A Preview of Pilgrim’s Progress

Pilgrim’s Progress was written while John Bunyan was imprisoned for preaching in England and was originally published in 1678. See related articles in this issue: “Living a Pilgrim’s Life” and “The Antithesis and Witnessing.”

CONTENTS of Pilgrim’s Progress

Author’s Apology for His Book


The First Stage. Christian’s deplorable condition—Evangelist directs him—Obstinate and Pliable—Slough of Despond—Worldly Wiseman—Mount Sinai—Conversation with Evangelist.

The Second Stage. The Gate—conversation with Good-Will—the Interpreter’s House—Christian entertained—the sights there shown him.

The Third Stage. Loses his burden at the Cross—Simple, Sloth, Presumption, Formalist, Hypocrisy—hill Difficulty—the Arbor—misses his roll—the palace Beautiful—the lions—talk with Discretion, Piety, Prudence, and Charity—wonders shown to Christian—he is armed.

The Fourth Stage. Valley of Humiliation—conflict with Apollyon—Valley of the Shadow of Death—giants Pope and Pagan.

The Fifth Stage. Discourse with Faithful—Talkative and Faithful—Talkative’s character.

The Sixth Stage. Evangelist overtakes Christian and Faithful—Vanity Fair—the Pilgrims brought to trial—Faithful’s martyrdom.

The Seventh Stage. Christian and Hopeful—By-ends and his companions—plain of Ease—Lucre-hill—Demas—the River of Life—Vain-Confidence—Giant Despair—the Pilgrims beaten—the Dungeon—the Key of Promise.

The Eighth Stage. The Delectable Mountains—entertained by the Shepherds—a by-way to Hell.

The Ninth Stage. Christian and Hopeful meet Ignorance—Turn-away—Little-Faith—the Flatterer—the net—chastised by a Shining One—Atheist—Enchanted Ground—Hopeful’s account of his conversion—discourse of Christian and Ignorance.

The Tenth Stage. Talk of Christian and Hopeful—Temporary—the backslider—the land of Beulah—Christian and Hopeful pass the River—welcome to the Celestial City.

The first few lines of 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
That I at all should make a little book
In such a mode: nay, I had undertook
To make another; which, when almost done,
Before I was aware I this begun.
And thus it was: I, writing of the way
And race of saints in this our gospel-day,
Fell suddenly into an allegory
About their journey, and the way to glory,…


The First Stage

Engraving from The Pilgrim’s Progress, published in London, 1778. This image shows Pilgrim entering the wicket gate, opened by Good-Will.

As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a den,[4] and laid me down in that place to sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a dream. I dreamed, and behold, I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back (Isa. 64:6; Luke 14:33; Psalm 38:4). I looked and saw him open the book, and read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled; and not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry, saying, “What shall I do?” (Acts 2:37; 16:30; Habak. 1:2, 3).

In this plight, therefore, he went home, and restrained himself as long as he could, that his wife and children should not perceive his distress; but he could not be silent long, because that his trouble increased. Wherefore at length he brake his mind to his wife and children; and thus he began to talk to them: “O, my dear wife,” said he, “and you the children of my bowels, I, your dear friend, am in myself undone by reason of a burden that lieth hard upon me; moreover, I am certainly informed that this our city will be burnt with fire from heaven; in which fearful overthrow, both myself, with thee my wife, and you my sweet babes, shall miserably come to ruin, except (the which yet I see not) some way of escape can be found whereby we may be delivered.” At this his relations were sore amazed; not for that they believed that what he had said to them was true, but because they thought that some frenzy distemper had got into his head; therefore, it drawing towards night, and they hoping that sleep might settle his brains, with all haste they got him to bed. But the night was as troublesome to him as the day; wherefore, instead of sleeping, he spent it in sighs and tears. So when the morning was come, they would know how he did. He told them, “Worse and worse:” he also set to talking to them again; but they began to be hardened. They also thought to drive away his distemper by harsh and surly carriage to him; sometimes they would deride, sometimes they would chide, and sometimes they would quite neglect him. Wherefore he began to retire himself to his chamber to pray for and pity them, and also to condole his own misery; he would also walk solitarily in the fields, sometimes reading, and sometimes praying: and thus for some days he spent his time.

Now I saw, upon a time, when he was walking in the fields, that he was (as he was wont) reading in his book, and greatly distressed in his mind; and as he read, he burst out, as he had done before, crying, “What shall I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30, 31).

I saw also that he looked this way, and that way, as if he would run; yet he stood still because (as I perceived) he could not tell which way to go. I looked then, and saw a man named Evangelist coming to him, and he asked, “Wherefore dost thou cry?”

He answered, “Sir, I perceive, by the book in my hand, that I am condemned to die, and after that to come to judgment (Heb. 9:27); and I find that I am not willing to do the first (Job 10:21, 22), nor able to do the second” (Ezek. 22:14).

Then said Evangelist, “Why not willing to die, since this life is attended with so many evils?” The man answered, “Because, I fear that this burden that is upon my back will sink me lower than the grave, and I shall fall into Tophet (Isa. 30:33). And Sir, if I be not fit to go to prison, I am not fit to go to judgment, and from thence to execution; and the thoughts of these things make me cry.…”