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Charles Doe - Friend of John Bunyan

Who was Charles Doe?

CHARLES DOE lived in the 17th century and was a friend of John Bunyan. He was a comb-maker (some sources - minister or bookseller) who had a business in the burrough, between the Hospital and London-bridge. He published some of John Bunyan's works that were not yet published.

They were friends two years before John Bunyan died. "Charles Doe, the comb-maker, whose shop was close to London Bridge on the Southwark side. Doe was a good, earnest, simple soul, who came to know Bunyan during the last three years of his life through hearing him preach, who followed him as Boswell followed Johnson, and did much after his death to preserve his books for the generations to come."


Doe makes reference when he says: "When Mr. Bunyan preached in London, if there were but one day's notice given, there would be more people come together to hear him preach than the meeting-house could hold. I have seen to hear him preach, by my computation, about twelve hundred at a morning lecture by seven o'clock on a working day, in the dark winter-time. I also computed about three thousand that came to hear him one Lord's Day at London, at a town's-end meetinghouse, so that half were fain to go back again for want of room, and then himself was fain at a back-door to be pulled almost over people to get upstairs to his pulpit."-from John Bunyan His Life and Times.

[Notice: Is the Charles Doe, who was a friend of John Bunyan, related to Charles Doe of Curiosmith? A case may be made for spiritual ties and occupational ties, but other connections whether in life story, genealogy, or God's providence are still unfolding.]

Why did Charles Doe publish John Bunyan Books?

Source: The Struggler by Charles Doe.

Reasons why Christian people should promote by subscriptions the printing in folio the labors of Mr. John Bunyan, late minister of the gospel, and pastor of the congregation at Bedford.

1. He was a very able and excellent minister of the gospel; viz., able to express himself, and had excellent matter known to all Christians that have heard him preach.

2. He became thus able and excellent a minister by a great degree of Gospel Grace bestowed upon his own soul, more than probable for that very end; for that God wrought him from a very great profane sinner, and an illiterate poor man, to this profound understanding the true or genuine spiritual meaning of the Scriptures, whereby he could experimentally preach to souls with power, and affection, and apostolical learning, the true nature of the gospel.

3. God’s bestowing such great grace, to turn so great a sinner, to make such a great gospel labourer, and thrust him into his harvest, argues there was great need, and therefore without question his labours ought to be preserved.

4. Our Bunyan being so graciously, by the Lord of the harvest, thrust into labour, clearly shows to us, (and may by this preservation to future ages), that God is not bound to human means of learned education (though learning may be useful in its place), but can, when he will, make a minister of the gospel without man’s forecast of education, and in spite of all the men in the world that would oppose it, though it be above sixteen hundred years after the apostles.

5.Many thousands had the soul benefit and comfort of his ministry to astonishment, as if an angel or an apostle had touched their souls with a coal of holy fire from the altar.

6. This excellent operation of the special grace of God in him, and the gift of utterance when he preached, confounded the wisdom of his adversaries that heard him, or heard of him, he being, as it is commonly called, unlearned, or had not school education.

7. For all these reasons before-mentioned, of the spirituality of his preaching, his labours in writing deserve preservation by printing as much as any other famous man’s that have writ since the apostles’ time.

8. Moreover he hath been a Christian sufferer for above twelve years, by imprisonment, whereby he sealed to the truth he preached.

9. Yet, for all that imprisonment, he preached then, and there, and afterwards abroad, as a faithful labourer for the salvation of souls.

10. And he was not a man that preached by way of bargain for money, for he hath refused a more plentiful income to keep his station.

11. And his moderation, or desire of money, was as the apostle Paul’s practice, below his privilege; so that he did not, when he died, leave much wealth to his family.

12. And the Church that wants such a pastor may find it long before they get one, and therefore ought to respect our Bunyan’s labours.

13. If God had not put it into the heart of some Christians or Church to preserve the Epistles of the Apostle to the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, and others, we in this age of the world should in all probability never have known that there ever were any such Christians and doctrines; their names and doctrines might have been lost, and we might have perished, and that would have been dreadful; for God mostly works by second causes.

14. And why should any Christian people, that have reason to reckon themselves obliged herein, set themselves aside from communicating to other Christians and the ages to come the gospel labours of so eminent a minister as God so graciously honoured and assisted them with?

15. And if these labors (of, as I may say, an apostle of our age, if we have any) are not preserved by printing thus in folio, most of them in all probability will be lost, for there are many of them have been out of print many years, and will never otherwise be printed again because of the charge, etc.

16. By the late Act for liberty of conscience, it is lawful now to print the works of dissenters, though it was not so formerly; therefore much danger cannot plead excuse.

17. It is a good work without controversy, and therefore there can be no scruple of conscience about its pleasing God.

18. There is also to the subscribers a further benefit in this folio; for, whereas these twenty books would, if bought single, cost nigh twenty shillings now, as printed in folio they will have them for about twelve shillings bound together in one volume, which conveniency also prevents losing.

19. These ten manuscripts, which were never before printed, would, if printed in small books, and bought single, cost almost the money that these twenty in folio comes for, which is great odds.

20. Not to preserve his labours and name, which are so great, is a disingenuous slighting or despising them, and serving them no better than a wicked man’s that rots. Bunyan hath preached, and freely bestowed many a good and gospel-truth, and soul-reviving expression; for which of them doth any of his friends slight him? Nay, do not they rather owe him something for his labour he bestowed on them, as Philemon did to Paul?

21. The price of the first part will be an easier purchase than of the whole; and all in one volume would be somewhat too big in bulk and price.

22. There is need of printing these books now, because errors and superstitions, like the smoke of the bottomless pit, darken protestants understanding the purer truths of the gospel.

23. And when this first part is sold off, we shall endeavour to publish a second part, whereby he that is wiling may have the whole in folio.

24. This preservation will preserve the name of John Bunyan, a champion of our age to future ages; whereby it may be said in the pulpit, The great convert Bunyan said so and so.

25. If the labours of so eminent a minister should not be preserved, I known not whose should.

26. Antichristian people are diligent to preserve the works of their eminent men; and therefore Christians should be diligent to preserve theirs.

27. The chief reasons we argue from are not common rules, that therefore every good minister’s endeavours ought to be printed in folio. But this case is extraordinary, as an eminent minister, made so by abundance of gospel grace, who has also writ much, which hath gone off well. I say eminent, though he was, when young, profane, and had not school education to enable him, as is apparent to all that knew him.

28. By this printed in folio a man may have recourse for satisfaction in a case of conscience to any of these particular books with the rest, which otherwise are not to be bought; and that I have proved by often trying most London booksellers, and before that given them above twice the price for a book; and I know not how to get another of those sorts for any price whatsoever.

29. All these things, or half of them, beside many others that might be given, being considered, I cannot see but it is an absolute duty.

30. And lastly (pardon me, if I speak too great a word, as it may seem to some to be borne), all things considered; that is, his own former profaneness, poverty, unlearnedness, together with his great natural parts, the great change made by grace, and his long imprisonment, and the great maturity in grace and preaching he attained to, I say our deceased Bunyan hath not left in England, or the world, his equal behind him, as I know of. And this is the unfeigned belief of,

Your Christian brother,



Booklist for Charles Doe, friend of John Bunyan

1. The Struggler
Containing: 1.) The chronological order in which Mr. Bunyan's books were published, and the number of editions they passed through during his life. 2.) Thirty reasons why Christian people should promote their circulation. 3.) The struggler for the preservation of these labours.— published in 1691.By Charles Doe, one of Mr. Bunyan's personal friends.

2. A collection of experience of the work of grace: (never before printed.) Or The Spirit of God working upon the souls of several persons whereby is demonstrated their conversion to Christ, or signs of being in the peculiar love of God to salvation. Published, not to applaud the persons, but for the comfort of saints, both the new-born in Christ and the beclouded-believer, may here see that it hath been with the souls of other saints as with theirs: and also it being matter of fact, may convince the unregenerate that there is indeed such a thing as the working of the Spirit of God upon the soul, &c. Collected by Charles Doe.
Author: Charles Doe; Publisher: London : Printed for Cha. Doe, a comb-maker, in the burrough, between the hospital and London-bridge, [1700?] 

3. The works of that eminent servant of Christ, Mr. John Bunyan, late minister of the Gospel and pastor of the congregation at Bedford containing ten of his excellent manuscripts prepared for the press before his death, never before printed, and ten of his choyce books formerly printed ... : collected and printed by the procurement of his church and friends and by his own approbation before his death, that these his Christian ministerial labours may be preserved in the world : together with a large alphabetical table containing the contents of the whole. Author: John Bunyan; Charles Doe; Publisher: London : Printed and are to be sold by William Marshall ..., 1692. 
4. The reason why not infant sprinkling but believers baptism ought to be approved is because the Lord Jesus Christ, his forerunner, and apostles preach't it, and practic'd it as hereby will further appear by Scripture authority in about fourty texts, with notes on every text : to which is added, how infant sprinkling came in fashion, the evil tendencies of infant sprinkling, answers to objections, differences betw. believ. baptism and inf. sprink. with several other things. Author: Charles Doe; Publisher: London printed: [s.n.], 1694.

5. The labours of John Bunyan ... collected and to be printed in folio ... The Undertaker is William Marshall ... London: [an advertisement soliciting subscribers for the book before publication to obtain funds for publication. Author: Charles Doe; John Bunyan Publisher: [London : s.n., 1691?] 

6. Narrative of the miraculous cure of Anne Munnings, of Colchester, by faith, prayer, and anointing with oil, on New Year's Day, 1705;
Author: Charles Doe; Printed by Charles Clark at his Private Press, 1847

7. Der Himmlische Wandersmann, oder, Eine Beschreibung des Menschen der in den Himmel geht [electronic resource] : samt dem Wege worin er wandelt, die Zeichen nach denen er geht, und Anweisungen wie er sich betragen soll ... ; das Leben und Tod, wie auch die Lezte predigt von John Bunyan. Imprint Lancaster [Pa.] : Gedruckt bey Henrich und Benjamin Grimler, 1806 Description 36 p