He refused a license to preach
1628 – Is the traditional birth date of John Bunyan; the “immortal tinker” and “glorious dreamer”, as historians call him, was born in the village of Elstow, near Bedford, England. In 1644 he was drafted into the army, and in June 1645 he returned to his home of Bedford. He said that he was vile in his youth, but about 1649 married a poor girl who brought with her two books, The plain man’s Pathway to Heaven, and The Practice of Piety. One day he overheard some women talking about spiritual matters and he entered in, but was no match for them. They were members of a little Baptist congregation in Bedford whose pastor was John Gifford to whom they introduced the tinker. Gifford immersed Bunyan after he had endured a lengthy and trying period of deep seated, emotional conviction, when the Lord spoke sweet peace to his heart. He explains it in his book, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666). In 1660 while preaching in a farmhouse near Ampthill, Bunyan was arrested, tried, and imprisoned. He spent the next twelve years in the Bedford jail. He could have been released at anytime if he had only taken a license from the Church of England to preach. In 1672 he was released by the Declaration of Indulgence, and at that time he became a licensed preacher and Pastor by the Baptist church at Bedford. The next year the Edict was cancelled and he was rearrested and imprisoned again for six months. Some believe that it was at this time that the famed Pilgrim’s Progress was written. He served as pastor for 16 years until his death and is buried at Bunhill Fields, the dissenter’s Westminster Abbey. [This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 651-53. Alfred W. Light, Bunhill Fields London: C.J. Farncombe & Sons, Ltd., 1915)., pp. 17-18.]
Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon
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John Gifford, a Baptist Pastor…led him to Christ
November 30, 1628 – John Bunyan was born in the midst of the struggle between Christianity and infidelity. The year he was born was a great victory for freedom in the passing of the English Bill of Rights. The sum of the act was that “no man shall be taxed without the consent of Parliament, nor be arrested, imprisoned, or executed but by due course of law.” However, every attempt was made by the court (throne) to recover arbitrary power. To attain this power, horrible atrocities were perpetrated on people beyond description. Bunyan was born in the village of Elstow, one mile from Bedford. He was born into a family of Tinkers. Bunyan described them as being, “of that rank of the meanest and most despised of all the families in the land.” At a time when very few were taught to read and write his father sent him to school where John learned both but soon forgot both utterly. He gave himself over to sin, principally lying, swearing, and profaning the Sabbath. He experienced agonies of conviction. He had several brushes with death such as drowning’s and snake bite. He also served in the army and fought in the battle of Leicester. He was spared any serious injuries although he took on the wicked habits of his peers. Bunyan married a very poor, but pious, woman. She encouraged him with two books. The Plain Man’s Pathway to Heaven, and the Practice of Piety, and through this he regained his ability to read. Her affectionate compassion became a blessing and his rugged heart was softened and he felt alarm for the Salvation of his soul. Another woman who was loose and ungodly rebuked him for his cursing and said that his oaths made her tremble. Some women talking about the New Birth took him to John Gifford, a Baptist Pastor who led him to Christ, and the rest is history.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins /Thompson/, pp. 499-500.