A pious man was cast by the wicked in the dungeon, and there was a vision for him: In the middle of the field, with his back to his dwelling in the city, Death is a man bent under the heavy burden of sins. In his hands is the Book. From the Book this person. Christian, learned that the city will be burned by heavenly fire and all its inhabitants will perish irrevocably if they do not immediately take the road leading from death to Eternal Life. But where is he, this desired path?
The householders found the Christian insane, and the neighbors scoffed at him when he left the house in the city of Doom, not knowing where he was going. But in the open field he met a man called the Evangelist, who pointed to the Christian on the narrow Gateway and ordered them to go straight to them, not turning around anywhere.
Two neighbors started following the Christian after the Christian: Stubborn and Compassionate, but the first soon turned back, not having received from the satellites an understandable answer to the question what kind of “inheritance imperishable, immaculate” awaits them behind the Gates. The pliant also left the Christian when he saw him enter the impenetrable despondency – a place on the way to the Closest Gates, where the uncleanness of the sin of doubt and fear is gathering, seizing the sinner who has awakened from the eclipse. Neither to bypass this swamp, nor to drain or pave it is impossible.
A Worldly Sage was waiting for the Christian. He tempted the traveler with speeches that he knew a simpler and more effective way to get rid of the burden of sins, rather than the full wagering danger of traveling on the other side of the Gates. It is enough only to turn into a village with a beautiful name Blagravravie and find there a person named Legality, which has already helped a lot.
The Christian listened to unkind advice, but on the devious path he was halted by the Evangelist and directed to the true path, having set foot on which he soon got to the Close Gate.
“Knock, and it will be opened to you,” the Christian read the inscription above the gate and knocked with a throbbing heart. The gatekeeper let the Christian in and even slightly pushed him in the back, for nearby was the strong castle of Beelzebub, from which he and his detainees let deadly arrows in the sacking pass through the Gates.
The gatekeeper pointed to the Christian on the many paths that lay beyond the gates, but only one of all – laid by the patriarchs, prophets, Christ and His apostles – is narrow and straight. On it, along the path of truth, and the Christian must go further.
A few hours later, the Christian came to a certain house, where everyone – and the rooms and objects in them – symbolized the most important truths, without the knowledge of which the pilgrim could not overcome the obstacles that were in his way. The meaning of the symbols was explained to the Christian by the owner of this house. The interpreter.
Thanking the Interpreter and continuing his journey. The Christian soon saw ahead of the hill, crowned with the Cross. As soon as he ascended to the Cross, the burden of sins rolled from his shoulders and disappeared in the grave that gaped at the foot of the hill.
Here, at the Cross, three angels of the Lord encircled the Christian, took off his road rags and dressed in festive clothes. Instructing him to continue on his way, the angels handed him the key of the Promise and a scroll with a seal that served as a pass to the Heavenly City.
On the way to the Christian came across other pilgrims, for the most part unworthy of their chosen path. So, met him a Formalist and a hypocrite from the country of Vanity, who kept their way to Zion for glory. They bypassed the Close Gate to the side, for in their country it is accepted to walk the shortest way – as if it were not about them that said: “Whoever does not enter the sheep’s court with a door, but climbs an inode, that thief and robber.”
When it was necessary to pass through the Hill of Difficulty, the formalist and the Licemer chose convenient, seemingly even roundabout roads – one was called Danger, and the other was Bomb – and they were lost.
At the very top of the mountain, Christian was met by the Mighty and the Mistrustful; these pilgrims were afraid of the dangers, which are fraught with the road to the Heavenly City, and decided to turn back on their cowardice.
With the first danger, the Christian collided at the entrance to the palace of Splendor: on the sides of the path were two formidable lions. The Christian was dumbfounded, but then the porter reproached him with incredulity, and he, gathered with the spirit, walked unharmed right in the middle between roaring creatures.
The courage of the Christian was rewarded with a hearty welcome in the hall and a long, prolonged after midnight, heartfelt conversation with the virgins, Wisdom, Grace and Mercy that dwelt in him about the majesty and goodness of the Master who built this palace. In the morning the hosts conducted the Christian on their way, equipping them with armor and weapons, which does not age and does not wear out for ever.
Without these weapons and armor, it would be hard for a Christian in the Humiliation Valley where the angel of the abyss Apolloon, the ardent enemy of the Tsar, to whom the Christian served, blocked the way to him. Pilgrim courageously entered into a duel with a foe and with the name of the Lord on his lips won.
Then the way of the Christian lay the valley of the Death Shadow, where in pitch darkness he had to tread on a narrow path between a terrible bog and a bottomless precipice, bypassing the entrance to hell. Safely, he passed and the den of giants Paganism and the Papacy, in the old days, while they were still strong, completely dotted the neighborhood with the bones of travelers who fell into their paws.
In the valley... of the Death Shadow, the Christian overtook the pilgrim named Verny, who, like the Christian, passed through the Gates and managed to withstand more than one test. Finding each other worthy companions, the Christian with Verny decided to continue the journey together. So they walked on until they saw a city in the distance.
Then they met a friend of both evangelists and said that in this city one of them will suffer a martyr’s death – will accept it for the benefit of himself: he will enter the Heavenly City before, and also will avoid the sorrows prepared for the survivor. This hail was called Sueta, and there was a fair all year round. The choice of the goods was enormous: at home, estates, posts, titles, kingdoms, passions, pleasures, carnal pleasures, rich wives and husbands, body and soul life; twenty-four-hour free spectacles: theft, murder, adultery, perjury… The fair was lit by an ominous purple light.
At the urging of the sellers, the pilgrims answered that they did not need anything except the truth. These words caused an outburst of indignation among the merchants. As perpetrators of serenity, Christian and Verny were brought to trial, against which Evil, Superstition and Servility were witnesses.
By an unrighteous verdict, Verny was cruelly executed, the Christian managed to escape. But he did not have long to go alone – he was caught up by the Hustling from the city of Vanity, who was forced to set out on the road spectacle of the death of the Faithful; so always the death of a witness of truth erects new followers of Christ.
Seeing a convenient path that seemed to follow exactly along their road, the Christian persuaded the Hover to cross it, which nearly killed both of them: walking along a convenient path, the pilgrims found themselves at the Castle of Doubt. The castle belonged to the giant Despair, who captivated them and began to torment, urging them to put their hands on themselves and thereby stop the terrible torment.
The Christian was already ready to heal Despair, but the Raptor reminded him of the commandment “Thou shalt not kill,” Then the Christian remembered the promise given by the angels and promised them the constipations of the prison.
Soon the pilgrims were already in the Pleasant Mountains, from the tops of which vaguely the gates of the Heavenly City were vaguely visible. Shepherds Cognition, Experienced, Vigilance and Sincere gave the Christian with a Hopeful detailed description of the path to them.
Having a description from the faithful hands, the travelers nevertheless followed a black man in shining clothes, promising to lead them to the Heavenly City, but led them into cleverly arranged networks. From the networks of pilgrims released the Angel of God, who explained that they fell into the trap of the Seducer, otherwise – False Apostle.
Further, the Christian and the Hovering marched along the marvelous country of the Combination, of which the prophet Isaiah spoke and whom the Lord calls His. The air here was filled with marvelous aromas and rang from the bewitching singing of birds. The coveted Heavenly City opened up more clearly and distinctly to the eyes of the travelers. And so they went out to the river, which they were bound to go, – only two, Enoch and Elijah, fell into the Heavenly Jerusalem, having passed it.
As soon as the pilgrims entered the waters of the river, the Christian flock sank and cried out in the words of the Psalmist: “I am drowning in the deep waters, and the waves cover me with the head! The horror of death has taken possession of me!”
But Jesus Christ did not abandon his faithful, and they safely reached the opposite shore. At the gates of the Celestial City pilgrims met the host of the Angels; the heavenly choir burst forth a song: “Blessed are they that are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”
The pilgrims entered the gates and after them they suddenly changed and put on garments that glittered like gold. The angels who were here a great multitude sang: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!”
And there was another vision to the pious man, in which the fate of Christian, who did not want to follow her husband, was revealed to him.
Only the husband crossed the river of Death, this woman began to think about her past and future; she was burdened by the burden of guilt – after all, not only herself, but also the children she prevented from entering the Eternal Life.
Once in a dream she saw a Christian standing between immortals and playing in the lyre before the Lord. The next morning, a guest called Mystery knocked on her door and conveyed the invitation of the Master of Heaven to come to His table.
Neighbors ridiculed Christian, when they found out that she was going on a dangerous path, and only one, called Love, volunteered to go along with her.
Behind the narrow gates of the Christian with children and with Love the Lord Himself greeted. He indicated the way in which He passed and who was to overcome them.
On this road, women and children were awaited by such formidable dangers that the Interpreter deemed it necessary to give them a guide in the name of the Spirit of Courage. He more than once rescued the squatters, protecting them from terrible giants and monsters, without the number of ruined pilgrims who set foot on the path leading to the Heavenly City not through the Close Gate,
Wherever Christiane and her companions were going, she heard admiring stories about the glorious deeds of her husband and his comrade Verny. During the journey her sons took the daughters of pious men to their wives and had children. Babies, Christian’s grandsons and Christian, the pilgrims were handed over to the Shepherd, who grazed their flocks on Otradnye Gory, and descended to the Country of Combination. Here, among the marvelous gardens that overshadowed the banks of the River of Death, they remained until the angel appeared to the Christian with the news that the King awaited her appearance to Himself in ten days.
In due time Christian entered the river with joy and reverence; on that shore a chariot was already waiting to receive it and take it to the Heavenly City.