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Pilgrims Progress

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Never let it be said that the members of the Book Club do not like a challenge! From the easy read of January’s book choice, in February we took it upon ourselves to read “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan. A book about which we had all heard; with which we felt we were acquainted and whose characters had been referred to in various sermons by different preachers. BUT which none of us had actually sat down and read.
Well, we have now! At least the majority of us have, but everyone had made a serious effort to come to tackle the book. It is not easily read by someone from the twenty-first century. The language and the Biblical cross-referencing do not sit easily with those who are more used to our smoother and more instantly understandable styles. To do this book more justice we would have had to spend a lot of time in serious study of the Bible, John Bunyan’s life and period and “Pilgrim’s Progress” itself. As it was we summoned up PERSEVERANCE and kept going.
Were we pleased we had done so? The overwhelming opinion was in the affirmative. We learned so much; had so many of the lessons, which have been hammered into us over the years, reinforced, e.g., “Keep to the straight and narrow path.” And while we may not have liked the rhyming couplets of his little verses – some of which were pretty dire – we could at least appreciate their mnemonic qualities
“Better, tho’ difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, tho’ easy, where the end is woe.”
Some of us found Bunyan’s characters being given abstract nouns for names of characters or places rather unusual but appreciated that for a Puritan like Bunyan - this was in keeping with the puritan mindset of his day and also, of course, depicted instantly the virtues or vices of the character. For example, Discretion, Piety, Charity and Prudence would accompany Christian, our hero, down to the valley of Humiliation or there was Mr Valiant-for-the-Truth (what a soubriquet!)
Constantly, throughout our reading, we recognised the situations and people of the allegory were still applicable today and many of the references came instantly to our minds, for example, when Christian sees the armour, the sword, shield, helmet and ALLPRAYER|, we knew exactly what John Bunyan meant.
We could identify with many of the situations Christian found himself in,
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especially his lapses, but were encouraged that he kept trying and keeping on striving to complete his journey. That he could do so, was also helped by the encouragement and friendship of the good people he met on his journey. We felt this was so true of anyone trying to live a Christian life.
Overall we found “Pilgrim’s Progress” challenging, intriguing and thought provoking and well worth reading. We were full of admiration for John Bunyan, who, we were amazed to learn, had had very little schooling and who had followed his father’s trade as a tinker. After serving in the Parliamentary army he became a deacon in the Baptist church and began preaching only to eventually be imprisoned for preaching without a license. For this offence he served 12 years in prison, eventually was freed only to be harassed by being imprisoned again to be let out once more – a sort of cat and mouse game with the authorities, until they gave up.
Having read just this one of his books, we concluded we would have loved to hear him preach! His message and understanding still holds a powerful sway even today – just one site on the web on “Pilgrim’s Progress” had 25,736 hits! The most difficult thing about really reading this book is making the time to do it justice.

John Bunyan on Prayer

 Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God and a scourge for Satan.
 When you pray, rather let your heart be without words than your words without heart
 Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer

Author: John Bunyan



Pilgrims Progress

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