« ForrigeFortsett »
we must lay aside our mortal garments, with all that is earthly of us; there the beggar and the king must lie down together in the dust; and there, in the conclusion of the journey of life, the happiness of the Christian will be made apparent above that of all other men.
Ye are now come, my Christian brethren, to the land of Beulah; ye shall no more be termed forsaken of the Lord, but ye shall be called the delight of the Lord. (Isaiah lxii. 4.) Ye believed in the Lord, ye trusted not in your own works or deservings, therefore
ye shall rejoice in the Lord your God, for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee; so that ye may boldly say, the Lord
your helper. (Heb. xiii. 5, 6.) Ye must needs pass through death; for this body which has been polluted through sin must be refined in the grave: but we know, my children, that our Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after our skin worms destroy these bodies, yet that in our flesh we shall see God. (Job xix. 25, 26.) Moreover, we are well assured, my beloved, that when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we also shall appear with him in glory. (Col. iii. 4.) Thus the approach to death in the latter days of our pilgrimage on earth, a period which to all other men is gloomy and awful, is rendered delightful to the Christian. Yea, here he finds the beginning of that blessedness in which he hopes to abide for ever." He then proceeded to point out the gloomy prospect which the Mussulmaun has of death, on the one hand; after which he expatiated on the indecent practices and ridiculous fancies with which the Hindoo amuses himself on the other: declaring to certain of the company, who were strangers to the Hindoo doctrine, their unreasonable belief respecting the transmigration of souls; such as had pleased their debtas passing into the bodies of cows, and such as had offended them being doomed to animate the bodies of such little birds as were observed among the bushes and brakes on the hill-side; adding, that they had many other vile and gloomy conceits of the same nature.
Nazareenee then spake, “ The time was when I believed all those things, yea and many things still more abominable.”
“Bless the Lord, who has made thee to differ from thy father's household,” said the leader.
Then said Parbuttee, “I have an only sister who still believes all these things; of us it may be said, Two women were grinding at one mill, the one was taken, and the other left. O! that it may yet please the Lord to touch the hearts of those who are of my father's house! This is my daily and hourly prayer."
So the pilgrims erected their tabernacle and their little tents: and having refreshed themselves for some hours, in the cool of the evening they moved again toward the land of Beulah; for so impatient were they to be there, that scarcely could they brook those little delays which their bodily wants and weaknesses required.
Shewing how the Pilgrims arrived at the Land
of Beulah, and pitched their Tents there, in joyful Expectation of the Messenger, who was to summon them to cross the River of Death ; with an Account of the glorious Descent of certain of the Company into the River, with what befel them on the opposite Shore.
“ I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plague! O grave, I will be thy destruction!”-Hosea xiii. 14.
Now I saw, in my dream, that, because of the light of the moon, the pilgrims were enabled to go on all the next night without halting or delay. And behold, before the break of day they were in the land of Beulah: for although the morning had not yet dawned, the venerable bishop perceived their situation by the exceeding freshness of the morning air, and the delightful odour of the flowers. Then did he give commandment to the musicians and singers, and they began to sing aloud, so that the whole land rang with the voice of praise. And the words of their anthem were these :- L" And the redeemed shall come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they
shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away." (Isaiah li. 11.)
And behold, as the morning brake, and the rays of the sun began to shoot above the woods, the pilgrims were ravished with the exceeding beauty of the country; for the land was abundantly watered with running streams and fountains, which the Lord had caused to break forth. So there being no drought, the grass was exceedingly green; and there were trees of every kind which are agreeable to the eye, all bearing fruits of delicious flavour; the flowers also appeared on the earth. Moreover it was the time of the singing of birds, and the voice of the turtle was heard in the land. Here were the roses of Sharon, more lovely far than those which grow in the fields of Bahar, and grapes more delicious than the grapes of Schiras; for the Lord lifteth up the light of his countenance upon this land, neither doth he at any time forsake it.
And when the inhabitants of the land heard the joyful voices of the pilgrims, they arose in haste and came forth to meet them: and having saluted them as children of the kingdom, they brought them into their dwelling-places, which being situated among groves of trees, and near fountains and waterfalls, were exceedingly beautiful. From this lovely land, over the black river, the River of Death, which is upon border of it, the pilgrims had a view of the celestial city. It was an indistinct view indeed, because of the weakness of their natural eyes ; but withal so lovely, and so glorious, that some of the pilgrims became quite sick and faint from desire, even from their ardent longing to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord, insomuch that they said one to another, “ To live is Christ; but to die is gain: we desire there
fore to depart, which is far better.” (Phil. i. 21, 23.) Nevertheless, they were made willing to wait the Lord's good time.
The venerable leader then erected his tabernacle in a very fair field in the land of Beulah, where there were many palm trees, and springs of water, and where the grass and flowers, by reason of the dew from heaven, were ever fresh and green. The pilgrims also pitched their tents around the tabernacle, among the trees; where I observed that they assembled themselves for prayer and praise every day, at morning and evening tide. And thus they waited till the messenger should arrive to call them away.
Now the first messenger who appeared stopped at the tent-door of him who was the leader of the pilgrims. He brought with him, as a token, the signet of his Lord; and he bound the signet upon the arm of the old man.
The venerable pastor then gave notice to his people of his approaching change, saying, “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
Í have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." (2 Tim. iv. 6-8.)
So their faithful leader went down to the riverside, even to the River of Death; and his people went with him, weeping. And behold, before he entered the river, he raised his hands upwards, and said, “O Lord, my Redeemer, I am willing, yea, I rejoice to depart; in humble hope of entering into that rest which remains for thy people. Thou hast shewn me the path of life, and supported me therein unto the present day. And now, I go down to the grave