An average autobiography evidences the author's desire to communicate facts of his own life for the entertainment of others, the advancement of his reputation, or simply to brag. An excellent autobiography is the attempt of the author to edify and encourage his readers, to point them toward God, to lead them away from temptation toward righteousness.
John Bunyan's Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners is an excellent autobiography. It chronicles his life through the lens of faith and conversion, showing us how God saved him, both at the moment of belief and throughout his long and often troubled life. Though he models the Puritan attitude of self-deprecation, there is no hint of false humility—these are the words of a man who loved God and was all too conscious of his own need for grace.
Those familiar with Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress will recognize the eloquence and adept use of metaphor that characterize that great allegory. Any temptation he overcame was cause not for self-glory, but for the praise of God whose mercy is the only path toward righteousness; he describes this truth in terms of Sampson's lion—the temptation is the lion rampant, while the overcoming is the sweet honey Sampson found in the carcass.
This isn't primarily an account of Bunyan's adventures or temporal career. It's a chronicle of God's mercy and work in the life of a faithful servant, and is better read in a devotional capacity than as a "life story." That's how Bunyan would want us to read his beautiful (and beautifully written) book, and in the reading to attribute all glory and thanksgiving to God, the Lord and Sustainer of life.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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