« PreviousContinue »
content to lose that prayer, and he must recover it when his anger is removed, and his spirit is becalmed, made even as the brow of Jesus, and smooth like the heart of God ; and then it ascends to heaven upon the wings of the holy dove, and dwells with God, till it returns, like the useful bee, loaden with a blessing and the dew of heaven.
THE GOLDEN CITY.
BUNYAN, 1628–1688. Now I saw in my dream, that by this time the pilgrims were got over the Enchanted Ground, and entering into the country of Beulah, whose air was very sweet and pleasant ; the way lying directly through it, they solaced themselves there for a season. Yea, here they heard continually the singing of birds, and saw every day the flowers appear in the earth, and heard the voice of the turtle in the land. In this country the sun shineth night and day: wherefore this was beyond the valley of the Shadow of Death, and also out of the reach of Giant Despair; neither could they from this place so much as see Doubting-castle. Here they were within sight of the City they were going to : also here met them some of the inhabitants thereof; for in this land the shining ones commonly walked, because it was upon the borders of heaven. In this land also the contract between the Bride and the Bridegroom was renewed; yea, here, “ as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so doth their God rejoice over them.” Here they had no, want of corn and wine ; for in this place they met with abundance of what they had sought for in all their pilgrimages. Here they heard voices from out of the City, loud voices, saying, 66 Say ye to the daughters of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh ! Behold, His reward is with him!” Here all the inhabitants of the country called them, “the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord, sought out,” &c.
Now, as they walked in this land, they had more rejoicing than in parts more remote from the kingdom to which they were bound ; and drawing near to the City, they had yet a more perfect view thereof. It was builded of pearls and precious stones, also the streets thereof were paved with gold ; so that, by reason of the natural glory of the City, and the reflection of the sunbeams upon it, Christian with desire fell sick; Hopeful also had a fit or two of the same disease : wherefore here they lay by it awhile, crying out because of their pangs, “ If you see my Beloved, tell him that I am sick of love."
But, being a little strengthened, and better able to bear their sickness, they walked on their way, and came yet nearer and nearer, where were orchards, vineyards, and gardens, and their gates opened into the highway. Now, as they came up to these places, behold the gardener stood in the way; to whom the pilgrims said, “Whose goodly vineyards and gardens are these ?" He answered, “They are the King's, and are planted here for his own delights, and also for the solace of pilgrims.” So the gardener had them into the vineyards, and bid them refresh themselves with the dainties ; he also showed them there the King's walks and the arbours, where he delighted to be: and here they tarried and slept.
Now I beheld in my dream that they talked more in their sleep at this time than ever they did in all their journey ; and, being in a muse thereabout, the gardener said even to me, Wherefore musest thou at the matter? it is the nature of the fruit of the grapes of these vineyards “ to go down so sweetly as to cause the lips of them that are asleep to speak.”
So I saw that when they awoke they addressed themselves to go up to the City. But, as I said, the reflection of the sun upon the City (for the City was of pure gold), was so extremely glorious, that they could not as yet with open face behold it, but through an instrument made for that purpose. So I saw, that as they went on, there met them two men in raiment that shone like gold, also their faces shone as the light.
These men asked the pilgrims whence they came; and they told them. They also asked them where they had lodged, what difficulties and dangers, what comforts and pleasures, they had met in the way; and they told them. Then said the men that met them, “ You have but two difficulties more to meet with, and then you are in the City.”
Christian then and his companion asked the men to go along with them : so they told them that they would ; “But,” said they, “you must obtain it by your own faith.” So I saw in my dream that they went on together till they came in sight of the gate.
Now I further saw, that betwixt them and the gate was a river ; but there was no bridge to go over; and the river was very deep. At the sight therefore of this river the pilgrims were much stunned ; but the men that went with them said, “ You must go through or you cannot come at the gate.”
The pilgrims then began to inquire, if there was no other way to the gate. To which they answered, “Yes ; but there hath not any, save two, to wit, Enoch and Elijah, been permitted to tread that path since the foundation of the world, nor shall until the last trumpet shall sound.” The pilgrims then, especially Christian, began to despond in their minds, and looked this way and that, but no way could be found by them by which they might escape the river. Then they asked the men if the waters were all of a depth. They said, “No;" yet they could not help them in that case; “For," said they, “you shall find it deeper or shallower as you believe in the King of the place.”
They then addressed themselves to the water, and entering, Christian began to sink, and, crying out to his good friend Hopeful, he said, “I sink in deep waters; the billows go over my head, all his waves go over me.”
Then said the other, “ Be of good cheer, my brother: I feel the bottom, and it is good.” Then said Christian, “ Ah ! my friend, the sorrows of death have compassed me about, I shall not see the land that flows with milk and honey." And with that a great darkness and horror fell upon Christian, so that he could not see before him. Also here he in a great measure lost his senses, so that he could neither remember nor orderly talk of any of those sweet refreshments that he had met with in the way of his pilgrimage. But all the words that he spoke still tended to discover that he had horror of mind, and heart-fears that he should die in that river, and never obtain entrance in at the gate. Here also, as they that stood by perceived, he was much in the troublesome thoughts of the sins that he had committed, both since and before he began to be a pilgrim. It was also observed, that he was troubled with apparitions and evil spirits; for ever and anon he would intimate so much by words.
Hopeful therefore here had much ado to keep his brother's head above water; yea, sometimes he would be quite gone down, and then, ere awhile, he would rise up again half dead. Hopeful also would endeavour to comfort him, saying, “Brother, I see the
gate, and men standing by to receive us ;" but Christian would answer, “ It is you, it is you they wait for ; you have been hopeful ever since I knew you.” “And so have you,” said he to Christian. “Ah, brother (said he), surely if I was right he would now arise to help me; but for my sins he hath brought me into the snare, and hath left me.” Then said Hopeful, “ My brother, you have quite forgot the text where it is said of the wicked, “There are no bands in their death, but their strength is firm ; they are not troubled as other men, neither are they plagued like other men. These troubles and distresses that you go through in these waters, are no sign that God hath forsaken you ; but are sent to try you, whether you will call to mind that which heretofore you have received of his goodness, and live upon him in your distresses."
Then I saw in my dream, that Christian was in a muse awhile. To whom also Hopeful added these words, “Be of good cheer, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole.” And with that Christian brake out with a loud voice, “Oh, I see him again ; and he tells me. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee."" Then they both took courage, and the enemy was after that as still as a stone, until they were gone over. Christian therefore presently found ground to stand upon, and so it followed that the rest of the river was but shallow. Thus they got over.
Now upon the bank of the river, on the other side, they saw the two shining men again, who there waited for them. Wherefore, being come out of the river, they saluted them, saying, “We are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those that shall be heirs of salvation.” Thus they went along towards the gate.
Now you must note, that the City stood upon a mighty hill ; but the pilgrims went up that hill with ease, because they had these two men to lead them up by the arms : they had likewise left their mortal garments behind them in the river ; for though they went in with them, they came out without them. They therefore went up here with much agility and speed, though the foundation upon which the City was framed was higher than the clouds; they therefore went up through the regions of the air, sweetly talking as they went, being comforted because they safely got over the river, and had such glorious companions to attend them.
The talk that they had with the shining ones was about the glory of the place ; who told them that the beauty and glory of it was inexpressible. “There,” said they, “ is the Mount Sion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the innumerable company of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect. You are going now," said they, “to the paradise of God, wherein you shall see the tree of life, and eat of the never-fading fruits thereof : and when you come there you shall have white robes given you, and your walk and talk shall be every day with the King, even all the days of eternity. There you shall not see again such things as you saw when you were in the lower region upon the earth ; to wit, sorrow, sickness, affliction, and death ; ‘For the former things are passed away.' You are going now to Abraham, to Isaac, and Jacob, and to the prophets, men that God hath taken away from the evil to come, and that are now each one walking in his righteousness.” The men then asked, “What must we do in the holy place ?” To whom it was answered, “You must there receive the comfort of all your toil, and have joy for all your sorrow; you must reap what you have sown, even the fruit of all your prayers, and tears, and sufferings for the King by the way. In that place you must wear crowns of gold, and enjoy the perpetual sight and visions of the Holy One ; for 'there you shall see him as he is.' There also you shall serve him continually with praise, with shouting and thanksgiving, whom you desired to serve in the world, though with much difficulty, because of the infirmity of your flesh. There your eyes shall be delighted with seeing, and your ears with hearing the pleasant voice of the Mighty One. There you shall enjoy your friends again that are gone thither before you ; and there you shall with joy receive even every one that follows into the holy place after you. There also you shall be clothed with glory and majesty, and ride out with the King of Glory. When he shall come with sound of trumpet in the clouds, as upon the wings of the wind, you shall come with him ; and when he shall sit upon the throne of judgment, you shall sit by him ; yea, and when he shall pass sentence upon all the workers of iniquity, let them be angels or men, you also shall have a voice in that judgment, because they were his and your enemies. Also, when he shall again return to the City, you shall go, too, with sound of trumpet, and be ever with the Lord.”