This very brief text contains the words of the last sermon preached by John Bunyan, probably taken from the notes of one of his hearers. When it was first published, the title page read: "Mr. John Bunyan's last sermon, at London, preached at Mr. Gamman's meeting-house, near Whitechapel, August 19th, 1688, upon John 1:13: showing a resemblance between a natural and a spiritual birth; and how every man and woman may try themselves, and know whether they are born again or not."
Bunyan has always been one of the most popular of the Puritans—no doubt because, while possessing the Word-centeredness as well as the depth of doctrine and experience of other Puritans, he also possessed a warm simplicity of style.
—Reformation and Revival Ministries, Reformation and Revival Volume 5, 2003
Bunyan is best known for his ageless classic, The Pilgrim's Progress. His literary genius in this work [is such] that people are prone to forget that this tinker from Bedford was first and foremost a Pastor and preacher...
—Thomas K. Ascol, The Founders Journal
For over 150 years the accepted edition of The Works of John Bunyan has been that edited by George Offor... This scholarly labor has contributed much toward a better appreciation of Bunyan's gospel motivated writings...
—From Bunyan Ministries
John Bunyan of Elstow and Bedford, is important to the Reformed tradition, since his famous allegory is one of the chief avenues by which the Puritan spirit entered the mainstream of the English Reformation. With Calvinism as foundational, Bunyan’s prolific writings and fervent preaching embodied a vibrant awareness of Reformed theological thought and its implication for Christian living. The author of more than sixty books, he gained a unique place in history through Grace Abounding (1666), The Pilgrim’s Progress (pt. 1, 1678; pt. 2, 1684), The Life and Death of Mr. Badman (1680), and The Holy War (1682). Other works were primarily expository, doctrinal, and practical.
Bunyan joined the Bedford Baptist Church (1654) and soon began preaching in nearby villages. Prosecuted under an Elizabethan act against nonconformity, he was imprisoned for three months, which was extended to twelve years, with a brief respite during the sixth year.Bunyan emphasized the centrality of the Bible as the foundation for belief and conduct, stressing the grace of God as the basis of predestination, the focal point of eternal salvation. Initiative in the salvation of sinners belonged to God, since God elected, within God’s purpose and framework of grace, certain individuals to eternal life. Subscribing to the doctrine of “effectual calling,” Bunyan believed it was impossible to resist the call because of the power with which the Holy Spirit accompanied and illuminated the sinner’s understanding. None of the elect could fall from grace.
Though Bunyan was primarily an adherent of the Calvinist tradition, his view of God as Savior, providing salvation from divine wrath rather than God as sovereign ruler, and his belief in the necessity of justification through grace alone showed influence of Luther. The separatist tradition shaped his view of the sacraments. He strongly opposed teachings of the Quakers and the Arminians.
—taken from The Encyclopedia of Reformed Faith