John Bunyan, 1628-1688, Baptist Preacher, Writer
Written by: Ruckman Posted on: 03/13/2003
English Baptist preacher and writer. John Bunyan was born in
Elstow, England, near Bedford, where he spent most of his
life. Although today he is regarded as a literary genius, he
had little formal education. At the age of 16, this rough and
profane young man enlisted in the army of Parliament, and saw
active duty during the English Civil War.
In 1647, at the age of 19, he married a young woman,
who persuaded him to attend church with her regularly, where
he heard the Gospel. After deep and prolonged soul struggle,
he made a complete surrender to Christ, and was converted,
after which he was baptized and joined the Baptist church of
Soon, he began to preach there and also in the sur-
rounding villages, which caused the people to recognize in
him elements of leadership as well as ability as an expositor
of the Scriptures. Continuing in his trade as a tinker, he
witnessed wherever he went, in addition to spending his holi-
days and Sundays preaching in barns, shops, village greens,
as well as in the open air.
Soon great crowds began to follow him, which led to
his arrest and imprisonment in 1660 for conducting a "conven-
ticle"--religious meeting without the permission of the State
Church. When offered his freedom if he would promise not to
preach, he refused and chose jail. While in prison, he stud-
ied, preached, wrote, and supported his family by making and
selling shoelaces. It was while a prisoner that he wrote his
immortal Pilgrim's Progress in 1672.
He was released and immediately resumed his ministry.
During the last 16 years of his life, he was active as pas-
tor, writer, helper, counselor, organizer, administrator, and
pastor-in-chief to a multitude of churches and young minis-
ters. Bunyan was a champion for the cause of religious lib-
erty and freedom of conscience in spiritual matters. One who
knew him well wrote, "The grace of God was magnified in him
and by him, and a rich anointing of the Spirit was upon him.
And yet this great saint was always, in his own eyes, the
chiefest of sinners and the poorest of saints."
He died in 1688 after riding 40 miles in a driving
rain on horseback to London to preach. He was always a poor
man, yet, through his example, his ministry, and especially
his pen, he bequeathed inestimable riches to posterity.
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