Infomotions, Inc.A Short History of a Long Travel from Babylon to Bethel / Crisp, Stephen, 1628-1692



Author: Crisp, Stephen, 1628-1692
Title: A Short History of a Long Travel from Babylon to Bethel
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): guide
Contributor(s): P le Jeune [Translator]
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 10,881 words (really short) Grade range: 12-14 (college) Readability score: 55 (average)
Identifier: etext15730
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Title: A Short History of a Long Travel from Babylon to Bethel


Author: Stephen Crisp

Release Date: April 29, 2005  [eBook #15730]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


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A SHORT HISTORY OF A LONG TRAVEL FROM BABYLON TO BETHEL

by

STEPHEN CRISP







[Illustration]




INTRODUCTION


Writings of the first Quakers, even minor writings, often kindle in
us today an ardor to seek what they sought and to find what they
found. The excellent book by Luella M. Wright entitled "The Literary
Life of the Early Friends, 1650-1725" is a pleasant and convenient
introduction to these numerous and often lengthy productions of which
2600 have been listed for the first 75 years. Among them all, Luella
Wright singles out one allegory; the only one, and it remained
unpublished fully two decades after its composition. Why was this? Was
it because, though the author was as sound a thinker and as persuasive
an author as any among the followers of George Fox, an imaginary
pilgrimage was inherently suspect, while the record of actual
experiences in the form of a journal was not? Be this as it may,
the slight loosening of standards with the opening of the eighteenth
century allowed the "Second Day's Morning Meeting," which then
censored Quaker manuscripts, to approve for printing "A Short History
of a Long Travel from Babylon to Bethel." It was put out in 1711.
How entertaining it would be to know the number of copies that were
printed in that first edition.

Stephen Crisp was a famous preacher. "He had a gift of utterance
beyond many" said his brethren in Colchester at the time of his
decease. He was listened to by many outside the Society of Friends and
his sermons, together with the prayer at the end of every one of them,
were "exactly taken in character," that is in shorthand "as they were
delivered ... in the meeting houses of the people called Quakers."

Though Stephen Crisp's letters, sermons, and journal promptly appeared
in print and were widely circulated, the "Short History" remained
after his death in the bundle of his papers in Colchester. John
Bunyan's famous book "The Pilgrim's Progress" had appeared with its
primitive woodcuts in 1678. It received immediate recognition and
in due time was acclaimed the greatest religious book produced in
England. Stephen Crisp's allegory is minimal besides it (some 30 pages
as against 207), but the "Long Travel" retains significance because of
its more modern point of view.

This tiny tract usually printed in pocket size (2" x 3") sometimes
with a passage from the author's journal included, was reprinted
more than twenty times. I happened upon it in the Friends Historical
Library at Swarthmore College twenty years ago. They then had four
copies. Today they have more than a dozen.

How does Stephen Crisp's theology differ from that of Bunyan's? In
the first place, while Crisp's pilgrim starts off with a pack on his
back of luggage for his journey, Bunyan's pilgrim had as his pack the
burden of guilt which is original sin. Second, Crisp's pilgrim soon
gives up confidence in human leadership having discovered a measure of
the Light. Third, he crosses the river early on his journey, whereas
for Bunyan's pilgrim the river is at the end, the river of death.
Fourth, Crisp's pilgrim reaches the House of God in this life. He
finds a satisfied multitude in the outer court. They invite him to
stay with them in easy circumstances but catching sight of his guide,
the Light, as it passes through a narrow door (compare Bunyan's wicket
gate) he presses on, divests himself of his travel-worn garments and
enters the House of God. Here, like the Friends with whom Stephen
Crisp had found Peace after his own period of seeking, he first rests
from struggle, then finds his calling which is to supply the needs
of the young, and finally aspires to bring his good tidings to the
Babylon from which he had set out.

"The Pilgrim's Progress" is incomparably more exciting with raging
beasts, Giant Despair, and Apollyon with all his hosts. The people
Bunyan's pilgrim meets are more vivid, portrayed with cruel detail and
lusty humor. Theologically the Quaker tract is of a different age,
not less exacting, but less pictorial. The medieval detail is gone but
intense inwardness, devotion, and obedience are still required of the
seeker to enable him to become a finder.

In his "Varieties of Religious Experience," which I heard William
James deliver as a series of lectures at Stanford University when I
was a Freshman over sixty years ago, he said of the religion of the
Quakers: In a day of shams it was a religion of veracity rooted in
spiritual inwardness and a return to something more like the original
gospel truth than men had ever known in England. He continued, so far
as our Christian sects are evolving into liberality, they are simply
reverting in essence to the position which Fox and the early Quakers
so long ago assumed.

With this conclusion I heartily commend to sympathetic seekers today
the brief allegory by Stephen Crisp: "A Short History of a Long Travel
from Babylon to Bethel."

Anna Cox Brinton




A SHORT HISTORY


In the days of my youth, when I lived at home in my father's house,
I heard many people talk of the house of God; and that whosoever did
attain to get into it did enjoy all manner of happiness, both in this
world and that which is to come. And a great desire kindled in me, if
it were possible, to get into the house; yet I know not where it was,
neither did they who talked of it; but they had heard the report, and
they reported what they had heard. There were also some books, that
had been written by men who had been in that house; which books did
declare much of the joy and felicity they had in the house. These
books I got, and read them over and over; which did much strengthen
my belief in the truth of the reports: yet by no means could I tell
which was my way. But so ardent were my desires, that I thought myself
willing to forsake my father's house, my country, and all, and travel
anywhere, wherever my legs would carry me, so that I might find this
house.

And upon a time, as I was breaking my mind to a friend of mine upon
this subject, he readily told me, there were men appointed in every
place to guide those who were willing to go thither, and it was their
business, and they had nothing else to do. When I heard this I was
comforted, and desired him, if he loved me, to make me acquainted with
one of those men. He told me he would; which he did. When I came to
treat with the man, I let him know the fervent desire I had to get
to the house of God, of which I had heard such excellent things; and
that I understood he was one appointed to guide any thither, who were
willing to go, and to persuade people to go, who were not willing. He
very readily answered, and told me, it was his business to guide any
thither who were willing to go; and if I would comply with his terms,
and follow him, he would lead me thither. I asked him what his terms
were. He said the way was long, and would lead him from home, and I
must bear his charges, and something over, to all of which I agreed.

So we set forward on our journey, early in the morning; but before
we had gone one whole day's journey, I saw my guide sometimes stand
still, and look about him, and sometimes he would pull a little book
out of his pocket, and read a little to himself; which made me begin
to mistrust that he knew the way no better than I. However, I said
nothing; but went on following him several days journey after this
manner; and the farther we went, the more my guide was at a loss.
Sometimes he went a little on, and then would look about him, and turn
another way, and sometimes right back again for a while, and then turn
again. So my suspicions grew very strong, and I began to be in great
anxiety of spirit, but said little to him about it.

[Illustration: These books I got, and read them over and over; which
did much strengthen my belief in the truth of the reports: yet by no
means could I tell which was my way.]

But one day, as we were travelling along, we met with a man that took
notice of my sad countenance and tired condition. And he spake very
kindly to me; "Young man," said he, "whither art thou bound?" And when
I began to tell him something of my travel, he desired me to sit down
upon the grass, in a shady place, and discourse a little about my
journey: and so we did, and I told him how things had gone with me
to that very hour. Whilst I was telling him my story, my guide fell
asleep; at which I was not sorry, for thereby I had the more freedom
to discourse with the man; and when I had told him all, he pitied me;
and withal, told me, to his certain knowledge, this guide of mine had
never been at the house, neither did he know the way to it, but as
he had got some marks of the way, which he had received, as I or any
other may do; and, if I followed him all my days, I should be never
the nearer to it, and should find at last, I had spent my time, money
and labour to no purpose.

This discourse did so astonish me, that I was at my wits end, and did
not know what course to take. The man seeing what an agony I was in,
began to comfort me, and told me that the house I sought was much
nearer than I was aware of; and if I would forsake that guide, and
follow him, he would soon bring me in sight of the house. "And," quoth
he, "I am one that belongs to that house, and have done so several
years. And whereas," said he, "thou art to bear his charges, and give
him money besides, I will assure thee, it is not the manner of the
guides that belong to this house of God, to take money for guiding
people thither. I myself have been guide to many a one in my time, but
never took one penny of them for it."

[Illustration: I saw my guide sometimes stand still, and look about
him, and sometimes he would pull a little book out of his pocket, and
read a little to himself.]

By this time, you must think within yourselves, how my drooping
spirits were comforted; a new hope sprang up, and a resolution to
forsake my wandering guide, and to follow this new one.

Upon which I awaked my guide, and told him my mind, and paid him what
I had agreed for, and advised him never to serve any poor soul as
he had done me: for I see, said I, thou knowest not the way, but as
thou hast learned about it in some book. If book-learning would have
served my turn, to find this famous house, I needed not thee, nor any
body else to guide me to it; for there are very few who have written
experimentally of it, but I have read them diligently: but now I have
met a man that I judge has more experience of the way than thou hast,
and I am resolved to go with him; and if thou wilt honestly confess
thy ignorance, and go along with us, come and welcome; one guide
will serve two travellers, as well as one in the way. But I could not
persuade him; so I left him to take his own way as he pleased.

[Illustration: And he spake very kindly to me; "Young man," said he,
"whither art thou bound?"]

I now set forward with my new guide pretty cheerfully; and he
entertained me with a good deal of discourse by the way. As he went on
in pretty smooth paths, and without stopping, he told me, in a short
time we should come in sight of the house; which made my travel
easier. He also told me something of the rules and orders of the
house, at which I was not at all discouraged; for I considered God was
a God of order, and I doubted not but there were good orders in
his house, to which I was willing to submit. And as we were thus
travelling along, he of a sudden spake to me, saying, "Yonder is the
house." At which I was exceeding glad; for now I thought I had not
spent my labour in vain. The nearer we drew to it, the more my joy
increased; and when I came in view of it, I pleased myself extremely
with looking at it, and viewing the towers and turrets that were
upon it, and the excellent carvings and paintings, with which it was
adorned; and there was as much art in setting it forth as could be
imagined. Oh! thought I, if there be so much glory without, surely
there is more within, which I shall shortly be a partaker of.

As I was thus contemplating my happiness, and was come within as it
were a bow-shot of the house, we were to go down into a valley; which
we did: and in the bottom of the valley, glided along a small river,
and I looked about to see a bridge to go over it, but could see none;
at which I wondered; but on we went till we came to the river side;
then I asked my guide where the bridge was. Truly, he told me, there
was none, but we must go through it, and so must all that go into that
house.

[Illustration: Upon which I awaked my guide, and told him my mind,
and paid him what I had agreed for, and advised him never to serve any
poor soul as he had done me.]

I was a little troubled within myself; but he told me he had been
through it, and there was no danger at all. With that I began to think
within myself, have I taken all these pains, and shall I give over for
so small a matter as this? What would I have gone through, when in my
father's house, to attain to the knowledge of the house of God, and a
possession therein? Not water, nor verily fire would have stopped me
then, if I had so fair a prospect of it as I now have.

I told my guide if he pleased to go before, I would follow him: so in
he went, and I after him; but when I came at the middle, there it was
so deep that the water went over my head, but I made shift to keep my
feet to the ground, and got well on the other side; and my guide and
I went up together very pleasantly. When we came to the top of the
hill, there was a wide plain, and in the middle thereof the house
stood. So we went apace and drew near to it; and there I saw a very
stately porch at the west end of the house, and at the door stood a
strong tall porter, to whom my guide spake, and said to him on this
wise:--"This young man hath long had a desire to be entertained in the
house of God; thereupon I have conducted him hither." The porter asked
him which way I came thither; he said, through the river: and I do not
remember he asked me any more questions, but bid me welcome, and led
me into the house, my guide going in with me, through many turnings
and windings into a great hall. Mine eyes went to and fro as I went
about the house; and in the great hall, there I saw many people, who
bade me welcome, but none knew the anguish of my soul; for I began
to question whether I was not again beguiled: for I found the house
foul and dirty, in almost every part, and so belined with spiders and
cobwebs, that I thought in myself it had never been swept clean since
it was built. And some things I met withal that displeased me yet
worse, as ye shall hear; howbeit, a good bed was provided for me to
rest upon if I could; and I having little stomach, after I saw how it
was made ready, went to bed, and disposed myself to sleep as I could.
But, alas! sleep departed from me, and my spirits were grievously
vexed, and my cogitations were many and grievous. Sometimes I thought
of the paintings without, and how that suited not with the dirtiness
that was within; and, if I was deceived, what course I should take.

[Illustration: The nearer we drew to it, the more my joy increased;
and when I came in view of it, I pleased myself extremely with looking
at it, and viewing the towers and turrets that were upon it, and the
excellent carvings and paintings, with which it was adorned; and there
was as much art in setting it forth as could be imagined.]

After long and tedious thinking, I pleased myself with this: it may be
better to-morrow. So I fell into a slumber a pretty while; but in the
morning before I arose, I heard two or three contending about some
accounts, in which one laid fraud to the other's charge; the other
instead of vindicating himself, fell to twitting him in the teeth,
with something of the like kind: they grew so hot in words, that one
threatened to turn the other out of doors, and drive him back through
the river, and never suffer him to come into the house any more.

[Illustration: I was not again beguiled: for I found the house foul
and dirty, in almost every part, and so belined with spiders and
cobwebs, that I thought in myself it had never been swept clean since
it was built.]

My heart was ready to burst with sorrow; and in the anguish of my
spirit I arose and went to them, and told them, I little thought to
have found such doings, or heard such language, in the house of God.
I fear, said I, I am deceived; and brought in amongst you by a fair
show, but see not the glory, peace and tranquillity which I expected.
So I walked away to another part of the house; where I heard a great
noise and hard words; as I drew near, I understood it was about
choosing an officer; and two were striving for it, and each of them
had got a party, and each party grew hot against the other. As soon as
I could be heard, I spake to them, and told them, such kind of doings
as this, did more resemble a place in the world called Billingsgate,
than the house of God. I went a little farther; and there I heard
some women scolding about taking the upper hand, and about fashions in
their clothes; and others about getting their children's play-things
from each other. All this, and much more than I shall mention,
increased my sorrow.

[Illustration: So I walked away to another part of the house; where
I heard a great noise and hard words; as I drew near, I understood it
was about choosing an officer; and two were striving for it, and each
of them had got a party, and each party grew hot against the other.]

I now began to long to speak with my guide that brought me thither;
and with diligent search at last I found him, and began with him in
this manner: Whither hast thou brought me? and where are the rules and
orders thou toldest me were in the house of God? I have often read of
the beauty, order, peace and purity of the house of God, but here I
find nothing but the contrary. I fear thou hast brought me to a wrong
house, and hast beguiled me. So I rehearsed to him what I had met
withal; to which he replied; I must expect men to have their human
frailties, and that men were but men: and he would have persuaded
me to be satisfied, and make further trial. And as for the orders he
spake of, they were mostly about meats and drinks, and about rules for
electing of officers to rule the house of God; as I would see in time,
if I stayed: and as to the dirtiness of the house, he confessed, that
those to whom the care was committed to keep the house clean, had
not been so diligent as they ought to have been; but he hoped, upon
admonition, they would be more careful. To which I returned this
answer: What! dost thou talk of human frailties in the house of God?
That complaint is at large in the world, but doth not become the
house of God; into which I have heard none can come, but such as are
redeemed from the earth, and are washed from their pollutions; for God
saith, all the vessels in my house shall be holy; and they that dwell
in the house of God must have pure hearts and clean hands. And much
more I told him of what I had heard and read concerning the house of
God. I also told him plainly, I had let in such a belief of the peace,
purity, glory and comeliness of the house of God, that I was persuaded
_that_ was none of it; and where to find it, I knew not; but if I
never found it whilst I lived, I would never give over seeking, for my
desires were after it, and I thought nothing would satisfy me short
of the enjoyment of it. But as for your house here, said I, I have no
satisfaction in it; it is not the place I seek for, so I must leave
you. His answer to me was, he was sorry I could not be satisfied there
as well as he; but if I could not, he would lay no restraint upon me:
for his part, he had directed me as far as he knew, and he could do no
more for me.

[Illustration: Several in the house threw things after me, in a
spiteful manner, but none hurt me.]

After our discourse was ended, I got up, and went out, but knew not
where to go. Several in the house threw things after me, in a spiteful
manner, but none hurt me. So I wandered sometimes north, and sometimes
south; and every way that came in my mind. But whithersoever I went,
the anguish of my soul went along with me; which was more than tongue
can utter, or pen can declare, or any one can believe, except this
relation should meet with some one that hath experienced the same
travel; which, if it doth they will understand. But so it was, I had
no comfort night nor day, but still kept going on, whether right or
wrong I knew not, nor durst I ask anybody, for fear of being beguiled
as before.

Thus I got into a vast howling wilderness, where there seemed to be no
way, only now and then I found some men and women's footsteps, which
was some comfort to me in my sorrow; but whether they got out without
being devoured by wild beasts, or whither I should go, I knew not.
But in this woeful state I travelled from day to day, casting within
myself what I had best to do;--whether utterly to despair in that
condition, or whether I had best to seek some other town or city, to
see if I could get some other guide. The first I saw to be desperate;
I also despaired of the last, having been so deceived from time to
time; so that all these consultations did but increase the bitterness
of my soul.

[Illustration: Thus I got into a vast howling wilderness, where there
seemed to be no way, only now and then I found some men and women's
footsteps, which was some comfort to me in my sorrow.]

One day, as I was travelling in the afternoon, a terrible storm arose,
with hail and thunder, and great wind, which lasted till night, and in
the night also. And being weary, both of body and mind, I laid me down
under a great tree, and after some time fell asleep. When I awaked
and came to myself, it was still very dark; and, looking about, I saw
a small light near me; and it came into my mind to go to it, and see
what it was; and as I went, the light went before me.

Then it came into my mind, that I had heard of false lights, as _ignis
fatuus_, and such like, that would lead people out of their way. Then
thought I again, how shall I be led out of my way, that know no way
of safety? And whilst I sat down to let these striving thoughts have
their course, I took notice, and beheld the light as near me as at the
first, as if it had waited for me. At which I was strongly affected,
and thought within myself, maybe some good spirit has come to take
pity on me, and to lead me out of this miserable condition. And so
a resolution arose in my mind that I would get up and follow it,
concluding in myself, that I could not be brought into a much worse
condition, than I was now in. So I arose and followed it; and it went
a gentle, easy pace at first, and I kept my eye straight to it. But
afterwards, I found a great part of the luggage and provision I had
got together, did but burden me in my journey; so I threw away one
thing, and then another, that I thought I could best spare; but kept a
great bundle of clothes still by me, not knowing whether I should need
them.

[Illustration: And whilst I sat down to let these striving thoughts
have their course, I took notice, and beheld the light as near me as
at the first, as if it had waited for me.]

As I thus went on, and the light before me, it led me out of the
wilderness, along a plain country, without trees or inhabitants; only
it appeared as if some few had gone that way;--and the light kept in
that strait path, without any winding or turning, till I came to the
foot of a great mountain; and, going up that mountain, I found it very
hard getting up, and began to consider my large bundle of clothes and
garments, and that several of them were of no use for a traveller as I
was, that did not know how far I should go, nor whether I should want
them, if ever I was so happy as to attain what I aimed at; nor whether
the fashions would suit the place I was going to. So I threw away
some, and anon other some, till none was left but what I wore.

[Illustration: Going up that mountain, I found it very hard getting
up.]

Thus, following my guide, I at last got up to the top of this
mountain, where I saw another yet higher; I also saw a man that asked
me whither I was going? I told him I could not well tell, but would
tell whither I desired to go. He asked, whither? I said, to the house
of God. He told me it was the way; but he thought I should never
get there. I asked him, why? "Why," quoth he, "there are in yonder
mountain so many vipers, adders, and serpents, and such venomous
beasts, that they devour many people that are going that way. For my
part," he said, "I also was going, but was so affrighted with those
venomous serpents, that I was forced to turn back, and so would have
you." I answered him, friend, I have for a pretty while taken yonder
light to be my guide, and it hath directed me along this way, and I
see it doth not leave me; look, dost thou see it there before me? He
answered, "Yes, I see it." Well, said I, I have heard by travellers,
that if a man have fire or light, the venomous beasts cannot hurt him;
and I intend to quicken my pace a little, and keep as close to the
light as I can. Come, go along with me and venture it. He said it was
true, he had heard that fire would preserve from them, but he thought
light would not; however, for his part he would not venture his sweet
life amongst them; if I would I might; he wished me well, and so we
parted.

I then made haste, and got pretty near the light, and up I went the
second mountain; and when I came almost to the top of it, I saw many
serpents' dens and vipers' holes, both on the right hand and on the
left; and the venomous beasts drew near me, and hissed at me, and I
began to be in great fear, and trembled exceedingly. But many times,
when they were ready to sting me, the light would step in, or appear
betwixt me and them, and they were affrighted, and ran away into their
holes and dens.

[Illustration: I saw many serpents' dens and vipers' holes, both on
the right hand and on the left: and the venomous beasts drew near
me, and hissed at me, and I began to be in great fear, and trembled
exceedingly.]

Oh! when I perceived this, how did my heart leap for joy within me!
My joy abounded,--my fear of the serpents abated,--my love to my
kind and tender guide increased,--and my courage and confidence were
renewed,--and I began to believe I was in the right way to attain my
desire. So on I went, keeping my eye to the light through them all,
without harm, till I came to the top of the mountain; and then I saw
an exceeding large valley, so that I could not see the farther side of
it: it seemed to be all moors, or places of water, and bogs and mire
all over the valley, which began again to dishearten me; but, thought
I, what shall I do? All is well hitherto. I was strangely delivered
from the serpents; and whatever comes of it, if this light leave me
not, I will follow it, if it be through fire and water.

[Illustration: So that sometimes the light shined round about me, and
I walked in the shinings of it with great fulness of spirit.]

So I kept on, and went down the mountain, a gentle easy pace, and saw
many of those cruel creatures by the way, who put out their stings
at me, but none hurt me. And I took notice the nearer I kept to the
light, the more they kept from me. So I got down to the bottom of the
mountain, into the large valley, which was very green and pleasant
for a little way; but by and by, the light went toward a great moorish
ground full of water, and that I thought was very dangerous; but
coming just to the side of the place, I saw a small narrow path
through the middle of it, just broad enough for a man to go upon it;
and into that narrow way the light led me, and went before me. Whilst
I kept my eye steady to it, I went on safely: but if at any time I
began to gaze about, my feet slipt into the mire and puddles; and then
I had much ado to get into my way again. Had not the light kindly and
tenderly waited for me, I had lost sight of it, and had perished in
the way; for sometimes it was so far before me, that I could hardly
discern it; and then I would quicken my diligence, and be more careful
of my goings, and keep as close to it as I could; so that sometimes
the light shined round about me, and I walked in the shinings of it
with great fulness of spirit.

After a long time walking in this narrow way, I lifted up my eyes to
the farther side of the moorish valley, and saw beyond, that there was
a very high mountain, and on the top of it there was a great house:
at the sight of which I was greatly comforted, supposing that might be
the house I had for a long time sought.

[Illustration: For there were many who I perceived had been travelling
in that narrow way, and had fallen into the mire; some on the right
hand and some on the left, and they lay wallowing full of envy; some
plucking at me, to pull me in; others throwing mire and dirt upon me
to discourage me.]

But after this I met with another sore exercise: for there were many
who I perceived had been travelling in that narrow way, and had fallen
into the mire; some on the right hand and some on the left, and they
lay wallowing full of envy; some plucking at me, to pull me in; others
throwing mire and dirt upon me to discourage me: others would speak
very fair, on purpose to draw me into discourse with them, that whilst
thus spending my precious time, I might be cast so far behind, as to
lose the sight of my good guide. But I saw their evil designs, and was
aware of them. So, keeping in my narrow way till I came to the end of
the boggy valley, I then found firm ground under my feet, to my great
comfort. I had gone but a little way, when my guide, the light, went
into a narrow lane, well hedged on both sides; at which I was glad,
thinking I could not go wrong, and need not now take so much care. But
alas! I quickly found so many by-lanes, and ways, which lay almost as
straight forward as that I went in, that if it had not been for the
light, which went a little before me, I might certainly many times
have gone wrong; but by carefully keeping to my good guide, I at last
got up the mountain, and saw the house again. I then discerned a
man of that country a pretty way off, and called to him, friend, ho!
friend, what is the name of yonder great house? He told me the name of
it was BETHEL. Then I presently remembered that that was the name by
which the house of God was called in my father's country, where I had
heard the reports of it, and so earnestly set out to find it.

[Illustration: Drawing nearer to it. I saw it had a large outward
court, and a pretty large gate to go into it, so that a man might go
in with a large burden on his back.]

Oh! the joy and consolation that I felt in my soul, no tongue
can express,--to think that now after all my travels, perils and
disappointments, I had found what I sought for. So on I went,
journeying with joy unspeakable; and as I went, I viewed the outside
of the house: it was very large, and had but one tower; there was no
carved work about it, no paintings, nor any kind of device that could
be discerned; but all the stones were curiously joined together from
the top to the bottom. I also took notice, that all the stones of
the building were transparent, some more and some less; and I saw no
windows to let in light from without; and, drawing nearer to it, I saw
it had a large outward court, and a pretty large gate to go into it,
so that a man might go in with a large burden on his back. So, coming
to it, in I went; and there I saw many people that were very cheerful,
and appeared to live very pleasant lives. Some of them told me,
they had lived there many years, were well contented, and wanted for
nothing; for there was a mighty tree grew in the midst of the court,
and the fruit thereof was good, and the leaves also, and it bore fruit
all the year long. And many of them were so kind as to invite me to
sit down and eat with them; but that I refused; and they showed me a
great cistern, which they had hewn out to themselves, to catch water
from the elements; and they had made themselves convenient lodgings in
the sides of the court, to lodge in.

[Illustration: And when I was stripped stark naked as ever I was born,
I tried to enter, and found no great difficulty.]

But all this did not satisfy me; for I saw my beloved guide pass
through them all, and enter in at a little narrow door at the farther
side of it. Whereupon I left them, and made haste to the door, where
I saw my guide had entered; and I attempted to enter in thereat, but
could not, it was so strait; which put me in great sorrow of mind,
and what to do I knew not; my thoughts troubled me on every side, and
all ways I tried, but in vain. Oh! thought I, are all my troubles and
labours come to this? Must I be shut out at the last? What shall I do?
As I was thus perplexing myself, I thought I heard a voice, but knew
not from whence it came, which said, "Young man, strip thee of thy old
garments, and so thou mayest enter." This occasioned yet more trouble
of mind; for I was loth to go naked: but at last thought it better
to go in naked, than not at all. So I at last fell to stripping,
thinking that a few pitiful rags should not hinder me of so great an
enjoyment.--And when I was stripped stark naked as ever I was born,
I tried to enter, and found no great difficulty; and so soon as I was
entered, one met me, and cast a garment of pure white linen over me,
which reached to my feet; and he brought me into a narrow room and
said, "Rest here awhile." Then I lay me down in so much joy and
comfort as is impossible to be expressed; all things were so pleasant
about me, and my resting place was so delightful, and my heart was so
fully satisfied, that it overcame me with songs of joy. But I found
it my business to be still and quiet in my happy condition, that I was
come to enjoy.

[Illustration: As I was entered, one met me, and cast a garment of
pure white linen over me, which reached to my feet; and he brought me
into a narrow room and said, "Rest here awhile."]

I had not been long in this room, before I was called out to see the
beauty and comeliness of the house. As I walked through it, I found
every thing so clean and bright, that I was ravished in an admirable
manner. I also met with some people that welcomed me to the house
of God with such kindness as refreshed my heart: and as I came to
be acquainted with them, I marked their conversation, and their
discourses were exceedingly comfortable to me; no quarrelling, no
contention, no high nor hot words, but all passed with meekness and
reverence, and due respect one for another. The young men waited for
the words of the ancients, and the virgins carried a reverent respect
to the matrons; and there was an universal concord and unity, so that
I wondered greatly. One day as I was opening my mind to an ancient, I
told him I admired much, and wondered greatly at the universal concord
that I had taken notice of, beyond all I had met with in my life. He
said it must needs be so, and could not be otherwise, for that was
the guide to lead me hither, which had been the guide to them all. And
further told me, there could be no contention, but where two spirits
strove for mastery; but it was not so in this house. His answer was so
full and satisfactory to me, that I said no more to him at that time,
but went on viewing, and beholding the order of every thing I saw,
till my soul was filled, and I might say my cup did overflow. So that
my former labours and disappointments, sorrows and perils, did signify
nothing to me, having now a full reward, an hundred fold.

[Illustration: Then he that talked with me, told me it was my work to
teach the children so far as I knew, and had learned, and as far as I
should from time to time be further instructed.]

So I returned to my rest again, in a larger room than before, singing
praises to my God, and setting forth the praises of the house, and of
them that dwelt therein. And awhile after, I was called forth from
the room where I was, and told I was not brought to that place only
to take pleasure and delight therein; but there was work to be done,
and I must take my part of it, and be faithful and diligent in my
employment, to which I answered, it was enough that I had attained
my desires in being admitted into this heavenly place; but if there
was any business that I could do, I was willing to do it, be it what
it would; for it would be my greatest joy to do anything to the
advancement of the honour of the house of God, and them that dwell
therein. Then he that talked with me, told me it was my work to teach
the children so far as I knew, and had learned, and as far as I
should from time to time be further instructed. I was a little amazed
thereat, knowing my inabilities: but having a little pondered that
part of the sentence, that I should be from time to time further
instructed, I took courage in my work, and made some progress in it,
with great fear and reverence; waiting daily for those instructions I
was to receive, and which I did receive in an abundant manner; and the
work prospered in my hand, and the children loved me, and I loved them
entirely, as though they had been my own children: and many of them
grew up to a good understanding, and observed their places and orders
to my great delight.

[Illustration: And let none of them say, it happened better with me
than with many; for I have understood, since coming into this house,
that the same Light that appeared to me, doth appear to any poor
distressed soul in the whole world.]

After I had thus continued a while, he that talked with me came and
told me I must take the charge of part of the household, and give them
their meat in due season; and suit every one's meat, in dividing to
every one's state and condition, and not feed strong men with milk,
and babes with strong meat; for which purpose he gave me a key that
led into the treasury or store-house; which, when I came to see and
behold, was abundantly filled with all sorts of nourishments, that
never could be exhausted, or spent, while the world endured. And I
observed that whatever I and others took out to distribute daily
among the household of God, the store-house was still full as at the
beginning, and so continues to this day, and forever.

And now, having continued a long time in this heavenly habitation, it
comes into my mind to let my countrymen, and the children of my old
father, whom I left in Babylon, hear of me; for I suppose they judge
me lost or devoured; but I could be glad if any, yea, all of them,
were here to behold, and taste and feel what I do. And let none
of them say, it happened better with me than with many; for I have
understood, since coming into this house, that the same Light that
appeared to me, doth appear to any poor distressed soul in the whole
world; but the reason that so few come here is, because they fear the
perils and dangers that are in the way, more than they love the Light
that would lead them through them; and so turn aside, and shelter
themselves in an old rotten building, that at one time or other, will
fall on their heads, and they perish in the ruins.

[Illustration: So I went not, but sought a city whose builder is God;
and now I have found it; Hallelujah in the Highest; glory, honour,
and renown to his worthy Name and power, throughout all ages and
generations. Amen.]

Now if any have a mind to know my name, let them know I had a name
in my father's country, but in this long and tedious journey I have
lost it. But since I came hither I have a "new name," but have no
characters to signify it by, that I can write, or they can read. Yet
if any will come where I am, they shall know my name. But for further
satisfaction, I was born in Egypt, spiritually called; and my father
went and lived in Babylon, about the time the true children of Israel
were in captivity; there I became acquainted with some of the stock
of the Jews, about the time they were returning to their own land;
and they told me wonderful things of the glory of the house they had
at Jerusalem, and would have had me go with them. And I understood
that Solomon, with many thousands of carpenters and masons had built
it; upon which I considered within myself, that if Solomon and the
carpenters and masons had built it, carpenters and masons might at one
time or another pull it down again. So I went not, but sought a city
whose builder is God; and now I have found it; Hallelujah in the
Highest; glory, honour, and renown to his worthy Name and power,
throughout all ages and generations. _Amen_.



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FROM BABYLON TO BETHEL***


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