by John Bunyan
WHEREIN ITS GOODLY LIGHT, WALLS, GATES, ANGELS, AND THE MANNER OF THEIR STANDING, ARE EXPOUNDED: ALSO HER LENGTH AND BREADTH, TOGETHER WITH THE GOLDEN MEASURING-REED EXPLAINED: AND THE GLORY OF ALL UNFOLDED. AS ALSO THE NUMEROUSNESS OF ITS INHABITANTS; AND WHAT THE TREE AND WATER OF LIFE ARE, BY WHICH THEY ARE SUSTAINED.
I. TO THE GODLY READER
FRIEND,—Though the men of this world, at the sight of this book, will not only deride, but laugh in conceit, to consider that one so low, contemptible, and inconsiderable as I, should busy myself in such sort, as to meddle with the exposition of so hard and knotty a Scripture as here they find the subject matter of this little book; yet do thou remember that 'God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are' (1 Cor 1:27, 28). Consider also, that even of old it hath been his pleasure to 'hide these things from the wise and prudent, and to reveal them unto babes' (Matt 11:25, 21:15, 16). I tell you that the operation of the Word and Spirit of God, without depending upon that idol, so much adored, is sufficient of itself to search out 'all things, even the deep things of God' (1 Cor 2:10).
The occasion of my first meddling with this matter was as followeth:—Upon a certain first-day, I being together with my brethren in our prison chamber, they expected that, according to our custom, something should be spoken out of the Word for our mutual edification; but at that time I felt myself, it being my turn to speak, so empty, spiritless, and barren, that I thought I should not have been able to speak among them so much as five words of truth with life and evidence; but at last it so fell out that providentially I cast mine eye upon the eleventh verse of the one and twentieth chapter of this prophecy; upon which, when I had considered a while, methought I perceived something of that jasper in whose light you there find this holy city is said to come or descend; wherefore having got in my eye some dim glimmerings thereof, and finding also in my heart a desire to see farther thereinto, I with a few groans did carry my meditations to the Lord Jesus for a blessing, which he did forthwith grant according to his grace; and helping me to set before my brethren, we did all eat, and were well refreshed; and behold also, that while I was in the distributing of it, it so increased in my hand, that of the fragments that we left, after we had well dined, I gathered up this basketful. Methought the more I cast mine eye upon the whole discourse, the more I saw lie in it. Wherefore setting myself to a more narrow search, through frequent prayer to God, what first with doing, and then with undoing, and after that with doing again, I thus did finish it.
But yet, notwithstanding all my labour and travel in this matter, I do not, neither can I expect that every godly heart should in every thing see the truth and excellency of what is here discoursed; neither would I have them imagine that I have so thoroughly viewed this holy city, but that much more than I do here crush out is yet left in the cluster. Alas! I shall only say thus, I have crushed out a little juice to sweeten their lips withal, not doubting but in a little time more large measures of the excellency of this city, and of its sweetness and glory, will by others be opened and unfolded; yea, if not by the servants of the Lord Jesus, yet by the Lord himself, who will have this city builded and set in its own place.
But, I say, for this discourse, if any of the saints that read herein think they find nought at all but words, as many times it falleth out even in their reading the Scriptures of God themselves, I beg, I say, of such, that they read charitably, judge modestly, and also that they would take heed of concluding that because they for the present see nothing in this or that passage, that therefore there is nothing in it: possibly from that which thou mayest cast away as an empty bone, others may pick both good and wholesome bits, yea, and also out of that suck much nourishing marrow. You find by experience, that that very bit that will not down with one, may yet not only down, but be healthful and nourishing to another. Babes are more for milk than strong meat, though meat will well digest with those that are of riper years. Wherefore that which thy weakness will not suffer thee to feed on, leave; and go to the milk and nourishment that in other places thou shalt find.
II. TO THE LEARNED READER
My second word is to my wise and learned reader.
SIR,—I suppose, in your reading of this discourse, you will be apt to blame me for two things: First, Because I have not so beautified my matter with acuteness of language as you could wish or desire. Secondly, Because also I have not given you, either in the line or in the margent, a cloud of sentences from the learned fathers, that have, according to their wisdom, possibly, handled these matters long before me.
To the first I say, the matter indeed is excellent and high; but for my part I am weak and low; it also deserveth a more full and profound discourse than my small pats will help me to make upon the matter. But yet seeing the Lord looketh not at the outward appearance, but on the heart, neither regardeth high-swelling words of vanity, but pure and naked truth; and seeing also that a widow's mite being all, even heart as well as substance, is counted more, and better, than to cast in little out of much, and that little too perhaps the worst, I hope my little, being all, my farthing, seeing I have no more, may be accepted and counted for a great deal in the Lord's treasury. Besides, Sir, words easy to be understood do often hit the mark, when high and learned ones do only pierce the air. He also that speaks to the weakest, may make the learned understand him; when he that striveth to be high, is not only for the most part understood but of a sort, but also many times is neither understood by them nor by himself.
Secondly, The reason why you find me empty of the language of the learned, I mean their sentences and words which others use, is because I have them not, nor have not read them: had it not been for the Bible, I had not only not thus done it, but not at all.
Lastly. I do find in most such a spirit of whoredom and idolatry concerning the learning of this world, and wisdom of the flesh, and God's glory so much stained and diminished thereby; that had I all their aid and assistance at command, I durst not make use of ought thereof, and that for fear lest that grace, and these gifts that the Lord hath given me, should be attributed to their wits, rather than the light of the Word and Spirit of God: Wherefore 'I will not take' of them 'from a thread even to a shoe-latchet,—lest they should say, We have made Abram rich' (Gen 14:23).
Sir, What you find suiting with the Scriptures take, though it should not suit with authors; but that which you find against the Scriptures, slight, though it should be confirmed by multitudes of them. Yea, further, where you find the Scriptures and your authors jump, yet believe it for the sake of Scripture's authority. I honour the godly as Christians, but I prefer the Bible before them; and having that still with me, I count myself far better furnished than if I had without it all the libraries of the two universities. Besides, I am for drinking water out of my own cistern;5 what God makes mine by the evidence of his Word and Spirit, that I dare make bold with. Wherefore seeing, though I am without their learned lines, yet well furnished with the words of God, I mean the Bible, I have contented myself with what I there have found, and having set it before your eyes,
I pray read and take, Sir, what you like best;
And that which you like not, leave for the rest.
III. TO THE CAPTIOUS READER
My third word is to the captious and wrangling reader.
FRIEND,—However thou camest by this book, I will assure thee thou wast least in my thoughts when I writ it; I tell thee, I intended this book as little for thee as the goldsmith intendeth his jewels and rings for the snout of a sow. Wherefore put on reason, and lay aside thy frenzy; be sober, or lay by the book (Matt 7:6).
IV. TO THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS, &C.
My fourth word is to the lady of kingdoms, the well-favoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, and the abominations of the earth.
MISTRESS,—I suppose I have nothing here that will either please your wanton eye or go down with your voluptuous palate. Here is bread indeed, as also milk and meat; but here is neither paint to adorn thy wrinkled face, nor crutch to uphold or undershore thy shaking, tottering, staggering kingdom of Rome; but rather a certain presage of thy sudden and fearful final downfall, and of the exaltation of that holy matron, whose chastity thou dost abhor, because by it she reproveth and condemneth thy lewd and stubborn life. Wherefore, lady, smell thou mayest of this, but taste thou wilt not: I know that both thy wanton eye, with all thy mincing brats that are intoxicated with thy cup and enchanted with thy fornications, will, at the sight of so homely and plain a dish as this, cry, Foh! snuff, put the branch to the nose, and say, Contemptible! (Mal 1:12, 13; Eze 8:17). 'But wisdom is justified of all her children' (Matt 11:19). 'The virgin the daughter of Zion hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee' (Isa 37:22), yea, her God hath smitten his hands at thy dishonest gain and freaks (Eze 22:7–11, &c.). 'Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all ye that love her; rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her; that ye may suck and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations, that ye may milk out and be delighted with the abundance of her glory' (Isa 66:10, 11).
Table of Contents
ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR
THE EPISTLE TO FOUR SORTS OF READERS
THE HOLY CITY; OR, THE NEW JERUSALEM
-- FIRST. THE VISION OF THE HOLY CITY IN GENERAL
-- SECOND. A DISCOVERY OF ITS DEFENCE, ENTRANCES, AND FASHION IN PARTICULAR
-- THIRD. A RELATION OF THE GLORY OF THE CITY, ITS WALLS, GATES, AND FOUNDATIONS
-- FOURTH. THE INHABITANTS OF THE CITY, THEIR QUALITY, AND NUMEROUSNESS
-- FIFTH. THE PROVISION AND MAINTENANCE OF THE CITY, BY WHICH IT CONTINUETH IN LIFE, EASE, PEACE, TRANQUILITY, AND SWEETNESS FOR EVER