Archive for the ‘Bunyan, John’ Category

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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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.


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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John Bunyan addresses the question as to why God might allow some who come to Christ to be "so lamentably cast down and buffeted with temptations". He suggests the following possible reasons:

1. Some that are coming to Christ cannot be persuaded, until the temptation comes, that they are so vile as the Scripture saith they are. True, they see so much of their wretchedness as to drive them to Christ. But there is an over and above of wickedness which they see not.

2. Some that are coming to Jesus Christ are too much affected with their own graces, and too little taken with Christ’s person; wherefore God, to take them off from doting upon their own jewels, and that they might look more to the person, undertaking, and merits of his Son, plunges them into the ditch by temptations.

3. Perhaps thou hast been given too much to judge thy brother, to condemn thy brother, because a poor tempted man. And God, to bring down the pride of thy heart, letteth the tempter loose upon thee, that thou also mayst feel thyself weak.

4. It may be thou hast dealt a little too roughly with those that God hath this way wounded, not considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. And therefore God hath suffered it to come unto thee.

5. It may be thou wast given to slumber and sleep, and therefore these temptations were sent to awake thee.

6. It may be thou hast presumed too far, and stood too much in thine own strength, and therefore is a time of temptation come upon thee.

7. It may be God intends to make thee wise, to speak a word in season to others that are afflicted; and therefore he suffereth thee to be tempted.

8. It may be Satan hath dared God to suffer him to tempt thee; promising himself, that if he will but let him do it, thou wilt curse him to his face.

9. It may be thy graces must be tried in the fire, that that rust that cleaveth to them may be taken away, and themselves proved, both before angels and devils, to be far better than of gold that perisheth; it may be also, that thy graces are to receive special praises, and honour, and glory, at the coming of the Lord Jesus to judgment, for all the exploits that thou hast acted by them against hell, and its infernal crew, in the day of thy temptation (1 Peter 1:6,7).

10. It may be God would have others learn by thy sighs, groans, and complaints, under temptation, to beware of those sins for the sake of which thou art at present delivered to the tormentors.

There is more in Christ …

The man that comes to Christ, is one that hath had deep considerations of his own sins, slighting thoughts of his own righteousness, and high thoughts of the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ; yea, he sees, as I have said, more virtue in the blood of Christ to save him, than there is in all his sins to damn him.

source: John Bunyan, “Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ”

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John Bunyan’s book “Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ” is an exposition of Jesus’ words in John 6:37 “All that the father gives to me shall come”. Bunyan believes in the Doctrines of Grace and in this chapter he lists and answers objections from someone who wonders how they might come to Christ given their natural state.

Objection 1. But they are dead, dead in trespasses and sins. How shall they then come?

The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that her shall live.

Objection 2. But they are Satan’s captives; he takes them captive at his will, and he is stronger than they. How then they then come?

Bunyan mentions the examples of the daughter of Abraham that had been bound by Satan, Mary Magdalene who had been oppressed by seven devils and the man possessed by legion. He also makes mention of Jesus binding the strong man.

Objection 3. Bunyan then raises the objection as to how they will come when they are bound by a will that will not.

The absolute promise of God, comes to be fulfilled upon them, then they come; because by that promise a cure is provided against the rebellion of their wills. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power”. … The obstinacy and plague that is in the will of that people shall be taken away; and they shall be made willing to come.

Objection 4. They come, say you; but how if they be blind and see not the way ? For some are kept off from Christ, not only by the obstinacy of their will, but by the blindness of their mind: Now, if they be blind, how shall they come ?

I will bring the blind by a way that they know not. I will lead them in paths that they know not. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight; these things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.

Objection 5. But how, if they have exceeded many in sin, and so made themselves far more abominable ?

In those days, and at that time, saith the Lord,  the iniquities of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found. Not that they had none, for they abounded in transgression ; but God would pardon, cover, hide, and put them away, by virtue of his absolute promise, by which they are given to Christ to save them.

Objection 6. But how if they have not faith and repentance ? How shall they come then ?

He that hath said they shall come, if faith and repentance be the way to come, as indeed they are, then faith and repentance shall be given to them

Objection 7. But how shall they escape all those dangerous and damnable opinions, that like rocks and quicksands are in the way in which they are going.

Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

source: John Bunyan, “Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ – Chapter 3 ‘Coming to Christ’

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I’m reading a children’s version of Pilgrim’s Progress to the children. It is a great book! Christian is a pilgrim having chosen to flee from the City of Destruction and to go on a pilgrimage to the Celestial City. On the way he falls into the Slough of Despair, climbs the Hill of Difficulty, loses his burden at the Cross, travels down the Valley of Humiliation and today he travelled through the Dark Valley. On the way he counters various characters. In what follows Christian is threatened by one of the soldiers of the Wicked Prince, Self, who I understand is our sinful nature that threatens to kill us.

"You know you have served Him very badly since you set out. You were so careless that you fell into the Slough, and you let Worldly deceive you and turn you out of the right path. Then you slept in the arbor and lost your Roll, and when you came in sight of the lions you were very nearly turning back for fear of them. And yet, at the Palace Beautiful, you talked as if you were one of the King’s most faithful servants! I don’t know how you can expect Him to do anything for you."

Little Christian knew that all these things were true, and he wondered how Self had heard about them.

"I have been very sorry," he said, “and the King will forgive me. He knows I am only a little boy.”

Then Self could not keep back his anger any longer. He had been speaking gently, because he wished Christian to forsake the King of his own accord, but when he saw that his words were of no use he became fierce with passion.

"I hate your King," he cried, "and everybody and everything belonging to Him! You are my servant, and you shall never go to the Celestial City for I will kill you."

So he held his shield firmly on his arm and caught nearly all Self’s darts upon it, until the wicked soldier became wild with rage, and rushing suddenly at little Christian he seized him in his strong arms. Those darts which Christian had not been able to catch upon his shield had struck him and wounded him in his hands and feet. His wounds were very sore and were bleeding so much that he was beginning to feel faint. Self had seen this, and he flung the child upon the ground, thinking he would now be able to kill him. Little Christian had drawn out his sword from its sheath, but when Self threw him down, it fell from his hand, and as he lay on the path he thought he had now no chance of escaping from his cruel enemy. But just as Self was going to strike his last blow, Christian saw that the sword lay within his reach. He put out his hand and caught it up, and before Self had time to prevent him, he thrust it into the soldier’s body and gave him a terrible wound.

Now the soldiers of the Wicked Prince could not bear the pain of a wound given with one of the King’s swords, and Self cried out when Christian struck him. Then the boy’s courage came back to him, and he thrust the weapon at his enemy a second time, and after that Self fled away across the valley, and Christian was left alone.

He lay for a minute upon the path, and then he got up and looked around. All over the grass lay the sharp darts that had been thrown at him, but Self was gone. Christian could not see him anywhere.

It was the King who helped me, he thought, and his heart was full of thankfulness for his wonderful deliverance.

Source: Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (modified by Helen L. Taylor)

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