As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I came upon a certain place, where there was a den — and I laid down in that place to sleep. And as I slept, I dreamed a dream.
I dreamed, and, behold — I saw a man clothed with rags, standing with his face turned away from his own house, with a Book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back. I looked, and saw him open the Book, and read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled! And not being able to contain himself any longer — he broke out with a lamentable cry, saying, “What shall I do?”
In this plight, therefore, he went home, and restrained himself as long as he could — so that his wife and children would not notice his great distress. But he could not be silent for long, because his trouble only increased. Therefore at length, he spoke his mind to his wife and children — and thus he began to talk to them: “O my dear wife, and you, my dear children — I am undone, because of this burden which lies heavily upon me! Moreover, I am certainly informed, that this city of ours will be burned with fire from Heaven! In that fearful catastrophe, both myself, with you, my wife, and you, my sweet babes — shall come to miserable ruin — unless some way of escape can be found, whereby we may be delivered.”
At this, his family was greatly bewildered — not that they believed what he had said to them was true — but because they thought that his mind had become deranged.
Therefore, as it was drawing towards night, and hoping that sleep might settle his brains — with all haste they put him to bed. But the night was as troublesome to him as the day — and instead of sleeping, he spent it in sighs and tears! When the morning came — they inquired how he felt. He told them, “Worse and worse!” He then commenced to talk to them again — but they began to be hardened. They also thought to drive away his derangement, by harsh and cruel conduct toward him. Sometimes they would deride him, sometimes they would chide him, and sometimes they would simply ignore him.
Therefore he began to withdraw himself to his room to pray for, and pity them — and also to comfort his own misery. He would also walk solitarily in the fields — sometimes reading, and sometimes praying. And thus for several days, he spent his time in this manner.
Now I saw in my dream, while he was walking in the fields, that he was reading in his Book — as was his habit. Being greatly distressed in his mind as he read — he burst out, as he had done before, crying, “What shall I do to be saved?”
I saw also, that he looked this way and that way — as if he wanted to run. Yet he stood still, because, as I perceived, he could not tell which way to go. I looked then, and saw a man named Evangelist coming towards him, who asked, “Why are you crying out?”
He answered, “Sir, I realize, by the Book in my hand — that I am condemned to die, and after that to come to judgment. And I find that I am not willing to do the first — nor able to do the second.”
Then Evangelist said, “Why are you not willing to die — since this life is attended with so many troubles?”
The man answered, “Because I fear that this burden upon my back will sink me lower than the grave — and I shall fall into Hell! And, Sir, if I am not fit to die — then I am sure that I am not fit to go to judgment, and from thence to execution! My thoughts about these things make me cry out!”
Then Evangelist said, “If this is your condition, why do you stand still?”
He answered, “Because I do not know where to go!”
Then Evangelist gave him a parchment scroll — on which was written, “Flee from the wrath to come!”
The man therefore, reading it, looked very sincerely upon Evangelist, and asked, “Where must I flee?”
Then Evangelist, pointing with his finger over a very wide field, said, “Do you see yonder narrow-gate?”
The man answered, “No.”
Evangelist replied, “Do you see yonder shining light?”
He said, “I think I do.”
Then Evangelist said, “Keep that light in your eye, and go directly to it — and then you shall see the gate; at which — when you knock — you shall be told what you must do.”
So I saw in my dream, that the man began to run. Now, he had not run far from his own door — before his wife and children, seeing him depart, began to shout after him to return. But the man put his fingers in his ears, and ran on, crying, “Life! life! Eternal life!”
So he did not look behind him — but fled towards the middle of the plain.