The Jericho Road
By W. Bion Adkins
Public Domain Books
Brother Underwood’s Dream.
Being invited some time since to deliver an address before a benevolent institution, and being pressed amid the daily business cares which surrounded, I was fearful I should not be able to command sufficient time for preparation of the task. Returning home, I retired to my bed, my thoughts still keeping themselves in active motion in their endeavor to “think out” what I should say. In this state of mind I fell asleep, and soon was in dreamland. I dreamed that death had taken place, and as I approached the gates of the unseen world, I was met by an angel, who kindly tendered his services in escorting me through the realms of Heaven. Being a stranger there, I gladly and gracefully accepted his kind invitation. Proceeding along the pearly streets, enraptured with the beauties which surrounded me, I saw a multitude of people, the number of whom figures fail to compute; but I noticed there were dividing lines, and they were gathered in companies. Observing a beautiful body of water in the distance, and a gathering of one company by its banks, I inquired of my escort who they were. He replied they were Baptists, and said “they always keep near the water’s edge.” Just beyond was another company, which my faithful attendant informed me was a Presbyterian band, and that their infant baptism views still clinging to them was one of the causes of their “corralling” together. Just then we heard loud and prolonged shouting and singing of the hymn “Shall we gather at the river,” and, pointing to the spot from whence it came, near a beautiful stream not far off, the angel said: “Those are the Methodists. They never cease shouting, and so loud are they at times that they annoy the Episcopalians, whom you see on the opposite side of the stream, in their discussion of the doctrine of apostolic succession.” Seeing still other gatherings farther on, I was anxious to go thither and mingle with them; but my guide remonstrated, saying: “You can see from this standpoint the representatives of all churches. There, said he, are the Catholics and the Jews, the Universalists and the Congregationalists, the Unitarians and the Moravians, all with their varied ’creeds,’ and if you go that way you will be surrounded by them, each trying to prove that you got to Heaven through their peculiar doctrine or faith.”
Turning to the right, we moved on, only to pass to more gorgeous and beautiful apartments, where the streets were golden. Here I observed another multitude, but it was one body. “This,” said the angel, “is the gathering of the various priests and pastors, rectors and rabbis, and the ministers and the elders who are trying to unite on some common ground upon which their congregations (which we had passed) might stand, where there would be but ’One Lord, one faith, one baptism.’" Gal., iv, 5. For, said the angel, until then, they go not up with their churches and creeds to higher seats above, for “neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision.” Gal., v, 6.
Proceeding on our way we approached a magnificent archway, over the lintels of which was inscribed, “The Christian’s Home in Glory.” The grandeur of this new apartment exceeded all the rest, a description of which lies beyond the power of words, “For eye hath not seen, nor the ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” I Cor., ii, 9. This I found to be the abode of the apostles, martyrs and Christians of all ages. Here was Paul and Peter, and the prophets, the thief on the cross and Bunyan, Lazarus and Baxter, Stephen and Father Abraham, Martha and Mary and the widow who gave her two mites. Pausing, I beheld, with banners above, an innumerable number “marching on,” with Lincoln and Lovejoy, Lyman, Beecher and John Brown in the advance, and on the banners was inscribed, “These are they which came out of great tribulation.” Rev., viii, 14. The angel said: “That is the multitude of poor slaves from the cotton fields of earth, doing homage to their deliverers.” “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.” Rev., vii, 16. Here I also found Watts and Wesley singing, while Bliss (who had but lately been translated from earth to heaven by way of Ashtabula bridge), catching the inspiration, was setting the songs of Heaven to the music of earth. Gazing on the many thrones and crowns, there were some of peculiar brightness. I looked on one, and what was the inscription? Was it, I was a Methodist? No. I was immersed? No. I was a Jew? No. But rather this: “Because I delivered the poor that cried and fatherless, and him that had none to help him, the blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me, and I caused the widow’s heart to sing with joy.” Job, xxix, 12, 14. And this was the crown of Job. And there was another just beyond, and I read the inscription. Was it, I was a Presbyterian? No. I prayed by quantity? No. I was a Universalist? No. But “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and the widow in their affliction and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James, i, 27. And while the memory and name of Peabody, the philanthropist, is and shall be honored and loved for ages to come in two hemispheres, his crown of glory in heaven is second to none. But there was still another. It was worn by one of queenly beauty, and she sat upon her throne; the splendor of her robe and the brilliancy of her apparel dimmed my vision. I read her inscription, set, as it was, in Heaven’s choicest diamonds. Was it, I was an Episcopalian? No. I was baptized? No. I was a Catholic? No. But thus: “I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” Matt., xxv, 35, 36. And before her throne stood thousands who had come up from the battle fields of the Crimea, and the widows and orphans, the lame and the halt, the blind and the deaf from the streets and alleys of London, and as they shouted their hallelujahs before her, they carried banners on which were emblazoned these words: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matt., xxv, 40. And the crown of Florence Nightingale glistens brightly in Heaven. Passing on, and observing a large number of vacant thrones and crowns, I naturally asked, for whom are these? The angel replied: “For the Christians of earth; the managers of the ’homes’ for the friendless, the widows and the orphans, and those who, regardless of their respective church creeds and doctrines, like their Master when he was on earth, go about doing good.” The angel vanished, and I awoke.
MORAL.–Brethren, in our tenacity for church creeds, let us not fail in the practice of a little daily Christianity. “Finally, brethren, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things." Gal., iv, 8.