John Bunyan’s Allegory of a Sinner’s Conversion

pilgrims progress_crossNow I saw in the dream, That the highway up which Christian was to go, was fenced on either side with a wall, and that wall was called Salvation. Up this way therefore did burdened Christian run, but not without great difficulty, because of the Load on his back.

He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending, and upon that place stood a Cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a Sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, That just as Christian came up with 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. Then he stood still a while to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him, that the sight of this Cross should thus ease him of his Burden. He looked therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks. Now, as he stood looking and weeping, behold three Shining Ones came to him and saluted him, with Peace be to thee; so the first said to him, Thy sins be forgiven; the second stript him of his rags, and cloathed him with Change of Raiment; the third also set a Mark on his forehead, and gave him a Roll, with a Seal upon it, which he bid him look on as he ran, and that he should give it in at the Celestial Gate; so they went their way. Then Christian gave three leaps for Joy, and went on singing:

Thus far did I come laden with my Sin;

Nor could ought ease the grief that I was in,

Till I came hither: What a place is this!

Must here be the beginning of my bliss?

Must here the Burden fall from off my back?

Must here the strings that bound it to me crack?

Blest Cross! blest Sepulchre! blest rather be

The Man that there was put to Shame for me!

(The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan)

pilgrims progress_bunyan family“When God releases us of our Guilt and Burden we are as those that leap for Joy. A Christian can sing, tho’ alone, when God doth give him the Joy of his Heart.” [John Bunyan’s notes in the margin of this excerpt from The Pilgrim’s Progress, which he began writing while imprisoned for 12 years (1660-1672) in the Bedford County jail for refusing to cease his public preaching of the Gospel without a state-approved license.]

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