BUNYAN, John (1628-1688). Good News for the Vilest of Men, or, a help for despairing souls. London: George Larkin, 1688.
12° (145 x 81mm). Collation: A10 B-G12 H2. (Title just trimmed at outer margin affecting part of rule border; tiny hole in F1 affecting two or three letters; neat repair to blank outer margin of F9; tips of one or two corners skilfully repaired, generally not affecting text, but just touching page numbers from G7-H2.) 19th-century blue morocco gilt, gilt edges, by F. Bedford. Provenance: Cardiff Castle bookplate.
FIRST EDITION OF THIS VERY RARE WORK. Wing records only two copies: one in the British Library and one in the Pierpont Morgan Library. Published in the year of Bunyan's death, it is a perfect example of his wry humour and generous spirit, combined with an urgent and sincere religious belief which will admit no obstacles. In the preface he writes: "I have been vile myself, but have obtained mercy, and I would have my companions in sin partake of mercy too, and therefore I have writ this little book. The nation doth swarm with vile ones now, as it ever did since it was a nation. My little book in some places can scarce go from house to house but 'twill find a suitable subject to spend it self upon. Now since Christ Jesus is willing to save the vilest, why should they not by name be somewhat acquainted with it, and bid come to him under that name?" He continues urgently, "Don't let Jesus lose his longing, since 'tis for thy Salvation; but come to him and live." The second and later editions of the work were given the new title: The Jerusalem-sinner Saved: all 17th-century editions are rare. Wing B-5522 (2 copies only); Harrison 37 (2 copies only).