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"John Bunyan"
  
John Bunyan

1626-1688

 
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John Bunyan was born between Harrowden and Elstow near Bedford (England) in 1628.  Whatever education he had, he confesses, "I did soon lose the bit I learnt".  When he was 19 he was freed from the army after giving three years service to the Parliamentary forces.  He returned to his native Elstow and took up the same occupation as his father, a tinker, and soon married.  His first child Mary was born blind and he devoted a special love and affection for her.
Following his new birth and conversion, Bunyan endured much spiritual conflict until in due time he found the peace he long had sought in the Lord Jesus Christ.   In 1653 he joined himself to the congregation meeting at St John's, Bedford, which was under the pastoral care of John Gifford.  Two years later Bunyan lost his wife and also his pastor through death.  His second marriage was to Elizabeth in 1659
After the death of Gifford, Bunyan was chosen with nine others to preach the Word.  Until the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 when Charles II ascended the throne, Bunyan enjoyed the freedom to preach where he would.  But with government planning to enact the Act of Uniformity (designed to outlaw all non-conformist services), life became intolerable for Bunyan and other Puritan ministers.
Bunyan would not conform to the demands of the established church and in consequence became a marked man.  On 12th March 1660, at Lower Samsell he was arrested, tried before magistrates and detained in Bedford jail for twelve years.  It was whilst he was imprisoned that he was inspired to write The Pilgrim's Progress.  In 1674 his beloved daughter Mary died.
When he was 44 Bunyan was released from jail by a dubiously contrived Declaration of Indulgence which suspended the execution of penal laws in regard to ecclesiastical matters.  His freedom was short-lived.  In 1675 he was jailed again when the king withdrew his declaration and with it Bunyan's preaching licence.  Through the good offices of Dr John Owen, formerly chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, and the greatest of puritan theologians, Bunyan gained his release in 1677.
Bunyan lived for another ten years after he had been set free.  In that time as well as writing many books he travelled extensively in the counties of Hertford, Bedford, Buckingham, Cambridge and in London preaching the gospel.    In 1688, after contracting a fever whilst returning on horseback from a trip to Reading, from which he never recovered, Bunyan's soul departed this life to be with his Lord in the Celestial City.  His earthly remains are buried in Bunhill Fields, London.

 

 

CONVERSION OF JOHN BUNYAN.


      John Bunyan, the world-renowned author of the Pilgrim's Progress, was never a drunkard or a libertine, but was given to profanity, Sabbath-desecration and "heart-atheism." Amidst his wicked career, he had many gloomy forebodings of the wrath to come; and his nights were often scared with visions, which the boisterous diversions of his waking day could not always dispel. He would occasionally dream that the last day had come, and that the quaking earth was opening its mouth to let him down to hell. As he grew older he grew harder. He married a pious wife, who had two books, The Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven, and the Practice of Piety. He read these books, which had some effect upon him.

      One day he heard a sermon on Sabbath-breaking, and it haunted his conscience throughout the day. When in the midst of the excitement of that afternoon's diversions, a voice seemed to dart from heaven into his soul, "Wilt thou leave thy sins, and go to heaven, or have thy sins and go to hell?" His arm, which was raised to strike a ball in play, was suddenly arrested, and looking up to heaven, he said, it appeared as if the Lord Jesus was looking down [21] upon him in remonstrance and deep displeasure. He still continued on in sin, however, and ran into the delusion that repentance was now too late.

      Another time, at a neighbor's window, cursing and swearing, the woman of the house protested that he made her tremble; that he was the ungodliest fellow for swearing that she had ever heard. The woman was herself a notoriously sinful character. This reproof, from so strange a quarter silenced him. He blushed before God, and stood with hanging head. From that time onward he ceased to swear, and people wondered at the change. He read the Bible, and his outward life underwent much reformation. He says of himself:

      "I set the commandments before me for my way to heaven; which commandments I strove to keep, and, as I thought, did keep pretty well sometimes. I continued to live so a year, though I knew not Christ, nor grace, nor faith, nor love; and I was nothing but a poor painted hypocrite." He heard two pious women talk of their enjoyments in religion, which suggested to him a sort of waking vision, "I saw as if they were on the sunny side of some high mountain, there refreshing themselves in the pleasant beams of the sun, while I was shivering in the cold, afflicted with frost, snow, and dark clouds." He became an humbled sinner. "My inward and original pollution," says he, "was my plague and [22] affliction. That I saw at a dreadful rate, always putting forth itself within me; and by reason of that I was more loathsome in my own eyes than a toad, and I thought I was so in God eyes too."

      Years of despondency passed over him before he came to the enjoyment of peace with God. At last, Providence permitted a copy of Luther's Commentary on Galatians to fall into his hands. He says, "When I had but a little way perused the book, I found my condition in his experience so largely and profoundly handled, as if his volume had been written out of my heart. I became happy, and wished I might die quickly, and go to be with Him who had made His soul an offering for my sins. I felt love to Him as hot as fire; and now? as Job said, 'I thought I should die in my nest.'"

      Bunyan was soon beset by fearful temptations, to give up Christ for the follies of life, but he resisted, manfully. On one occasion, while laboring under sore trial, these words came to his remembrance--"The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin," and "Thy righteousness is in heaven." The eye of faith saw at the same time Jesus Christ at God's right hand, "and there," he exclaimed, "is my righteousness. My righteousness is Jesus Christ Himself. 'He is made of God unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.'"--This truth was his peace with God.