Toplady Extract

An extract from The Works of Augustus Montague Toplady (1740-1778) Vol IV, pp 313, 314

Some time after the commencement of the 17th Century, a singularly ingenious piece of spiritual allegory was published under the following title, “The Isle of Man, or the legal Proceeding in Manshire against Sin.” The author was the Rev. Mr. Richard Bernard, rector of Batcombe in Somersetshire. This performance seems to have had a great run; my copy is of the eighth edition, printed at London , A. D. 1632.
The above work, in all probability, suggested to Mr. John Bunyan, the first idea of his “Pilgrim’s Progress” and of his “Holy War”. The former of these is, perhaps, the finest allegorical book extant, describing every stage of a believer’s experience, from conversion to glorification, in the most artless simplicity of language, yet peculiarly rich with spiritual unction, and glowing with the most vivid, just, and well conducted machinery throughout; it is, in short, a master piece of piety and genius; and will, I doubt not be of standing use to the people of God so long as the sun and moon endure. It has been affirmed, and I believe the truth, that no book in the English tongue has gone through so many editions, the Bible and Common Prayer alone excepted.

Opinion is divided on how much influence Bernard's work had on Bunyan. The suggestion seems to go back at least as far as 1682 and Thomas Sherman's unauthorised sequel to the first part of Pilgrim's Progress.

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