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In the Bedford congregation which Bunyan joined in 1655 it was a rule that new members, before they were formally admitted into full fellowship, should make a public declaration of the workings of grace in their souls.

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My good neighbour … I wish your welfare in soul and body; and if aught that I have said of … life and death may be of benefit unto you, I shall be heartily glad; only I desire you to thank God for it, and to pray heartily for me, that I with you may be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

Source: The last lines of John Bunyan’s ‘The Life and Death of Mr Badman’. Wiseman’s words to Attentive.

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And how doth God the Holy Ghost save thee?

By his illumination, by his renovation and by his preservation.

What is God’s design in saving of poor men?

The glorifying of his Name, of his Grace and Justice, and the everlasting happiness of his creature.

Source: John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress
(Christiana – Prudence’s catechising of Christiana’s children)

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Christian comes to the cross.

He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending, and upon that place stood a cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. 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, and began to tumble, and so continued to do, till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.

… Now, as he stood looking and weeping, behold three Shining Ones came to him and saluted him with "Peace be unto thee". So the first said to him, "Thy sins be forgiven thee"; the second stripped him of his rags, and clothed him with change of raiment ; the third also set a mark on his forehead, and gave him a roll with a seal upon it, which he bade him look on as he ran, and that he should give it in at the Celestial Gate.

Christian comes to Hill of Difficulty.

I beheld, then, that they all went on till they came to the foot of the Hill Difficulty; at the bottom of which was a spring. There were also in the same place two other ways besides that which came straight from the gate; one turned to the left hand, and the other to the right, at the bottom of the hill; but the narrow way lay right up the hill, and the name of the going up the side of the hill is called Difficulty. Christian now went to the spring, and drank thereof, to refresh himself … I looked, then, after Christian, to see him go up the hill, where I perceived he fell from running to going, and from going to clambering upon his hands and his knees, because of the steepness of the place. Now, about the midway to the top of the hill was a pleasant arbour, made by the Lord of the hill for the refreshing of weary travellers; thither, therefore, Christian got, where also he sat down to rest him.

Christian falls asleep in the arbour. He is awaken by a Shining One but has to proceed in the dark and as an oversight leaves his scroll behind.

At last he bethought himself that he had slept in the arbour that is on the side of the hill; and, falling down upon his knees, he asked God’s forgiveness for that his foolish act, and then went back to look for his roll. But all the way he went back, who can sufficiently set forth the sorrow of Christian’s heart? Sometimes he sighed, sometimes he wept, and oftentimes he chid himself for being so foolish to fall asleep in that place, which was erected only for a little refreshment for his weariness. Thus, therefore, he went back, carefully looking on this side and on that, all the way as he went, if happily he might find his roll, that had been his comfort so many times in his journey. He went thus, till he came again within sight of the arbour where he sat and slept; but that sight renewed his sorrow the more, by bringing again, even afresh, his evil of sleeping into his mind. Thus, therefore, he now went on bewailing his sinful sleep, saying, O wretched man that I am that I should sleep in the day-time! that I should sleep in the midst of difficulty! that I should so indulge the flesh, as to use that rest for ease to my flesh, which the Lord of the hill hath erected only for the relief of the spirits of pilgrims!

… Now, by this time he was come to the arbour again, where for a while he sat down and wept; but at last, as Christian would have it, looking sorrowfully down under the settle, there he espied his roll; the which he, with trembling and haste, catched up, and put it into his bosom. But who can tell how joyful this man was when he had gotten his roll again! for this roll was the assurance of his life and acceptance at the desired haven. Therefore he laid it up in his bosom, gave thanks to God for directing his eye to the place where it lay, and with joy and tears betook himself again to his journey.

After climbing the Hill of Difficult, Christian sojourns at the Beautiful Palace. There he is shown many things from the Scriptures before the time comes for him to depart.

Then he began to go forward; but Discretion, Piety, Charity, and Prudence would accompany him down to the foot of the hill. So they went on together, reiterating their former discourses, till they came to go down the hill. Then said Christian, As it was difficult coming up, so, so far as I can see, it is dangerous going down. Yes, said Prudence, so it is, for it is a hard matter for a man to go down into the Valley of Humiliation, as thou art now, and to catch no slip by the way; therefore, said they, are we come out to accompany thee down the hill. So he began to go down, but very warily; yet he caught a slip or two.

Later on the journey Christian meets up with Faithful.

Then I saw in my dream they went very lovingly on together, and had sweet discourse of all things that had happened to them in their pilgrimage

Hopeful allows himself to follow Christian’s lead off the narrow path. Christian believes that the slight detour will not permanently lead them off the path and make things more comfortable.

Christian: Who could have thought that this path should have led us out of the way?

Hopeful: I was afraid on it at the very first, and therefore gave you that gentle caution. I would have spoken plainer, but that you are older than I.

Christian: Good brother, be not offended; I am sorry I have brought thee out of the way, and that I have put thee into such imminent danger; pray, my brother, forgive me; I did not do it of an evil intent.

Hopeful: Be comforted, my brother, for I forgive thee; and believe, too, that this shall be for our good.

Christian: I am glad I have with me a merciful brother; but we must not stand thus: let us try to go back again.

Christian and Hopeful are captured by Giant Despair who locks them in his dungeon in Doubting Castle. They are beaten often and come close to falling into total despair as had many pilgrims before them. Hopeful says:

Others, so far as I can understand, have been taken by him, as well as we; and yet have escaped out of his hand. Who knows, but the God that made the world may cause that Giant Despair may die? … my brother, let us be patient, and endure a while. The time may come that may give us a happy release … With these words Hopeful at present did moderate the mind of his brother; so they continued together (in the dark) that day, in their sad and doleful condition.

Shortly afterwards, Christian remembers that he has a key ‘Promise’ and the Pilgrims are able to escape the giant and dungeon of despair. Later they learn of how Giant Despair had blinded the eyes of many of his captives causing them to wander and fall amongst the tombs of the dead.

The Pilgrims travel in through the Delectable Mountains and the Shepherds’ Fields and the Beautiful Land belonging to Immanuel.

Finally Christian and Hopeful together cross the dark river. For Christian in particular the crossing is difficult and fearful.

These troubles and distresses that you go through in these waters are no sign that God hath forsaken you; but are sent to try you, whether you will call to mind that which heretofore you have received of his goodness, and live upon him in your distresses.

Shining Ones meet the pilgrims on the other side of the river. The pilgrims ascend the mighty mountain upon which the celestial stood. The climb with much agility and speed having left their mortal garments behind them in the river. Bunyan mentions a city with foundations on the mountain but rises above the clouds, sweet conversation, clouds as chariots, beauty and glory inexpressible, the paradise of God, tree of life, never-fading fruits, white robes, walking with the King, the former things no more, participating in the final judgment, comforts, crowns of glory, the perpetual sight and vision of the Holy One. Also the sounding of trumpets, the ringing of bells, shouts and joyful singing that welcome the pilgrim’s arrival.

Oh, by what tongue or pen can their glorious joy be expressed!

And thus they came up to the gate.

So I awoke, and behold it was a dream.

source: John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress

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Having fled the City of Destruction, Pilgrim falls into the Slough of Despond. A servant of the king is sent to assist Pilgrim out of the bog. Help makes the following statement:

This miry slough is such a place as cannot be mended; it is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore it is called the Slough of Despond; for still, as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there ariseth in his soul many fears, and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place. And this is the reason of the badness of this ground.

source: John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress

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I have just started to read John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress in its original unabridged old English style (and with no divisions into chapters). The copy I am reading was given to my grandmother’s sister in 1934 by my great-grandparents. I like the idea of reading a book that almost 80 years ago and four generations ago came into my family. I value that. The book has that old smell of dusty pages. I think reading this book is going to be really enjoyable. The first line is great! So is the first paragraph.

 

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?"

 

source: John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress

We are pilgrims on a journey
We are brothers and sisters on the road.
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile, and bear the load.

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Temptation

Temptations, when we meet them at first, are as the lion that roared upon Samson; but if we overcome them, the next time we see them, we shall find a nest of honey within them.

Encouragement

The milk and honey are beyond this wilderness. God be merciful to you, and grant that you be not slothful to go in to possess the land.

John Bunyan warns against being "settled and rooted" in sin.

This (sermon), for that instant did benumb the sinews of my best delight, and embitter my former pleasures to me; but behold, it lasted not, for before I had well dined, the trouble (conviction) began to go off my mind, and my heart returned to its old course: but oh! How glad was I, that this trouble was gone from me, and that the fire was put out, that I might sin again without control! Wherefore, when I had satisfied nature with my food, I shook the sermon out of my mind, and to my old custom … I returned with great delight.

A work of power by abounding grace

But how it came to pass, I know not; I did from this time forward so leave my swearing, that it was a great wonder to myself to observe it; and whereas before, I knew not how to speak unless I put an oath before, and another behind, to make my words have authority; now, I could, without it, speak better, and with more pleasantness, than ever I could before.

source: Selected quotes from John Bunyan, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners

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