Tag Archives: Pilgrim’s Progress

John Bunyan’s – The Pilgrim’s Progress


Pilgrim's Progress first edition 1678American Minute with Bill Federer

He was imprisoned 12 years for preaching without a license from the government.

This was John Bunyan, who died AUGUST 31, 1688.

Born in Bedford, England, John Bunyan was a poor, unskilled tinker by trade.

In 1657, at age 29, he became a Baptist minister and was arrested for having religious meetings, being imprisoned 1660-1672 and 1675-1676.

John Bunyan wrote in a Relation of My Imprisonment:

“The justice…issued out his warrant to take me…as if we that were to meet together…to do some fearful business, to the destruction of the country; when alas! the constable, when he came in, found us only with our Bibles in our hands, ready to speak and hear the word of God…

So I was taken and forced to depart…

But before I went away, I spake some few words of counsel and encouragement to the people, declaring to them…that they would not be discouraged, for it was a mercy to suffer upon so good account…we suffer as Christians…better be the persecuted, than the persecutors.”

During his imprisonment, John Bunyan supported his family by making shoelaces.

It was during this time that he began writing The Pilgrim’s Progress, eventually published in 1678.

It was an allegory of a pilgrim, named Christian, who fled from the City of Destruction and was directed by Evangelist to follow the narrow path, overcoming temptations, depressions, deceptions, and persecutions till he reached the Celestial City of Zion.

The friends and dangers Christian meets along the way inspired many subsequent novels, such as:

Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad or the New Pilgrim’s Progress (1869);

C.S. Lewis’ Pilgrim’s Regress (1933); and

L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz (1900).

The Pilgrim’s Progress was translated into over 100 languages and, after the Bible, was the world’s best-seller for hundreds of years.

It was found in nearly every colonial New England home, along with the Bible and Fox’s Book of Martyrs.

Ben Franklin wrote in his Autobiography:

“From a child I was fond of reading, and all the little money that came into my hands was ever laid out in books. Pleased with The Pilgrim’s Progress, my first collection was of John Bunyan’s works in separate little volumes….

My old favorite author, Bunyan’s 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.”

President Grover Cleveland had memorized The Pilgrim’s Progress as a youth, commenting:

“I have always felt that my training as a minister’s son has been more valuable to me as a strengthening influence than any other incident in life.”

President Theodore Roosevelt stated while laying the cornerstone of the office building of the House of Representatives, April 14, 1906:

“In Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress you may recall the description of the man with the muck-rake, the man who could look no way but downward, with the muck-rake in his hand, who was offered a celestial crown for his muck-rake, but who would neither look up nor regard the crown he was offered, but continued to rake to himself the filth of the floor.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote January 19, 1936:

“When Theodore Roosevelt died, the Secretary of his class at Harvard, in sending classmates a notice of his passing, added this quotation from Pilgrim’s Progress:

‘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 now will be my rewarder.’”

President Ronald Reagan greeted Australia’s Prime Minister, June 30, 1981, referring to John Bunyan:

“Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, ‘We are all travelers in what John Bunyan calls the wilderness of this world. And the best that we find in our travels is an honest friend – they keep us worthy of ourselves.’”

The Pilgrim’s Progress began:

“As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a den, and I laid me down in that place to sleep: and, as I slept, I dreamed a dream.

I dreamed, and behold, I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back.

I looked, and saw him open the book, and read therein; and, as he read, he wept, and trembled; and, not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry, saying, What shall I do?”

Later in The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan wrote:

“Christian ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending, and upon that place stood a cross…So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back.”

Further in The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan wrote:

“Then said Christian, You make me afraid, but whither shall I fly to be safe?…To go back is nothing but death; to go forward is fear of death, and life-everlasting beyond it. I will yet go forward…

Frighted with the sight of the lions…Christian said to himself again, These beasts range in the night for their prey; and if they should meet with me in the dark…how should I escape being by them torn in pieces?…

He lift up his eyes, and behold there was a very stately palace before him…He entered into a very narrow passage…he espied two lions in the way…The porter at the lodge…perceiving that Christian made a halt as if he would go back, cried unto him, saying,

Is thy strength so small? Fear not the lions, for they are chained, and are placed there for trial of faith where it is, and for discovery of those that had none. Keep in the midst of the path, and no hurt shall come unto thee…

He went on, trembling for fear of the lions, but taking good heed to the directions of the porter; he heard them roar, but they did him no harm…”

John Bunyan continued:

“But now, in this Valley of Humiliation, poor Christian was hard put to it…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 armour for his back; and therefore thought that to turn the back to him might give him the greater advantage with ease to pierce him with his darts. Therefore he resolved to venture and stand his ground…”

John Bunyan wrote further:

“The monster was hideous to behold; he was clothed with scales…wings like a dragon, feet like a bear, and out of his belly came fire and smoke…

Apollyon straddled quite over the whole breadth of the way, and said…prepare thyself 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…

Apollyon as fast made at him, throwing darts as thick as hail; by the which, notwithstanding all that Christian could do to avoid it, Apollyon wounded him in his head, his hand, and foot…”

Bunyan concluded:

“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…

Christian’s sword flew out of his hand.

Then said Apollyon, I am sure of thee now. And with that he had almost pressed 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, Christian nimbly stretched 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…

And with that Apollyon spread forth his dragon’s wings, and sped him away, that Christian for a season saw him no more…

A more unequal match can hardly be, —
Christian must fight an angel; but you see,
The valiant man by handling Sword and Shield,
Doth make him, though a Dragon, quit the field.”


Bill FedererThe Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.

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308 – Nov. 04 – This Day in Baptist History Past


 

Christ the greatest Treasure of all

 

1870 – Henry Novotny entered seminary, and in his continuing studies of scripture, he arrived at Baptist convictions. He was immersed on Feb. 12, 1885, by Pastor Charles Ondra in the largest Baptist church in Europe in Lodz, Russian Poland. However, Baptist work in Yugoslavia has never featured much success in the way of numerical growth. At one point the Baptists of that country wanted to print Pilgrim’s Progress but didn’t have the funds when they received a large gift from the First Gypsy Baptist Church in Bulgaria. This church had been founded by Vinko Vacek, a native of Yugoslavia, who had immigrated to Detroit, Mich. to seek employment around the time of World War I. One evening his attention was aroused by the music and message from a street meeting, being conducted, by a Czech Baptist Church. He followed the crowd to the church building, where another service was held, and soon afterwards received Christ as Savior, and became active in that local assembly. After the War an appeal was made for missionaries to go to the Balkans and Vinko responded and was sent toYugoslavia, with his family by the Southern Baptist Convention Missions Agency. Vinko was called home at the age of fifty-eight, but not before he planted the Word in many hearts, including founding First Gypsy Baptist Church of Bulgaria. A Gypsy band broke into a home of a peasant family in Yugoslavia  but ran away when the farmer came back. All they got was a book. They searched in vain for money between the leaves, but found none. They got someone to read it to them, and found Christ instead, Who is the greatest Treasure of all. [Rushbrooke, James H., The Baptist Movement in the Continent of Europe (London: Carey Press, 1923), p. 165. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. 602-04.]   Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon

 

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247 – Sept. 04 – This Day in Baptist History Past


 

He Died as He was Born

 

1688 – “Wednesday…was kept in prayer and humiliation for this Heavy Stroak upon us, ye Death of deare Brother Bunyan. Apoynted also that Wednesday next be kept in praire and humiliation on the same Account.” John Bunyan, their most loved pastor had died on Friday, Aug. 31 while on a preaching trip to London, England. The news had not reached his congregation in Bedford until they had gathered to worship the following Sunday. Bunyan often preached to as many as 3,000 in London after spending nearly 13 years in Bedford jail for refusing a license to preach the gospel. There he had written Pilgrim’s Progress and other great works. In 1672 the Act of Pardon had set him free. He was born to a tinker (a repairer of pots and pans). He married in 1647 and was saved and baptized into the membership of Bedford church in 1655. His wife died the same year and he remarried in 1659. He had a precious blind daughter who visited him while in jail. He died as he was born, in poverty. His death came when he was exposed to a heavy rain which brought on a high fever, and in ten days the great preacher was with the Lord. [John Brown, John Bunyan His Life Times and Work (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1888), pp. 390-91.  This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 483-485.]  Prepared by Dr. Greg Dixon

 

 

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356 – Dec. 22 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


“I will print it.”
December 22, 1677 – John Bunyan was granted a license to publish Pilgrim’s Progress. The time of his birth on Nov. 30, 1628 until he entered the “Celestial City” on Aug. 31, 1688, was a time of religious controversy, political unrest, and social violence in England. Being a man of peace Bunyan still became caught up in the political controversies and became very weary over it all. Controversy also surrounded the writing of his Progress which for many years had lain in a drawer. He had had many consultations with various friends and associates as to the impropriety of using the allegory method to deal with such a somber subject. The result of these consultations was his determination with the words, “I will print it.” The book’s publication brought multitudes to serious consideration of their peril as they read such serious consideration of their eternal peril. The Progress met with such popularity that the 10th edition was published by 1865. In that some had endeavored to counterfeit his writings for personal profit, he wrote the following words in the prefix to the second part of one of the editions: “Some have, of late, to counterfeit My Pilgrim, to their own, my title set; Yea, others, half my name, and little too, Have stitched to their books, to make them do.” Also some attacked his integrity and accused him of copying the works of others. He defended himself by prefacing his Holy War with a verse which began, “Some say the Pilgrim’s Progress is not mine, Insinuating as if I would shine. In name and fame by the worth of another, Like some made rich by robbing their brother.” Though Bunyan’s library at one time only consisted of the Bible and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, his writings and in particular Pilgrim’s Progress can be found in practical every library in the world.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 534-35.

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