Among Famous Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 268 pages of information about Among Famous Books.

There are indeed the three races.  There is the pagan, which knows only the fleshly aspect of life, and seeks nothing beyond it.  There is the spiritual, which ignores and seeks to flee from that to which its body chains it.  There is also that wise race who know that all things are theirs, flesh and spirit both, and who have learned how to reap the harvests both of time and of eternity.



We have seen the eternal battle in its earlier phases surging to and fro between gods of the earth that are as old as Time, and daring thoughts of men that rose beyond them and claimed a higher inheritance.  Between that phase of the warfare and the same battle as it is fought to-day, we shall look at two contemporary men in the latter part of the seventeenth century who may justly be taken as examples of the opposing types.  John Bunyan and Samuel Pepys, however, will lead us no dance among the elemental forces of the world.  They will rather show us, with very fascinating naivete, true pictures of their own aspirations, nourished in the one case upon the busy and crowded life of the time, and in the other, upon the definite and unquestioned conceptions of a complete and systematic theology.  Yet, typical though they are, it is easy to exaggerate their simplicity, and it will be interesting to see how John Bunyan, supposed to be a pure idealist, aloof from the world in which he lived, yet had the most intimate and even literary connection with that world.  Pepys had certain curious and characteristic outlets upon the spiritual region, but he seems to have closed them all, and become increasingly a simple devotee of things seen and temporal.

Bunyan comes upon us full grown and mature in the work by which he is best known and remembered.  His originality is one of the standing wonders of history.  The Pilgrim’s Progress was written at a time when every man had to take sides in a savage and atrocious ecclesiastical controversy.  The absolute judgments passed on either side by the other, the cruelties practised and the dangers run, were such as to lead the reader to expect extreme bitterness and sectarian violence in every religious writing of the time.  Bunyan was known to his contemporaries as a religious writer, pure and simple, and a man whose convictions had caused him much suffering at the hands of his enemies.  Most of the first readers of the Pilgrim’s Progress had no thought of any connection between that book and worldly literature; and the pious people who shook their heads over his allegory as being rather too interesting for a treatise on such high themes as those which it handled, might perhaps have shaken their heads still more solemnly had they known how much of what they called the world was actually behind it.  Bunyan was a voluminous writer of theological works, and the complete edition of them fills three enormous volumes, closely printed

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Among Famous Books from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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