John Bunyan is famous for being the author of Pilgram’s Progress. He’s less famous for being held in prison for 12 years because he refused to stop preaching the gospel. He had four children at the time, one of them was blind. He desperately wanted to be with them but he chose to remain in prison rather than promise to stop talking about Jesus.
In 1684 he wrote a book called Seasonable Counsels, or Advice to Sufferers. In it he addresses the question: when should I flee from danger and when should I stand and endure the danger? He knew how to answer for himself – he remained in prison. But he knew that his answer was not and should not be the answer for everyone.
“Thou mayest do in this as it is in thy heart. If it is in thy heart to fly, fly; if it be in thy heart to stand, stand. Anything but a denial of the truth. He that flies, has warrant to do so; he that stands, has warrant to do so. Yea, the same man may both fly and stand, as the call and working of God with his heart may be. Moses fled, Ex. 2:15; Moses stood, Heb. 11:27. David fled, 1 Sam. 19:12; David stood, 1 Sam. 24:8. Jeremiah fled, Jer. 37:11-12; Jeremiah stood, Jer. 38:17. Christ withdrew himself, Luke 19:10; Christ stood, John 18:1-8. Paul fled, 2 Cor. 11:33; Paul stood, Act 20:22-23. . . .
“There are few rules in this case. The man himself is best able to judge concerning his present strength, and what weight this or that argument has upon his heart to stand or fly. . . . Do not fly out of a slavish fear, but rather because flying is an ordinance of God, opening a door for the escape of some, which door is opened by God’s providence, and the escape countenanced by God’s Word, Matt. 10:23. . . .
“If, therefore, when thou hast fled, thou art taken, be not offended at God or man: not at God, for thou art his servant, thy life and thy all are his; not at man, for he is but God’s rod, and is ordained, in this, to do thee good. Hast thou escaped? Laugh. Art thou taken? Laugh. I mean, be pleased which [how]soever things shall go, for that the scales are still in God’s hand.”
John Bunyan, Seasonable Counsels, or Advice to Sufferers, p. 726