The Delectable Mountains - entertained by the Shepherds - a by-way to Hell

The Delectable Mountains

They continued on, then, till they came to the "Delectable Mountains," which belong to the Lord of that hill of whom we have spoken before. So they went up to the mountains, to look at the gardens and orchards, the vineyards and fountains of water; where they also drank, and washed themselves, and freely ate of the vineyards. Now there were on the tops of these mountains shepherds feeding their flocks; and they stood by the highway side. So the pilgrims went to them; and, leaning upon their staves (as is common with weary pilgrims when they stand to talk with any by the way), they asked, "Whose delectable mountains are these? and whose are the sheep that feed upon them?"

Shepherds. These mountains are Immanuel's Land, and they are within sight of his City; and the sheep also are his, and he laid down his life for them.

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep." John 10:11

Chr. Is this the way to the Celestial City?

Shepherds. You are just in your way.

Chr. How far is it from here?

Shepherds. Too far for any but those that shall get there indeed.

Chr. Is the way safe, or dangerous?

Shepherds. Safe for those for whom it is to be safe; but transgressors shall fall in it.

"Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who isprudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right; The righteous walk in them, But transgressors stumble in them."Hosea 14:9

Chr. Is there in this place any relief for pilgrims that are weary and faint in the way?

Shepherds. The Lord of these mountains has given us a charge, not to be forgetful to entertain strangers;

"Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels." Hebrews 13:1,2

therefore the good of the place is now before you.

I saw also in my dream, that when the shepherds perceived that they were wayfaring men, they also asked them questions (which they answered as in other places); such as, "Where did you come from?" and "How got you into the way?" and, "How have you so persevered in it? For but few of them that begin to come this way show their face on these mountains." But when the shepherds heard their answers, being pleased with them, they looked very lovingly upon them; and said, "Welcome to the Delectable Mountains!"

The shepherds, I say--whose names were, KNOWLEDGE, EXPERIENCE, WATCHFUL, and SINCERE--took them by the hand, and took them to their tents, and made them partake of that which was ready at present. They said, moreover, "We would like you to stay here a while, to be acquainted with us; and yet to comfort yourselves more with the good of these Delectable Mountains." They then told them that they were content to stay; and 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 up CHRISTIAN and HOPEFUL, to walk with them upon the mountains. So they went out with them, and walked a while, having a pleasant outlook on every side. Then the shepherds said one to another, "Shall we show these pilgrims some wonders?" So when they had concluded to do it, they had them first to the top of a hill called "Error," which was very steep on the furthest side; and told them to look down to the bottom. So CHRISTIAN and HOPEFUL looked down; and saw at the bottom several men dashed all to pieces by a fall that they had from the top. Then CHRISTIAN asked, "What does this mean?" The shepherds answered, "Have you not heard of them that were made to stray, by paying attention to HYMENEUS and PHILETUS concerning the truth of the resurrection of the body?"

"And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some." 2 Timothy 2:17, 18

"Yes." they answered. Then the shepherds said, "Those that you see lying dashed in pieces at the bottom of this mountain are they; and they have continued to this day unburied (as you see), for an example to others to take heed how they clamber too high, or how they come too near the brink of this mountain."

Then I saw that they took them to the top of another mountain--and the name of it is "Caution"--and told them to look afar off. Which when they did, they saw, as they thought, several men walking up and down among the tombs that were there. And they noticed that the men were blind; because they stumbled sometimes upon the tombs, and because they could not get out from among them. Then CHRISTIAN asked, "What does this mean?"

The shepherds then answered, "Did you not see, a little below these mountains, a stile that led into a meadow on the left side. "From that stile there goes a path that leads directly to Doubting Castle, which is kept by Giant DESPAIR; and these men--(pointing to them among the tombs)--came once on pilgrimage as you do now, even till they came to that same stile. And because the right way was rough in that place, they chose to go out of it into that meadow, and there were taken by Giant DESPAIR, and cast into Doubting Castle; where, after they had been kept in the dungeon a while, he at last plucked out their eyes, and led them among those tombs, where he has left them to wander to this very day, that the saying of the wise man might be fulfilled: "He that wanders out of the way of understanding, shall remain in the congregation of the dead".

"A man who wanders from the way of understanding Will rest in the assembly of the dead."Proverbs 21:16

Then CHRISTIAN and HOPEFUL looked one at another, with tears gushing out; but said nothing to the shepherds.

Then I saw in my dream that the shepherds took them to another place, at the bottom, where a door was in the side of a hill; and they opened the door, and told them to look in. They looked in, therefore, and saw that within it was very dark and smokey; they also thought that they heard a rumbling noise there as of fire, and a cry of some tormented people, and that they smelt the scent of brimstone. Then CHRISTIAN asked, "What does this mean?" The shepherds told them, saying, "This is a byway to hell, a way that hypocrites go in at: namely, such as sell their birthright, as with Esau; such as sell their Master, as with Judas; such as blaspheme the Gospel, as with Alexander; and that lie and masquerade, as with Ananias and Sapphira, his wife."

Hope. Then HOPEFUL said to the shepherds, "I perceive that all these had about them an appearance of being on pilgrimage, as we have now; had they not?"

Shep. Yes, and they held it a long time too.

Hope. How far might they have gone in their pilgrimage in their day, even those who were so miserably cast away?

Shep. Some further, and some not so far as these mountains.

Then the pilgrims said one to another, "We surely need to cry to the strong for strength."

Shep. Yes, and you will have need to use it when you have it, too.

By this time the pilgrims had a desire to go onwards, and the shepherds desired that they should; so they walked together towards the end of the mountains. Then the shepherds said to oneanother, "Let us show to the pilgrims the gates of the Celestial City from here, if they have the skill to look through our perspective glass." The pilgrims then lovingly accepted the motion: so they led them to the top of a high hill, called "Clear," and gave them their glass to look through. Then they attempted to look; but the remembrance of the last thing that the shepherds had showed them made their hands shake. Because if this impediment, they could not look steadily through the glass: yet they thought they saw something like the gate, and also some of the glory of the 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 of the way; another of them warned them to beware of the flatterer; the third directed them take heed that they do not fall asleep on the enchanted ground; and the fourth bade them Godspeed. So I awoke from my dream.