AN ABUNDANT ENTRANCE
(An extract from ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’)
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 towards 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 regions of the air sweetly talking as they went, being comforted because they safely got over the river, and had such glorious companions to attend them.
The talk that they had with the shining ones was 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.” (Heb. 12, 22-24.) 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 have white robes given you, and your walk and talk shall be every day with the King, even all the days of eternity. (Rev. 2. 7; 3. 4, 5; 22. 5.) There you shall not see again such things as you saw when you were in the lower region upon the earth; to wit, sorrow, sickness, affliction, and death; “for the former things are passed away.” (Isa. 65. 16, 17.) You are now going to Abraham, to Isaac, and to 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 the 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 (Gal. 6. 7, 8.) In that place you must wear crowns of gold, and enjoy the perpetual sight and visions of the Holy One; for “there you shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3. 2.) 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 that follows into the holy place after you. There also you shall be clothed with glory and majesty, and put in an equipage fit to ride out with the King of Glory. When he shall come with sound of trumpet 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 by him; yea, and when he shall pass sentence upon all the workers of iniquity, let them be angels or men, you also shall have a voice in that judgment, because they were his and your enemies. Also, when he shall again return to the City, you shall go too, with sound of trumpet, and be ever with him. (1 Thess. 4. 13-17. Jude 14, 15. Dan. 7. 9, 10. 1 Cor. 6. 2, 3.)
Now while they were thus drawing towards the gate, behold a company of the heavenly host came out to meet them; to whom it was said by the other two shining ones. These are the men that have loved our Lord, when they were in the world, and that have forsaken all for his holy name; and he hath sent us to fetch them, and we have brought them thus far on their desired journey, that they may go in and look their Redeemer in the face with joy. Then the heavenly host gave a great shout, saying, “Blessed are they that are called to the marriage-supper of the Lamb.” (Rev. 19. 9.) There came out also at this time to meet them several of the King’s trumpeters, clothed in white and shining raiment, who, with melodious voices, made even the heavens to echo with their sound. These trumpeters saluted Christian and his fellow with ten thousand welcomes from the world; and this they did with shouting and sound of trumpet.
This done, they compassed them round on every side: some went before, some behind, and some on the right hand, some on the left (as it were to guard them through the upper regions), continually sounding as they went, with melodious noise, in notes on high; so that the very sight was to them that could behold it as if heaven itself was come down to meet them. Thus, therefore, they walked on together; and, as they walked, ever and anon these trumpeters, even with joyful sound, would, by mixing their music with looks and gestures, still signify to Christian and his brother how welcome they were into their company, and with what gladness they came to meet them. And now were these two men, as it were, in heaven, before they came at it, being swallowed up with the sight of angels, and with hearing their melodious notes. Here also they had the City itself in view; and thought they heard all the bells therein to ring, to welcome them thereto. But, above all, the warm and joyful thoughts that they had about their own dwelling
there, with such company, and that for ever and ever. Oh! by what tongue, or pen, can their glorious joy be expressed! Thus they came up to the gate.
Now when they were come up to the gate, there was written over it, in letters of gold,
“BLESSED ARE THEY THAT DO HIS COMMANDMENTS, THAT THEY MAY HAVE RIGHT TO THE TREE OF LIFE, AND MAY ENTER IN THROUGH THE GATES INTO THE CITY.” (Rev. 22. 14.)
Then I saw in my dream that the shining men bid them call at the gate: the which when they did, some from above looked over the gate, to wit, Enoch, Moses, and Elijah, &c.; to whom it was said. These pilgrims are come from the city of Destruction, for the love that they bear to the King of this place: and then the pilgrims gave in unto them each man his certificate, which they had received in the beginning; those, therefore, were carried in to the King, who, when he had read them, said. Where are the men? To whom it was answered. They are standing without the gate. The King then commanded to open the gate, “that the righteous nation (said he) that keepeth the truth may enter in.” (Isa. 26. 2.)
Now I saw in my dream, that these two men went in at the gate; and lo! as they entered, they were transfigured; and they had raiment put on, that shone like gold. There were also that met them with harps and crowns, and gave them to them; the harps to praise withal, and the crowns in token of honour. Then I heard in my dream, that all the bells in the City rang again for joy, and that it was said unto them,
“ENTER YE INTO THE JOY OF OUR LORD.”
I also heard the men themselves sing with a loud voice, saying,
“BLESSING, AND HONOUR, AND GLORY, AND POWER, BE UNTO HIM THAT SITTETH UPON THE THRONE, AND UNTO THE LAMB, FOR EVER AND EVER.” (Rev. 5. 13.)
Now just as the gates were opened to let in the men, I looked in after them, and behold the City shone like the sun; the streets also were paved with gold; and in them walked many men with crowns on their heads, palms in their hands, and golden harps, to sing praises withal.
There were also of them that had wings, and they answered one another without intermission, saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord!” And after that they shut up the gates; which when I had seen, I wished myself among them.