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Attempting to obey God and follow Jesus Christ our Lord

John Bunyan and Pilgrim’s Progress

American Minute with Bill Federer

FEB. 22 – John Bunyan and Pilgrim’s Progress

John Bunyan was a poor, unskilled tinker by trade.In 1657, at age 29, Bunyan became a Baptist minister and was arrested for having religious meetings, preaching without a license from the government.

John Bunyan wrote in aRelation of My Imprisonment:

“Upon the 12th of…November 1660…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.”

John Bunyan was imprisoned for 12 years, during which time he tried to support his family by making shoelaces.

He wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress, published FEBRUARY 18, 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.

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.

Benjamin Franklin wrote in hisAutobiography:

“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.”

It inspired many subsequent books, such as Mark Twain‘sInnocents Abroad or the New Pilgrim’s Progress (1869); C.S. Lewis’ Pilgrim’s Regress (1933); and L. Frank Baum‘sWizard of Oz (1900).

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 book, 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 Pilgrim’s Progress is written:

“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 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…

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…

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.”

Ben Franklin wrote in hisAutobiography:

“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.”

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 Grover Cleveland had memorized Pilgrim’s Progress as a youth, and commented:

“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 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.’”

President Franklin Roosevelt referred to John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress on 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.’”
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12 responses

  1. Pingback: The End Time: Heavenly minded is good | Loopyloo's

  2. NEO

    As I was traveling recently, I was re-reading Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women”, which I read in, I’d guess, Junior High School, and I noted that the girls had turned “Pilgrims Progress” into a children’s’ game.

    And up till 1910 or so, this was the second best selling book in America, while “Pilgrims Progress” itself was third.

    We would do well to make it that popular with our young people again. And there is a good animated video version as well.

    February 22, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    • Amen, I haven’t read the updated version that is in modern English but I think that I will check it out! It would be great for almost anyone to read. I wonder if someone could make a video game out of it?

      February 22, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      • NEO

        Nor have I, in fact I haven’t read the original in years either. I was strongly reminded of it a couple of weeks ago when one of my co-author’s writers did a series on it, so far I haven’t found my copy.

        I love the old Elizabethan English so will stay with the original but a modern version is also a good thing.

        I see no reason it couldn’t make a very good video game, not that I have any idea how to go about it :-)

        February 22, 2013 at 2:45 pm

        • I don’t know how either, but it might be a lot better for kids than what a lot of them play now! God bless you Neo!

          February 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm

          • NEO

            I would almost have to be.

            Bless you, as well, Loopy!

            February 22, 2013 at 3:12 pm

  3. I needed this witnessing ! Bless you my beautiful friend !

    February 22, 2013 at 10:07 pm

  4. Reblogged this on "Ye Shall Know Me by My Fruits" and commented:
    I enjoyed this American History Minute~ Plenty packed in brief backpack! Hopefully you do, too!

    February 22, 2013 at 10:09 pm

  5. Thank you for the reblog my friend and I am so glad that is helped you. God bless you as well!

    February 22, 2013 at 10:22 pm

  6. angels2send

    wonderful illustrations, i enjoyed this too! i love hitting random on my favorite blogs. so much to see!

    July 20, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    • I have been reading “Pilgrim’s Progress” because I have not read it before and even though it is sometimes hard to read, it is a wonderful book! God bless you!

      July 20, 2013 at 5:16 pm

      • angels2send

        i don´t honestly think i´ve read anything by bunyan from cover to cover. he is such a “dippable” author, even in audio i dip rather than stay awhile. hope you have a wonderful sunday, and God bless you too!

        July 21, 2013 at 4:55 am

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