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John Bunyan

Born 28 November 1628(1628-11-28)
Bedford, England1
Died 31 August 1688 (aged 59)
Occupation Writer, preacher
Genres Christian fiction (specifically allegory), sermons
Notable work(s) The Pilgrim's Progress

John Bunyan (28 November 1628 – 31 August 1688) was an English Christian writer and preacher, famous for writing The Pilgrim's Progress. In the Church of England, he is remembered with a Lesser Festival on 30 August.



Bunyan's birthplace

Bunyan was born in Harrowden (one mile southeast of Bedford), in the Parish of Elstow, England. He was baptised John Bunyan, on 30 November 1628 as recorded in the Elstow parish register. The family has a long history in England and the name has been found spelled over thirty-four different ways: Binyan, Buniun, Bonyon, Buignon, being the most common – Bunyan being the most recent.

John Bunyan was born to Thomas Bunyan and Margaret Bently; she was also from Elstow and she, like her husband, was born in 1603. They married on 27 May 1627 and in 1628 Margaret's sister, Rose Bently, married Thomas' half-brother Edward Bunyan. (Thomas had married his first wife in 1623 and like his father before him, would marry two more times within months of being widowed.) They were working-class people with Thomas earning a living as a tinker or brazier; one who mends kettles and pots. Bunyan wrote of his modest origins, "My descent was of a low and inconsiderable generation, my father's house being of that rank that is meanest and most despised of all the families of the land".

He had very little schooling (about 2–4 years). He was educated at his father's house with other poor country boys and what little education he received was to benefit his father and his own future trade. He followed his father in the Tarish Tinker's trade, which at the time had a reputation as being a lowly sort of occupation and was associated historically with the nomadic lifestyle of gypsies.

In 1644, at the age of sixteen, Bunyan lost his mother and two sisters, all of whom died within months of each other; and his father married for the third time. It may have been the arrival of his stepmother that precipitated his estrangement and subsequent enlistment in the parliamentary army. He served in the parliamentary army at Newport Pagnell garrison (1644–1647) as the civil war was nearing the end of the first stage. He was saved from death by a fellow soldier who volunteered to go into battle in his place and was killed while walking sentry duty[1].

After the civil war was won by The Parliamentarians, Bunyan returned to his former trade and eventually found a wife. In 1649 (when he was about 21), he married a young woman, Mary, whose only dowry appears to have been two books, Arthur Dent's Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven and Lewis Bayly's Practice of Piety, by which he was influenced towards a religious life. She was an orphan, her father leaving only those two books as her inheritance, and their life was modest to say the least. Bunyan writes that they were "as poor as poor might be", not even "a dish or spoon between them".

In his autobiographical book, Grace Abounding, Bunyan describes himself as having led an abandoned life in his youth, and as having been morally reprehensible as a result. However, there appears to be no evidence that he was outwardly worse than the average of his neighbours. Examples of sins to which he confesses in Grace Abounding are profanity, dancing and bell-ringing. The increasing awareness of his un-Biblical life led him to contemplate acts of impiety and profanity; in particular, he was harassed by a curiosity in regard to the "unpardonable sin," and a prepossession that he had already committed it. He was known as an adept linguist as far as profanity was concerned, even the most proficient swearers were known to remark that Bunyan was "the ungodliest fellow for swearing they ever heard". While playing a game, Tip-cat, in the village square, Bunyan claimed to have heard a voice that asked: "Wilt thou leave thy sins and go to heaven or have thy sins and go to hell?" He believed it was the voice of God chastising his indulgent ways, as Puritans held sacred the Sabbath day and permitted no sport. His spirituality was born from this experience and he struggled both with his sense of guilt and self-doubt and his belief in the Bible's promise of Christian damnation and salvation.

As he struggled with his newfound faith, Bunyan became increasingly despondent and fell into mental as well as physical turmoil. During this time of conflict, Bunyan began a four year long discussion and spiritual journey with a few poor women of Bedford who belonged to a nonconformist sect which worshipped in St. John's Church. He increasingly identified himself with St. Paul, who had characterised himself as "the chief of sinners", and believed he was one of the spiritual elite, chosen by God. As a result of these experiences, he was baptised and received into the Baptist church in Bedford in 1653. On joining the Bedford Church, he began to follow the teachings of its pastor, John Gifford.

John Bunyan was open to all who had biblical faith in Jesus Christ, and was opposed to those who caused divisions over the form and time of baptism. The first recorded assertion that Bunyan was a Baptist appears to come much later as repeated by a Dr Armitage in 1887 from an anonymous source supposedly around 1690, after John's death. There remain church records of the infant baptisms of John himself in 1628, and of his infant children: Mary in 1650, Elizabeth in 1654, and Joseph in 1672. Bunyan again claimed to have heard voices and to have had visions similar to St. Theresa's and William Blake's religious experiences. While still in Elstow, Mary gave birth to a blind daughter, also named Mary, and a second daughter, Elizabeth, shortly followed by two more children, John and Thomas. In 1655, after moving his family to Bedford, both Bunyan's wife and his mentor, John Gifford, died. He was immersed in grief and his health declined, though the same year he became a deacon of St. Paul's Church, Bedford and began preaching, with marked success from the start.

Bunyan fiercely disagreed with the teachings of the Quakers and took part in written debates during the years 1656–1657 with some of its leaders. First, Bunyan published Some Gospel Truths Opened in which he attacked Quaker beliefs. The Quaker Edward Burrough responded with The True Faith of the Gospel of Peace. Bunyan countered Burrough's pamphlet with A Vindication of Some Gospel Truths Opened, which Burrough answered with Truth (the Strongest of All) Witnessed Forth. Later, the Quaker leader George Fox entered the verbal fray by publishing a refutation of Bunyan's essay in his The Great Mystery of the Great Whore Unfolded. The Bedford Baptists were moderate in their views; they were considered more liberal on issues of church government than the Presbyterians and more conservative on church tenets than supposed antinomian sects, such as the Quakers. He attacked the Quakers for their reliance on their own "inner light" rather than the literal word of the Bible. The Puritans were diligent biographers of their own lives in relation to their faith and they sought clues to religious meaning in their lives and literature. Bunyan writes to his readers in the conclusion of the first part of The Pilgrim's Progress:

Now reader, I have told my dream to thee,
See if thou canst interpret it to me,
Or to thyself or neighbour: but take heed
Of misinterpreting; for that instead
Of doing good, will but thyself abuse:
By misinterpreting evil ensues.

His affinity for the oral tradition and his voracious reading led to his work being primarily influenced by sermons, homilies in dialogue form, folk tales, books of emblems and allegories. "Most of the didactic works of Bunyan's era have vanished into oblivion. His allegory's power derives from the imaginative force with which he brings didactic themes to life and the wonderfully living prose in which he dramatises the conflicts of the spirit".

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Bedford Old Bridge, with the jail in which Bunyan was imprisoned.

As his popularity and notoriety grew, Bunyan increasingly became a target for slander and libel; he was decried as "a witch, a Jesuit, a highwayman" and was said to have mistresses and multiple wives. In 1658, aged 30, he was arrested for preaching at Eaton Socon and in 1658, Bunyan was indicted for preaching without a licence. He continued, however, and did not suffer imprisonment till November 1660, when he was taken to the county gaol in Silver Street, Bedford. Bunyan married his second wife, Elizabeth, by whom he had two more children, Sarah and Joseph. In that same year, The Restoration of the monarchy by Charles II of England began Bunyan's persecution as the country returned to Anglicanism. Meeting-houses were quickly closed and all citizens were required to attend their Anglican parish church. It became punishable by law to "conduct divine service except in accordance with the ritual of the church, or for one not in Episcopal orders to address a congregation." He no longer had the freedom to preach that he had enjoyed under the Puritan Commonwealth and he was arrested on 12 November 1660 while preaching privately in Lower Samsell by Harlington, Bedfordshire, south of Bedford.

There he was confined at first for three months, but on his refusing to conform or to desist from preaching, his confinement was extended for a period of nearly 12 years (with the exception of a few weeks in 1666). His prosecutor, Mr. Justice Wingate, was not inclined to incarcerate Bunyan, but his stark refusal of "If you release me today, I will preach tomorrow" left Wingate with no choice. In January of 1661 he was incarcerated for the crimes of "pertinaciously abstaining" from attending mandatory Anglican church services and preaching at "unlawful meetings". It was during this time that he conceived his allegorical novel: The Pilgrim's Progress. (Many scholars however believe that he commenced this work during the second and shorter imprisonment of 1675 referred to below.) Bunyan's wife, Elizabeth, tried in vain to secure her husband's release, but his steadfast opposition to the laws and his determination to preach to his awaiting congregation prevented his liberation. His incarceration was punctuated with periods of relative freedom by which lax gaolers allowed Bunyan to attend church meetings and minister to his congregation.

In 1666, he was briefly released for a few weeks before he was arrested again for preaching and he was sent back to the Bedford gaol for another six years. During this time he wove shoelaces and preached to an imprisoned congregation of about sixty parishioners to support his family. In his possession were two books, John Foxe's Book of Martyrs and the Bible, a violin he made out of tin, a flute he made from a chair leg and an unlimited supply of pen and paper. Both music and writing were integral to his Puritan faith. He was released in January 1672, when Charles II issued the Declaration of Religious Indulgence. In that month he became pastor of St Paul's Church. On 9 May 1672, Bunyan was the recipient of one of the first licences to preach under the new law. He built a new meeting-house and formed a nonconformist sect from his surviving parishioners and increased his congregation to as many as four thousand Christians in Bedfordshire. He established over thirty new congregations and was given the affectionate title of "Bishop Bunyan" by his parishioners.

In March 1675, he was again imprisoned for preaching (as Charles II withdrew the Declaration of Religious Indulgence), this time in the Bedford town jail on the stone bridge over the Ouse. (The original warrant, discovered in 1887, is published in facsimile by Rush and Warwick, London.) It was the Quakers, ironically, that helped secure Bunyan's release. When the King asked for a list of names to pardon, they gave Bunyan's name as well as those of their members. In six months he was free and, as a result of his popularity, he was not again arrested. During this time, Bunyan was said to have dressed like a waggoner, whip in hand, when he visited his various parishes to avoid provoking another incarceration. When King James II of England asked Bunyan to oversee the royal interest in Bedford in 1687, he declined the influential post because James refused to lift the tests and laws that served to persecute the nonconformists. In 1688, he served as chaplain to the lord mayor of London, Sir John Shorter but Bunyan died before James II's abdication and the beginning of the Glorious Revolution.

As he was riding to London from Reading to resolve a disagreement between a father and a son, he caught a cold and developed a fever. He died at the house of his friend, John Strudwick, a grocer and chandler on Snow Hill in Holborn Bridge on 31 August 1688. His grave lies in the cemetery at Bunhill Fields in London. Many Puritans, to whom worship of tombs or relics was considered most sinful, made it their dying wish that their coffins be placed as close to Bunyan's as possible. In 1862 a recumbent statue was created to adorn his grave. He lies among other historic nonconformists, George Fox, William Blake and Daniel Defoe.

The Pilgrim's Progress

Bunyan in prison

Bunyan wrote The Pilgrim's Progress in two parts, the first of which was published in London in 1678 and the second in 1684. He began the work in his first period of imprisonment, and probably finished it during the second. The earliest edition in which the two parts combined in one volume came in 1728. A third part falsely attributed to Bunyan appeared in 1693, and was reprinted as late as 1852. Its full title is The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come.

The Pilgrim's Progress is arguably one of the most widely known allegories ever written, and has been extensively translated. Protestant missionaries commonly translated it as the first thing after the Bible.

Two other successful works of Bunyan's are less well-known: The Life and Death of Mr. Badman (1680), an imaginary biography, and The Holy War (1682), an allegory. A third book which reveals Bunyan's inner life and his preparation for his appointed work is Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666). It is a classic example of a spiritual autobiography, and thus is focused on his own spiritual journey; his motive in writing it was plainly to exalt the Christian concept of grace and to comfort those passing through experiences like his own.

The above works have appeared in numerous editions. There are several noteworthy collections of editions of The Pilgrim's Progress, e.g., in the British Museum and in the New York Public Library, collected by the late James Lenox.

Bunyan became a popular preacher as well as a prolific author, though most of his works consist of expanded sermons. Though a Baptist preacher, in theology he was a Puritan. The portrait his friend Robert White drew, which has often been reproduced, shows the attractiveness of his true character. He was tall, had reddish hair, prominent nose, a rather large mouth, and sparkling eyes.

He was no scholar, except of the English Bible, but he knew scripture thoroughly. He was also influenced by Martin Luther's Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, in the translation of 1575.

Some time before his final release from prison Bunyan became involved in a controversy with Kiffin, Danvers, Deune, Paul, and others. In 1673 he published his Differences in Judgement about Water-Baptism no Bar to Communion, in which he took the ground that "the Church of Christ hath not warrant to keep out of the communion the Christian that is discovered to be a visible saint of the word, the Christian that walketh according to his own light with God." While he owned "water baptism to be God's ordinance," he refused to make "an idol of it," as he thought those did who made the lack of it a ground for disfellowshipping those recognised as genuine Christians.

Kiffin and Paul published a response in Serious Reflections (London, 1673), in which they argued in favour of the restriction of the Lord's Supper to baptised believers, and received the approval of Henry Danvers in his Treatise of Baptism (London, 1673 or 1674). The controversy resulted in the Particular (Calvinistic) Baptists leaving the question of communion with the unbaptised open. Bunyan's church admitted pedobaptists to fellowship and finally became pedobaptist (Congregationalist).

At one time, The Pilgrim's Progress was considered the most widely read and translated book in the English language apart from the Bible.[2] The charm of the work, which gives it wide appeal, lies in the interest of a story in which the intense imagination of the writer makes characters, incidents, and scenes alike live in the imagination of his readers as things actually known and remembered by themselves, in its touches of tenderness and quaint humour, its bursts of heart-moving eloquence, and its pure, idiomatic English. Macaulay has said, "Every reader knows the straight and narrow path as well as he knows a road on which he has been backwards and forwards a hundred times," and he adds that "In England during the latter half of the seventeenth century there were only two minds which possessed the imaginative faculty in a very eminent degree. One of these minds produced the Paradise Lost, the other The Pilgrim's Progress."

The images Bunyan uses in Pilgrim's Progress are but reflections of images from his own world; the strait gate is a version of the wicket gate at Elstow church, the Slough of Despond is a reflection of Squitch Fen, a wet and mossy area near his cottage in Harrowden, the Delectable Mountains are an image of the Chiltern Hills surrounding Bedfordshire. Even his characters, like the Evangelist as influenced by John Gifford, are reflections of real people. This pilgrimage was not only real for Bunyan as he lived it, but his portrait evoked this reality for his readers. Rudyard Kipling once referred to Bunyan as “the father of the novel, salvation's first Defoe.”

Bunyan wrote about 60 books and tracts, of which The Holy War ranks next to The Pilgrim's Progress in popularity. A passage from Part Two of The Pilgrim's Progress beginning "Who would true Valour see" has been used in the hymn "To be a Pilgrim".


  • A Few Sighs from Hell, or the Groans of a Damned Soul, 1658
  • A Discourse Upon the Pharisee and the Publican, 1685
  • A Holy Life
  • Christ a Complete Saviour (The Intercession of Christ And Who Are Privileged in It), 1692
  • Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, 1678
  • Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, 1666
  • Light for Them that Sit in Darkness
  • Praying with the Spirit and with Understanding too, 1663
  • Of Antichrist and His Ruin, 1692
  • Reprobation Asserted, 1674
  • Saved by Grace, 1675
  • Seasonal Counsel or Suffering Saints in the Furnace – Advice to Persecuted Christians in Their Trials & Tribulations, 1684
  • Some Gospel Truths Opened, 1656
  • The Acceptable Sacrifice
  • The Desire of the Righteous Granted
  • The Doctrine of the Law and Grace Unfolded, 1659
  • The Doom and Downfall of the Fruitless Professor (Or The Barren Fig Tree), 1682
  • The End of the World, The Resurrection of the Dead and Eternal Judgment, 1665
  • The Fear of God – What it is, and what is it is not, 1679
  • The Greatness of the Soul and Unspeakableness of its Loss Thereof, 1683
  • The Heavenly Footman, 1698
  • The Holy City or the New Jerusalem, 1665
  • The Holy War – The Losing and Taking Again of the Town of Man-soul (The Holy War Made by Shaddai upon Diabolus, for the Regaining of the World), 1682
  • The Life and Death of Mr Badman, 1680
  • The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come, 1678
  • The Strait Gate, Great Difficulty of Going to Heaven, 1676
  • The Saint's Knowledge of Christ's Love, or The Unsearchable Riches of Christ, 1692
  • The Water of Life or The Richness and Glory of the Gospel, 1688
  • The Work of Jesus Christ as an Advocate, 1688

See also


John Bunyan: Journey of a Pilgrim (2007) – documentary.
Torchlighters: The John Bunyan Story (2007) – animated DVD for children ages 8–12.


  1. ^ Grace Abounding
  2. ^ An example of this is Franklin, Benjamin, Autobiography: "I have since found that [The Pilgrim's Progress] has been translated into most of the Languages of Europe, and suppose it has been more generally read than any other Book except perhaps the Bible."

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and skill to him that can get it. My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought His battles who will now be my rewarder.

John Bunyan (28 November 16283 August 1688) was a Christian writer and preacher, born at Harrowden, in the Parish of Elstow, England. most famous for the allegorical work The Pilgrim's Progress.



The Pilgrim's Progress, (1678)

Some things are of that nature as to make
One's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache.
He that is down needs fear no fall.
  • And so I penned
    It down, until at last it came to be,
    For length and breadth, the bigness which you see.
    • "Apology for his Book".
  • Some said, "John, print it;" others said, "Not so."
    Some said, "It might do good;" others said, "No."
    • "Apology for his Book".
  • The name of the slough was Despond.
    • Part i.
  • Every fat must stand upon his bottom.
    • Part i. Compare: "Every tub must stand upon its bottom", Charles Macklin, The Man of the World, act i. sc. 2.
  • Dark as pitch.
    • Part i.
  • It beareth the name of Vanity Fair, because the town where 't is kept is lighter than vanity.
    • Part i.
  • The palace Beautiful.
    • Part i.
  • They came to the Delectable Mountains.
    • Part i.
  • Some things are of that nature as to make
    One's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache.
    • The Author's Way of sending forth his Second Part of the Pilgrim.
  • He that is down needs fear no fall.
    • Part II. Compare: "I am not now in fortune's power: He that is down can fall no lower", Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part i, Canto iii, Line 877.
  • There stood a man with his sword drawn, and his face all over with blood. Then said Mr. Great-Heart, Who art thou? The man made answer, saying, I am one whose name is Valiant-for-truth. I am a pilgrim, and am going to the Celestial City.
    • Part II, Sect. 4
  • I fought till my sword did cleave to my hand; and then they were joined together as if a sword grew out of my arm; and when the blood ran through my fingers, then I fought with most courage.
    • Part II, Sect. 4
  • Then Mr. Honest called for his friends, and said unto them, I die, but shall make no will. As for my honesty, it shall go with me; let him that comes after be told of this. When the day that he was to be gone was come, he addressed himself to go over the river. Now the river at that time over-flowed its banks in some places; but Mr. Honest, in his lifetime, had spoken to one Good-conscience to meet him there, the which he also did, and lent him his hand, and so helped him over. The last words of Mr. Honest were, Grace reigns! So he left the world.

    After this it was noised abroad that Mr. Valiant-for-truth was taken with a summons by the same post as the other, and had this for a token that the summons was true, "That his pitcher was broken at the fountain." When he understood it, he called for his friends, and told them of it. Then said he, I am going to my Father’s; and though with great difficulty I have got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am. My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and skill to him that can get it. My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought His battles who will now be my rewarder. When the day that he must go hence was come, many accompanied him to the river-side, into which as he went, he said, "Death, where is thy sting?" And as he went down deeper, he said, "Grave, where is thy victory?"
    So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.

    • Part II, Sect. 4

Apollyon in The Pilgrim's Progress, (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, New York and Toronto: Henry Frowde, 1904)

But now Christian no Armor for his back. in this Valley of Humiliation poor Christian was hard put to it, for he had gone but a little way before he espied a foul Fiend coming over the field to meet him; his name is Apollyon. Then did Christian begin to be afraid, and to cast in his mind whether to go back, or to stand his ground. But he considered again, that he had no Armor for his back, Christians resolution on the approach of Apollyon. and therefore thought that to turn the back to him might give him greater advantage with ease to pierce him with his Darts; therefore he resolved to venture, and stand his ground. For thought he, had I no more in mine eye than the saving of my life, 'twould be the best way to stand.

So he went on, and Apollyon met him. Now the Monster was hideous to behold, he was cloathed with scales like a Fish (and they are his pride) he had Wings like a Dragon, feet like a Bear, and out of his belly came Fire and Smoke, and his mouth was as the mouth of a Lion. When he was come up to Christian, he beheld him with a disdainful countenance, and thus began to question with him.

APOL. Whence come you, and whither are you bound?

Discourse betwixt Christian and Apollyon. CHR. I am come from the City of Destruction, which is the place of all evil, and am going to the City of Zion.

APOL. By this I perceive thou art one of my Subjects, for all that Country is mine; and I am the Prince and God of it. How is it then that thou hast run away from thy King? Were it not that I hope thou mayest do me more service, I would strike thee now at one blow to the ground.

CHR. I was born indeed in your Dominions, but your service was hard, and your wages such as a man could not live on, for the wages of Sin is death; therefore when I was come to years, I did as other considerate persons do, look out if perhaps I might mend my self.

APOL. There is no Prince that will thus lightly lose his Subjects, neither will I as yet lose thee. Apollyons flattery. But since thou complainest of thy service and wages be content to go back; what our Country will afford, I do here promise to give thee.

CHR. But I have let myself to another, even to the King of Princes, and how can I with fairness go back with thee?

Apollyon undervalues Christ's service. APOL. Thou hast done in this, according to the Proverb, Changed a bad for a worse: but it is ordinary for those that have professed themselves his Servants, after a while to give him the slip, and return again to me: do thou so to, and all shall be well.

CHR. I have given him my faith, and sworn my Allegiance to him; how then can I go back from this, and not be hanged as a Traitor?

Apollyon pretends to be merciful. APOL. Thou didst the same to me, and yet I am willing to pass by all, if now thou wilt yet turn again, and go back.

CHR. What I promised thee was in my nonage; and besides, I count that the Prince under whose Banner now I stand, is able to absolve me; yea, and to pardon also what I did as to my compliance with thee: and besides, (O thou destroying Apollyon) to speak truth, I like his Service, his Wages, his Servants, his Government, his Company, and Country better than thine: and, therefore, leave off to perswade me further, I am his Servant, and I will follow him.

Apollyon pleads the grievous ends of Christians to disswade Christian from persisting in his way. APOL. Consider again when thou art in cool blood, what thou art like to meet with in the way that thou goest. Thou knowest that for the most part, his Servants come to an ill end, because they are transgressors against me, and my ways. How many of them have been put to shameful deaths! and besides, thou countest his service better than mine, whereas he never came yet from the place where he is, to deliver any that served him out of our hands; but as for me, how many times, as all the World very well knows, have I delivered, either by power or fraud, those that have faithfully served me, from him and his, though taken by them, and so I will deliver thee.

CHR. His forbearing at present to deliver them, is on purpose to try their love, whether they will cleave to him to the end: and as for the ill end thou sayest they come to, that is most glorious in their account. For for present deliverance, they do not much expect it; for they stay for their Glory, and then they shall have it, when their Prince comes in his, and the Glory of the Angels.

APOL. Thou hast already been unfaithful in thy service to him, and how doest thou think to receive wages of him?

CHR. Wherein, O Apollyon, have I been unfaithful to him?

Apollyon pleads Christians infirmities against him. APOL. Thou didst faint at first setting out, when thou wast almost choked in the Gulf of Dispond; thou didst attempt wrong ways to be rid of thy burden, whereas thou shouldest have stayed till thy Prince had taken it off: thou didst sinfully sleep and lose thy choice thing: thou wast also almost perswaded to go back, at the sight of the Lions; and when thou talkest of thy Journey, and of what thou hast heard, and seen, thou art inwardly desirous of vain-glory in all that thou sayest or doest.

CHR. All this is true, and much more, which thou hast left out; but the Prince whom I serve and honour, is merciful, and ready to forgive: but besides, these infirmities possessed me in thy Country, for there I suckt them in, and I have groaned under them, been sorry for them, and have obtained pardon of my Prince.

Apollyon in a rage falls upon Christian. APOL. Then Apollyon broke out into a grievous rage, saying, I am an enemy to this Prince: I hate his Person, his Laws, and People: I am come out on purpose to withstand thee.

CHR. Apollyon beware what you do, for I am in the King's Highway, the way of Holiness, therefore take heed to your self.

APOL. Then Apollyon straddled quite over the whole breadth of the way, and said, I am void of fear in this matter, prepare thy self to die, for I swear by my Infernal Den, that thou shalt go no further, here will I spill thy soul; and with that, he threw a flaming Dart at his breast, but Christian had a Shield in his hand, with which he caught it, and so prevented the danger of that. Then did Christian draw, for he saw 'twas time to bestir him; and Apollyon as fast made at him, throwing Darts as thick as Hail; Christian wounded in his understanding, faith and conversation. by the which, notwithstanding all that Christian could do to avoid it, Apollyon wounded him in his head, his hand and foot; this made Christian give a little back: Apollyon therefore followed his work amain, and Christian again took courage, and resisted as manfully as he could. This sore combat lasted for above half a day, even till Christian was almost quite spent. For you must know that Christian by reason of his wounds, must needs grow weaker and weaker.

Apollyon casteth down to the ground Christian. Then Apollyon espying his opportunity, began to gather up close to Christian, and wrestling with him, gave him a dreadful fall; and with that, Christian's Sword flew out of his hand. Then said Apollyon, I am sure of thee now, and with that, he had almost prest him to death, so that Christian began to despair of life. But as God would have it, while Apollyon was fetching of his last blow, thereby to make a full end of this good Man, Christians victory over Apollyon. Christian nimbly reached out his hand for his Sword, and caught it, saying, Rejoice not against me, O mine Enemy! when I fall, I shall arise; and with that, gave him a deadly thrust, which made him give back, as one that had received his mortal wound: Christian perceiving that, made at him again, saying, Nay, in all these things we are more than Conquerors, through him that loved us. And with that, Apollyon spread forth his Dragon's wings, and sped him away, that Christian saw him no more....

Encomium on women in The Pilgrim's Progress, (Auburn: Derby and Miller, 1853), 146:

  • Gaius also proceeded, and said, I will now speak on the behalf of women, to take away their reproach. For as death and the curse came into the world by a woman, Gen. 3, so also did life and health: God sent forth his Son, made of a woman. Gal. 4:4. Yea, to show how much they that came after did abhor the act of the mother, this sex in the Old Testament coveted children, if happily this or that woman might be the mother of the Saviour of the world. I will say again, that when the Saviour was come, women rejoiced in him, before either man or angel. Luke 1:42-46. I read not that ever any man did give unto Christ so much as one groat; but the women followed him, and ministered to him of their substance. Luke 8:2,3. ‘Twas a woman that washed his feet with tears, Luke 7:37-50, and a woman that anointed his body at the burial. John 11:2; 12:3. They were women who wept when he was going to the cross, Luke 23:27, and women that followed him from the cross, Matt. 27:55,56; Luke 23:55, and sat over against his sepulchre when he was buried. Matt. 27:61. They were women that were first with him at his resurrection-morn, Luke 24:1, and women that brought tidings first to his disciples that he was risen from the dead. Luke 24:22,23. Women therefore are highly favored, and show by these things that they are sharers with us in the grace of life.

Famous Hymn from The Pilgrim's Progress:

He who would valiant be,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather
There’s no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avow’d intent
To be a pilgrim.
Whoso beset him round
With dismal stories,
Do but themselves confound;
His strength the more is.
No lion can him fright,
He’ll with a giant fight,
But he will have a right
To be a pilgrim.
Hobgoblin nor foul fiend
Can daunt his spirit;
He knows he at the end
Shall life inherit.
Then, fancies, fly away,
He’ll not fear what men say;
He’ll labour night and day
To be a pilgrim.

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Simple English

John Bunyan.

John Bunyan (Harrowden, near Bedford, 28 November 1628 – London, 31 August 1688) was an English tinker, preacher and writer. He wrote a book called The Pilgrim's Progress which has been translated into more languages than any other book except the Bible. The book is a story about a man who is trying to lead a good life as a Christian. It is allegory. The characters in the story represent good things or bad things. Bunyan lived at a time when there was no religious freedom: everybody had to believe what the Church of England told them. Bunyan did not agree with some of the things the Church of England said. He started to preach about his ideas. He was arrested and put into prison because of his beliefs. He wrote The Pilgrim's Progress while he was in gaol (prison).



Early years

Bunyan’s father was a tinker: a metal worker who mends pots and pans. The Bunyan family had been living in Bedfordshire at least since the 12th century. They had gradually lost more and more of their land and had become quite poor. John Bunyan’s father had inherited a small cottage and 9 acres of land. He could not read or write.

John Bunyan only went to school for two, three or four years. He learned how to be a tinker from his father.

Youth: religious conversion

There was a lot of fighting in England at the time Bunyan was a child. Many people were against King Charles I so there was a Civil War and the king was executed. For several years England was a republic, ruled by Oliver Cromwell.

When Bunyan was 16 years old he served in the parliamentary army at Newport Pagnell (1644 - 1647). After that he started to work as a tinker, and in 1649 he married. His wife had two books, both of which were religious books. Bunyan started to be influenced by religion. He became very frightened because he realized he had done things which were wrong, and he wondered whether God would forgive him, so that he would go to heaven when he died, or whether he would be punished and go to hell. The kind of things he did which at that time were thought to be wrong (sins) were not things which would worry many people nowadays: ringing church bells, dancing, playing games on Sundays and, perhaps worse of all, swearing. In his book Grace Abounding Bunyan describes himself as the “Chief of Sinners”. He tells how one day he was walking along when he heard a group of women talking to one another about salvation. This made him think about these things.

In those days people were supposed to worship God in the Church of England. There were, however, groups of people who wanted to worship God in different ways. These people were called “non-conformists”. In 1653 a sect (religious group) of non-conformists had taken over St John’s Church in Bedford. Their vicar was John Gifford. Bunyan discussed the Bible a lot with Gifford.

Bunyan lived in Elstow, near Bedford, until 1655 when his wife died. He moved to Bedford to be nearer to Gifford’s church . He married again in 1659. In 1660 the Restoration of the Monarchy took place: England had a king once more: Charles II became king. It was bad for religious freedom, because all non-conformist meetings were forbidden. St John’s Church had to become part of the Church of England again. Bunyan refused to go to church. He started to preach to groups of people anywhere they could meet: in barns or in the streets. Because he did not have permission to preach he was arrested and put in gaol. At first he was sentenced to 3 months, but because he refused to promise to stop preaching he spent 12 years in gaol.

Years in gaol

File:Bedford Bridge from Antiquities of England by (1783) by Francis
Bedford Old Bridge with the town gaol. He probably spent all his first gaol sentence in the county gaol, but he was in the town gaol in 1677.

Bunyan spent the years 1660-1672 in gaol, and again he was in gaol for a short time in 1677. The gaol was at the top of Silver Street in the centre of Bedford, only 5 minutes walk from his house in St Cuthbert Street, which was then on the edge of the town. The gaol had 6 cells and 2 dungeons. He could probably have been free at any time if he had promised to give up preaching, but he did what he firmly believed to be right. He made some money in gaol by making shoelaces. His eldest daughter Mary, who was blind, brought him soup every day and also took him books to read. Sometimes he seems to have been let out of gaol for short periods. This was not really allowed, but often the guards might let a prisoner out if they promised to come back. Bunyan even travelled as far as London once, and he must have gone home sometimes because he had two more children by his second wife during that time.

It was during this time in gaol that he wrote his allegorical novel: Pilgrim's Progress. We do not know whether he wrote it all while he was in gaol. The book is in two parts. The first part finishes with the words: “So I awoke, and behold it was a dream”. When the second part begins he says “ I slept I dreamt again”. This might mean that he wrote the second part in 1677 when he was in gaol again. This is only guess, we do not know.

His release

Bunyan was released in January 1672, when Charles II issued the “Declaration of Religious Indulgence” which meant that people were free to worship God in the way they wanted. The king had done this mainly because he wanted the Catholics to have less power. Non-conformist sects could register and get a license. Bunyan became pastor (priest) of the Bedford church. In March 1675, he was again imprisoned for preaching (because Charles II withdrew the Declaration of Religious Indulgence). This time he seems to have been in the Bedford town gaol on the stone bridge over the river Ouse. After a few months he was let out. He was a very popular preacher, so he was not arrested again. His book The Pilgrim's Progress was published in 1678. He also wrote several other books about religion, but The Pilgrim's Progress was the one that became extremely popular. Because Bunyan did not have a formal education he wrote in a very direct style which ordinary people could understand. A passage from Part Two of The Pilgrim's Progress beginning "Who would true Valour see" is sung regularly as a hymn.

On his way to London in 1688 he caught a severe cold, and died. His grave is in the cemetery at Bunhill Fields in London.


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