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Christian is discouraged in passing the River.
· The pilgrims then began to enquire, if there was no other way to the gate. To which they answered, 6. 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.” ..: :
Then they 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.”. 1. 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, sQ that he could not see before him. Also 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 spake still tended to discover that he had horror of mind,
Flesh and blood canngt inherit the kingdom of God. There is no way to heaven, but by passing through the gates of death. Much however as to distress or enjoyment, will depend upon the strength of our faith.
“Oh! if my Lord would come and meet,
My soul should leave this world in haste, **** Fly fearless through death's iron gate,
Nor fear the terrors, as she pass'd." 67
endeavour and men stand dat is you, it is you knew
.... . Hopeful supports Christian. . ; 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 his 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 a while, 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, “ 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 rise to help me; but for my sins he hath brought me into a 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 signs 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 a wbile. To whom also Hopeful added these words, “ Be of good cheer, Jesus Christ maketh thet 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 Thé Pilgrims get safely over the River.
overflow thee.” (Isa. xliii. 2.)-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; but thus they got over.
[ This is a dying scene. We learn from it, that there is a great difference in the feelings of Christians at that solemn season; for though all die equally safe, all are not equally happy. Some believers, like Hopeful, pass through the river of death as it were dryshod; while others, like Christian, find it as the swellings of Jordan. We learn also, that the righteous have hope in their death ; and that it is this which prevents them from being overwhelmed with despondency and despair. To experience “ great darkness and horror," and to be afraid of not entering the kingdom of God when flesh and heart faint, must be most distressing, especially if guilt be upon the conscience. Doubtless, the accuser of the brethren is very busy at such a season, tormenting and distracting the mind of the Christian with fear that he shall “ never obtain en. trance in at the gate.” It is well to remind believers in such circumstances of the divine faithfulness; and to tell them, that "the trou. bles and distresses which they go through in these waters are no sign that God hath forsaken them, but are sent to try them.” Nothing, however, will keep the head above water, much less fill the heart with joy and rapture, but the grace and mercy exhibited to sinners through Jesus Christ. Looking for the mercy of our Lord. Jesus Christ unto eternal life, will support and relieve the mind, even in the agonies of death, and produce everlasting consolation and good hope through grace. It was to Christ that dying Stephen said, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. O death, said the apostle, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law: but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Cor. xv, 55, 56. Faith in the compassion and ability of Christ, the merciful and faith, ful High Priest, will still the eneiny, and make dying believers more than conquerors over death through him that loved them, Rom. viii. 37, 38.
It is not improbable that Mr. Bunyan designed, by the death of Christian, to represent what he expected his fears and feelings would be at the time of his own decease. His fears of death were of the most tormenting kind, as we have seen at two former periods ; and it should seem that when he wrote this allegory, after all his experience of the divine care, he was not wholly free from distressing anticipations, but even then was subject to bondage through fear of death. When however he was brought to the period of
The Pilgrims are met by Angels. i
: 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 the hill with ease, because they had these two men to lead them up by the arms: also they had 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 region 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 “ Mount Sion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the innuinerable company of angels, and the spirits
dissolution, he found that strength was given him equal to his day. The following is the account of Mr. Bunyan's death. “He fell sick of a violent fever, which he bore with much constancy and patience, and expressed himself as if he wished nothing more than to depart and to be with Christ, considering it as gain, and life only as a tedious delay of expected felicity. Finding his strength decay, hé settled his worldly affairs as well as the shortness of the time and' the violence of the disorder would permit, and, after an illness of ten days, with unshaken confidence resigned his soul, on the 31st of August, 1698, being sixty years of age, into the hands of his niost merciful Redeemner, following his Pilgrim from the City of Destruction to the New Jerusalem, his better part having been all along there in holy contemplations, pantings, and breathings after he water of life.' '.
who conduct them towards the Gate of the City.
the holy place men then askealking in his
of just men made perfect.” (Heb. xii. 22-24.) 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. (Rev. ii. 7; iji. 4, 5; xxii. 5.) 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.” (Isa. Ixv. 16, 17.) You are going now to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and to the prophets, men that God hath taken away from the evil to come, and that are now “rest ing upon their beds, 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 comforts 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 of the way." (Gal. vi. 7, 8.) In that place you must wear crowns of gold, and enjoy the perpetual sight and vision of the Holy One; for “ there you shall see him as he is.” (1 John iïi: 2.) 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 put into an equipage fit to 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;