I Wanted to Slap Him!

Can you imagine who?  John Bunyan!  Gracious!  I was reading his spiritual autobiography, Grace Abounding, the true story behind the allegory in Pilgrim’s Progress. The two books are natural companions.  According to W.R. Owen in the introduction, “Conversion, according to Bunyan’s view of it (unlike that of some later evangelicals) was no instantaneous event or abrupt redirection of the spiritual life but a long and arduous progression.” 

Arduous, indeed!  His pilgrimage to grace was a tortured, tormented, harrowing, distressing, despairing, vexing, perplexing, troubled, tossed, afflicted, wringing, gnashing, twining, twisting, trembling, pining, grievous, groaning and moaning journey [descriptive words taken from the text].

Dotted among trials and temptations of the soul were a few moments of relief, some words of comfort which assuaged his fears, a sprinkled punctuation of hope.  But did they last?  No, no, no  – back to the miry bog we went.  I laughed aloud (in sympathy) when after one of those moments of sweet relief  Bunyan wrote,

Where I said in my soul with much gladness, well, I would I had a pen and ink here, I would write this down before I go any further, for surely I will not forget this, forty years hence; but alas! within less than forty days I began to question all again.  p. 26 emphasis mine

Reading this book felt like reading and watching The Two Towers.  A year of dark nights, a constant battle with darkness, a weary, dreary struggle.  I came to the point where, I admit, I wanted to slap him and say, “Stop It!”  Bunyan did eventually come to the point where the chains fell off, temptations fled away and he had assurance in the work of Christ to keep his soul. 

And you know what?  His great struggles made him a better pastor.  The section about his ministry (265 – 339 – the paragraphs are numbered) should be required reading for every pastor, really for every serious Christian.  Bunyan writes that one of the causes of his protracted struggle with assurance was

…that I did not, when I was delivered from the temptation that went before, still pray to God to keep me from temptations that were to come:  p. 61
 

Compare that to this to a reflection from Christiana:

Alas, said Christiana, we were so taken with our present blessings that dangers to come were forgotten by us;   ~ Pilgrim’s Progress p. 255    

* Grace Abounding is available to read on the internet here.*

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6 thoughts on “I Wanted to Slap Him!

  1. It’s a wonderful message to Stand Still, Dana.  I enjoyed Pilgrim’s Progress more than Grace Abounding but I’m glad I read Grace Abounding.I haven’t gotten acclimated to reading on a screen yet.  But I am thankful for texts that are so readily available.  Off to the pharmacy!

  2. More on Bunyan’s frame of mind…..it may have been *popular* or *societal* at that time.  In my reading of IHC, Weaver alludes to writers in certain time periods being more concerned with death and the other world.
    Hope that makes sense.  My book is not here with me at the moment.

  3. MM, thanks for the link- it was very helpful! 
    I’m actually glad you told me that Bunyan struggled with assurance.  When I was discipled, lots of Scriptures were given on that topic, but I have yet to meet anyone who asks about it.  Or am I missing what it looks like when someone struggles with assurance?  I’d bBetter go read “Grace Abounding”!

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