That's all Bunyan had to say: "I will not preach." Instead, he CHOSE to spend 12 years in prison.
Here is Bunyan's account of his imprisonment:
"Having made profession of the glorious gospel of Christ a long time, and preached the same about five years, I was apprehended at a meeting of good people in the country, among whom, had they let me alone, I should have preached that day, but they took me away from amongst them, and had me before a justice; who, after I had offered security for my appearing at the next sesions, yet committed me, because my sureties would not consent to be bound that I should preach no more to the people."
Let me try to imagine how this converstaion at the jail went:
Bunyan: "I promise that I will appear at a trial."
Judge: "You must not preach the gospel between now and then."
Bunyan: "I promise that I will appear at my trial here."
Judge: "Will you preach the gospel in that country church?"
Bunyan: "I must preach."
Judge: "I will put you in jail, unless you promise not to preach, do you understand me?"
Bunyan: "I understand. However, if I do not preach I will answer to a higher Judge than you."
Judge: "Think about your family. How will they provide for themselves? Don't you have a blind little girl who requires special attention? Will your pregnant wife be able to take care of her and the other children by herself?"
Bunyan: "The Lord has called me to preach. I must do as He says."
Judge: "You won't do any preaching in jail. You can either go home to your family and refrain from preaching that gospel or you can go to jail and be forced to stop preaching."
Bunyan: "Whether I am bound or free, I must preach."
Judge: "Son, you leave me with no options...."
I simply cannot imagine. It is one thing to be strong and firm the first time before a judge. It is another thing alltogether to remain steadfast for 12 years. I would have given up a few years into the deal.
A few questions to ponder emerge:
1. What does my preaching cost me?
2. Am I as committed to preaching the gospel as Bunyan?
3. What would preaching look like today accompanied by this kind of conviction? I would imagine there would be no "cream-puff-pie," weak, fluffy, light preaching!