- Part 1 - The place is England, the time 1660. England's experiment with parliamentary government has ended with the death of Oliver Cromwell in 1658 and the return of King Charles II from exile. One November night Elizabeth Bunyan's husband John, a dissenting preacher, is arrested for holding religious meetings unauthorized by the Church of England.
- Part 2 - John's imprisonment drags on. But his conscience won't allow him to promise to stop preaching. When things look blackest he discovers pardons are being issued in honor of Charles II's coronation. John asks Elizabeth to go to London and seek such a pardon for him.
Illustration from 1894 edition of Pilgrim's Progress
POWERFUL DEFENDER - a story of Elizabeth Bunyan (Part 3 of 4)
All the while Elizabeth made the preparations to go to London, her emotions swung between fear and excitement. What if she couldn’t think of what to say, or worse, said the wrong thing and made a total botch of it? On the other hand, this possible release for John just when things looked the worst, was a miracle. Surely God was in it.
Jack Bludgett accompanied her to London. The trip was long and tiring but after a good night’s sleep, she felt refreshed and optimistic. As their carriage maneuvered the crowded London streets, Elizabeth looked with amazement at the huge buildings and the swarms of people. She felt in her bag again for John’s laboriously composed and copied petition.
It wasn’t clear where they had to go. They tried one place, and were told to go to another. At that place, they were given directions to do their business in the House of Lords.
When they finally got there and Elizabeth entered the building with its echoing hallways, alive with uniformed officials and impersonal efficiency, she was awed. They were given directions to a hallway outside one of the chambers and told to wait their turn. She calmed her pounding heart by reminding herself how wonderful it would be to have John home again.
Finally a page opened the door and called, "Elizabeth Bunyan." She got up and followed him through massive doors, into a vast, high-ceilinged room. At one end sat a row of men wearing heavy white wigs. Beside them were other men, busy writing or looking at papers.
"Lord Barkwood, Elizabeth Bunyan,"the page said as they stopped before one of the wigged men.
He gave her a little nod, and she curtsied.
"And what is it thy matter?" he asked.
"I have this petition for my husband John Bunyan," she said, handing him John’s papers. "We have heard that many criminals are being released in honor of the king’s coronation. My husband wishes to apply for release."
He took the petition and looked through the pages, then back at her. "I must confer with my colleagues," he said. "Come back tomorrow morning for my answer. "
The next morning, after a long and restless night Elizabeth was back in the same room. She felt growing apprehension as she awaited the Lord Barkwood’s answer. It wasn’t long in coming. "We have discussed your husband’s petition," Lord Barkwood began. "We cannot release him."
Elizabeth’s head swam. John would not be coming home. But Lord Barkwood was saying more.
"We’ve committed such cases to the local judges. If you want to pursue this further, present his case at the midsummer assizes in Bedford.
All the way home she wondered, how would she break the news to John, and how would he react? However, when she did tell him, he was unabashed. "We’ll prepare our case for the next assizes in August then," he told her.
Immediately he got to work, revising and laboriously writing out several copies of his petition. "God is in this," he said, whenever she expressed concern. "Perhaps they’ll allow me to speak for myself."
© Copyright 2005 by Violet Nesdoly
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