Part 12 — The Palace Beautiful by John Bunyan audio
The Palace Beautiful by John Bunyan read-along text
So I saw in my dream, that Christian made haste and went forward, that if possible he might get lodging at the palace. Now before he had gone far, he entered into a very narrow passage, which was a short distance from the porter’s lodge. Looking very intently ahead of him as he went, he spotted two lions in the way.
“Now,” thought he, “I see the dangers that Mistrust and Timorous were driven back by!” Then he was afraid, and thought that he might go back as they had done, for he feared that nothing but death was before him.
But the porter at the palace, whose name is Watchful, perceiving that Christian halted as if he would go back, cried out to him, saying, “Is your strength so small? Do not fear the lions, for they are chained, and are placed there for a trial of faith, and for the discovery of those who are faithless. Keep in the midst of the path, and no harm shall come unto you.”
Then I saw that Christian went on, trembling for fear of the lions. Taking heed to the directions of the porter, he heard them roar — but they did no harm to him. Then he clapped his hands in joy, and went on until he came and stood before the gate where the porter was.
Then Christian asked the porter, “Sir, what residence is this? May I lodge here tonight?”
The porter answered, “This palace was built by the Lord of the hill, and He built it for the relief and security of Pilgrims.”
The porter also asked whence he came, and where he was going.
CHRISTIAN: “I have come from the City of Destruction, and am going to the Celestial City; but because the sun has now set, I desire, if I may, to lodge here tonight.”
PORTER: “What is your name?”
CHRISTIAN: “My name is now Christian — but at first my name was Graceless.”
PORTER: “But why have you come so late, since the sun has set?”
CHRISTIAN: “I would have been here sooner — but, wretched man that I am — I slept at the arbor on the hillside. Besides that, while I slept, I lost my scroll, and traveled without it to the top of the hill. Then feeling for it, and not finding it — I was forced, with sorrow of heart, to go back to the place where I had slept. There I found it, and hence I have arrived here so late.”
PORTER: “I will call for one of the maidens of the palace, who, if she approves of you, according to the rules of the palace — will bring you in to the rest of the family.”
So Watchful rang the bell. At this sound a noble and beautiful maiden, named Discretion, came to the door and asked why she was summoned.
The porter answered, “This man is on a journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City — but being weary from traveling all day, he asked me if he might lodge here tonight. So I told him I would call for you, who, after talking with him, may do what seems best to you, according to the law of the palace.”
Then she asked Christian where he came from, and where he was going — and he told her. She also asked him how he got into the narrow way — and he told her. Then she asked him what he had seen and met with along the way — and he told her. And lastly, she asked his name.
So he answered, “My name is Christian. I have a great desire to lodge here tonight, because, by what I perceive, this palace was built by the Lord of the hill, for the relief and safety of Pilgrims.”
So she smiled — but tears came to her eyes. After a little pause, she said, “I will summon two or three more of the family.”
So she hastened to the door, and called for Prudence, Piety, and Charity, who, after a little more discussion with him, brought him in to the family. Many of them met him at the threshold of the palace, and said, “Come in, O blessed of the Lord! This place was built by the Lord of the hill, to accommodate such Pilgrims as yourself.”
Then he bowed his head, and followed them into the palace. So when he had come in and sat down, they gave him something to drink, and agreed that for the best improvement of time, they would converse with Christian until supper was ready.
PIETY: “Come, good Christian, tell us of everything that has happened to you on your pilgrimage.”
CHRISTIAN: “Gladly, and I am thankful that you are lodging me.”
PIETY: “What moved you to commence a Pilgrim’s life at first?”
CHRISTIAN: “I was driven out of my native country by dreadful news; namely, that unavoidable destruction awaited me, if I remained in that place.”
PIETY: “How did it happen that you came out of your country by this way?”
CHRISTIAN: “It was as God would have it; for when I was under fear of destruction, I did not know where to go. Then it happened that a man named Evangelist came to me while I was trembling and weeping. He showed me the way to the narrow-gate, which I would never have otherwise found. It was he who directed me into the way that has led me to this palace.”
PIETY: “Did you come by the house of the Interpreter?”
CHRISTIAN: “Yes, and I saw such things there, that I will remember as long as I live! Especially these three things: How, in spite of Satan’s schemes, Christ maintains His work of grace in the heart. Secondly, how a man had so sinned himself into despair that he had no hope of God’s mercy. Thirdly, the dream of one who imagined that the day of judgment had come, and he was not prepared.”
PIETY: “Did you hear him tell his dream?”
CHRISTIAN: “Yes, and a dreadful one it was! It made my heart ache as he was telling of it — but yet I am glad I heard it.”
PIETY: “Was that all that you saw at the house of the Interpreter?”
CHRISTIAN: “No, he showed me a stately palace, and how the people who were in it were clad in gold; and how a courageous man came and cut his way through the armed men who stood in the door to keep him out. He was then bid to come in, and win eternal glory. Those things ravished my heart! I would have stayed at that good man’s house a year — but I knew I had further to go on my journey.”
PIETY: “And what else did you see along the way?”
CHRISTIAN: “See! Why, I went but a little further, and I saw One hanging and bleeding upon a cross! The very sight of Him made my burden fall off my back (for I had groaned under a very heavy burden). It was an astonishing thing to me, for I had never seen such a sight before. Yes, and while I stood looking up, for I could not stop looking — three Shining Ones came to me. One of them testified that my sins were forgiven. Another stripped off my rags, and gave me this embroidered coat which you see. The third one put the mark which you see, on my forehead, and gave me this sealed scroll.” And with that, he plucked it out of his bosom.
PIETY: “And what more did you see?”
CHRISTIAN: “The things that I have told you already, were the best. Yet as I traveled on, I also saw three men, Simple, Sloth, and Presumption, asleep a little out of the way, with iron chains on their legs. But there was nothing I could do to awaken them!
“I also saw Formalist and Hypocrisy come tumbling over the wall, to go, as they imagined, to the Celestial City. I warned them of their folly, but they would not believe me. So they were quickly lost.
“But above all, I found it hard work to get up this hill — and just as hard to go by the roaring lions. And truly if it had not been for the good porter who stands at the gate — I might have turned back. But now, I thank God that I am here, and I thank you for receiving me.”
Then Prudence asked him a few questions.
PRUDENCE: “Do you ever think of the country from whence you came?”
CHRISTIAN: “Yes, but with much shame and detestation. Truly if I had been mindful of that country from whence I came, I might have had opportunity to have returned — but now I desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.”
PRUDENCE: “Are you still hindered by some of your old habits?”
CHRISTIAN: “Yes, but greatly against my will — especially my worldly thoughts, with which all my countrymen, as well as myself, were delighted. But now all those things are my grief; and might I have my desires, I would choose never to think of those things again. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I have no ability to carry it out.”
PRUDENCE: “Do you find sometimes as if you had overcome those worldly thoughts — yet find them still your annoyance at other times?”
CHRISTIAN: “Yes, but that is but seldom, and then they are to me as golden hours!”
PRUDENCE: “Can you remember by what means you find these annoyances, at times, as if they were overcome?”
CHRISTIAN: “Yes, when I think of what I saw at the Cross — that will do it. And when I look upon my embroidered coat — that will do it. Also when I look into the scroll that I carry in my bosom — that will do it. And when my thoughts are aglow about where I am going — that will do it.”
PRUDENCE: “And why are you so desirous to go to the Celestial City?”
CHRISTIAN: “Why, it is there that I hope to see Him alive, who once hung dead on the Cross! And there I hope to be rid of all these hindrances which so constantly annoy me. In that wonderful place, there is no death — and I shall dwell with those whom I best desire. For, to tell you the truth, I love Him, because He is the one who eased me of my heavy burden. Besides I am weary of the evil within me. I would gladly be where I shall die no more, and with the company who continually cry: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty!”
Then Charity said to Christian, “Have you a family? Are you a married man?”
CHRISTIAN: “I have a wife and four small children.”
CHARITY: “And why did you not bring them along with you?”
Then Christian wept, and said, “O how willingly I would have done it! But all of them were utterly averse to my going on pilgrimage.”
CHARITY: “But you should have talked to them, and have endeavored to have shown them the danger of staying behind.”
CHRISTIAN: “So I did! I also told them what God had shown to me of the coming destruction of our city — but I seemed to them as a madman, and they did not believe me.”
CHARITY: “And did you pray that God would bless your warnings to them?”
CHRISTIAN: “Yes, and with much affection — for surely my wife and poor children are very dear to me.”
CHARITY: “And did you tell them of your own sorrow, and fear of destruction?”
CHRISTIAN: “Yes, over, and over, and over! They also saw my fears in my countenance, in my tears, and in my trembling under the dread of the judgment which hung over our heads! But all this was not sufficient to prevail with them to come with me.”
CHARITY: “But what reason did they give as to why they would not come?”
CHRISTIAN: “Why, my wife was afraid of losing this world — and my children were given to the foolish delights of youth! So by one thing or another, I was forced to go on pilgrimage alone.”
CHARITY: “Yes, but though you warned them — was the example of your life a hindrance to them from going with you?”
CHRISTIAN: “Indeed, I cannot commend my life — for I am conscious of my many failings. I know also, that by a hypocritical life, a man may soon nullify all of his helpful reasonings with others. Yet this I can say, I was very careful not to give them any just occasion of making them averse to going on pilgrimage. They would tell me that I was too precise, and that I denied myself many things for their sakes, in which they saw nothing wrong. Also, I think I may say, that if what they saw in me hindered them — it was my great caution in not wanting to sin against God or others.”
CHARITY: “Indeed Cain hated his brother because his own works were evil, and his brother’s works were righteous. If your wife and children have been offended with you for this, they thereby show themselves to be implacable — and you have delivered your soul from their blood!”
Now I saw in my dream, that they thus sat talking together until supper was ready. When they sat down to eat, the table was abundantly furnished like a feast. All the talk at the table was about the Lord of the hill — about what He had done, and why He did what He did, and also why He had built that Palace.
By what they said, Christian perceived that He had been a great warrior, and with great danger to Himself, had fought with and slain him who had the power of death. This made Christian love Him all the more.
For, as they said, He did it with a great loss of blood. But that which put grace and glory into all that He did, was that He did it out of pure love to His people. There were some of the household who said they had spoken with Him since He died on the Cross. They have attested that they heard it from His own lips, that He is such a lover of poor Pilgrims, that none like Him can be found in all the world.
As an instance of what they affirmed, they told how He had stripped Himself of His glory, that He might die for poor sinners. They also heard Him say that He would not dwell in the Celestial City alone. They added, moreover, that He had advanced many Pilgrims to be princes — though by nature they were born beggars and objects of wrath.
Thus they discoursed together until late at night. After they had committed themselves to their Lord for protection, they went to their rooms to rest. Pilgrim was given a large upper chamber, whose window opened toward the sun-rising — the name of the chamber was Peace. There he slept until break of day, and then he awoke and sang:
“Where am I now — is this the love and care
Of Jesus for the men that Pilgrims are?
Thus to provide, that I should be forgiven,
And dwell already the next door to Heaven!”
So, in the morning, they all got up; and after additional discourse, they told him that he should not depart until they had shown him the rarities of that place.
First, they brought him into the study, where they showed him records of the greatest antiquity, in which was the lineage of the Lord of the hill — that He was the Son of the Ancient of Days by eternal generation. Here also were more fully recorded, the acts which He had done, and the names of many hundreds that He had taken into His service — and how He afterwards brought them into an imperishable inheritance in His Father’s house.
Then they read to him some worthy acts that some of His servants had done — how they had conquered kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became mighty in battle, putting whole armies to flight.
They then read in another part of the records of the Palace, where it was shown how willing their Lord was to receive into His favor any, even the worst, though they in time past had offered great contempt to His person and works.
Here Christian also viewed several histories of many additional famous things — both ancient and modern. He saw prophecies and predictions of things which will have their certain accomplishment, both to the dread and amazement of their Lord’s enemies, and the comfort and solace of His Pilgrims.
The next day they took him into the armory, where they showed him all kinds of armor which their Lord had provided for Pilgrims. There were swords, shields, helmets, breastplates, all-prayer, and shoes that would not wear out. Here was enough armor to equip as many men for the service of their Lord, as there are stars in the Heaven.
They also showed him the weapons with which some of his servants had done wonderful things. They showed him Moses’ rod; the hammer and nail which Jael slew Sisera with; the pitchers and trumpets with which Gideon put the armies of Midian to flight. Then they showed him the oxgoad with which Shamgar slew six hundred men. They showed him, also, the jaw-bone with which Samson did such mighty feats. They showed him, furthermore, the sling and stone which David slew Goliath with. They showed him, moreover, many excellent things, with which Christian was much delighted. After that, they went to their chambers to rest again.
Then I saw in my dream, that on the morrow, Christian got up to resume his journey — but the others wished for him to stay until the next day. They said that they will, if the day is clear, show him the Delectable Mountains — which would further add to his comfort, as they were nearer his desired haven. So he consented and stayed.
When the morning came, they took him up to the top of the palace, and told him to look south. So he did, and behold, at a great distance, he saw a most pleasant mountainous country, beautified with woods, vineyards, fruits of all sorts, flowers, along with springs and fountains — all very delectable to feast one’s eyes.
Then he asked the name of the country. They said that it was Immanuel’s Land, and it is common for all Pilgrims to go there. “When you arrive,” said they, “you may see to the gate of the Celestial City, as the shepherds who live there will show you.”
Now, just before Christian was about to leave, they asked him to go again into the armory. When they arrived, they equipped him from head to foot with armor, lest, perhaps, he would meet with assaults along the way.
He being, therefore, thus attired, walked out with his friends to the door, and there he asked the porter if he had seen any Pilgrims pass by.
The porter answered, “Yes.”
CHRISTIAN: “Did you know him?”
PORTER: “I asked his name, and he told me it was Faithful.”
CHRISTIAN: “Oh, I know him! He is my townsman, my near neighbor — he comes from the place where I was born. How far do you think he may be ahead of me?”
PORTER: “By this time he is perhaps beyond the bottom of the hill.”
CHRISTIAN: “Well, good Porter, may the Lord be with you, and increase your blessings, for the kindness that you have shown to me.”
Then Christian began to go forward — but Discretion, Piety, Charity and Prudence, desired to accompany him down to the bottom of the hill. So they went on together, reminiscing their former discourses, until they came to the start of the descent down the hill.
Then Christian said, “As it was difficult coming up — so far as I can see, it is dangerous going down.”
“Yes,” said Prudence, “so it is, for it is a hard matter for a man to go down into the Valley of Humiliation, as you are about to do, and not stumble along the way. Therefore we have come to accompany you down the hill.”
So they began to go down — but very cautiously. Yet Christian still stumbled a time or two.
Then I saw in my dream that these good companions, when they arrived at the bottom of the hill, gave Christian a loaf of bread, a bottle of wine, and a cluster of raisins. He then went on his way.