John Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ has been one of the world’s most famous stories. It all started with a dream. Our modern age needs more dreamers. Dreamers with vision of new horizons and better worlds.
‘As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a den, and laid me down in that place to sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a dream. I dreamed, and behold, I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back’.’Opening words from ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’
John Bunyan’s Bedford
Bunyan lived in this village of Elstow. One day in nearby Bedford market he heard some women talking together about their new found experience of God. Bunyan was intrigued and it was later to lead to his own discovery of God as he records in his autobiography ‘Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners’.
‘.. they spake as if joy did make them speak; they spake with such pleasantness of Scripture language, and with such appearance of grace in all they said, that they were to me as if they had found a new world,’
Bunyan’s new found convictions led into a ministry of preaching in the non-conformist chapels of the area, and further afield. Soon he was arrested for un-licenced preaching and spent the years 1660-1672 in prison in Bedford and a shorter spell in 1676. It was during this later spell that he began to write a sermon. But, as he describes in his introduction to ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, he found himself writing a story instead.
‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ became one of the most published books in the English language. It has became a part of our national cultural heritage. Children have enjoyed it as a story; scholars study it as a major work of English literature, Christian believers see their own lives reflected in the characters of its pages.
Robert Browning wrote of the book:
“His language was not ours;
Tis my belief God spoke; no
tinker has such powers.”
A Pilgrim’s Progress
But as we read the story for ourselves we soon begin to find the story reading us. We see ourselves in the ‘Slough of Despond’, find ourselves toiling up ‘Hill Difficulty’, fearfully walking through the Valley of the Shadow’, trapped in the castle of ‘Giant Despair’ or walking through ‘Vanity Fair’. For all of us there stands the final river of life awaiting us, before we can reach the final destination.
‘So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up to the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble; and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.
Then was Christian glad and lightsome, and said, with a merry heart,
“He hath given me rest by his sorrow,
And life by his death.“‘
The Christian life starts there, at the cross, then the pilgrimage begins – ‘the entrance fee into the kingdom of heaven is free, but the annual subscription is all you’ve got!‘
Dreams and Dreamers
Son of a tinker by trade, with a troubled life, Bunyan has left us with an inspired work of genius. A piece of classic English literature and a spiritual treasury. In his Introduction he urges us:
‘This book will make a traveller of thee
if thou by its teaching wilt instructed be.‘
Yes, dreamers and visionaries are a huge inspiration to others. The Bible stories are full of them. Dreams can bring hope and vision, They can help to change us and our world. When we heed them they set the bells of joy ringing in heaven.
‘Then I heard in my dream that all the bells in the City rang again for joy, and that it was said unto them;
“Enter into the joy of your Lord.”………..
And after that they shut the gates, which, when I had seen, I wished myself among them.‘From the end of Pilgrim’s Progress -The two pilgrims arrival at the gates of the heavenly city
Thank you for visiting.