THE HOUSE BEAUTIFUL
Thus he went on his Way; … and behold there was a very stately palace before him, the name of which was Beautiful, and it stood just by the Highway side.
So I saw in my dream, that he made haste and went forward, that if possible he might get lodging there. Now before he had gone far, he entered into a very narrow passage, which was about a furlong off the Porter’s lodge, and looking very narrowly before him as he went, he espied two lions in the way. Now, thought he, I see the dangers that Mistrust and Timorous were driven back by. (The lions were chained, but he saw not the chains.) Then he was afraid, and thought also himself to go back after them, for he thought nothing but death was before him:
But the Porter at the Lodge, whose name is Watchful, perceiving that Christian made a halt, as if he would go back, cried unto him, saying, Is thy strength so small? Fear not the lions, for they are chained, and are placed there for trial of faith, where it is, and for discovery of those that have none: keep in the midst of the path, and no hurt shall come unto thee.
Then I saw that he went on trembling for fear of the lions; but taking good heed to the directions of the Porter, he heard them roar, but they did him no harm. Then he clapt his hands, and went on till he came and stood before the gate where the Porter was. Then said
Christian to the Porter, Sir, What house is this? and, May I lodge here to-night? The
Porter answered, This house 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 was, and whither he was going?
Chr. I am come from the City of Destruction, and am going to Mount Zion; but because the sun is now set, I desire, if I may, to lodge here to-night.
Porter. What is your name?
Chr. My name is now Christian, but my name at the first was Graceless: I came of the race of Japheth, whom God will persuade to dwell in the tents of Shem, (Gen. 9.27).
Port. But how doth it happen that you come so late? The sun is set.
Chr. I had been here sooner, but that, wretched man that I am, I slept in the Arbour that stands on the hill-side! Nay, I had, notwithstanding that, been here much sooner, but that in my sleep I lost my evidence, and came without it to the brow of the hill, and then feeling for it, and finding it not, I was forced, with sorrow of heart, to
go back to the place where I slept my sleep, where I found it, and now I am come.
Port. Well, I will call out one of the virgins of this place, who will, (if she likes your talk) bring you in to the rest of the family, according to the rules of the house. So
Watchful the Porter rang a bell, at the sound of which came out of the door of the house a grave and beautiful damsel, named Discretion, and asked why she was called?
The Porter answered, This man is in journey from the City of Destruction to Mount Zion, but being weary and benighted, he asked me if he might lodge here tonight: So I told him I would call for thee, who, after discourse had with him, mayest do as seemeth thee good, even according to the law of the house.
Then she asked him, whence he was, and whither he was going? And he told her. She asked him also, how he got into the way? and he told her. Then she asked him, what he had seen and met with in the way? and he told her. And at last she asked his name? So he said. It is
and I have so much the more a desire to lodge here tonight, because by what I perceive, this place was built by the Lord of the Hill, for the relief and security of pilgrims: so she smiled, but the water stood in her eyes, and after a little pause, she said, I will call forth two or three more of the family. So she ran to the door and called out Prudence,
Piety, and Charity; who after a little more discourse with him, had him into the family; and many of them meeting him at the threshold of the house, said, Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; this house was built by the Lord of the Hill, on purpose to entertain such pilgrims in. Then he bowed his head, and followed them into the house: So when he was come in, and set down, they gave him something to drink, and consented together that until supper was ready, some of them should have some particular discourse with Christian, for the best improvement of time, and they appointed Piety, and Prudence, and Charity, to discourse with him; and thus they began:
Piety. Come, good Christian, since we have been so loving to you, to receive you into our house this night, let us, if perhaps we may better ourselves thereby, talk with you of all things that have happened to you in your pilgrimage.
Chr. With a very good will, and I am glad that you are so well disposed.
Piety. What moved you at first to betake yourself to a pilgrim’s life?
Chr. I was driven out of my native country by a dreadful sound that was in mine ears; to wit, that unavoidable destruction did attend me, if I abode in that place where I was.
Piety. But how did it happen that you came out of your country this way?
Chr. It was as God would have it; for when I was under the fears of destruction, I did not know whither to go; but by chance there came a
man, even to me, (as I was trembling and weeping,) whose name is Evangelist, and he directed me to the Wicket Gate, which else I should never have found, and so set me into the way that hath led me directly to this house.
Piety. But did you not come by the house of the Interpreter?
Chr. Yes, and did see such things there, the remembrance of which will stick by me as long as I live: especially three things, to wit, how Christ, in despite of Satan, maintains his work of grace in the heart; how that man had sinned himself quite out of hopes of God’s mercy; and also the dream of him that thought in his sleep the Day of Judgment was come.
Piety. Why, did you hear him tell his dream?
Chr. Yes, and a dreadful one it was, I thought; 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?
Chr. No, he took me and had me where he showed me a stately palace, and how the people were clad in gold that were in it; and how there came a venturous man, and cut his way through the armed men that stood in the door to keep him out; and how he was bid to come in, and win eternal glory: Methought those things did ravish my heart! I could have stayed at that good man’s house a twelve-month, but that I knew I had further to go.
Piety. And what saw you else in the way?
Chr. Saw! Why, I went but a little further, and I saw one, as I thought in my mind, hang bleeding upon a tree; and the very sight of him made my burden fall off my back, (for I groaned under a weary burden) but then it fell down from off me. ‘Twas a strange thing to me, for I never saw such a thing before: Yea, and while I stood looking up, (for then I could not forbear looking) three Shining Ones came to me: One of them testified that my sins were forgiven me; another stript me of my rags, and gave me this ‘ broidered coat which you see; and the third set the mark which you see in my forehead, and gave me this sealed roll; (and with that he plucked it out of his bosom.)
Piety. But you saw more than this, did you not?
Chr. The things that I have told you, were the best; yet some other small matters I saw, as namely I saw three men, Simple, Sloth, and Presumption, lie asleep a little out of the way as I came, with irons upon their heels; but do you think I could awake them! I also saw
Formality and Hypocrisy come tumbling over the wall, to go (as they pretended) to Zion, but they were quickly lost; even as I myself did tell them, but they would not believe: But, above all, I found it hard work to get up this hill, and as hard to come by the lions’ mouths: and truly if it had not been for the good man, the Porter that stands at the gate, I do not know, but that, after all, I might have gone back again; but now I thank God I am here, and I thank you for receiving of me.
Then Prudence thought good to ask him a few questions, and desired his answer to them.
Prudence. Do you not think sometimes of the country from whence you came?
Chr. Yea, but with much Shame and Detestation: truly, if I had been mindful of that country from whence I came out, I might have had opportunity to have returned; but now I desire a better country; that is, a heavenly.
Prud. Do you not yet bear away with you some of the things that then you were conversant withal?
Chr. Yes, but greatly against my will; especially my inward and carnal cogitations, with which all my countrymen, as well as myself, were delighted; but now all those things are my grief; and might I but choose mine own things, I would choose never to think of those thing; more; but when I would be doing of that which is best, that which is worst is with me.
Prud. Do you not find sometimes, as if those things were vanquished, which at other times are your perplexity?
Chr. Yes, but that is but seldom; but they are to me golden hours, in which such things happen to me.
Prud. Can you remember by what means you find your annoyance;
at times, as if they were vanquished?
Chr. Yes, when I think what I saw at the Cross, that will do it; and when I look upon my ‘ broidered coat, that will do it; also when I look into the roll that I carry in my bosom, that will do it; and when my thoughts wax warm about whither I am going, that will do it.
Prud. And what is it that makes you so desirous to go to Mount Zion?
Chr. Why, there I hope to see him alive that did hang dead on the Cross; and there I hope to be rid of all those things that to this day are in me an annoyance to me: there they say there is no death, and there shall dwell with such company as I like best. For, to tell you truth, I love him, because I was by him eased of my burden; and I am weary of my inward sickness: I would fain be where I shall die no more, and with the company that shall continually cry, Holy, Holy, Holy.
Then said Charity to Christian, Have you a Family? Are you a married man?
Chr. I have a wife and four small children.
Charity. And why did you not bring them along with you?
Chr. Then Christian wept and said, Oh! how willingly would I have done it! but they were all of them utterly averse to my going on pilgrimage.
Cha. But you should have talked to them, and have endeavoured to have shown them the danger of being behind.
Chr. So I did; and told them also what God had shewed to me of the
destruction of our city; but I seemed to them as one that mocked, and they believed me not.
Cha. And did you pray to God that he would bless your counsel to them?
Chr. Yes, and that with much affection; for you must think that my wife and poor children were very dear unto me.
Cha. But did you tell them of your own sorrow, and fear of destruction? For I suppose that destruction was visible enough to you?
Chr. Yes, over, and over, and over. They might also see my fears in my countenance, in my tears, and also in my trembling under the apprehension of the judgment that did hang over our heads; but all was not sufficient to prevail with them to come with me.
Cha. But what could they say for themselves why they came not?
Chr. Why, my wife was afraid of losing this world; and my children were given to the foolish delights of youth: So what by one thing and what by another, they left me to wander in this manner alone.
Cha. But did you not with your vain life damp all that you by words used by way of persuasion to bring them away with you?
Chr. Indeed I cannot commend my life, for I am conscious to myself of many failings therein: I know also, that a man by his conversation may soon overthrow what by argument or persuasion he doth labour to fasten upon others for their good. Yet, this I can say, I was very wary of giving them occasion, by any unseemly action, to make them averse to going on pilgrimage. Yea, for this very thing, they would tell me I was too precise, and that I denied myself of things (for their sakes) in which they saw no evil. Nay, I think I may say, that, if what they saw in me did hinder them, it was my great tenderness in sinning against
God, or of doing any wrong to my neighbour.
Cha. Indeed Cain hated his brother, because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous; and if thy wife and children have been offended with thee for this, they thereby shew themselves to be implacable to good; and thou hast delivered thy soul from their blood.
Now I saw in my dream, that thus they sat talking together until Supper was ready. So when they had made ready, they sat down to meat:
Now the table was furnished with fat things, and with wine that was well refined; and all their talk at the table was about the LORD of the hill; as, namely, about what He had done, and wherefore He did what He did, and why He had built that House; and by what they said, I perceived that He had been a great Warrior, and had fought with, and slain him that had the power of death, but not without great danger to himself, which made me love him the more.
For, as they said, and as I believe, (said Christian} He did it with the loss of much blood; but that which put glory of grace into all He did, was, that He did it of pure love to His country. And besides, there were some of them of the household that said, they had seen and spoke with
Him since He did die on the Cross; and they have attested, that they had it from His own lips, that He is such a lover of poor pilgrims, that the like is not to be found from the
East to the West.
They moreover gave an instance of what they affirmed, and that was, He had stript Himself of His glory, that He might do this for the poor;
and that they heard Him say and affirm, That he would not dwell in the Mountain of Zion alone. They said moreover, That He had made many pilgrims princes, though by nature they were beggars born, and their original had been the dunghill.
Thus they discoursed together till late at night; and after they had committed themselves to their Lord for protection, they betook themselves to rest: The Pilgrim they laid in a large upper chamber, whose window opened towards the Sun-rising: The name of the chamber was
Peace, where he slept till 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!