John Bunyan, 1628-1688, English pastor and writer
Written by: Ruckman Posted on: 03/12/2003
BIO:John Bunyan 1628-1688 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 Bedford. 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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