“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”” (Acts 2:36–37, ESV)
‘The book in his hand,’ teaches us that sinners discover their real state and character by reading and believing the Scriptures; that their first attention is often directed to the denunciations of the wrath to come contained in them, and that such persons cannot but continue to search the word of God, though their grief and alarm be increased by every perusal.
His ‘face turned from his own house’ represents the sinner convinced that it is absolutely necessary to subordinate all other concerns to the care of his immortal soul, and to renounce every thing which interferes with that grand object: this makes him lose his former relish for the pleasures of sin, and even for the most lawful temporal satisfactions, while he trembles at the thought of impending destruction (Heb. 11:24-27).
The allegory opens with a description of the principal character to which it relates. The view, which the author in his dream had of him, as ‘clothed in rags,’ implies that all men are sinners, in their dispositions, affections and conduct ; that their supposed virtues are radically defective, and worthless in the sight of God; that the pilgrim has discovered this in his own case, so that he perceives his own righteousnesses to be insufficient for justification, even as sordid rags would be unsuitable raiment for those who stand before kings.
Mr. Bunyan was confined, at, different times, about twelve years in Bedford jail, for exercising his ministry contrary to the statutes then in force. This was ‘the den, in which he slept and dreamed.’ Here he penned this instructive allegory, and many other useful works, which evince that he was neither soured nor disheartened by persecution. The Christian, who understands what usage he ought to expect in this evil world, comparing our present measure of religious liberty with the rigors of that age, will see abundant cause for gratitude; but they, who are disposed to complain, can never be at a loss for topics, while so much is amiss among all ranks and orders of men, and in the conduct of every individual.