صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

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, which are more lovely far than those which grow in the fields of Bahar, and grapes more delicious than the grapes of Schiras; for the Lord lifts up the light of his countenance on 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 the groves of trees, and near the fountains and waterfalls, were exceedingly beautiful. From this lovely land, over the black river, even the River of Death, which is upon the 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 therefore 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. I 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 without fear, still looking unto thee who art the Resurrection and the Life;

whom I have hitherto known only in part, but whom I shall shortly know, even as also I am known. My flesh and my heart faileth; but thou, O God, art the strength of my heart, and my por tion for ever. And here, my children, here, at the moment of my departure, here, with my dying breath, I declare, that I have no confidence, no hope, no trust for my future happiness from any of my own works or deservings: all my righteousness has been as filthy rags, and such as I dare not to appear in before the judgment-seat of Christ; but I shall appear with confidence clad in the robe of my Redeemer's righteousness, and decorated with his garment of salvation.. And ye, my children, my beloved children, abide in him, I beseech you, that, when he shall appear, ye may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming." (1 John ii. 28.)

And now, because the messenger of death was urgent, the venerable man could add no more; so the black waves rolled over him, and, for awhile, I lost sight of him. Methought then, in my dream, that one came and anointed my eyes with eye-salve; and this eye-salve is called faith. And when my eyes were anointed, I could see such things as before my heart had never been able to conceive. I saw beyond the black river, even the River of Death, a region of such glorious beauty and brightness as allows of no adequate description. And behold, my eyes could distinguish in the midst of this blaze of glory the battlements, the towers, and the gates of Zion, all shining with a splendour infinitely beyond that of the noon-day sun. And behold, a glorious host, even a company of angels, and of the redeemed of the sons of men, descended to the borders of the river, even the River of Death, with sound of trumpet, with shouts, and with hallelujahs;

and receiving the soul of the aged man as he arose from the River of Death, they bore him triumphantly through the air, crying, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of our salvation!"

So they led him through the shining portals, and I saw him no more. But looking again towards the river, I saw Nazareenee and his wife Parbuttee descending hand in hand to the river-side, having been summoned away by the messenger of the Lord. And the words of his message were, "Ye have been lovely in your lives, and in your deaths ye shall not be divided."

I saw then, in my dream, that as the pilgrim Nazareenee stood on the brink of the river, he made a confession of his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in the ears of those who accompanied him --declaring unto them, how, after being brought up in all the darkness of heathenism, he had been plucked thence, by the divine grace and favour, as a brand from the burning; as his wife had also been. "We chose not him," said the pilgrim, "but he chose us. He was found of us, though we sought him not; yea he said, 'Behold me, behold me,' while yet we were called by another name, and served another master."

Then I saw that the pilgrims knelt down on the river's brink, and crying, "Lord Jesus, receive our spirits!" the black waves rolled over them, and their companions saw them no more. But while I looked earnestly to mark what would become of them, I presently perceived them rising from the waves on the opposite side of the river; where they appeared exceedingly beautiful and glorious, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. And behold, a shining band of angels stood ready to receive them, who crowned them with diadems, putting palms into their hands, and covering them with robes of righteousness of a

dazzling whiteness, even robes that had been made white in the blood of the Lamb, which was slain from the foundation of the world. And the angels ascended to the gates of Zion, bearing the pilgrims on their wings, with sound of trumpets, and harps, and songs of praise, such as mortals never heard; and they cried, "Glory to the Lamb that reigneth on Mount Zion! Glory to God the Father! glory to God the Redeemer! glory to God the Holy Ghost!" So they passed the gates of Zion, and I saw them no more.

Then I awoke from my sleep: but I remembered my dream, and wrote it in a book; and being much affected with its extraordinary incidents, I sold all that I had, and forsook my father's house, determining forthwith to associate myself with such as might still be going on pilgrimage to the City of the Living God.

[graphic]
« السابقةمتابعة »