Three years after his first wife died, John Bunyan married Elizabeth. This was 1659. Elizabeth was an outstanding Christian lady. She immediate took Bunyan’s four children from his first marriage and raised them as her own. And then just a year later, on this day (November 12) in 1660, her husband was imprisoned in the Bedford Jail for 12 years.
Three times Elizabeth traveled the 60 miles from Bedford to London to plead her husband’s cause. On one occasion according to Bunyan’s account, the courtroom conversation went like this:.
Elizabeth: My Lord, I make bold to come again to your lordship to know what may be done with my husband.
Judge: Woman, I told thee before I could do thee no good….
Elizabeth: My Lord, he is kept unlawfully in prison. They clapped him up before there was any proclamation against the meetings…
Another judge: Will your husband leave preaching? If he will do so, then send for him.
Elizabeth: My, Lord, he dares not leave preaching so long as he can speak …. He desires to live peaceably and to follow his calling that his family may be maintained. Moreover, my lord, I have four small children that cannot help themselves, one of which is blind, and we have nothing to live upon but the charity of good people. I am but a stepmother to them, having not been married to my husband yet two full years. Being young and unaccustomed to such things, I became dismayed at the news of his imprisonment and fell into labor, and so continued for eight days, and then was delivered, but my child died.
Judge: Alas! poor woman, you make poverty your cloak. I understand that your husband is maintained better by running up and down a-preaching than by following his calling. What is his calling?
Same of the company: A tinker, my lord.
Elizabeth: Yes, and because he is a tinker and a poor man, therefore he is despised and cannot have justice. . . . As for preaching, he preacheth nothing but the Word of God. . . . God hath owned him, and done much good by him.
Judge: God! Your husband’s doctrine is the doctrine of the devil.
Elizabeth: My lord, when the righteous Judge shall appear, it will be known that his doctrine is not the doctrine of the Devil.
Judge: I am sorry, woman, that I can do thee no good.
With that Elizabeth broke into tears, but not because they were so hard-hearted, but because they were going to have to give an account of their wickedness before the Lord.