“This hill, though high, I covet to ascend:
The difficulty will not me offend,
For I perceive the way to life lies here:
Come, pluck up, heart, let’s neither faint nor fear!
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.”
This is one of my favourite little books, and was a gateway into the rich world of Puritan literature. I first read a child’s version in my early years, but quickly came to prefer the complete and unabridged versions. Behind the Bible, this is my most read book.
We can learn much through this simple allegory of the Christian life, of being a pilgrim and stranger in this world, possessing no continuing city here, but seeking the city which is to come (Heb 13:14).
Charles Spurgeon also loved Pilgrim’s Progress, and opens his Pictures From Pilgrim’s Progress – a Commentary on Portions of John Bunyan’s Immortal Allegory with these words: “Next to the Bible, the book that I value most is John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. I believe I have read it through at least a hundred times. It is a volume of which I never seem to tire; and the secret of its freshness is that it is so largely compiled from the Scriptures. It is Biblical teaching put into the form of a simple yet very striking allegory.”
As Spurgeon said elsewhere, he loved Bunyan because Bunyan bled Bibline.
While Bunyan’s Pilgrim describes the lived experience of many, placing the Slough of Despond and Wicket Gate before the Cross, it must be noted that this is not the ideal path for a Christian. Instead, flee to the Cross first, for it is much easier to journey on the way without a burden on your back.
“Thus far did I come laden with my sin,
Nor could aught 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!”
This Christian classic is available in many versions from rewritten for children, to abridged, and modernised English, as well as the complete and unabridged. It has even been translated into more than 200 languages.
This is essential reading for all, and should be in every Christian’s library!