The First Day
On an evening before Easter-day, I sat at a table, and having (as my custom was) in my humble prayer sufficiently conversed with my Creator, and considered many great mysteries (whereof the Father of Lights his Majesty had shewn me not a few) and being now ready to prepare in my heart, together with my dear Paschal Lamb, a small, unleavened, undefiled cake; All on a sudden ariseth so horrible a tempest, that I imagined no other but that through its mighty force, the hill whereon my little house was founded, would flye in pieces. But in as much as this, and the like from the Devil (who had done me many a spight) was no new thing to me, I took courage, and persisted in my meditation, till some body after an unusual manner, touched me on the back; whereupon I was so hugely terrified, that I durst hardly look about me; yet I shewed myself as cheerful as (in the like occurrence.) humane frailty would permit; now the same thing still twitching me several times. by the coat, I looked back, and behold it was a fair and glorious lady, whose garments were all skye-colour, and curiously (like Heaven) bespangled with golden stars, in her right hand she bare a trumpet of beaten gold, whereon a Name was ingraven which I could well read in but am as yet forbidden to reveal it. In her left hand she had a great bundle of letters of all languages, which she (as I afterwards understood) was to carry into all countries. She had also large and beautiful wings, full of eyes throughout, wherewith she could mount aloft, and flye swifter than any eagle. I might perhaps been able to take further notice of her, but because she stayed so small time with me, and terror and amazement still possessed me, I was fain to be content. For as soon as I turned about, she turned her letters over and over, and at length drew out a small one, with which great reverence she laid down upon the table, and without giving one word, departed from me. But in her mounting upward, she gave so mighty a blast on her gallant trumpet, that the whole hill echoed thereof, and for a full quarter of an hour after, I could hardly hear my own words. In so unlooked for an adventure I was at a loss, how either to advise, or assist my poor self, and therefore fell upon my knees and besought my Creator to permit nothing contrary to my eternal happiness to befall me; whereupon with fear and trembling, I went to the letter, which was now so heavy, as had it been mere gold, it could hardly have been so weighty. Now as I we. diligently viewing it, I found a little seal, whereupon a curious cross with this inscription, IN HOC SIGNO VINCES,(1) was ingraven. Now as soon as I espied this sign I was the more comforted, as not being ignorant that such a seal was little acceptable, and much less useful, to the Devil. Whereupon I tenderly opened the letter, and within it, in an azure field, in golden letters, found the following verses written.
“This day, this day, this, this
The Royal Wedding is.
Art thou thereto by birth inclin’d,
And unto joy of God design’d,
Then may’st thou to the mountain trend,
Whereon three stately temples stand,
And there see all from end to end.
Keep watch, and ward,
Thy self regard;
Unless with diligence thou bathe,
The Wedding can’t thee harmless save;
He’l damage have that here delays;
Let him beware, too light that weighs.”
Underneath stood Sponsus and Sponsa. (2)
As soon as I had read this letter, I was presently like to have fainted away, all my hair stood on end, and a cold sweat trickled down my whole body. For although I well perceived that this was the appointed wedding, whereof seven years before I was acquainted in a bodily vision, and which now so long time I had with great earnestness attended, (3) and which lastly, by the account and calculation of the planets, I had most diligently observed, I found so to be, yet could I never fore-see that it must happen under so grievous perilous conditions. For whereas I before imagined that to be a well-come and acceptable guest, I needed only be ready to appear at the wedding, I was now directed to Divine Providence, of which until this time I was never certain. I also found by my self, the more I examined my self, that in my head there was nothing but gross mis-understanding, and blindness in mysterious things, so that I was not able to comprehend even those things which lay under my feet, and which I daily conversed with, much less that I should be born to the searching out, and understanding of the secrets of Nature, since in my opinion Nature might every where find a more virtuous disciple, to whom to intrust her precious, though temporary, and changeable treasures. I found also that my bodily behaviour, and outward good conversation, and brotherly love toward my neighbour, was not duly purged and cleansed; moreover the tickling of the flesh manifested itself, whose affection was bent only to pomp and bravery, and worldly pride, and not to the good of mankind: and I was always contriving how by this art I might in a short time abundantly increase my profit and advantage, rear up stately palaces, make my self an everlasting name in the world, and other like carnal designs. But the obscure words concerning the three temples did particularly afflict me, which I was not able to make out by any after-speculation, and perhaps should not yet, had they not been wonderfully revealed to me. Thus sticking betwixt hope and fear, examining my self again and again, and finding only my own frailty and impotency, not being in any wise able to succour myself, and exceedingly amazed at the fore-mentioned threatening, at length I betook myself to my usual and most secure course; after I had finished my earnest and most fervent prayer, I laid me down in my bed, that so perchance my good angel by the Divine permission might appear, and (as it had sometimes formerly happened) instruct me in this doubtful affair, which to the praise of God, my own good, and my neighbours faithful and hearty warning and amendment did now likewise fall out. For I was yet scarce fallen asleep, when me-thought, I, together with a numberless multitude of men lay fettered with great chains in a dark dungeon, wherein without the least glimpse of light, we swarmed like bees one over another, and thus rendered each others affliction more grievous. But although neither I, nor any of the rest could see one jot, yet I continually heard one heaving himself above the other, when his chains or fetters were become ever so little lighter, though none of us had much reason to shove up the other, since we were all captive wretches. Now as I with the rest had continued a good while in this affliction, and each was still reproaching the other with his blindness and captivity, at length we heard many trumpets sounding together, and kettle drums beating so artificially thereto, that it even revived and rejoiced us in our calamity. During this noise the cover of the dungeon was from above lifted up, and a little light let down unto us. Then first might truly have been discerned the bustle we kept, for all went pesle-mesle, and he who perchance had too much heaved up himself, was forced down again under the others feet. In brief, each one strove to be uppermost, neither did I my self linger, but with my weighty fetters slipt up from under the rest, and then heaved myself upon a stone, which I laid hold of; howbeit, I was several times caught at by others, from whom yet as well as I might, with hands and feet I still guarded my self. For we imagined no other but that we should all be set at liberty, which yet fell out quite otherwise. For after the nobles who looked upon us from above through the hole, had a while recreated themselves with this our struggling and lamenting, a certain hoary-headed ancient man called us to be quiet, and having scarce obtained it, began (as I still remember) thus to say on.