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the men that looked over the top of the gate, Whence come you ? and what would you have ? He answered, I have eat and drank in the presence of the King, and he has taught in our streets. Then they asked him for his certificate, that they might go in and show it to the King. So he fumbled in his bosom for one and found none. Then, said they, Have you none! But the man answered never a word. So they told the King ; but he would not come down to see him, but commanded the two Shining Ones that conducted Christian and Hopeful to the City, to go out and take Ignorance, and bind him hand and foot, and have him away. Then they took him up and carried him through the air, to the door that I saw in the side of the hill, and put him in there. Then I saw that there was a way to Hell even from the Gates of Heaven, as well as from the City of Destruction.”
Now can any thing be more solemn than this? You will remember that this man Ignorance was ignorant both of himself and of his Saviour, and yet he had been long a traveller towards the Celestial City. His case is described by the Saviour, with the addition that “Many shall say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, open unto us; to whom I will say, Depart from me, I never knew you, ye that work iniquity. Now may God in mercy keep us from such self-deception! Nevertheless, it would be nothing strange, should it be found in the great day of trial, that this age was distinguished as an age of self-deception ; and if we take not great heed to ourselves, we shall glide on
with the same general current. And it is the saddest, most dreadful mistake that ever man fell into, to dream on of Heaven, only to awake and find himself in Hell. We had better do any thing most hard, be pressed with the greatest evils, encompassed with the most painful difficulties, endure all labors, undergo all suffering, practice every self-denial of the good soldier of Jesus Christ, than remain in such danger. What is it not worth to be unalterably safe in Christ, to have constant experience of his preciousness, to be making constant additions to our knowledge of him, to be nourished daily by his grace, and to be animated constantly by his love ? Oh if we had any thing in this world of a value in the least to be compared with the blessedness of a well-grounded hope in Christ, we would not leave it for a single day in such risk as we do our hope of Heaven, by living at such a distance from our Saviour.
What shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue ! absorbed with vanities! a vision made for Eternity, blinded by the shadows of Time ! A soul made for God, and the boundless ralities of everlasting ages, absorbed with earth, and the poor worthless trifles of transitory years! Is this the manner in which Christ would have his pupil live? Or is the prize of Heaven's eternal inheritance of so little value, that we can run the hazard of losing it with so little concern? Ah, no! The crown of righteousness is not of so little worth. The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
Nor is there any safety but in Christ, and in a
constant effort after an increase of that holiness, with which alone the soul can be fitted to overcome the dangers of its mortal pilgrimage, or to enjoy the crown laid up in heaven. There is safety where Christ is. There is safety where there is watchfulness and growth in grace. There is safety where there is much secret prayer. There is safety in giving all diligence to make your calling and election sure. There is safety in lying low at the feet of the Saviour. There is safety and blessedness unspeakable, even here, in a world of darkness and trial, amidst temptations and dangers. There is safety and blessedness now, there is triumphant glory at the close, in so walking with Christ, so resting on him, so pursuing his pilgrimage.
And then the usefulness which is the result of all this! For there is no picture more lovely, than of that external activity, which grows out of inward holiness. A zeal that is the result of secret humility, gentleness, prayer, love to Christ, sorrow for sin, is ever blessed and successful. The world even of hardened opposers bow to so lovely a spirit as that which Henry Martyn and Harlan Page exhibited. It is a spirit which grows out of secret faithfulness in the Christian life. Let any disciple dwell with Christ in secret, and that disciple will assuredly be like unto Christ in public. Let him prayerfully, anxiously, weepingly, attend to his own private growth in grace, let him make the increase of his personal holiness a steadfast object, and the fruits of holiness will presently appear. While he is watching and praying, and watering
the plant in his own heart with tears, the tree will be growing, with green leaves, and fair perpetual blossoms, and ripe, rich fruit, to the admiration and benefit of every beholder. .
It is a blessed life, but a close how transcendently glorious, which we have been tracing in this precious book. Looking at its close, every man wishes to enter on just such a pilgrimage. Let us then stand at the Gates of the Celestial City, as they are flung wide open to admit the transfigured Pilgrims, and then, with the light shining on us, let us turn to the prayerful patient prosecution of our own earthly pilgrimage, our own work for Christ. “Now just as the gates were opened to let in the men, I looked in after them, and behold the City shone like the sun; the streets also were paved with gold, and in them walked many men with crowns on their heads, palms in their hands, and golden harps to sing praises withal. There were also of them that had wings; and they answered one another without intermission, saying, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord. And after that, they shut up the Gates; which, when I had seen, I wished myself among them."
Turn now, dear fellow pilgrim, animated and encouraged on thy way. Thou hast heard the songs of the redeemed ; in the Apocalypse thou hast gone with John into the Celestial City ; in the Pilgrim's Progress thou hast wished thyself with Bunyan among the crowned and shining ones, that cry, Holy! Holy! Holy! Go then, and be faithful. Live in and upon Christ. Knock and weep and watch and pray; but in all thy darkness, (and
darkness thou mayst have to encounter,) never let the light of this Vision be forgotten.
Hie thee on thy quiet way,
Patient watch the breaking dawn:
And the night will soon be gone.
Thy pilgrimage lies through the wilderness, a wilderness indeed ; but the dear path to Christ's abode is there, and His light is shining. No pilgrim's rest is in this world, but there is a Rest that remaineth for the people of God. Here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come, a city which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God. Go, then, on thy way, singing as thou goest,
How happy is the Pilgrim's lot,
From worldly hope and fear!
He only sojourns here.
This happiness in part is mine ;
From every creature-love!
And seeks the things above.
The things eternal I pursue,
Of those that beastly pant
I neither have nor want.
No foot of land do I possess ;
A poor way-faring man;
Till I my Canaan gain.