Part 30 — The Celestial City by John Bunyan audio
Now, upon the bank of the river, on the other side — they saw the two Shining Men again, who were waiting for them. Therefore, having come out of the river, the Shining Men greeted them, saying, “We are ministering spirits, sent forth to serve those who are heirs of salvation!” Thus they went along together towards the gate.
Now that City stood upon a mighty hill — but the Pilgrims went up that hill with ease, because they had these two Shining Men to lead them up by their hands. Also, they 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 towards the City with much agility and speed — though the foundation upon which the City was framed, was higher than the clouds. They went up through the regions of the air, sweetly talking as they went, being comforted — because they had safely gotten over the river, and had such glorious companions to attend them.
The conversation they had with the Shining Ones was about the splendor of that place. They told the Pilgrims that the beauty and glory of it was inexpressible.
“There,” said they, “is Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the innumerable company of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect! You are now going to the paradise of God, wherein you shall see the tree of life, and eat of its never-fading fruits! When you arrive there, you shall have white robes given to you, and you shall walk and talk with the King every day — even through all the days of eternity!
“There you shall never again see such things as you saw when you were in the lower region of earth, namely — sorrow, sickness, affliction, and death, for the former things have passed away! You are now going to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and to the prophets — men whom God has taken away from the evil to come, and who are now at rest, each one walking in his righteousness.”
The Pilgrims then asked, “What will we do in the holy City?”
The Shining Ones answered, “You will there receive the comforts of all your toil, and have joy for all your sorrow! You will reap what you have sown — even the fruit of all your prayers, and tears, and sufferings for the King along the way! In that place you will wear crowns of gold, and enjoy the perpetual sight and vision of the Holy One, for there you shall see Him as He is!
“You shall also serve Him — whom you desired to serve while in the world, though with much difficulty because of the infirmity of your flesh. There you shall continually worship Him with praise, and shouting and thanksgiving! There your eyes shall be delighted with seeing Him — and your ears with hearing the pleasant voice of the Mighty One!
“There you shall enjoy your friends again, who have gone there before you — and you shall joyfully receive everyone who follows you into that holy place.
“There also, you shall be clothed with glory and majesty — fit to accompany the King of glory. When He shall come with trumpet sound 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 with Him. Yes, and when He shall pass sentence upon all the workers of iniquity, whether they are angels or men — you also shall have a voice in that judgment, because they were both His and your enemies. And so you will be with the Lord forever!”
Now, while they were thus drawing towards the gate, behold a company of the heavenly hosts came out to meet them.
The two Shining Ones exclaimed, “These are the men who have loved our Lord while they were in the world, and who have left all for His holy name. He has sent us to fetch them, and we have brought them thus far on their desired journey — that they may go in and look upon their Redeemer’s face with joy!”
Then the heavenly hosts gave a great shout, saying, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb!”
At this time, several of the King’s trumpeters came out to meet them. They were arrayed in shining white clothing — and with loud and melodious voices, they made even the heavens to echo with their sound. These trumpeters greeted Christian and Hopeful with ten thousand welcomes! This done, they surrounded the Pilgrims — so as to guard them through the upper regions, continually singing with melodious voices as they went — as if Heaven itself had come down to meet them!
Thus, therefore, they walked on together. As they walked, these trumpeters, with joyful sound, would always by mixing their music with pleasant looks and gestures — signify to Christian and Hopeful, how welcome they were in their company, and with what gladness they came to receive them.
Now Christian and Hopeful were as if in Heaven, before they came there — being swallowed up with the sight of angels, and with the hearing of their melodious voices. Here also they had the City itself fully in view, and they thought that they heard all the City bells ringing to welcome them in. But above all, they were encouraged by the warm and joyful thoughts of their own dwelling there, with such company — and that forever and ever! O what tongue or pen could express their glorious joy! And thus they came up to the gate.
Now, there was written over the gate, in letters of gold, “Blessed are those who obey His commandments — that they may have the right to the Tree of Life, and may enter through the gates into the City!”
Then I saw in my dream, that the Shining Men bid them to call at the gate. And when they did, some looked over the gate — namely Enoch, Moses, Elijah and others, to whom it was told: “These Pilgrims have come from the city of Destruction, for the love that they bear to the King of this place!”
Then each Pilgrim handed in their certificate which they had received in the beginning of their journey. These certificates were carried to the King, who, when He had read them, said, “Where are the men?”
To whom it was answered, “They are standing outside the gate.”
The King then commanded, “Open the gates to all who are righteous — allow the faithful to enter in!”
Now I saw in my dream that these two men went in at the gate. And behold! as they entered, they were transfigured, and they were arrayed with clothing which shone like gold. Some met them with harps and crowns, which were given to the Pilgrims. The harps were given for worship — and the crowns were given as a token of honor.
Then I heard in my dream that all the bells in the City rang again for joy, and that it was said to the Pilgrims, “Enter into the joy of your Lord!”
I also heard Christian and Hopeful themselves singing with a loud voice, saying, “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power — be unto Him who sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, forever and ever!”
Now just as the gates were opened to let the men in, I looked in after them — and, behold, the City shone like the sun! The streets also were paved with gold, and on them walked many men, with crowns on their heads, palms in their hands, and golden harps to sing praises with! There were also some angelic beings with wings, and they sang back and forth without intermission, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord!” After that, they closed up the gates. When I had seen all of this — I wished that I myself was 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. He soon got over the river, and without half of the difficulty which Christian and Hopeful met with. For it happened that one called Vain-hope, a ferryman, was there — and with his boat he helped Ignorance cross the river.
Then I saw that Ignorance ascended the hill, and came up to the gate all alone. There was no man to meet him with the least encouragement. When he arrived at the gate, he looked up to the writing that was above it, and then began to knock — supposing that entrance would quickly be given to him. But he was asked by the men who looked over the top of the gate, “Where have you come from? What do you want?”
He answered them, “I have eaten 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 — but found none.
Then they asked, “Have you no certificate?”
But the man answered not a word.
So they told the King about Ignorance — but He would not go down to see him. Instead He commanded the two Shining Ones who had conducted Christian and Hopeful to the City — to go out and take Ignorance, bind him hand and foot, and cast him away.
So they took Ignorance up, and carried him through the air, to the door which I had seen in the side of the hill — and threw him in there!
Then I saw that there was a way to Hell, even from the very gates of Heaven — as well as from the city of Destruction!
So I awoke, and behold — it was a dream!