THE PILGRIMS AT HOME.
After this, I beheld until they were come unto the Land of Beulah, where the sun shineth night and day. Here, because they were weary, they betook themselves awhile to rest. And because this country was common for pilgrims, and because the orchards and vineyards that were here belong to the King of the Celestial Country, therefore they were permitted to make bold with any of His things. But a little while soon refreshed them here; for the bells did so ring, and the trumpets continually sound so melodiously, that they could not sleep and yet they received as much refreshing as if they had slept their sleep never so soundly. Here also the noise of them that walked in the streets was, "More pilgrims are come to town!" And another would answer, saying, "And so many went over the water, and were let in at the golden gates, to-day!" They would cry again, "There is now a legion of Shining Ones just come to town, by which we know that there are more pilgrims upon the road; for here they come to wait for them, and comfort them after all their sorrow!" Then the pilgrims got up, and walked to and fro. But how were their ears now filled with heavenly voices, and their eyes delighted with celestial visions! In this land they heard nothing, saw nothing, felt nothing, smelt nothing, tasted nothing, that was offensive to their stomach or mind; only when they tasted of the water of the river over which they were to go, they thought that it tasted a little bitterish to the palate, but it proved sweeter when it was down.
In this place there was a record kept of the names of them that had been pilgrims of old, and a history of all the famous acts that they had done. It was here also much spoken of, how the river to some had had its flowings, and what ebbings it had had while others have gone over. It has been in a manner dry for some, while it has overflowed its banks for others.
In this place, the children of the town would go into the King's gardens, and gather nosegays for the pilgrims, and bring them to them with much affection. Here also grew camphire, with spikenard, and saffron, calamus, and cinnamon, with all the trees of frankincense, myrrh, and aloes, with all chief spices. With these the pilgrims' chambers were perfumed while they stayed here; and with these were their bodies anointed, to prepare them to go over the river, when the time appointed was come.
CHRISTIANA RECEIVES MESSAGE Now, while they lay here, and waited for the good hour, there was a noise in the town that there was a messenger come from the Celestial City with matter of great importance to one Christiana, the wife of Christian the pilgrim. So inquiry was made for her, and the house was found out where she was. So the messenger presented her with a letter; the contents whereof were, "Hail, good woman! I bring thee tidings that the Master calleth for thee, and expecteth that thou shouldest stand in His presence, in clothes of everlasting life, within these ten days."
When he had read this letter to her, he gave her therewith a sure token that he was a true messenger, and was come to bid her make haste to be gone. The token was an arrow, with a point sharpened with love, let easily into her heart, which by degrees wrought so effectually with her, that at the time appointed she must be gone.
When Christiana saw that her time was come, and that she was the first of this company that was to go over, she called for Mr. Great-heart, her guide, and told him how matters were. So he told her he was heartily glad of the news, and could have been glad had the post come for him. Then she bid that he should give advice how all things should be prepared for her journey. So he told her, saying, "Thus and thus it must be; and we that are left will accompany you to the river-side."
Then she called for her children, and gave them her blessing, and told them that she yet read with comfort the mark that was set in their foreheads, and was glad to see them with her there, and that they had kept their garments so white. Lastly, she gave to the poor that little she had, and commanded her sons and her daughters to be ready against the messenger should come for them.
When she had spoken these words to her guide and to her children, she called for Mr. Valiant-for-truth, and said unto him, "Sir, you have in all places shown yourself true-hearted. Be faithful unto death, and my King will give you a crown of life. I would also entreat you to have an eye to my children; and if at any time you see them faint, speak comfortably to them. For my daughters, my sons' wives, they have been faithful; and a fulfilling of the promise upon them will be their end." But she gave Mr. Stand-fast a ring.
Then she called for old Mr. Honest, and said of him, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile."
Then said he, "I wish you a fair day when you set out for Mount Zion, and shall be glad to see that you go over the river dry shod."
But she answered, "Come wet, come dry, I long to be gone; for, however the weather is in my journey, I shall have time enough when I come there to sit down and rest me and dry me."
Then came in that good man, Mr. Ready-to-halt, to see her. So she said to him, "Thy travel hitherto has been with difficulty; but that will make thy rest the sweeter. But watch and be ready; for, at an hour when you think not, the messenger may come."
After him came in Mr. Despondency and his daughter Much-afraid; to whom she said, "You ought with thankfulness for ever to remember your deliverance from the hands of Giant Despair and out of Doubting Castle. The effect of that mercy is that you are brought with safety hither. Be ye watchful, and cast away fear; be sober, and hope to the end."
Then she said to Mr. Feeble-mind, "Thou wast delivered from the mouth of Giant Slay-good, that thou mightest live in the light of the living for ever, and see thy King with comfort. Only I advise thee to turn thee of thy aptness to fear and doubt of His goodness, before He sends for thee; lest thou shouldest, when He comes, be forced to stand before Him for that fault with blushing."
CHRISTIANA CROSSES THE RIVER Now, the day drew on that Christiana must be gone. So the road was full of people to see her take her journey. But, behold, all the banks beyond the river were full of horses and chariots, which were come down from above to accompany her to the City gate. So she came forth and entered the river, with a beckon of farewell to those that followed her to the river-side. The last words that she was heard to say were, "I come, Lord, to be with Thee, and bless Thee!"
So her children and friends returned to their place, for that those that waited for Christiana had carried her out of their sight. So she went and called, and entered in at the gate with all the tokens of joy that her husband Christian had done before her. At her departure her children wept. But Mr. Great-heart and Mr. Valiant played upon the well-tuned cymbal and harp for joy. So all departed to their respective places.
PILGRIMS RECEIVE MESSAGES In process of time, there came a messenger to the town again, and his business was with Mr. Ready-to-halt. So he inquired him out, and said to him, "I am come to thee from Him whom thou hast loved and followed, though upon crutches; and my message is to tell thee, that He expects thee at His table, to sup with Him in His kingdom, the next day after Easter; wherefore prepare thyself for this journey." Then he also gave him a token that he was a true messenger, saying, "I have broken thy golden bowl and loosed thy silver cord."
After this Mr. Ready-to-halt called for his fellow-pilgrims, and told them, saying, "I am sent for, and God shall surely visit you also." So he desired Mr. Valiant to make his will. And because he had nothing to bequeath to them that should survive him but his crutches and his good wishes, therefore thus he said: "These crutches I bequeath to my son that shall tread in my steps, with a hundred warm wishes that he may prove better than I have done." Then he thanked Mr. Great-heart for his conduct and kindness, and so addressed himself to his journey. When he came to the brink of the river, he said, "Now I shall have no more need of these crutches, since yonder are chariots and horses for me to ride on." The last words he was heard to say were, "Welcome life!" So he went his way.
After this, Mr. Feeble-mind had tidings brought him, that the messenger sounded his horn at his chamber-door. Then he came in, and told him, saying, "I am come to tell thee that thy Master has need of thee, and that in a very little time thou must behold His face in brightness. And take this as a token of the truth of my message: 'Those that look out at the windows shall be darkened.'" Then Mr. Feeble-mind called for his friends, and told them what errand had been brought unto him, and what token he had received of the truth of the message. Then he said, "Since I have nothing to bequeath to any, to what purpose should I make a will? As for my feeble mind, that I will leave behind me, for that I shall have no need of in the place whither I go, nor is it worth bestowing upon the poorest pilgrim: wherefore, when I am gone, I desire that you, Mr. Valiant, would bury it in a dunghill." This done, and the day being come on which he was to depart, he entered the river as the rest. His last words were, "Hold out, faith and patience!" So he went over to the other side.
When days had many of them passed away, Mr. Despondency was sent for; for a messenger was come, and brought this message to him: "Trembling man, these are to summon thee to be ready with thy King by the next Lord's day, to shout for joy for thy deliverance from all thy doubtings. And," said the messenger, "that my message is true, take this for a proof." So he gave him the grasshopper to be a burden unto him.
Now, Mr. Despondency's daughter, whose name was Much-afraid, said when she heard what was done, that she would go with her father. Then Mr. Despondency said to his friends, "Myself and my daughter, you know what we have been, and how troublesomely we have behaved ourselves in every company. My will and my daughter's is, that our discouraged feelings and slavish fears be by no man received, from the day of our departure for ever; for I know that after my death they will offer themselves to others. For, to be plain with you, they are ghosts the which we entertained when we first began to be pilgrims, and could never shake them off after; and they will walk about and seek entertainment of the pilgrims; but, for our sakes, shut ye the doors upon them." When the time was come for them to depart, they went to the brink of the river. The last words of Mr. Despondency were, "Farewell, night! welcome, day!" His daughter went through the river singing, but none could understand what she said.
Then it came to pass a while after, that there was a messenger in the town that inquired for Mr. Honest. So he came to his house where he was, and delivered to his hand these lines: "Thou art commanded to be ready against this day seven-night, to present thyself before thy Lord at His Father's house. And for a token that my message is true, 'All thy daughters of music shall be brought low.'" Then Mr. Honest called for his friends, and said unto them, "I die, but shall make no will. As for my honesty, it shall go with me: let them that come after me be told this." When the day that he was to be gone was come, he prepared himself to go over the river. Now, the river at that time overflowed its banks in some places; but Mr. Honest in his lifetime had spoken to one Good-conscience to meet him there; the which also he did, and lent him his hand, and so helped him over. The last words of Mr. Honest were, "Grace reigns!" So he left the world.
THE FINAL SUMMONS After this, it was noised abroad that Mr. Valiant-for-truth was taken with a summons by the same messenger as the other, and had this for a token that the summons was true, that his pitcher was broken at the fountain. When he understood it, he called for his friends, and told them of it. Then said he, "I am going to my Father's; and though with great difficulty I am got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am. My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and skill to him that can get it. My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought His battles who now will be my rewarder." When the day that he must go hence was come, many accompanied him to the river-side, into which as he went he said, "Death, where is thy sting?" And, as he went down deeper, he said, "Grave, where is thy victory?" So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.
Then there came forth a summons for Mr. Stand-fast (this Mr. Stand-fast was he whom the pilgrims found upon his knees in the Enchanted Ground), for the messenger brought it him open in his hands; the contents thereof were, that he must prepare for a change of life, for his Master was not willing that he should be so far from Him any longer. At this Mr. Stand-fast was put into a muse.
"Nay," said the messenger, "you need not doubt the truth of my message, for here is a token of the truth thereof: 'Thy wheel is broken at the cistern.'"
Then he called to him Mr. Great-heart, who was their guide, and said unto him, "Sir, although it was not my hap to be much in your good company in the days of my pilgrimage, yet, since the time I knew you, you have been profitable to me. When I came from home, I left behind me a wife and five small children: let me entreat you at your return (for I know that you will go and return to your master's house, in hopes that you may yet be a conductor to more of the holy pilgrims), that you send to my family, and let them be acquainted with all that hath or shall happen unto me. Tell them moreover of my happy arrival to this place, and of the present and late blessed condition that I am in. Tell them also of Christian and Christiana his wife, and how she and her children came after her husband. Tell them also what a happy end she made, and whither she is gone. I have little or nothing to send to my family, unless it be my prayers and tears for them; of which it will suffice that you acquaint them, if peradventure they may prevail."
END OF THE PILGRIMAGE When Mr. Stand-fast had thus set things in order, and the time being come for him to haste him away, he also went down to the river. Now, there was a great calm at that time in the river; wherefore Mr. Stand-fast, when he was about half-way in, stood a while, and talked to his companions that had waited upon him thither. And he said, "This river has been a terror to many; yea, the thoughts of it have also frighted me; but now methinks I stand easy; my foot is fixed upon that on which the feet of the priests that bare the ark of the covenant stood while Israel went over Jordan. The waters, indeed, are to the palate bitter, and to the stomach cold; yet the thought of what I am going to, and of the conduct that waits for me on the other side, doth lie as a glowing coal at my heart. I see myself now at the end of my journey; my toilsome days are ended. I am going to see that head which was crowned with thorns, and that face which was spit upon for me. I have formerly lived by hearsay and faith; but now I go where I shall live by sight, and shall be with Him in whose company I delight myself. I have loved to hear my Lord spoken of; and wherever I have seen the print of His shoe in the earth, there I have coveted to set my foot too. His name has been to me as a perfume box; yea, sweeter than all sweet smells. His voice to me has been most sweet, and His countenance I have more desired than they that have most desired the light of the sun. His Word I did use to gather for my food, and for medicine against my faintings. He has held me, and hath kept me from my sins; yea, my steps hath He strengthened in His way."
Now, while he was thus speaking, his countenance changed, his strong man bowed under him; and, after he had said, "Take me, for I come unto Thee!" he ceased to be seen of them.
But glorious it was to see how the open region was filled with horses and chariots, with trumpeters and pipers, with singers and players on stringed instruments to welcome the pilgrims as they went up, and followed one another in at the beautiful gate of the City.
As for Christian's children, the four boys that Christiana brought with her, with their wives and children, I did not stay where I was till they were gone over. Also, since I came away, I heard one say that they were yet alive, and so would be for the help of the Church in that place where they were for a time.
Shall it be my lot to go that way again, I may give those that desire it an account of what I here am silent about: meantime I bid my reader