HOME | Bookshop | About | Surprise | More ≡

The Pilgrim's Progress
From This World To That Which Is To Come
by John Bunyan
The original, squashed down to read in about 30 minutes

(London, 1678)

John Bunyan, the puritan of Elstow in Buckinghamshire, wrote 'The Pilgrim's Progress' while imprisoned for preaching without a licence. It offers a story of salvation through personal effort, rather than by the favour of priests, which has made it an inspiration to the free churches ever since. It has been translated into more than 200 languages, and has never been out of print. In the English Church Bunyan is remembered with a Lesser Festival on 30 August.
Abridged: GH

The Pilgrim's Progress

The Author's Apology for his Book
When at the first I took my pen in hand
Thus for to write, I did not understand
To make another; which, when almost done,
Before I was aware, I this begun.
Thus, I set pen to paper with delight,
And quickly had my thoughts in black and white.
This book is writ in such a dialect
As may the minds of listless men affect:
It seems a novelty, and yet contains
Nothing but sound and honest gospel strains.
Wouldest thou lose thyself and catch no harm,
And find thyself again without a charm?
Wouldst read thyself, yet thou knowest not what,
And yet know whether thou art blest or not,
By reading the same lines? Oh, then come hither,
And lay my book, thy head, and heart together.

I. The Battle with Apollyon

As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where there was a den, and laid me down in that place to sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a dream. I dreamed I saw a man, clothed with rags, standing with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back.

"O my dear wife and children!" he said, "I am informed that our city will be burnt with fire from heaven. We shall all come to ruin unless we can find a way of escape!"

His relations and friends thought that some distemper had got into his head; but he kept crying, in spite of all that they said to quieten him, "What shall I do to be saved?" He looked this way and that way, but could not tell which road to take. And a man named Evangelist came to him, and he said to Evangelist, "Whither must I fly?"

"Do you see yonder wicket gate?" said Evangelist, pointing with his finger over a very wide field. "Go there, and knock, and you will be told what to do."

I saw in my dream that the man began to run, and his wife and children cried after him to return, but the man ran on, crying, "Life! life! eternal life!"

Two of his neighbours pursued him and overtook him. Their names were Obstinate and Pliable.

"Come, come, friend Christian," said Obstinate. "Why are you hurrying away in this manner from the City of Destruction, in which you were born?"

"Because I have read in my book," replied Christian, "that it will be consumed with fire from heaven. I pray you, good neighbours, come with me, and seek for some way of escape."

After listening to all that Christian said, Pliable resolved to go with him, but Obstinate returned to the City of Destruction in scorn.

"What! Leave my friends and comforts for such a brain-sick fellow as you? No, I will go back to my own home."

Christian and Pliable walked on together, without looking whither they were going, and in the midst of the plain they fell into a very miry slough, which was called the Slough of Despond. Here they wallowed for a time, and Christian, because of the burden that was on his back, began to sink in the mire.

"Is this the happiness you told me of?" said Pliable. "If I get out again with my life, you shall make your journey alone."

With a desperate effort he got out of the mire, and went back, leaving Christian alone in the Slough of Despond. As Christian struggled under his burden towards the wicket gate, I saw in my dream that a man came to him, whose name was Help, and drew him out, and set him upon sound ground. But before Christian could get to the wicket gate, Mr. Worldly Wiseman came and spoke to him.

"How now, good fellow!" said Mr. Worldly Wiseman. "Where are you going with that heavy burden on your back?"

"To yonder wicket gate," said Christian. "For there, Evangelist told me, I shall be put into a way to be rid of my heavy burden."

"Evangelist is a dangerous and troublesome fellow," said Mr. Worldly Wiseman. "Do not follow his counsel. Hear me: I am older than you. I can tell you an easy way to get rid of your burden. You see the village on yonder high hill?"

"Yes," said Christian. "I remember the village is called Morality."

"It is," said Mr. Worldly Wiseman. "There you will find a very judicious gentleman whose name is Mr. Legality. If he is not in, inquire for his son, Mr. Civility. Both of them have great skill in helping men to get burdens off their shoulders."

Christian resolved to follow Mr. Worldly Wiseman's advice. But, as he was painfully climbing up the high hill, Evangelist came up to him, and said, "Are you not the man that I found crying in the City of Destruction, and directed to the little wicket gate? How is it that you have gone so far out of the way?"

Christian blushed for shame, and said that he had been led astray by Mr. Worldly Wiseman.

"Mr. Worldly Wiseman," said Evangelist, "is a wicked man. Mr. Legality is a cheat, and his son, Mr. Civility, is a hypocrite. If you listen to them they will beguile you of your salvation, and turn you from the right way."

Evangelist then set Christian in the true path which led to the wicket gate, over which was written, "Knock, and it shall be opened unto you." And Christian knocked, and a grave person, named Goodwill, opened the gate and let him in. I saw in my dream that Christian asked him to help him off with the burden that was upon his back, and Goodwill pointed to a narrow way running from the wicket gate, and said, "Do you see that narrow way? That is the way you must go. Keep to it, and do not turn down any of the wide and crooked roads, and you will soon come to the place of deliverance, where your burden will fall from your back of itself."

Christian then took his leave of Goodwill, and climbed up the narrow way till he came to a place upon which stood a cross. And I saw in my dream that as Christian came to the cross, his burden fell from off his back, and he became glad and lightsome. He gave three leaps for joy, and went on his way singing, and at nightfall he came to a very stately palace, the name of which was Beautiful. Four grave and lovely damsels, named Charity, Discretion, Prudence, and Piety, met him at the threshold, saying, "Come in, thou blessed of the Lord! This palace was built on purpose to entertain such pilgrims as thou."

Christian sat talking with the lovely damsels until supper was ready, and then they led him to a table that was furnished with fat things, and excellently fine wines. And after Christian had refreshed himself, the damsels showed him into a large chamber, whose window opened towards the sun-rising. The name of the chamber was Peace, and there Christian slept till break of day. Then he awoke, singing for joy, and the damsels took him into the armoury, and dressed him for battle. They harnessed him in armour of proof, and gave him a stout shield and a good sword; for, they said, he would have to fight many a battle before he got to the Celestial City.

And I saw in my dream that Christian went down the hill on which the House Beautiful stood, and came to a valley, that was called the Valley of Humiliation, where he was met by a foul fiend, Apollyon.

"Prepare to die!" said Apollyon, straddling over the whole breadth of the narrow way. "I swear by my infernal den that thou shalt go no further. Here will I spill thy soul."

With that, he threw a flaming dart at his breast, but Christian caught it on his shield. Then Apollyon rushed upon him, throwing darts as thick as hail, and, notwithstanding all that Christian could do, Apollyon wounded him, and made him draw back. The sore combat lasted for half a day, and though Christian resisted as manfully as he could, he grew weaker and weaker by reason of his wounds. At last, Apollyon, espying his opportunity, closed in on Christian, and wrestling with him, gave him a dreadful fall, and Christian's sword flew out of his hand.

"Ah!" cried Apollyon, "I am sure of thee now!"

He pressed him almost to death, and Christian began to despair of life. But, as God would have it, while Apollyon was fetching his last blow, to make an end of this good man, Christian nimbly reached out his hand for his sword, and caught it, and gave him a deadly thrust. With that, Apollyon spread forth his wings, and sped him away, and Christian saw him no more.

Then, with some leaves from the tree of life, Christian healed his wounds, and with his sword drawn in his hand, he marched through the Valley of Humiliation, without meeting any more enemies.

But at the end of the valley was another, called the Valley of the Shadow of Death. On the right hand of this valley was a very deep ditch; it was the ditch into which the blind have led the blind in all ages, and have there miserably perished. And on the left hand was a dangerous quagmire, into which, if even a good man falls, he finds no bottom for his foot to stand on. The pathway here was exceeding narrow and very dark, and Christian was hard put to it to get through safely. And right by the wayside, in the midst of the valley, was the mouth of hell, and out of it came flame and smoke in great abundance, with sparks and hideous noises. But when the hosts of hell came at him, as he travelled on through the smoke and flame and dreadful noise, he cried out, "I will walk in the strength of the Lord God!"

Thereupon, the fiends gave over, and came no further; and suddenly the day broke, and Christian turned and saw all the hobgoblins, satyrs, and dragons of the pit far behind him, and though he was now got into the most dangerous part of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, he was no longer afraid. The place was so set, here with snares, traps, gins and nets, and there with pits and holes, and shelvings, that, had it been dark, he would surely have perished. But it was now clear day, and by walking warily Christian got safely to the end of the valley. And at the end of the valley, he saw another pilgrim marching on at some distance before him.

"Ho, ho!" shouted Christian. "Stay, and I will be your companion."

"No, I cannot stay," said the other pilgrim, whose name was Faithful. "I am upon my life, and the avenger of blood is behind me."

Putting out all his strength, Christian quickly got up with Faithful. Then I saw in my dream they went very lovingly on together, and had sweet discourse of all things that had happened to them in their pilgrimage; for they had been neighbours in the City of Destruction, and both of them were bound for the Delectable Mountains, and the Celestial City beyond. They were now in a great wilderness, and they walked on together till they came to the town of Vanity, at which a fair is kept all the year long, called Vanity Fair.

II. Vanity Fair

I saw in my dream that Christian and Faithful tried to avoid seeing Vanity Fair; but this they could not do, because the way to the Celestial City lies through the town where this lusty fair is kept. About 5,000 years ago, Beelzebub, Apollyon, and the rest of the fiends saw by the path which the pilgrims made, that their way lay through the town of Vanity. So they set up a fair there, in which all sorts of vanity should be sold every day in the year. Among the merchandise sold at this fair are lands, honours, titles, lusts, pleasures, and preferments; delights of all kinds, as servants, gold, silver, and precious stones; murders and thefts; blood and bodies, yea, and lives and souls. Moreover, at this fair, there are at all times to be seen jugglings, cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, knaves, and rogues, and that of every sort.

When Christian and Faithful came through Vanity Fair everybody began to stare and mock at them, for they were clothed in a raiment different from the raiment of the multitude that traded in the fair, and their speech also was different, and few could understand what they said. But what amused the townspeople most of all was that the pilgrims set light by all their wares.

"What will ye buy? What will ye buy?" said one merchant to them mockingly.

"We buy the truth," said Christian and Faithful, looking gravely upon him.

At this some men began to taunt the pilgrims, and some tried to strike them; and things at last came to a hubbub and great stir, and all the fair was thrown into disorder. Thereupon, Christian and Faithful were arrested as disturbers of the peace. After being beaten and rolled in the dirt, they were put into a cage, and made a spectacle to all the men of the fair. The next day they were again beaten, and led up and down the fair in heavy chains for an example and terror to others.

But some of the better sort were moved to take their part; and this so angered the chief men in the town that they resolved to put the pilgrims to death. They were therefore indicted before the Lord Chief Justice Hategood with having disturbed the trade of Vanity Fair, and won a party over to their own pernicious way of thinking, in contempt of the law of Prince Beelzebub. Mr. Envy, Mr. Superstition, and Mr. Pickthank bore witness against them; and the jurymen, on hearing Faithful affirm that the customs of their town of Vanity were opposed to the spirit of Christianity, brought him in guilty of high treason to Beelzebub. No doubt, they would have condemned Christian also; but, by the mercy of God, he escaped from prison, being assisted by one of the men of the town, named Hopeful, who had come over to his way of thinking.

Faithful was tied to a stake, and scourged, and stoned, and burnt to death. But I saw in my dream that the Shining Ones came with a chariot and horses, and made their way through the multitude to the flames in which Faithful was burning, and put him in the chariot, and, with the sound of trumpets, carried him up through the clouds, and on to the gate of the Celestial City.

So Christian was left alone to continue his journey; but I saw in my dream that, as he was going out of the town of Vanity, Hopeful came up to him and said that he would be his companion. And thus it ever is. Whenever a man dies to bear testimony to the truth, another rises out of his ashes to carry on his work.

Christian was in no wise cast down by the death of Faithful, but went on his way, singing,

Hail, Faithful, hail! Thy goodly works survive; And though they killed thee, thou art still alive.

And he was especially comforted by Hopeful telling him that there were a great many men of the better sort in Vanity Fair who were now resolved to undertake the pilgrimage to the Celestial City. Some way beyond Vanity Fair was a delicate plain, called Ease, where Christian and Hopeful went with much content. But at the farther side of that plain was a little hill, which was named Lucre. In this hill was a silver-mine which was very dangerous to enter, for many men who had gone to dig silver there had been smothered in the bottom by damps and noisome airs. Four men from Vanity Fair-Mr. Money-love, Mr. Hold-the-World, Mr. By-Ends, and Mr. Save-All-were going into the silver-mine as Christian and Hopeful passed by.

"Tarry for us," said Mr. Money-love; "and when we have got a little riches to take us on our journey, we will come with you."

Hopeful was willing to wait for his fellow-townsmen, but Christian told him that, having entered the mine, they would never come out; and, besides, that treasure is a snare to them that seek it, for it hindereth their pilgrimage. And he spoke truly; for I saw in my dream that some were killed by falling into the mine as they gazed from the brink, and the rest who went down to dig were poisoned by the vapours in the pit.

In the meantime, Christian and Hopeful came to the river of life, and walked along the bank with great delight. They drank of the water of the river, which was pleasant and enlivening to their weary spirits, and they ate of the fruit of the green trees that grew by the river side. Then, finding a fair meadow covered with lilies, they laid down and slept; and in the morning they rose up, wondrously refreshed, and continued their journey along the bank of the river. But the way soon grew rough and stony, and seeing on their left hand a stile across the meadow called By-Path Meadow, Christian leaped over it, and said to Hopeful, "Come, good Hopeful, let us go this way. It is much easier."

"I am afraid," said Hopeful, "that it will take us out of the right road."

But Christian persuaded him to jump over the stile, and there they got into a path which was very easy for their feet. But they had not gone very far when it began to rain and thunder and lighten in a most dreadful manner, and night came on apace, and stumbling along in the darkness, they reached Doubting Castle, and the lord thereof, Giant Despair, took them and threw them into a dark and dismal dungeon. Here they lay for three days without one bit of bread or drop of drink. On the third day Giant Despair came and flogged them with a great crabtree cudgel, and so disabled them that they were not even able to rise up from the mire of their dungeon floor. And indeed, they could scarcely keep their heads above the mud in which they lay.

Now Giant Despair had a wife, and her name was Diffidence; and when she found that, in spite of their flogging, Christian and Hopeful were still alive, she advised her husband to kill them outright. It happened, however, to be sunshiny weather, and sunshiny weather always made Giant Despair fall into a helpless fit, in which he lost for the time the use of his hands. So all he could do was to try and persuade his prisoners to kill themselves with knife or halter.

"Why," said he to Christian and Hopeful, "should you choose to live? You know you can never get out of Doubting Castle. What! Will you slowly starve to death like rats in a hole, instead of putting a sudden end to your misery, like men. I tell you again, you will never get out."

But when he was gone, Christian and Hopeful went down on their knees in their dungeon and prayed long and earnestly. Then Christian suddenly bethought himself, and after fumbling in his bosom, he drew out a key, saying, "What a fool am I to lie in a dismal dungeon when I can walk at liberty! Here is the key that I have been carrying in my bosom, called Promise, that will open every lock in Doubting Castle."

He at once tried it at the dungeon door, and turned the bolt with ease. He then led Hopeful to the iron gate of the castle, and though the lock went desperately hard, yet the key opened it. But as the gate moved, it made such a creaking that Giant Despair was aroused.

Hastily rising up, the giant set out to pursue the prisoners; but seeing that all the land was now flooded with sunshine, he fell into one of his helpless fits, and could not even get as far as the castle gate.

III. The Celestial City

Having thus got safely out of Doubting Castle, Christian and Hopeful made their way back to the banks of the river of life, and, following the rough and stony way, they came at last to the Delectable Mountains. And going up the mountains they beheld the gardens and orchards, the vineyards, the fountains of water; and here they drank and washed themselves, and freely ate of the pleasant grapes of the vineyards. Now, on top of the mountains there were four shepherds feeding their flocks, and the pilgrims went to them, and, leaning upon their staffs, they asked them the way to the Celestial City. And the shepherds took them by the hand and led them to the top of Clear, the highest of all the Delectable Mountains, and the pilgrims looked and saw, faintly and very far off, the gate and the glory of the Celestial City.

And I saw in my dream that the two pilgrims went down the Delectable Mountains along the narrow way, and after walking some distance they came to a place where the path branched. Here they stood still for a while, considering which way to take, for both ways seemed right. And as they were considering, behold, a man black of flesh and covered with a white robe, came up to them, and offered to lead them down the true way. But when they had followed him for some time they found that he had led them into a crooked road, and there they were entangled in a net.

Here they lay bewailing themselves, and at last they espied a Shining One coming toward them, with a whip in his hand.

"We are poor pilgrims going to the Celestial City," said Christian and Hopeful. "A black man clothed in white offered to lead us there, but entangled us instead in this net."

"It was Flatterer that did this," said the Shining One. "He is a false apostle that hath transformed himself into an angel."

I saw in my dream that he then rent the net and let the pilgrims out. Then he commanded them to lie down, and when they did so, he chastised them with his whip of cords, to teach them to walk in the good way, and refrain from following the advice of evil flatterers. And they thanked him for his kindness, and went softly along the right path, singing for very joy; and after passing through the Enchanted Land, which was full of vapours that made them dull and sleepy, they came to the sweet and pleasant country of Beulah. In this country the sun shone night and day, and the air was so bright and clear that they could see the Celestial City to which they were going. Yea, they met there some of the inhabitants, for the Shining Ones often walked in the Land of Beulah, because it was on the borders of Heaven.

As Christian and Hopeful drew near to the city their strength began to fail. It was builded of pearls and precious stones, and the streets were paved with gold; and what with the natural glory of the city, and the dazzling radiance of the sunbeams that fell upon it, Christian grew sick with desire as he beheld it; and Hopeful, too, was stricken with the same malady. And, walking on very slowly, full of the pain of longing, they came at last to the gate of the city. But between them and the gate there was a river, and the river was very deep, and no bridge went over it. And when Christian asked the Shining Ones how he could get to the gate of the city, they said to him, "You must go through the river, or you cannot come to the gate."

"Is the river very deep?" said Christian.

"You will find it deeper or shallower," said the Shining Ones, "according to the depth or shallowness of your belief in the King of our city."

The two pilgrims then entered the river. Christian at once began to sink, and, crying out to his good friend Hopeful, he said, "I sink in deep waters! The billows go over my head! All the waves go over me."

"Be of good cheer, my brother," said Hopeful, "I feel the bottom, and it is good!"

With that a great darkness and horror fell upon Christian; he could no longer see before him, and he was in much fear that he would perish in the river, and never enter in at the gate. When he recovered, he found he had got to the other side, and Hopeful was already there waiting for him.

And I saw in my dream that the city stood upon a mighty hill; but the pilgrims went up with ease, because they had left their mortal garments behind them in the river.

While they were thus drawing to the gate, behold, a company of the heavenly host came out to meet them. With them were several of the King's trumpeters, clothed in white and shining raiment, who made even the heavens to echo with their shouting and the sound of their trumpets.

Then all the bells in the city began to ring welcome, and the gate was opened wide, and the two pilgrims entered. And lo! as they entered they were transfigured; and they had raiment put on that shone like gold. And Shining Ones gave them harps to praise their King with, and crowns in token of honour.

And as the gates were opened, I looked in, and behold, the streets were paved with gold; and in them walked many men, with crowns on their heads, palms in their hands, and golden harps to sing praises withal. There were also of them that had wings and they answered one another saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord!" And after that they shut up the gates, which, when I had seen, I wished myself among them.

Then I awoke, and behold! it was a dream.

A map of Pilgrim's journey, from a 1778 edition.

You'll love the book... ISBN 978-1-326-80644-6

MORE FROM Squashed and Nicely Abridged Books...
Bookshop A Christmas Carol A Study in Scarlet A Voyage to the Moon Aesop's Fables Alice in Wonderland An English Opium-Eater Anna Karenina Antarctic Journals Arabian Nights Aristotle's Ethics Barnaby_Rudge Beowulf Beyond Good and Evil Bleak House Book of the Dead Caesar's Commentaries Crime and Punishment Dalton's Chemical Philosophy David Copperfield Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Descartes' Meditations Dombey and Son Don Quixote Dulce et Decorum Est Einstein's Relativity Elements of Geometry Fairy Tales Father Goriot Frankenstein Gilgamesh Great Expectations Gulliver's Travels Hamlet Hard Times Heart of Darkness History of Tom Jones I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud If - Ivanhoe Jane Eyre Jekyll and Mr Hyde Kant Lady Chatterley's Lover Le Morte D'Arthur Le Repertoire de La Cuisine Les Miserables Little Dorrit Lysistrata Martin Chuzzlewit Meditations Metamorphosis Micrographia Moby-Dick My Confession Newton's Natural Philosophy Nicholas Nickleby Notebooks Of Miracles On Liberty On Old Age On The Social Contract On War Our Mutual Friend Paradise Lost Pepys' Diary Philosophy in The Boudoir Pilgrims Progress Poems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect Pride and Prejudice Principles of Human Knowledge Principles of Morals and Legislation Psychoanalysis Revolutions of the Celestial Orbs Robinson Crusoe Romeo and Juliet Songs of Innocence and Experience Sorrows of Werther Sovran Maxims Tale of Two Cities Tess of the d'Urbervilles The Advancement of Learning The Adventures of Oliver Twist The Analects The Ballad of Reading Gaol The Bhagavad-Gita The Canterbury Tales The Communist Manifesto The Confessions The Decameron The Divine Comedy The Gospels of Jesus Christ The Great Gatsby The Histories The Life of Samuel Johnson The Magna Carta The Motion of the Heart and Blood The Odyssey The Old Curiosity Shop The Origin of Species The Pickwick Papers The Prince The Quran The Remembrance of Times Past The Republic The Rights of Man The Rights of Woman The Rime of the Ancient Mariner The Rubáiyát Of Omar Khayyám The Torah The Travels of Marco Polo The Wealth of Nations The Wind in the Willows Three Men in a Boat Tom Brown's Schooldays Tristram Shandy Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea Ulysses Uncle Tom's Cabin Utopia Voyages of Discovery Walden Wilhelm Meister Wuthering Heights


COPYRIGHT and ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: © Glyn Hughes, Monday 16 December 2019