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Since the middle of the nineteenth century, there has been no complete edition of Bunyan's works. The author who is known to the world for The Pilgrim's Progress was a prolific preacher and writer. As his first editor and friend, Charles Doe, the comb-maker of Southwark, said: 'Here are Sixty Pieces of his Labours and he was Sixty Years of Age.' Apart from his spiritual autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, and the three allegorical fictions, The Pilgrim's Progress, The Life and Death of Mr Badman, and The Holy War, these include sermons, theological treatises, biblical commentaries, and controversial works directed against the Quakers, the Latitudinarians (in the person of Edward Fowler), and the strict-communion Baptists; all these works are cast in the form of the popular sermon, with analysis of the text, abundant quotation from Scripture, a frequent employment of numbered heads and a meeting of objections by a series of questions and answers, and 'uses' or applications of the doctrine extracted from the text (these last usually conclude the work).

The purpose of this edition is to present all that Bunyan wrote in a text based on the earliest available editions, but incorporating those additions and revisions in later editions published during the author's lifetime which may reasonably be judged to have been made by him or to have received his approval. In fact, the method is that observed in the Oxford editions of Grace Abounding, The Pilgrim's Progress, and The Holy War. As in those editions, colloquial forms and irregular grammar (such as plural subjects with singular verbs) have been retained. The punctuation, capitalization, and italicization are those of the originals, though here the editors have corrected obvious printers' errors and inconsistencies, and anything in the accidentals which might be merely confusing to the reader. A short textual introduction with title-page transcriptions precedes each work; it includes information on the printers, a list of seventeenth-century editions, and a mention of later reprints that are of any importance.

The reader of Bunyan's Miscellaneous Works is as likely to be a social or ecclesiastical historian, a theologian or a psychologist, as a literary pg viiistudent. The introductions to the various works thus aim to give an adequate account of the background of Nonconformist life in the period, as well as of Bunyan's own life and career as minister of the Bedford separatist church and visitor to its associated churches in the eastern counties and in London. Explanatory notes have been kept to a minimum. However, a good measure of individual freedom has been left to editors in respect of the introductions and notes; it seemed, for instance, that The Doctrine of the Law and Grace Unfolded, Bunyan's chief theological treatise, required a fairly full consideration of his particular version of the theology of the two covenants, a dialectical system which may be said to provide the basic structure informing every work in these volumes, and indeed underlying the drama of salvation and damnation in The Pilgrim's Progress and other allegories.

The first attempt at a complete edition was that of Charles Doe in the Folio of 1692. This was announced in an advertisement in Mercurius Reformatus for 11 June 1690:

Mr. John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim's Progress, and many other excellent Books, that have found great acceptance, hath left behind him Ten Manuscripts prepared by himself for the Press before his Death: His Widow is desired to print them (with some other of his Works, which have been already printed but are at present not to be had), which will make together a book for 10s. in sheets, in Fol. All persons who desire so great and good a work should be performed with speed, are desired to send in 5s. for their first payment to Dorman Newman, at the King's Arms in the Poultrey, London: Who is empower'd to give receipts for the same.

A year later, Doe issued a pamphlet, The Struggler (1691), telling of his efforts to bring out a collected edition of his friend's works. But when the Folio finally appeared, it contained only ten works apart from the previously unpublished ones obtained from Bunyan's widow and her son John. These were, in the order in which they appeared: Saved by Grace, Christian Behaviour, I Will Pray with the Spirit, The Strait Gate, Gospel-Truths Opened, A Vindication of Some Gospel-Truths Opened, Light for Them that Sit in Darkness, Instruction for the Ignorant, The Holy City: Or, The New Jerusalem, The Resurrection of the Dead. It seems likely that Doe ran into trouble over copyrights, and was therefore not able to bring out the second volume that he had planned. It is noteworthy that pg ixnone of Bunyan's best-selling books is represented in the Folio; it is difficult to imagine Nathaniel Ponder, another publisher in the Poultry, surrendering his control over that valuable property The Pilgrim's Progress; and it is significant that the Folio was finally published by William Marshall, and not by Dorman Newman, who had issued both editions of The Holy War. The Folio was published by subscription, and the many copies extant suggest that the subscription list was a long one.

A second edition of the Folio was issued in 1736–7, and this included the second volume with those writings which Doe had been unable to assemble. The edition was edited by Ebenezer Chandler and Samuel Wilson (the son of Bunyan's friend John Wilson) and published by E. Gardner and John Marshall (the son of William Marshall). Three books were still not included, but these are found in the third edition of the collected works which appeared in two volumes in 1767, and was thus the first truly complete edition. There is a preface by George Whitefield. Another collected edition in six volumes by Alexander Hogg appeared in 1780.

In 1853 the complete works were re-edited by the devoted Bunyan scholar, George Offor. In the twentieth century this has continued to be the only collected edition available to the scholar. It contains an amount of painstaking if amateurish bibliographical information, and a verbose and often melodramatic evangelical commentary; as John Brown (Bunyan's biographer and minister of Bunyan Meeting, Bedford, 1854–1903) said: 'His notes … are occasionally a little superfluous, sometimes indeed raising a smile by their very simplicity.' Offor's edition was revised and reissued in three volumes (Edinburgh and London, 1860–2). There was also an edition in four volumes by Henry Stebbing (1859).

The great disaster of Bunyan studies was the fire which destroyed a great part of the Offor collection when it was to be auctioned at Sotheby's in 1865 (Tuesday, 29 June). Many of the surviving volumes came into the possession of Sir Leicester Harmsworth, and at the sale of the Harmsworth Collection at Sotheby's in February 1947 passed into various public libraries. Some remained in the family or were bought back by it, and at the death of Richard Offor, George Offor's grandson and former Librarian of the University of Leeds, were pg xpresented to Elstow Moot Hall in Bunyan's birthplace. Several of the copies consulted by the present editors are bady charred books from the Offor collection.

Coleridge once drew a distinction between the Bunyan of genius and the Bunyan of the conventicle. If we accept this, the bulk of the works in this new edition represent the Bunyan of the conventicle; but Coleridge's romantic premisses, which we have in part inherited, draw a far sharper line between genius and the man rooted in his historical accidents than accuracy will admit. There is much strong, plain, effective exhortation in the awakening sermons; many of the poems in A Book for Boys and Girls are real poems; more important, the Miscellaneous Works bring us up against the raw mateial, the subsoil, on which the ethos of English Puritanism, which we meet in The Pilgrim's Progress and experience in its historical succession, is founded.


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