Doctrinal and Devotional Thoughts
on John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress
“As I walk’d through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place, where was a Denn; And I laid me down in that place to sleep: And as I slept I dreamed a Dream.”
John Bunyan (1628-1688), a Baptist preacher, was incarcerated in 1660 for the crime of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ in England without a license from the Anglican Church, the officially recognized church of the British Empire.
Although he was imprisoned in the Bedford Jail (a Denn), he was a blessed man indeed according to Psalm 1:1-2,
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”
It was Mr. Bunyan’s passion to preach the gospel of Christ unto the salvation of souls. In his autobiographical treatise, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, he writes, “In my preaching I have really been in pain, and have as it were, travailed to bring forth children to God; neither could I be satisfied unless some fruits did appear in my work. If I were fruitless it mattered not who commended me; but if I were fruitful, I cared not who condemned me.”
Although he had such an immense passion for preaching to lost souls for their salvation unto God’s glory, his imprisonment was not a matter of defeat or discontent. This new “condition” he now found himself by God’s blessed providence was an opportunity to rest in the grace of his Lord and Master (I laid me down in that place to sleep). Again, from Grace Abounding, he writes, “I never knew what it was for God to stand by me at all turns, and at every offer of Satan to afflict me, &c., as I have found him since I came in hither…”
John Bunyan was not a man to be placed upon a pedestal; and though he was one who was used powerfully to proclaim the gospel abroad in England unto the salvation of many souls, he openly confessed the corruptions of flesh and hell’s troubling minions while attending to his gifted ministry calling. “But in this work, as in all other,” he writes in Grace Abounding, “I had my temptations attending me, and that of divers kinds… Sometimes again, when I have been preaching, I have been violently assaulted with thoughts of blasphemy, and strongly tempted to speak words with my mouth before the congregation…. Again, when as sometimes I have been about to preach upon some smart and searching portion of the word, I have found the tempter suggest, ‘What! will you preach this? This condemns yourself…'”
Since the plan and providence of God had brought John Bunyan to prison, then he resigned himself to rest upon the grace of God in Christ, and find comfort in readings and meditations upon God’s holy scriptures (I dreamed a Dream). Once again, from his words written in Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, his imprisonment brought him to be strengthened further in God’s Word: “…for look how fears have presented themselves, so have supports and encouragements; yea, when I have started, even as it were at nothing else but my shadow, yet God, as being very tender of me, hath not suffered me to be molested, but would, with one Scripture or another, strengthen me against all, insomuch that I have often said, ‘Were it lawful, I could pray for greater trouble, for the greater comfort’s sake.'”
Consider your times of trial, testings, temptations, afflictions and tribulations. How has meditating upon God’s Word brought you comfort?
What passages of scripture have been a special encouragement to you?
Please leave a testimony of Christ’s faithfulness in the comments below.
Click on the title at the end of this sentence to read the last article, “A Pilgrim’s Ponderings 1.”
If you do not have a copy of The Pilgrim’s Progress, you can get a free PDF download from ChapelLibrary.org.
You can also download a free PDF copy of Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners from ChapelLibrary.org.