London: Printed for and sold by George Larkin, at the Two Swans without Bishopgate, 1688.
Duodecimo: 13.8 x 8.5 cm. , 216 p. Collation: A12, A-I12
Bound in modern paneled calf with blind-tooling to the boards; red Morocco label on spine. A good copy of the rare first edition, lightly washed and re-sewn a bit tightly. The paper is a bit thin and there are some short (a few mm.) tears in the margins of scattered leaves; a few other leaves have chipping to the edges. The final leaf has a mended tear (no loss). Upper margin trimmed close, occ. affecting a few headlines. Provenance: Armorial bookplate of George Goyder (1826–1898).
The rare first edition of John Bunyan’s explanation of the allegorical significance of the Temple of Solomon and its construction. Bunyan wrote the book three years after the second part of the “Pilgrim’s Progress”, in the year of his death. For Bunyan, the Temple itself is a "similitude" for the Kingdom that Christ shall establish on earth and for the "whole Christian dispensation". It is therefore "an object of our special attention as a light to guide us while searching into gospel truths".
As Bunyan himself puts it, "There lies, as wrapt up in a mantle, much of the glory of our gospel matters in this temple which Solomon builded; therefore I have made, as well as I could, by comparing spiritual things with spiritual, this book upon this subject." In his letter to the reader, Bunyan emphasizes the importance of searching for the "spiritual meaning" of the "old church-way of worship" (i.e. the ceremonies of the Old Testament), "because they serve to confirm and illustrate matters to our understandings. Yea, they show us the more exactly how the New and Old Testament, as to the spiritualness of the worship, was as one and the same; only the old was clouded with shadows, but ours is with more open face."
However, Bunyan cautions his readers against developing their own interpretations of these symbols, "I give no encouragement to any now, to fetch out of their own fancies figures or similitudes to worship God by. What God provided to be an help to the weakness of his people of old was one thing, and what they invented without his commandment was another. For though they had his blessing when they worshipped him with such types, shadows, and figures, which he had enjoined on them for that purpose, yet he sorely punished and plagued them when they would add to these inventions of their own." Nor does Bunyan assert that he is correct in all that he writes. He concludes his letter with this humble disclaimer: "I dare not presume to say that I know I have hit right in every thing; but this I can say, I have endeavoured so to do. True, I have not for these things fished in other men's waters; my Bible and Concordance are my only library in my writings. Wherefore, courteous reader, if thou findest any thing, either in word or matter, that thou shalt judge doth vary from God's truth, let it be counted no man's else but mine."
ESTC R002850; Wing B5595