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Sunday, April 08, 2007

John Bunyan on how God may allow martyrdom, but also prevent it

{241} They therefore brought him out, to do with him according to their law; and, first, they scourged him, then they buffeted him, then they lanced his flesh with knives; after that, they stoned him with stones, then pricked him with their swords; and, last of all, they burned him to ashes at the stake. Thus came Faithful to his end.

{242} Now I saw that there stood behind the multitude a chariot and a couple of horses, waiting for Faithful, who (so soon as his adversaries had despatched him) was taken up into it, and straightway was carried up through the clouds, with sound of trumpet, the nearest way to the Celestial Gate.

Brave FAITHFUL, bravely done in word and deed; Judge, witnesses, and jury have, instead Of overcoming thee, but shown their rage: When they are dead, thou'lt live from age to age*.

*In the New Heaven and New Earth. {footnote from one edition}

{243} But as for Christian, he had some respite, and was remanded back to prison. So he there remained for a space; but He that overrules all things, having the power of their rage in his own hand, so wrought it about, that Christian for that time escaped them, and went his way. And as he went, he sang, saying --

Well, Faithful, thou hast faithfully profest Unto thy Lord; with whom thou shalt be blest, When faithless ones, with all their vain delights, Are crying out under their hellish plights: Sing, Faithful, sing, and let thy name survive; For though they kill'd thee, thou art yet alive!

This is an extract from Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan (1678, public domain. One version gives paragraph numbers.) Bunyan included the scriptural references in the book. Pilgrim's Progress, though little read now, was important enough to have been considered, for a century or two, the most important writing in English, except for the Bible.

Faithful was the companion of Christian for much of his journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City.

Thanks for reading.

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