The Pilgrim's Progress

John Wesley

For nearly two hundred years, John Bunyan’s iconic title The Pilgrim’s Progress was a staple part of the fabric of Methodism. Bunyan titled the story as “the similitude of a dream” in which the main character, the pilgrim, Christian, begins an epic journey from his home in the City of Destruction (the lost world) to the Celestial City (his heavenly goal), traveling “from this world to that which is to come.”

Competing editions of the classic allegory have been printed by various regional publishers of American Methodism throughout the years and it is among those works central to early Methodism.

Remarkably, a thirty-page outline study to The Pilgrim’s Progress was included in the Methodist Episcopal Church’s Probationer’s Companion, the handbook for all new members (which included their official membership certificate) published in 1893. In the introduction to the section about The Pilgrim’s Progress, the church’s editors state:

As the book covers the Christian life from awakening to glorification it is profitable for all who are trying to walk in “the way,” probationers and church members alike. It is indeed wonderful how this work of Bunyan can be made to teach, warm, inspire, and edify.

There is truly no way to know the vast number of editions of this public domain work that have been produced by publishers across the globe, who have collectively released editions in more than two hundred languages in the 350-plus years since Bunyan originally wrote it. New competitive editions have often featured lavish illustrations and handsome bindings; publishers have made unique editorial changes in format, chapter structure, and word selections, seeking to update the work for rising generations of readers. The organization and language of Seedbed’s edition is consistent with the 1850s-era editions, which have been popular with American Methodist publishers. We have made modest stylistic changes and occasional word changes where needed.

This new edition of The Pilgrim’s Progress joins the other titles we have collectively called the John Wesley Collection. John Wesley’s profound legacy and impact on Christianity in the world, both in his lifetime and since, can be viewed through several lenses. The revival that arose under his leadership changed the social and political structure of eighteenth-century England as the poor and lost found hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ rather than in revolution against the crown. The influence of Wesley’s Spirit-inspired teaching continued unabated as the Methodist movement spread scriptural holiness across the American continent and lands far beyond.