John Bunyan (1628-1688) was one of the greatest preachers of the seventeenth century, and despite his humble beginnings and lack of formal education, has also been called "the most wonderfully gifted spiritual writer since the days of the Apostles." Next to the Bible, his Pilgrims Progress has been translated into more languages, and has passed through more editions (about four hundred), than any other book in the world. That book, along with his Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners and Holy War, are the records of his own deep spiritual experience, in which a profane and sinful man after a number of false conversions was wonderfully tranformed. He was later asked to preach to a small congregation, and after preaching to the brethren five years, and working at his trade (as a "tinker," one who repaired pots and pans) for the support of himself and family, he was arrested and thrown into Bedford jail twelve years (1660-1672) for "teaching men to worship God contrary to the law." During those years he continued to write, his only books being the Bible and Concordance, and Foxe's Book of Martyrs. He would have been released any day if he had promised not to preach; but he felt called of God to the work of the ministry, and he continually replied to his jailors, "If you release me today, I will preach again tomorrow." The renowned John Owen said that he would gladly relinquish all his learning for the tinker's preaching abilities.
THE STRAIT GATE
GREAT DIFFICULTY OF GOING TO HEAVEN
By John Bunyan
Plainly proving, by the Scripture, that not only
the Rude and Profane, but many great Professors,
will come short of that Kingdom.
"Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." - Matthew 7:13, 14.
Table of Contents
This abridged edition of The Strait Gate attempts to render the 17th century language of John Bunyan into a format more understandable to modern readers, without compromising the depth of Bunyan's thought and the strength and charm of his prose. Portions of the work have been left out because they were deemed not necessary to the overall flow of the concepts presented, and because leaving them intact would have served only to confuse many casual readers.
The most significant changes are the addition of chapter divisions (there were none in the original) and topical headings within the chapters. An occasional word or phrase has been changed to reflect modern usage. We hope the result is a book that will challenge the modern professing Christian with its concepts, without intimidating the reader with its archaic style.
The original material used in this book is believed to be in the public domain.
John Bunyan was the most gifted preacher of the seventeenth century, and the most wonderfully gifted spiritual writer since the days of the Apostles. His Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, Pilgrim's Progress, and Holy War, are the records of his own deep and varied spiritual experience. Next to the Bible, his Pilgrims Progress has been translated into more languages, and has passed through more editions (about four hundred), than any other book in the world. The common people heard and read Bunyan gladly., but for many years, few except the poor and and uneducated admired Bunyan's writings; but it later became the fashion of the rich and lordly and educated to commend them for their pure and strong English, and their simple, natural and allegorical power.
Bunyan himself, like the Apostles of Christ during His ministry, was a poor, hard-working, uneducated man, a tinker like his father. Profane and sinful by his own admission, and after making some outward reformation both in his words and life, he heard three or four poor women one day talking of a new birth, and of the work of God in their hearts, and how they were convinced of their miserable natural state, and how God had visited their souls with His love in the Lord Jesus, and with what words and promises they had been refreshed, comforted and supported against the temptations of the Devil. This conversation made a deep impression upon Bunyan, and after a period of intense and tormented searching, his chains fell off indeed, and he gloried and rejoiced in Christ Jesus as his wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.
He was later asked to preach to a small congregation, and after preaching very acceptably to the brethren five years, and working at his trade for the support of himself and family, he was arrested and thrown into Bedford jail twelve years (1660-1672) for "teaching men to worship God contrary to the law." He would have been released any day if he had promised not to preach; but he felt called of God to the work of the ministry, and he continually replied to his jailors, "If you release me today, I will preach again tomorrow." He was allowed to preach and pray with the other prisoners in jail, and he was there providentially and graciously directed and assisted to compose his three most influential writings, Pilgrim's Progress, Holy War, and Grace Abounding. Thus the wisdom of God overruled the malice of Satan, and enabled His highly gifted servant to preach to millions who would perhaps otherwise have never heard of His name. His only books, while in prison, were the Bible and Concordance, and Foxe's Book of Martyrs.
The Bible was his constant companion, and he is said to have almost known it by heart. The learned Independent minister, John Owen, said to Charles II. that he would gladly relinquish all his learning for the tinker's preaching abilities. Happy in his heavenly work and influence, which spread over his own country and to the far-oft settlements in America, Bunyan spent his last years in his own Land of Beulah, Doubting Castle out of sight, and the towers and minarets of Emmanuel Land growing nearer and clearer as the days went on. Returning on horseback from a successful journey from Bedford to Reading, undertaken to reconcile an angry father and an offending son, he was thoroughly wetted in a storm of rain, and was attacked with chill and fever, and died in ten days, towards the end of August 1688, between two and three months before the landing of King William. His last words were, "Take me, for I come to Thee."
God (I hope) hath put it into my heart to write unto thee another time, and that about matters of the greatest moment (for now we discourse not about things controverted among the godly, but directly about the saving or damning of the soul; yea, moreover, this discourse is about the fewness of them that shall be saved, and it proves that many an high professor will come short of eternal life); wherefore the matter must needs be sharp, and so disliked by some, but let it not be rejected by thee. The text calls for sharpness, so do the times, yea, the faithful discharge of my duty towards thee hath put me upon it.
I do not now pipe, but mourn; and it will be well for thee if thou canst graciously lament (Matthew 11:17). Some (say they) make the gate of heaven too wide, and some make it too narrow; for my part, I have here presented thee with as true a measure of it, as by the word of God I can. Read me, therefore, yea, read me, and compare me with the Bible; and if thou findest my doctrine and that book of God concur, embrace it, as thou wilt answer the contrary in the day of judgment. This awakening work (if God will make it so) was prepared for thee: if there be need, and it wounds, get healing by blood: if it disquiets, get peace by blood: if it takes away all thou hast, because it was naught (for this book is not prepared to take away true grace from any), then buy of Christ gold tried in the fire, that thou mayst be rich, and white raiment, that thou mayst be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness doth not appear, and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayst see (Revelation 3:18). Self-flatteries, self-deceivings, are easy and pleasant, but damnable. The Lord give thee an heart to judge right of thyself, right of this book, and so prepare for eternity, that thou mayst not only expect entrance, but be received into the kingdom of Christ and of God. Amen.
--So prays thy Friend, John Bunyan
These are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and are, therefore, in especial manner to be heeded; besides, the subject matter of the words is the most weighty, to wit, how we should attain salvation, and therefore also to be heeded.
The occasion of the words was a question which one that was at this time in the company of the disciples, put to Jesus Christ; the question was this, "Lord, are there few that be saved?" (Luke 13:23). A serious question, not such as tended to the subversion of the hearers, as too many now a-days do; but such as in its own nature tended to the awakening of the company to good, and that called for such an answer that might profit the people also. This question also well pleased Jesus Christ, and he prepareth and giveth such an answer as was without the least retort, or shew of distaste; such an answer, I say, as carried in it the most full resolve to the question itself, and help to the persons questioning: "And he said unto them, Strive to enter in." The words are an answer, and that in the affirmative; the gate is strait, - many that seek will not be able, therefore but few shall be saved.and an instruction also. The answer is an instruction also: "strive to enter in." It is good counsel and instruction; pray God help me, and my reader, and all that love their own salvation, to take it.
To be saved! what is like being saved? To be saved from sin, from hell, from the wrath of God, from eternal damnation, what is like it? To be made an heir of God, of his grace, of his kingdom and eternal glory, what is like it? and yet all this is included in this word saved, and in the answer to that question, are there few that be saved? Indeed this word saved is but of little use in the world, save to them that are heartily afraid of damning. "What shall I do to be saved?" is the language of the trembling sinner. "Lord save me," is the language of the sinking sinner; and none admire the glory that is in the word saved, but such as see, without being saved, all things in heaven and earth are emptiness to them.