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JOHN BUNYAN THE REFORMED DRUNKARD, VISIONARY AND WRITER OF “PIL
(INTRODUCTORY NOTE) Bunyan was, like his predecessor, Fox, one of the thousands of independent peasant thinkers and fanatical preachers who spread over Eng. land during the Puritan period. Rarely did any two of these visionaries agree, and Bunyan both preached and wrote in direct opposition to Fox and the other Quakers. In 1660, at the time of the overthrow of Puritan dominion and the restoration of King Charles II, Bunyan was arrested for preaching without legal authority, and was kept twelve years in jail. He then turned his attention to writing and during this and later imprisonments composed his celebrated "Pilgrim's Progress” and other religious works. No earlier work had ever leaped into such immediate repute as “Pilgrim's Progress.” Within ten years of its issue over a hundred thousand copies had been sold. It was one of the first books printed in America and has since been translated into eighty-four different languages.
Bunyan wrote some sixty books in all, and next to his great masterpiece the best known is his autobiography with the quaint title “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners.” Despite its personal character, this strange book is almost as full of visions as “Pilgrim's Progress.” Indeed Bunyan lived in visions, and seems not always to have been able to distinguish between figures of the material world and the figments of his imagination. It is this that makes his personal narrative so instructive to students of human nature and psychology. As to Bunyan's assertions of his early wickedness, drunkenness, and so on, he may have unconsciously exaggerated or even invented his sins, as what little outside evidence we possess seems to show him as always of good character and high repute.
GRACE ABOUNDING TO THE CHIEF OF SINNERS