"The Celestial City"
The Conclusion of Pilgrim's Progress
By John Bunyan
Isa. 62. 4
Cant. 2. 10, 11, 12
|Now I saw in my dream, that by this time the Pilgrims were got over the Enchanted Ground, and entering into the Country of Beulah, whose air was very sweet and pleasant, the way lying directly through it, they solaced themselves there for a season. Yea, here they heard continually the singing of birds, and saw every day the flowers appear on the earth, and heard the voice of the Turtle in the Land. In this country the sun shineth night and day; wherefore this was beyond the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and also out of the reach of Giant Despair, neither could they from this place so much as see Doubting Castle. Here they were within sight of the city they were going to, also here met them some of the inhabitants thereof; for in this land the Shining Ones commonly walked, because it was upon the borders of heaven.|
|Isa. 62. 5
|In this land also, the contract between the bride and the bridegroom was renewed; yea, here, As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so did their God rejoice over them. Here they had no want of Corn and Wine; for in this place they met with abundance of what they had sought for in all their Pilgrimage. Here they heard voices from out of the city, loud voices, saying, Say 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.|
Deut. 23. 24.
|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 street thereof was
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
ye find 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?
|Rev. 21. 18.
2 Cor. 3. 18.
|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. He also showed them there the King's Walks, and the Arbors
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 I 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 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 they would. But, said they, you must obtain it by your own faith. So I saw in my dream that they went on together, until 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 in with them said, You must go through, or you cannot
come at the Gate.
|Death is not welcome to nature,
though by it we pass out of this world into glory.
1 Cor. 15. 51, 52.
|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 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!
|Christian's conflict at the hour
|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 hath 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, 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 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 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, he would rise up again half dead. Hopeful also would 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 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,|
|Psal. 73. 4, 5||There is no band in their death, but their
strength is firm. They are not in trouble 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.
|Christian delivered from his fears
Isa. 43. 2.
|Then I saw in my dream, that Christian was as
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 thee, and through the 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.
The angels do wait for them, so soon as they are passed out of this world.
They have put off mortality.
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 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.
Now, now, look how the holy pilgrims ride,
Heb. 12. 22, 23, 24.
Rev. 21. 1.
Isa. 57. 1, 2.
|The talk 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 Sion, 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. 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. 65. 14.
You are now going 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 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 by the way. 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 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 shall you 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; 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 him.
|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 which are called unto 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 it were 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 as they walked, ever and anon these trumpeters, even with joyful sound, would, by mixing their music with looks and gestures, still signify to Christian and his brother, how welcome they were into their company, and with what gladness they came to meet them; and now were these two men, as it were, in heaven, before they came at it, being swallowed up with the sight of angels, and with hearing of their melodious notes. Here also they had the city itself in view, and they thought they heard all the bells therein to ring, to welcome them thereto. But above all, the warm and joyful thoughts that they had about their own dwelling there, with such company, and that for ever and ever. Oh, by what tongue or pen can their glorious joy be expressed! And thus they came up to the Gate.
Now, when they were come up to the gate, there was written over it in letters of gold, "Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city."
Then I saw in my dream that the Shining Men bid them call at the gate; the which, when they did, some looked from above over the gate, to wit, Enoch, Moses, and Elijah, &c., to whom it was said, "These pilgrims are come from the City of Destruction, for the love that they bear to the King of this place."; and then the Pilgrims gave in unto them each man his certificate, which they had received in the beginning; those, therefore, were carried in to the King, who, when He had read them, said, "Where are the men?" To whom it was answered, "They are standing without the gate." The King then commanded to open the gate, "That the righteous nation," said He, "which keepeth the truth, may enter in."
Now I saw in my dream that these two men went in at the gate: and lo, as they entered, they were transfigured, and they had raiment put on that shone like gold. There was also that met them with harps and crowns, and gave them to them - the harps to praise withal, and the crowns in token of honour. Then I heard in my dream that all the bells in the city rang again for joy, and that it was said unto them, Enter ye into the joy of your Lord. I also heard the men themselves, that they sang with a loud voice, saying, Blessing, Honour, Glory, and Power, be to him tha sitteth upon the Throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever.
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.
Now while I was gazing upon all these things, I turned my head to look back, and saw Ignorance come up to the river side; but he soon got over, and that without half that difficulty which the other two men met with. For it happened that there was then in that place, one Vain-hope, a ferryman, that with his boat helped him over; so he, as the other I saw, did ascend the hill, to come up to the gate, only he came alone; neither did any man meet him with the least encouragement. When he was come up to the gate, he looked up to the writing that was above, and then began to knock, supposing that entrance should have been quickly administered to him; but he was asked by the men that looked over the top of the gate, "Whence came 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. So I awoke, and behold it was a dream.
See if thou canst interpret it to me,
Or to thyself, or Neighbour; but take heed
Of misinterpreting; for that, instead
Of doing good, will but thyself abuse:
By mis-interpreting, evil ensues.
Take heed, also, that thou be not extreme,
Put by the Curtains, look within my Vail,
What of my dross thou findest there, be bold