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Christian and Hopeful cross the River of Death.
Christian despairs of getting through the river.
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 did also 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 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 rise to help me; but for my sins he hath brought me into the snare, and left me. Then said Hopeful, My brother, you have quite forgot the text, where it is said of the wicked, “ There are no bands in their death, but their strength is firm : they are not troubled 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 beretofore you have received of his goodness, and live upon him in your distresses. (f)
Then I saw in my dream, that Christian was in a muse awhile, To whom also, Hopeful added these words, Be of good cheer, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: (g) and with that, Christian brake out with
(1) When thou visit a sick or death bed, be sure that you take God's word with you, in your heart and in your mouth : it is from that only that you may expect a blessing upon, and to the soul of, the sick or the dying ; for it is by the word of God, faith came at first; it is by that faith it is strengthened at the last; and Jesus is the sum and substance of the scriptures.
(g) Jesus Christ, he is indeed the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning of our hope, and the end of our confidence. We begin and end the Christian pilgrimage with him ; and all our temptations and trials speak loudly, and fully confirm to us that truth of our Lord, “ Without me ye can do nothing." John
Christian triumphs over death
a loud voice, Oh ! 1 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 : but thus they got over. 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 to those that shall be heirs of salvation.” Thus they went along toward 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 : they had likewise 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 region of the air, sweetly talking as they went, being comforted, because they got safely over the river, and had such glorious companions to attend them. (h)
The talk that they had with the shining ones was,
(h) Ah, Christian! none can conceive or describe what it is to live in a state separate from a hody of sin and death. Such, in some happy, highly-favoured moments, we have had a glimpse, a foretaste of this, and conld realize it by faith. Oh! for more and more of this, till we possess and enjoy it in all its fulness. Jf Jesus be so sweet to faith below, who can tell what he is in full fruition above. This we must die to know,
The City described.
about the glory of the place: who told them 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 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 bave 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 regions upon the earth, to wit, sorrow, sickness, affliction, and death, “ for the former things are passed away." You are now going to Abraham, 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 this 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