John Bunyan (1628 – 1688), writer and preacher, was born at Harrowden (1 mile south-east of Bedford), in the Parish of Elstow, England. He wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress, arguably the most famous published Christian allegory.
In 1655 he became a deacon and began preaching, with marked success from the start. In 1658 he was indicted for preaching without a licence. He continued, however, and did not suffer imprisonment till November 1660, when he was taken to the county jail in Silver Street, Bedford. There he was confined at first for three months, but on his refusing to conform or to desist from preaching, his confinement was extended for a period of nearly 12 years (with the exception of a few weeks in 1666) until January 1672, when Charles II issued the Declaration of Religious Indulgence.
In that month he became pastor of the Bedford church. In March 1675, he was again imprisoned for preaching (because Charles II withdrew the Declaration of Religious Indulgence), this time in the Bedford town jail on the stone bridge over the Ouse. In six months he was free and as a result of his popularity he was not again molested.
Being the fruits of true Christianity: Teaching husbands, wives, parents, children, masters, servants, etc., how to walk so as to please G O D. With a word of direction to all backsliders. Written in 1663, while imprisoned in Bedford Prison. This was John Bunyan’s third book during his first incarceration.
Grace Abounding is one of the most interesting pieces of biography in existence. It lays bare Bunyan’s inner life and reveals his preparation for his appointed work. It is very prolix and, being all about Bunyan himself. It might seem intolerably egotistical except that his motive in writing it was plainly to exalt the concept of grace and to comfort those passing through experiences somewhat like his own.
Subtitled “The Losing and Taking Again of the Town of Mansoul”, “The Holy War” ranks next to The Pilgrim’s Progress in popularity.
Bunyan began to write The Pilgrim’s Progress in his first period of imprisonment, and probably finished it during the second. Its full title is “The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come”. The full book is in two parts, of which the first appeared in London in 1678 and the second, which deals with the experiences of Christian’s wife, was published in 1684. However, the first part is by far the more popular.
The Pilgrim’s Progress is the most successful allegory ever written and has been extensively translated into other languages.