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ye to the daughter 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 a while, 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 delight, and also for the solace of pilgrims. So the gardener had them into the vineyards, and bid them refresh themselves with the dainties ;y he also
y Deut. xxiii. 24. * See what it is to long for the full fruition of Jesus in glory. Some have been so overpowered hereby, that their earthen vessels were ready to burst: their frail bodies have been so overcome, that they have cried, Lord, hold thine hand, I faint, I sink, I die, with a full sense of thy precious, precious love. Covet earnestly this best gift, love. Lord, shed it more abundantly abroad in these cold hearts of ours !
showed them there the King's walks and 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 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 with 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.
2 Rev. xxi. 18. 2 Cor. iii. 18.
* What are these two difficulties ? are they not death without, and unbelief within ? It is through the latter, that the former is at all distressing to us. O for a strong, world-conquering, sin-subduing, death-overcoming faith, in life and in death! Jesus, Master, speak the word—unbelief shall flee, our faith shall not fail, and our hope shall be steady.
Now I further saw, that betwixt them and the gate was a river ; but there was no bridge to go over : DEATH. 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 his mind, and looked this way and that ;
DEATH not wel- but no way could be found by them, by THOUGH BY it we which they might escape the river. Then
RY. they asked the men if the waters were all of a depth? They said, No; yet they could not help Angels help us them in that case; for, said they, you
shall find it deeper or shallower, as you believe in the King of the place.t
COME TO NATURE.
* Well, now the pilgrims must meet with and encounter their last enemy, death. When he stares them in the face, their fears arise. Through the river they must go. What have they to look at ? What they are in themselves, or what they have done and been ? No. Only the same Jesus who conquered death for us, and can overcome the fear of death in us.
+ Faith builds a bridge across the gulf of death.
Death's terror is the mountain faith removes.
From ev'ry clam'rous charge the guiltless tomb. For, faith views, trusts in, and relies upon the work of Christ for salvation, and the victory of Christ over sin, death, and hell. Therefore in every thing, we shall always prove the truth of our Lord's words, “According to your faith, be it unto you,” Matt. ix. 29. O what sup
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. Selah.
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 dark- Christian's conness and horror fell upon Christian, so OP DEATH. 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 of hobgoblins and evil spirits ; for ever and anon he would intimate so much by
FLICT AT THE HOUR
port in death, to have Jesus our triumphant conqueror to look unto, who has disarmed death of its sting, and swallowed up death in his victory!
* What! after all the past, blessed experience that Christian had enjoyed, of his Lord's peace, love, joy, and presence with him, his holy transports and heavenly consolations, is all come to this at the last? You know, “ the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death," 1 Cor. xv. 26. In some sort he is an enemy, even to saints themselves, as he puts an end to their present existence, and destroys their body. But their souls fall asleep in Jesus, are delivered from the burden of the flesh, and enter into Christ's presence, to be for ever with him. Thus he is a blessed messenger of joy, and a sweet friend to the regenerate soul.
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 a while, he would rise up again half dead. Hopeful did also endeavour to comfort him, saying, Brother, I see the gate, and men standing by to receive us; but Christian would answer, "Tis you, 'tis you they wait for; 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.t
Then I saw in my dream, that Christian was in a muse a while. To whom also Hopeful added these
* Satan is suffered to be very busy with God's people in their last moments : but he too, like death, is a conquered enemy by our Jesus ; therefore, amidst all his attacks, they are safe. He cannot destroy them whom Jesus hath redeemed; for he is faithful to them, and almighty to save them.
+ When you visit a sick or death-bed, be sure that you take God's word with you, in your heart and in your mouth; it is from that only that you may expect a blessing upon and to the soul of the sick or the dying ; for it is by the word of God, faith came at the first; it is by that, faith is strengthened at the last; and Jesus is the sum and substance of the scriptures.