John Bunyan (1628-1688) was born at Elstow, England, near Bedford. He had very little schooling. He followed his father in the tinker’s trade, and he served in the parliamentary army from1644 to 1647. Bunyan married in 1649 and lived in Elstow until 1655, when his wife died. He then moved to Bedford, and married again in 1659. John Bunyan was received into the Baptist church in Bedford by immersion in 1653 and called to preach in 1655.
Bunyan’s lengthy struggle with the conviction of sin and his amazing conversion are documented in his autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. While passing into the fields, he states, “This sentence fell upon my soul, ‘Thy righteousness is in heaven’…for my righteousness was Jesus Christ Himself, the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Then “his chains fell off,” and he went home rejoicing.
Bunyan was arrested November 12, 1660, for preaching without the approval of the Anglican Church. He was charged with “teaching men to worship God contrary to the law” and was in jail more than twelve years.
His most well-known work, The Pilgrim’s Progress, was written while in the Bedford jail. Several hundred editions have been produced in 100’s of languages. It has never gone out of print. “Bunyan’s remarkable imagery was firmly rooted in the Reformation doctrines of man’s fallen nature, grace, imputation, justification, and the atonement–all of which Bunyan seems to have derived directly from Scripture.” – Horner