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The River without a Bridge.
195 behold it, but through an instrument made for that purpose. So I saw, that as they went on, there met thier 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.'(3)
Christian then and his companion asked the Men to go along with them : so they told them 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 : 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's nor shall until the last trumpet shalt suund. 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. 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,
(8) Perhaps the author here alluded to those pre-intimations of death, that some persons seem to receive : and he appears to have ascribed them to guardian angels, watching over every believero-Death, and admission into the City, were the only difficulties that awaited the Pilgrims
Christian's Terrors in the River.
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 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, and hearty 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. (1) 'Twas also observa ed, that he was troubled with apparitions of hobgoblins and
(11) Death is aptly represented by a deep River without a Bridge, separating the believer from his heavenly inheritance : as Jordan flowed between Israel and the promised land, From this River, nature shrinks back, even when faith, hope and love are in lively exers sise ; but when these decline, alarm and consternation may unite with reluctance at the thoughts of crossing it. The dreaded pangs that precede the awful separation of those intimate associates, the soul and body; the painful parting with dear friends and every earthly object ; the gloomy ideas of the dark, cold, and noisome grave; and the solemn thought of launching into an unseen eternity, render Death the king of terrors. But faith in a crucified, buried, risen and ascended Saviour ; experience of his faithfulness and love in times past ; hope of an immediate entrance into his presence, where temptation, touflict, sin and suffering will find no almission ; and the desire of perfect knowledge, holiness and felicity, will reconcile the mind to the inevitable stroke, and sometimes give a complete victory over every fear. Yer If faith and hope be weakened, through the recollection of any peculiar misconduct, the withholding of divine light and consolation, or sone violent assault of the tempter, even the believer will be peculiarly liable to alarm and distress. His reflecting mind, having long been accustomed to consider the subject in its iinportant nature and consequences, has very different apprehensions of God, of eternity, of judgment, of sin, and of himself, than other men bave. Sometimes experienced saints are more desponding in these circumstances than their junior brethren : constitution has considerable effect upon the mind ; and some men (like Christian) are in every stage of their profession, more exposed to temptations of a discouraging nature, than to ambition, avarice or fleshly lusts.-It has before been suggested, that the author probably meant to describe the peculiarities of his own experience, in the character of Christian ; and he may perhaps here have intimated his apprehension, lest he should not meet death with beconis ing fortitude.-A conscientious life indeed is commonly favoured with a peaceful close, even when forebodings to the e contrary have troubled men during their whole lives : and this is so far general, that they best provide for a comfortable death, who most diligently attend to the duties of their station, and the improvements of their talents, from evangelical principles ; whereas they who live negligently, and yield to temptation, make, as it were, an assignation with terror to meet them on their death-bed, a season when comfort is more de. sirable than at any other. The Lord, bowever, is no man's debtor : done can claim consolation as their due: and, though a believer's experience and the testimony of his conscience may evidence the sincerity of his faith and love : yet he must disclaim to the last every other dependence than the righteousness and blood of Christ, and the free mercy of God in him.
Christian is troubled by Evil Spirits.
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 a while, would rise up again half dead. Hopeful also would endeavour to comfort him, saying, 'Brother, I see the Gate, and men stanúing by to receive us ;' but Christian would answer, "Tis
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 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 is no band 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 a while. To whom also Hopeful added this word, “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 thec; and through 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. (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
• Isa. slui. 2. (1) The temporary distresses of dying believe's often arise from bodily cäsease, which interrupt the free exercise of their intellectual powers. Of this Satan will be sure to take advantage, as far as he is permitted; and will suggest gloomy imaginations, not only to distress them, but to dishearten others by their examples-What may in this state be painted before the fancy we cannot tell : but it is generally observed, that such painful contlicts terminate in renewed hope and comfort, frequently by means of the conversation arid prayers of Christians and ministers ; so that they, who for a time have been most distressel, have at length died most triumphantly.
198 The Pilgrims mount with ease to the City. 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 : 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 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. (K)
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 Zion, 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.t . 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, af. fiction, 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 “resting upon their beds, each one walking in his righteousness.” The men then asked, "What must we do in thie 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.s 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.”|| There † Rev. ii. 7. ii. 4. xxii. 5.
Ś Gal. vi. 7, 8.
Isa. lxv. 16.
* Heb. xii. 22-24. || 1 John fi. 2
(k) When “Lazarus died, he was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom;" and we have every reason to believe, that the services of these friendly spirits to the souls of de parted saints are immediate and sensible; and that their joy is such as is here described The beautiful description that follows aclmits of no elucidation : some of the images indeed are taken from modern customs ; but in all other respects it is entirely scriptural, and very intelligible and animating to the spiritual mind.
They are conducted and welcomed by Angels. · 199
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 Mghty One. There you shall enjoy your friends again, that
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 pat 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"; 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 hiin.'*
Now, while they were thus drawing towards the Gate, behold a company of the heavenly host came out to meet them ; to whom it was said by the other two Shining Ones, These are the men that have loved our Lord, when they were in the world, and that have left all for his holy name, and he hath sent us to fetch them, and we have brought them thus far on their desired journey, that they may go in and look their Redeemer in the face with joy. Then the heavenly host gave a great shout, saying, "Blessed are they that are called to the marriage-supper of the Lamb.”+ There came out also at this time to meet them several of the King's trumpeters, clothed in white and shining raiment, who with melodious noises and loud made even the heavens to echo with their sound. These trumpeters saluted Christian and his fellow with ten thousand welcomes from the world ; and this they did with shouting and sound of trumpet.
This done, they compassed them round on every side ; some went before, some behind, and some on the right hand, some on the left, (as 'twere to guard them through the upper regions,) continually sounding as they went, with melodious noise, in notes on high ; so that the very sight was to them that could behold it, as if heaven itself was come down to meet them. Thus therefore they walked on together; and, * 1 Thess. iv. 13–17. Jude 14, 15. Dan, vü. O, 10. 1 Cor. vi. 2, 3. † Rev. xix, 5.