By John Piper
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Additional resources for The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd (The Swans Are Not Silent, 2)
But it was a lengthy and agonizing process. He was poring over the Scriptures but finding no peace or assurance. There were seasons of great doubt about the Scriptures and about his own soul. “A whole flood of blasphemies, both against God, Christ, and the Scriptures were poured upon my spirit, to my great confusion and astonishment. . ”21 “My heart was at times exceeding hard. ”22 When he thought that he was established in the Gospel, there came a season of overwhelming darkness following a terrible temptation when he heard the words, “sell and part with this most blessed Christ.
John and his wife had four children: Mary, Elizabeth, John, and Thomas. Mary, the oldest, was born blind. 19 “Thy Righteousness Is in Heaven” During the first five years of marriage, Bunyan was profoundly converted to Christ and to the baptistic, nonconformist church life in Bedford. He came under the influence of John Gifford, the pastor in Bedford, and moved from Elstow to Bedford with his family and joined the church there in 1653, though he was not as sure as they were that he was a Christian.
A barn was purchased and renovated as their first building, and this was where Bunyan ministered as pastor for the next sixteen years until his death. He never was wooed away from this little parish by the larger opportunities in London. The estimate is that, in 1676, there were perhaps 120 twenty nonconformist parishioners in Bedford, with others no doubt coming to hear him from the surrounding villages. There was one more imprisonment in the winter and spring of 1675-76. John Brown thinks that this was the time when The Pilgrim’s Progress was written.
The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd (The Swans Are Not Silent, 2) by John Piper