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Abba, Father! send forth the Spirit of thy dear Son into our hearts, that we, being made humble, believing, and holy, may ever give back a serene, | unsullied reflection of thy Truth and Love'
Blessed is that Spirit of Adoption ! Grant that we all, in its possession, may be made the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. May we, through the Spirit, wait for the hope of righteousness by Faith : remembering that in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but Faith, which worketh by Love. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.
Oft as I look upon the road
I feel distressed and fearful :
But when I think of Him, whose power
And place on Him reliance,
I'll bid them all defiance.
The dangerous road I then pursue,
With joyful hore elated;
With ardour unabated.
O Lord, each day renew my strength,
With all thy people yonder:
With gratitude and wonder.
LA ND BEULAH
RIVER OF DEATH.
Gradual progress of the Pilgrims from strength to strength. Their enjoyment in the
Land Beulah.—Similar experience of Dr. Payson.--- Beauty and glory of the close of the Pilgrim's Progress.- Fear of Death by the Pilgrims.—Bunyan's own expe. rience.-Why Death is the King of Terrors.-Dying is but going home for the Cbristian.-Death-beds of believers and unbelievers contrasted.-Christian instances in Fuller, Pearce, Janeway, Payson, and others.-Blessedness of such a death.—Necessity of a preparation for it in life. What constitutes the Land Beulah.-Sweetness and preciousness of a close walk with God. -Solemn lesson from the fate of Ignorance.- No safety but in Christ.
We are come now, in our pilgrimage, as far as to the Land Beulah. Would that we were all there in reality, and could abide there while we stay this side of the River of Death. But the Land Beulah, lovely as it is, is only one stage in our pilgrimage, and that a very advanced stage. And it is observable how Bunyan makes his Pilgrims go from strength to strength, by a gradual progress, from one degree of grace, discipline, and glory to another, in accordance with that sweet scripture image, “ The path of the Just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” So the Pilgrims go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appearing before God. They first, from the House Beautiful,
had a view of the Delectable Mountains ; then, from the Delectable Mountains, they had a view of the Celestial City; then in the Land Beulah, they even meet with the inhabitants of that City. In this land they also hear voices coming out of the City, and theydraw so near to it that the view of its glory is almost overpowering. Would to God that we all did better know the meaning of these images by our own blissful experience ; for certainly the imagination alone cannot interpret them to us. A very near, deep, blissful communion with God is here portrayed, and that beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, by which daily the soul is changed more and more into the same image. Here the ministering spirits that do wait upon us are more frequent and full in their companies. Here the Spirit of Adoption is breathed over the soul, and it walks and talks with Christ, almost as Moses and Elias in the Mount of Transfiguration.
No other language than that of Bunyan himself, perused in the pages of his own sweet book, could be successful in portraying this beauty and glory; for now he seems to feel that all the dangers of the pilgrimage are almost over, and he gives up himself without restraint so entirely to the sea of bliss that surrounds him, and to the gales of heaven that are wafting him on, and to the sounds of melody that float in the whole air around him, that nothing in the English language can be compared with this whole closing part of the Pilgrim's Progress, for its entrancing splendor, yet serene and simple loveliness. The coloring is that of heaven in the soul, and Bunyan has poured his own heaven-entranced soul
into it. With all its depth and power, there is nothing exaggerated, and it is made up of the simplest and most scriptural materials and images. We seem to stand in a flood of light poured on us from the open gates of Paradise. It falls on every leaf and shrub by the way-side ; it is reflected from the crystal streams, that between grassy banks wind amidst groves of fruit-trees into vineyards and flower-gardens. These fields of Beulah are just below the gate of heaven; and with the light of heaven there come floating down the melodies of heaven, so that here there is almost an open revelation of the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
During the last days of that eminent man of God, Dr. Payson, he once said, “When I formerly read Bunyan's description of the Land Beulah, where the sun shines and the birds sing day and night, I used to doubt whether there was such a place ; but now my own experience has convinced me of it, and it infinitely transcends all my previous conceptions." The best possible commentary on the glowing descriptions in Bunyan is to be found in that very remarkable letter dictated by Dr. Payson to his sister a few weeks before his death. “Were I to adopt the figurative language of Bunyàn, I might date this letter from the Land Beulah, of which I have been for some weeks a happy inhabitant. The Celestial City is full in my view. Its glories have been upon me, its breezes fan me, its odors are wafted to me, its sounds strike upon my ears, and its spirit is breathed into my heart. Nothing separates me from it but the River of
Death, which now appears but as an insignificant rill, that may be crossed at a single step, whenever God shall give permission. The Sun of Righteousness has been gradually drawing nearer and nearer, appearing larger and brighter as be ap proached, and now he fills the whole hemisphere, pouring forth a flood of glory, in which I seem to float like an insect in the beams of the sun; esulting, yet almost trembling, while I gaze on this excessive brigliness, and wondering with unutterable wonder, why God should deign thus to shine upon a sinful worm."
There is perhaps, in all our language, no record of a Christian's happiness before death, so striking as this. What is it not worth to enjoy such consolations as these in our pilgrimage, and especially to experience such foretastes of heaven as we draw near to the River of Death; such revelations of God in Christ as can swallow up the fears and pains of dying, and make the soul exult in the vision of a Saviour's loveliness, the assurance of a Saviour's mercy. There is no self-denial, no toil, no suffering in this life which is worthy to be compared for a moment with such blessedness.
It is very remarkable that Bunyan has, as it were, attempted to lift the veil from the grave, from eternity, in the beatific closing part of the Pilgrim's Progress, and to depict what passes, or may be supposed to pass, with the souls of the righteous, immediately after death. There is a very familiar verse of Watts, founded on the unsuccessful effort of the mind to conceive definitely the manner of