Pilgrim & Dreamer

John Bunyan

His Life and Work

Foreword

It is some years since an adequate biography of John Bunyan has been issued. By adequate is meant one which is based on the latest historical research into the life of Bunyan and his times, and which in addition is true to the Evangelical and Puritan principles which, at such great cost, he upheld. This book claims to meet both these important requirements.

Books there are about John Bunyan, some admiring him, others critical of him. This raises the vital question of the relationship of the biographer to his subject. Should he be detached from his subject, or involved with him?

Obviously a biography of Bunyan by one who is strongly opposed to Puritanism, or who does not understand its distinctive principles, is unlikely to be successful. A book about the author of The Pilgrim’s Progress written by one who is not himself a Christian pilgrim cannot be reliable. We have had writings by Anglo-Catholics and by secular psychiatrists to whom the mind and spirit of John Bunyan were completely alien. How could it be otherwise?

Ideally the writer on John Bunyan should be deeply involved with his subject, and yet at the same time, in some sense, detached from it. The present writer feels bound to “declare his interest”. From college days when he first began to study Bunyan, he has learned to love and value his many works. He, too, has been led to hold Puritan principles and values as the best of the Puritans held them in the seventeenth century. There is a spiritual affinity with Bunyan, an agreement with him on all the chief points of doctrine and Church government. At the same time, the author is detached from the subject in so far as he surveys Bunyan’s scene and activities from the point of view of a different century with a totally different ethos. Nor can one wholly endorse everything John Bunyan wrote, for though deeply taught of the Spirit he was still a child of his times.

At the same time, this great Englishman and Christian writer, who made such a great contribution to the spiritual knowledge and religious and civil liberties of his day, speaks to our age also. With all our scientific and technical knowledge, our landing on the moon and voyages in space, our vision of world unity and peace (still so far from being realised), we still need to know God and his saving grace, and how the burden of our sin and guilt can be lifted and how, at the last, we can enter with joy into the gate of the Celestial City. No knowledge is more vital than this.

This, John Bunyan can tell us, if only we will listen.

Index

  1. Lowly Beginnings
  2. Puritan England
  3. Soldier under Fairfax
  4. Troubled Tinker
  5. Sinner Saved
  6. Puritan Preacher
  7. Imprisonment
  8. Pastor of the Flock
  9. “The Pilgrim’s Progress”
  10. Eager Writer
  11. Maker of Verses
  12. Triumphant Years
  13. The Man