Wilson Lumpkin

Wilson Lumpkin

The Baptist Encyclopedia: Edited by William Cathcart. (1883) pp 724-5

Lumpkin, Ex-Gov. Wilson, of Georgia was born in Pennsylvania Co., Va., Jan. 14, 1788 and died at Athens, Ga., on the 28th December, 1870, at the age of eighty-seven.

In 1786 his parents moved to Georgia, bringing with them the infant destined to fill so many conspicuous positions in the State of his adoption. At eighteen years of age his mind became awakened to the great importance of salvation, and he experienced peace through faith. Personal investigation of the Scriptures led to his adoption of Baptist views, although his parents were Methodists, and his predilections were towards the Presbyterians. In the course of time his parents, affected by his baptism, became Baptists themselves, after searching the Scriptures. Subsequently, others of the family followed the parents into the waters of baptism, and in a short period all the adult members of the family united with a Baptist church. “God made me a Baptist,” said Gov. Lumpkin to a friend, in after-life, “and I can never be anything else. I must be of this faith, if I am the only person in the world professing it,” and to the end of his long life he remained steadfast to his convictions.

Hardly had he attained his twenty-first year before he was elected a member of the Legislature of Georgia, which met in 1804, and he discharged his responsible duties so satisfactorily that he was elected for several consecutive sessions. In 1814 he was chosen to represent his district in the national councils, and took his seat at Washington the same year,-a year memorable for the destruction of the national capital by the British troops.

For several sessions Mr. Lumpkin was returned to Congress, bearing off the prize from all competitors. In 1831 he was so prominent with his party – the old Union party, as it was then termed – that he received the nomination for governor, and his election followed. Having served the State for two years, he was triumphantly re-elected in 1833. On retiring from the gubernatorial chair he received, from Gen. Jackson, an important commission in connection with Indian affairs, after the discharge of which duty he became, in 1838, a United States Senator.

He had now enjoyed all the political honors the State could bestow, and being nearly threescore years of age, he sought retirement; and, purchasing a comfortable home in the vicinity of Athens, Ga., he spent in that locality the remainder of his days. The only public service he afterwards rendered was as a member of the board of trustees of the State University, of which he was the senior member and honored president for many years.

Few men have lived in Georgia more universally popular than Gov. Lumpkin. He never failed to secure any office for which he was a candidate before the people. For forty consecutive years he was retained in positions of high trust and honor, and for a much longer period, if we include his service as trustee of the State University. His popularity was due, in a good degree, to his unswerving fidelity to the trusts he had received. If not a bold and dashing leader, he was a prudent officer, and the people felt that the public interests were safe in his hands. He was always ready to serve his friends at any reasonable sacrifice, whilst towards his political opponents he deported himself with so much courtesy that he was constantly disarming their opposition and winning them to his support.

He was endowed by nature with an active and inquiring mind. He early learned to think for himself, and by this process his fine intellectual gifts were drawn out or educated. There were few subjects of importance connected with the science of government which had not been carefully examined by him, and his opinions were promptly forthcoming whenever required. His official papers while governor, and his speeches while a member of Congress, are able and statesmanlike, evincing a thorough knowledge of the subjects discussed; and they are written with the perspicuity and good sense characteristic of a man who has something to say and is intent only in lodging his meaning in the minds of those whom he addresses.

But it was the elevated moral and religious character dignifying and adorning the life of Gov. Lumpkin which constituted his highest excellence. He was a Christian statesman, not indifferent to the approbation of his fellow-men, but far more anxious for the honor which comes from above. With some honorable exceptions, politicians make poor church members; but Gov. Lumpkin never furled his religious colors for fear it might lose him the votes of those who were of a different religious faith. Whether at his country home, where he first professed faith in Christ, or at Milledgeville, or in Washington City, or Athens, he always took his stand for Christ, identifying himself with his Baptist brethren, however obscure they might be. Assuming nothing on account of the high honors he had received from the State, he took his place among the humblest members of the church, ever counting it a privilege to be even a door-keeper in the house of God. When the work of the Lord was revived, no one rejoiced more than he; and it was a touching sight to see him exhorting the youthful converts to be faithful to their vows, when they presented themselves for church-membership. His silvery locks and tearful eye and tremulous voice emphasized his pious advice with a power and pathos which subdued every heart.

He courted the confidence of his brethren more than the praises of politicians. Late in life he attended a meeting of the Sarepta Association, and, quite unexpectedly to himself, was elected moderator. His heart was touched by the respect thus expressed, and he subsequently remarked that no office which worldly men had conferred ever gave him such pleasure as the confidence thus exhibited by his brethren in calling him to preside over their deliberations. He was a man of great faith and large heart, and with a nature as tender and sensitive as a woman’s. Afflictions severe and frequent kept his heart soft. ” He had,” said one who knew him most intimately, “as much real, heart-breaking, continued trouble as any one I have ever known, yet such was his faith in God that he could rejoice at all times.” He was accustomed to say, “I would rather walk in the dark with God than go alone in the light. My dear Lord appoints all my troubles, and I brush away the coming tears when I think that it is his will.”

At the time of his death he was probably the oldest Baptist, as he was certainly among the oldest citizens, of the State. He served his generation faithfully, by the will of God, and then fell asleep,- that ” blessed sleep, From which none ever wakes to weep.”

Jesus of Nazareth – by Broadus

John A. Broadus stands tall in Southern Baptist history. He helped found the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, served as its second president, and taught there for thirty-six years. His work, On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, still serves seminary students as a classic in the field of homiletics. I recently placed one of his lesser known works online. He presented a series of lectures entitled “Jesus of Nazareth” at Johns Hopkins University in March of 1890.

Gospel Tract: Who is Jesus?

Matthew Hall asks about the usefulness of gospel tracts. I believe that good literature can serve as wonderful evangelistic tools. Unfortunately, most tracts that I’ve encountered have very weak or faulty theology and could do more harm than good. They leave the reader either confused or with a false sense of security. I wish I would have saved a tract someone handed me in a crowd a few months ago. It contained a few passages of scripture that didn’t have any discernable connection to one another, a few cheesy religious clip art images, and of course the obligatory “sinners prayer.” Even I had a hard time de scrambling the intended message. I’m sure the folks handing them out meant well, but I don’t know how effective the small slips of paper were in the hands of the uninitiated.

For some time I’ve said I should write a tract of my own. I recently heard of a church who encourages all of their church members to write up their personal testimony, describing how God worked in their lives to bring them to Himself. The church then professionally prints the text for distribution in their community. I think that’s a wonderful idea.

Recently I have been using a tract published by Grace to You. It comes as a 10 page booklet, a little smaller than a CD case insert. The front cover pictures an eye catching Stop sign with the words, “Who do you think I am?” Enough space on the back allows you to add a sticker for your own ministry. You can read the text for yourself below.

stop sign

Who do you think that I am?” With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.

split

Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well. Consider what the Bible says about Him

JESUS IS GOD

While Jesus was on earth there was much confusion about who He was. Some thought He was a wise man or a great prophet. Others thought He was a madman. Still others couldn’t decide or didn’t care. But Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). That means He claimed to be nothing less than God in human flesh.

Many people today don’t understand that Jesus claimed to be God. They’re content to think of Him as little more than a great moral teacher. But even His enemies understood His claims to deity. That’s why they tried to stone Him to death (John 5:18; 10:33) and eventually had Him crucified (John 19:7).

road closed

C.S. Lewis observed, “You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to” (Mere Christianity [Macmillan, 1952], pp. 40-41).

If the biblical claims of Jesus are true, He is God!

JESUS IS HOLY

God is absolutely and perfectly holy (Isaiah 6:3), therefore He cannot commit or approve of evil (James 1:13).

As God, Jesus embodied every element of God’s character. Colossians 2:9 says, “In Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” He was perfectly holy (Hebrews 4:15). Even His enemies couldn’t prove any accusation against Him (John 8:46)

God requires holiness of us as well. First Peter 1:16 says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

keep right

Our failure to obey God–to be holy–places us in danger of eternal punishment (2 Thessalonians 1:9). The truth is, we cannot obey Him because we have neither the desire nor the ability to do so. We are by nature rebellious toward God (Ephesians 2:1-3). The Bible calls our rebellion “sin.”

According to Scripture, everyone is guilty of sin: “There is no man who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And we are incapable of changing our sinful condition. Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”

That doesn’t mean we’re incapable of performing acts of human kindness. We might even be involved in various religious or humanitarian activities. But we’re utterly incapable of understanding, loving, or pleasing God on our own. The Bible says, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).

All Violaters Will Be Prosecuted

God’s holiness and justice demand that all sin be punished by death: “The soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4). That’s hard for us to understand because we tend to evaluate sin on a relative scale, assuming some sins are less serious than others. However, the Bible teaches that all acts of sin are the result of sinful thinking and evil desires. That’s why simply changing our patterns of behavior can’t solve our sin problem or eliminate its consequences. We need to be changed inwardly so our thinking and desires are holy

Jesus is the only one who can forgive and transform us, thereby delivering us from the power and penalty of sin: “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

This Way Out

Even though God’s justice demands death for sin, His love has provided a Savior, who paid the penalty and died for sinners: “Christ … died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Christ’s death satisfied the demands of God’s justice, thereby enabling Him to forgive and save those who place their faith in Him (Romans 3:26). John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” He alone is “our great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13).

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

Some people think it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere. But without a valid object your faith is useless

If you take poison–thinking it’s medicine–all the faith in the world won’t restore your life. Similarly, if Jesus is the only source of salvation, and you’re trusting in anyone or anything else for your salvation, your faith is useless.

One Way

Many people assume there are many paths to God and that each religion represents an aspect of truth. But Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). He didn’t claim to be one of many equally legitimate paths to God, or the way to God for His day only. He claimed to be the only way to God–then and forever.

JESUS IS LORD

Contemporary thinking says man is the product of evolution. But the Bible says we were created by a personal God to love, serve, and enjoy endless fellowship with Him

The New Testament reveals it was Jesus Himself who created everything (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). Therefore He also owns and rules everything (Psalm 103:19). That means He has authority over our lives and we owe Him absolute allegiance, obedience, and worship.

Yield

Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” Confessing Jesus as Lord means humbly submitting to His authority (Philippians 2:10-11). Believing that God has raised Him from the dead involves trusting in the historical fact of His resurrection–the pinnacle of Christian faith and the way the Father affirmed the deity and authority of the Son (Romans 1:4; Acts 17:30-31).

True faith is always accompanied by repentance from sin. Repentance is more than simply being sorry for sin. It is agreeing with God that you are sinful, confessing your sins to Him, and making a conscious choice to turn from sin and pursue holiness (Isaiah 55:7). Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15); and “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31).

It isn’t enough to believe certain facts about Christ. Even Satan and his demons believe in the true God (James 2:19), but they don’t love and obey Him. Their faith is not genuine. True saving faith always responds in obedience (Ephesians 2:10).

Jesus is the sovereign Lord. When you obey Him you are acknowledging His lordship and submitting to His authority. That doesn’t mean your obedience will always be perfect, but that is your goal. There is no area of your life that you withhold from Him.

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

Danger Ahead

All who reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior will one day face Him as their Judge: “God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

Second Thessalonians 1:7-9 says, “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

No Parking

Who does the Bible say Jesus is? The living God, the Holy One, the Savior, the only valid object of saving faith, the sovereign Lord, and the righteous Judge.

Who do you say Jesus is? That is the inescapable question. He alone can redeem you–free you from the power and penalty of sin. He alone can transform you, restore you to fellowship with God, and give your life eternal purpose. Will you repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?

Sane Aggressive Doctrinal Evangelism

Wiliam Wistar Hamilton served as General Evangelist with the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1909 he published a collection of articles by various Southern Baptists under the title “Sane Evangelism.” Contributors included George W. Truitt, L. R. Scarborough, B. H. Carroll,, E. C. Dargan, and others. Lord willing, I will place the public domain text online in the future, but I wanted to share the following quote where Hamilton begins to explain what he means by “sane evangelism.” He urged his readers to build their aggressive evangelistic efforts on a firm doctrinal foundation and to center their message on the cross.

In our Southern States among the different churches there has been a denominational movement set on foot. This question was brought to our Convention some three years ago, and again the next year, and then at the Convention in Chattanooga May, 1906, the movement was definitely launched, and in September last it was my privilege to begin the work. Now then, as I understand the temper of our people, and as I understand the movement, I want to present to you what I consider their idea of what a sane aggressive evangelism is.

First of all, it must have a correct doctrinal basis. We cannot build an evangelistic house that will be any good on a foundation of sand. It must have a correct doctrinal foundation. The great doctrines as to God himself, as to the Bible, as to sin, as to hell, as to the atonement, as to the cross, as to heaven — the great doctrines of the word of God must stand underneath if we are to build a structure that is to be of any account in the storms of life and to last through eternity. There must be a correct doctrinal basis, and when we have the correct doctrinal basis in our church and evangelism, then that which we do as evangelists and pastors, working together, will be like the house built upon the rock, but when our perspective is wrong, when like some people, we have the idea that man is well, that there is nothing the matter with him, all that he needs is to have brought to him the fact that he is well, let him believe it and he will be well; or, if we have the idea that man is sick, true, he is sick; but he isn’t very sick, not much the matter with him, all he needs is a little culture or a good example to follow; if we have that idea our work will fail.

On the other hand, if we believe that man is dead in trespasses and sin, then something supernatural is needed. If he is well, or if there is very little wrong with him, then there is no need of divine help. But if he is dead in trespasses and sin, there must be a divine power to bring him to life. When we have failed to realize the condition of man, or have gone wrong as to the responsibility of our position, we have started to build our house upon the sand.) We will be like the boy with his wagon made from the running gear of a cast-off baby-carriage, an umbrella handle for a tongue, a soap box for a wagon-bed, and for wheels, disks cut from the end of a log. As he drew it along, an onlooker was amused to see how the wagon wobbled from side to side. The boy looked back questioningly to see what was the matter, knowing that something was wrong. The onlooker saw that in making the holes in his wheels the boy had failed to strike center. And I tell you, friends, in our evangelistic work and in our pastoral work, if, on the great doctrines of the word of God, of the condition of man, of the place of our Lord and his atoning work, we fail to strike center, we will go all sorts of ways except the right way. Somebody has said that if we stay right at the cross and right at the tomb, we will never go very far wrong anywhere else. I believe that to be true.

His eye is on the sparrow

Sparrow: photo by Luis Rock - http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=profile&l=luisrock62
His Eye is on the Sparrow
Words by Civilla D. Martin, 1905

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

Martin’s lyrics, of course, elude to Mathew 10:29-31. I see nothing wrong with the song, but I do notice that the words stop a little short of Jesus’ full orbed teaching. She sings that God’s eye is on the sparrow.” If not careful, we may be tempted to underestimate this glorious truth. God does not watch simply as a passive spectator, but the Biblical wording implies Gods full knowledge and consent. Seeing and taking notice of every sparrow fall requires omnipotence, but Jesus points past that mind boggling truth to something even more profound – God’s sovereign governance. In other words, not only does God’s watchful eye see the sparrow, but his hand of providence guides its flight.

I love the way the The Heidelberg Catechism defines providence as “The almighty and everywhere present power of God; whereby, as it were by his hand, he upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, and all things come, not by chance, but by his fatherly hand.”

Southern Baptist theologian, John L. Dagg, wrote in 1857:

Some persons are unwilling to attribute to God the care and management of minute and unimportant events. They consider it beneath his dignity to be concerned about such trivial matters. They believe in a General Providence over the affairs of the world, exercised by general laws; but a Particular Providence, exercised over every particular incident of every man’s life, enters not into their creed. But the Scriptures are plain on this subject. The fall of a sparrow is a very trivial event, yet it is affirmed by the teacher from heaven, to be not without our heavenly Father. If great events happen according to general laws, it is equally true of small ones; and operation of these laws, in the latter case, must be as well understood, and as perfectly controlled, as in the former. Moreover, it often happens, that very important events depend on others that are in themselves trivial and unimportant.

Early SBC president, P. H. Mell, further explained:

“Predestination is that eternal, most wise, and immutable decree of God whereby he did, form before all time, determined and ordain to create, dispose of, and direct to some particular end, every person and thing to which he has given, or is yet to give, being; and to make the whole creation subservient to, and declarative of, his own glory….That this ultimate object might be attained, and the end infallibly secured, he ordained, with unerring certainty, all the means necessary, both in the world of matter, and in the world of mind. He not only fixed, from eternity, all the forms, positions, relations, and motions of matter, even to the numbering of the hairs of our heads, and deciding when a sparrow should fall — in directing the motions of the particles of dust in the atmosphere, (Isa. 40:12) and ordaining when the sun should shine, (Job 9:7) and when the wind should blow, (Psalm 135:7), but he “fixed from eternity all the circumstances in the life of every individual or mankind and all the particulars which will compose the history of the human race from its commencement to its close.”

Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers:

You see the birds congregate in the autumn, ready for their flight across the purple sea. They fly hither and thither in strange confusion. The believer in providence holds that the wing of every bird has stamped upon it the place where it shall fly, and fly with never such vagaries of its own wild will, it cannot diverge so much as the millionth part of an inch from its predestinated track. It may whirl about, above, beneath, — east, west, north, south — wherever it pleases; still, it is all according to the providential hand of God. And although we see it not, it may be, that if that swallow did not take the precise track which it does take, something a little greater might be affected thereby; and again, something a little greater still might be affected, until at last a great thing would be involved in a little. Blessed is that man who seeth God in trifles! It is there that it is the hardest to see him; but he who believes that God is there, may go from the little providence up to the God of providence. Rest assured, when the fish in the sea take their migration, they have a captain and a leader, as well as the stars; for he who marshals the stars in their courses, and guides the planets in their march, is the master of the fly, and wings the bat, and guides the minnow, and doth not despise the tiniest of his creatures. You say there is predestination in the path of the earth; you believe that in the shining of the sun there is the ordinance of God; there is as much his ordinance in the creeping of an insect or in the glimmering of a glow-worm in the darkness. In nothing is there chance, but in everything there is a God. All things live and move in him, and have their being; nor could they live or move otherwise; for God hath so ordained them.

From Bedford Jail

Bedford Jail

In 1922 The Baptist Young Peoples Union of the Southern Baptist Convention, published a study course using John Bunyan’s classic “Pilgrims Progress.” The introduction included the image of the Bedford Jail (pictured above) and a brief biographical sketch (below). L P. Leavell, secretary of the BYPU, offered the course and said, “Certainly no young Baptist should be unacquainted with the greatest of all spiritual allegories. Its great word pictures grip the imagination and stir the soul and, at the same time, teach the fundamental doctrines of grace which Baptists hold so dear. Next to the Bible, possibly no book better deserves a place in a course prepared for young Christians.” You can access the text of Pilgrim’s Progress from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library and many other works at John Bunyan Online. Leavell prayed, “May the study of this book strengthen the faith and zeal of our Baptist young people and help them to realize that it is indeed ‘sweet to walk in this pilgrim way.'”

THE PREACHER WHO WROTE “THE PILGRIM’S PROGRESS”

People have always loved a good story. But not until the year 1700 did the English speaking world have published a long story dealing with imaginary characters. “Robinson Crusoe” was published in 1719 and was the first of modern long stories.

But while the writer of “Robinson Crusoe” was a boy of seventeen there was a great, rough Baptist preacher in Bedford jail, in England, busy writing a greater story. This preacher was John Bunyan and he was writing “The Pilgrim’s Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come.” This story was widely read when Bunyan died in 1688, and is read today in more than eighty languages of the earth.

BUNYAN’S BOYHOOD

What sort of a man was Bunyan? From his beautiful writings we would think he was a scholar, having both leisure and culture. But, instead, he was born of poor parents and was never rich. His father was a mender of cooking vessels and John later followed the same trade, hence is often called “the Bedford tinker.” He went to school very little, but managed to learn to read and write.

He tells us that in his youth he was rough and thoughtless and given to swearing and Sabbath breaking. There was little religious influence in his home. Yet, when nine years old, he became interested in religion and, was converted when he was twenty-four or about fifteen years later.

BUNYAN’S YOUNG MANHOOD

When about seventeen, he served a year or more in the army. During one battle, a comrade who went forward in Bunyan’s place was killed. Bunyan never got over the thought that in this way God had spared his life for some purpose. When about twenty, he married a girl who was poor like himself, but of godly parents. She owned two books, of which Bunyan said, “Her only portion was two volumes which her father had given her, ‘The Plain Man’s Pathway,’ and ‘The Practice of Piety.’ In these I sometimes read, wherein I found some things pleasant to me.”

Bunyan thus reveals his liking for good literature, yet he little dreamed that he would himself make a valuable contribution to the world’s best literature.

BUNYAN BECOMES A “PILGRIM”

After his marriage, Bunyan gave up much of his wickedness, attended church, read his Bible and found his mind filled with thoughts of his lost condition. His wife encouraged him to read. This period of reading and thinking possibly gave him many of the ideas about which he wrote so beautifully later on.

He left off dancing and Sabbath breaking and set out from the “City of Destruction” to the “Heavenly Mansions.” One day, as he was walking in the country thinking and praying, there came to his mind this verse, “He hath made peace through the blood of the cross.” He says, “I then saw that the justice of God and my sinful soul could embrace each other.” Soon every thing became clear and he made a profession of religion after which he began preaching to others about the Saviour he had found.

IN PRISON FOR PREACHING

Bunyan joined the Baptist church at Bedford and two years later became its pastor. Great crowds came to hear him. But his preaching was cut short by King Charles II, who came to the throne of England in 1660 and ordered that all preachers who did not belong to the Church of England (Episcopal) should be imprisoned or banished. Bunyan was one of these and was thrown in jail for nothing else than preaching the Gospel as he believed it.

Twelve years he was kept prisoner. Yet he was not idle. He wrote many religious tracts and sermons. The one called “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners” is still read and is a masterpiece of its kind. Thus, to his long imprisonment, Bunyan owes his literary fame. He had quiet and leisure to think. He reminds us of the Apostle Paul, who, while in prison at Ttome, wrote letters which still bless the world.

BUILDING UP His FAME IN BEDFORD JAIL

In 1672 Bunyan was released. But three years later he was put back in jail and at this time he began his great work, “The Pilgrim’s Progress.” This was a new species of literature upon which he worked until 1677, when it was published. Meantime he had been again released from jail. Three editions in the first year proved the popularity of “Pilgrim’s Progress” and, also, raised Bunyan to the place of a favorite writer and preacher of England. For the rest of his sixteen years of life, no one cared to put him in prison again.

BUNYAN’S LAST YEARS

Bunyan’s last fifteen years were spent in fruitful service for his Lord. His one thought was to preach and write about the way of salvation. He was a popular preacher even in London, where he went annually to visit the Baptist churches. It is said that if a day’s notice were given of his coming, the church would be crowded to overflowing to hear him.

He was active until his last illness which was contracted while riding home in a cold, driving rain from Reading, where he had been to reconcile a father to his wayward son. He died August 12, 1688, in his sixty-first year, at the home of a grocer on Snow Hill, at ‘The Sign of the Star.’ His last words were: “My toilsome days are over. I am going to see the Head that was crowned with thorns and the Face that was spit upon, for me. I have lived by hearsay and faith; but now I go where I shall live by sight, and shall be with Him in whose company I delight myself; take me, for I come to Thee.”

Thus, with triumphal joy, he entered the Celestial City.

How little did his enemies, who put him in jail, think that God would overrule their cruelty and make it the means of spreading Bunyan’s name and story over the whole world, and enable him to speak to every land and all nations, through all generations, until the Lord Himself shall come again.

Bunyan is buried in the graveyard at Bunhill Fields, not far from London. In the same graveyard are buried: Daniel DeFoe, who wrote “Robinson Crusoe”; and Isaac Watts, the great hymn writer; and Susanna Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley. These four people influenced the world as few others have done.