Trivium Pursuit

Part 22 Pilgrim’s Progress — The Delectable Mountains

Part 22 — The Delectable Mountains by John Bunyan audio

The Delectable Mountains by John Bunyan read-along text

Christian and Hopeful then went on until they came to the Delectable Mountains, which belong to the Lord of that hill of which we have spoken of before. So they went up to the mountains to behold the gardens, the orchards, the vineyards and the fountains of water. There they also washed themselves — and freely drank and ate from the vineyards.

Now on the tops of these mountains, there were shepherds feeding their flocks while they stood by the highway side. The Pilgrims therefore went to them, and leaning upon their staffs — as is common with weary Pilgrims, when they stand to talk with any along the way — they asked, “Whose Delectable Mountains are these? And whose are these sheep which feed upon them?”

delectible mountains H. Melville

SHEPHERDS: “These mountains are Immanuel’s Land, and they are within sight of His City. The sheep are His also — for He laid down His life for them.”

delectible mountain

CHRISTIAN: “Is this the way to the Celestial City?”

SHEPHERDS: “Yes, this is the right way.”

CHRISTIAN: “How far is it to the City?”

SHEPHERDS: “Too far for any — except for those who shall get there indeed.”

CHRISTIAN: “Is the way safe or dangerous?”

SHEPHERDS: “The way is safe for those for whom it is meant to be safe. The righteous walk in it — but transgressors stumble in it.”

CHRISTIAN: “Is there any relief in this place, for Pilgrims who are weary and faint?”

SHEPHERDS: “The Lord of these mountains has given us a charge to show hospitality to strangers — therefore the refreshment of the place is available for your welfare.”

Thomas Stothard shepherds

I saw also in my dream, that when the Shepherds perceived that they were Pilgrims, they questioned them, “Where did you come from? How did you get into the way? By what means have you persevered in the narrow way — for few of those who begin to come here, ever show their face on these mountains.” To all these questions, the Pilgrims answered as they had done previously.

When the Shepherds heard their answers — they were pleased and looked very lovingly upon them. They exclaimed, “Welcome to the Delectable Mountains!”

shepherds

The Shepherds, whose names were Knowledge, Experience, Watchful, and Sincere — took them by the hand, brought them to their tents, and bid them to partake of a meal which had been prepared.

They said, moreover, “We desire that you should stay here a while, to become acquainted with us — and also to refresh yourselves with the good things of these Delectable Mountains.”

Then the Pilgrims told the Shepherds that they were content to stay. So they went to their rest that night, because it was very late.

Then I saw in my dream, that in the morning the Shepherds called Christian and Hopeful to walk with them upon the mountains. So they went forth with them, and walked a while, having a pleasant view on every side.

delectible mountain2

Then the Shepherds said to one another, “Shall we show these Pilgrims some wonders?”

When they concluded to do so, they first took them to the top of the Hill Error, which was very steep on the furthest side — and bid the Pilgrims to look down to the bottom. So Christian and Hopeful looked down, and saw at the bottom, several men who had been dashed to pieces — having fallen from the top of the hill.

hill of error

Then Christian asked, “What does this mean?”

hill error

The Shepherds responded, “Have you not heard of those who erred by hearkening to Hymeneus and Philetus — as concerning the belief of the resurrection of the body?”

“Yes,” they replied.

Then the Shepherds explained, “These are who you see dashed in pieces at the bottom of this mountain. They have continued to this day unburied, as you see, for an example to others to take heed not to come too near to the brink of Hill Error.”

Then I saw that the Shepherds brought them to the top of another mountain, named Caution — and entreated them to look afar off. When they looked, they observed what they thought were several men walking up and down among the tombs that were there. They perceived that the men were blind, because they stumbled upon the tombstones, and could not find their way out from among them.

blind men in tombs

Then Christian questioned, “What does this mean?”

The Shepherds then explained, “Did you not see that a little below these mountains, there was a stile which led into a meadow, on the left hand of the way?”

“Yes,” the Pilgrims replied.

The Shepherds then continued, “From that stile leads a path which goes directly to Doubting Castle — which is kept by Giant Despair. These blind men among the tombs were once on pilgrimage — just as you are now. When they came to that stile — because the right way was rough — they chose to go out of it, and into that meadow. They were then captured by Giant Despair, and cast into Doubting Castle.

“After they had been kept a while in the Giant’s dungeon, he gouged out their eyes, and led them among those tombs, where he has left them to wander to this very day. So the saying of the wise man is fulfilled, ‘Whoever strays out of the way of wisdom, shall remain in the congregation of the dead!'”

Then Christian and Hopeful looked upon one another with tears gushing out — yet they said nothing to the Shepherds.

Then I saw in my dream, that the Shepherds led them to another place, where there was a door in the side of a hill. They opened the door, and bid the Pilgrims to look in. Peering in, they saw that it was very dark and smoky. They also thought that they heard a rumbling noise as of fire, and a cry of some who were tormented, and that they smelled the scent of brimstone.

“What does this mean?” Christian inquired.

The Shepherds told them, “This is a Byway to Hell — a way that hypocrites go. Namely, such as sell their birthright — with Esau. And such as sell their master — with Judas. And such as blaspheme the Gospel — with Alexander. And such as lie and deceive — with Ananias and his wife Sapphira.”

Then Hopeful questioned the Shepherds, “I perceive that all of these once had a reputation as being Pilgrims, just as we do — had they not?”

SHEPHERDS: “Yes, and some held to it for a long time, too.”

HOPEFUL: “How far they went on in pilgrimage — yet notwithstanding, they were thus miserably cast away!”

SHEPHERDS: “Some not so far as these mountains — and some went further.”

Then the Pilgrims said to each another, “We had need to cry to the Strong One for strength!”

SHEPHERDS: “Yes, and you will also have need to use that strength, when you have it.”

By this time the Pilgrims desired to resume their journey, and the Shepherds agreed. So they walked together towards the end of the mountains.

The Shepherds then said to each other, “Let us here show the Pilgrims the gates of the Celestial City — if they have skill to look through our special telescope.”

telescope shepherds bartuoft

The Pilgrims cordially agreed — and were taken to the top of a high hill, called Clear, and were given the telescope. When they attempted to look — the remembrance of that last thing that the Shepherds had shown them, made their hands shake. With this impediment, they could not look steadily through the telescope. Yet they thought they saw something like the gate of the City, and also some of the glory of that place.

Then they went away, and sang this song:

“Thus, by the Shepherds, secrets are revealed,
Which from all other men are kept concealed.
Come to the Shepherds, then, if you would see,
Things deep, things hid, and that mysterious be.”

When they were about to depart, one of the Shepherds gave them a note with directions for the way. Another warned them to beware of the Flatterer. The third bid them to take heed that they do not sleep upon the Enchanted Ground. And the fourth Shepherd bid them Godspeed.

So I awoke from my dream.

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