye, his sister coming to visit him, and finding the sentinells that kept the doore, asleep, and those also, his companions, heavy through drinke, she told him of the doore, and the watch that stood before it; and entreated him to take the opportunity to escape and save his lyfe, which also he did, and passed through them all, there being, as it were, a deep sleep from the Lord upon them, and made his escape into ye field, and creeping into the bottom of a ditch, lay there about three dayes till the great search for him was over, and then by the help of his friends, he came disguised to London, where he abode not long, but was conveyed downe into this county, where he also lay hid from his enemyes in the houses of certaine great persons who were of like-minde with himself.
“And after a while, he came to Bedford, and there being rtterly a stranger, he professed and practised physicke, but