It was the first day of June and the sun had set. The toil of the day was over. I had my studio thoroughly lighted and in the cleanest and best condition I could make It. I had provided pencils, paper, pens and ink, and was nervously waiting for my silken bearded friend. I felt a keen sense of uneasiness, not knowing the full nature of his mission or what all it might entail. I knelt and most solemnly prayed that the Almighty Father might be my helper, for my visitor had impressed me with a sense of awe, and I was quite humbled in his presence. The door at last opened and Seneca Sodi came in, a wonderful halo of light about his head and face.
I arose to greet him and with a pleasant “Good evening,” he seemingly to grip my hand.
“My son,” he said, “I greet you in the name of the Father.”
When he had taken a seat, he said, “Do you remember my humble home at the foothills of the Cascades?”
“Indeed I do, and the long walk among the hills we enjoyed together that day, and of the sleepless hours until after midnight, and of my promise to endeavor to see you again in your little earthly mansion of bliss.”“I could not wait for your return,” said Seneca. “Strange experiences were awaiting me. I had been earnestly hoping that the coming of the Lord was near at hand and was much in prayer. I had the strange impression that great events were soon to come, but was not expecting the great favors which were so soon to be shown to me. But I find that God takes delight in surprising us with new and great blessings.”
The Story Begins
Dinner had just been eaten and I had lain down on the couch for a few moments’ rest. My two servants, Sena and Serva, were busy about the house, when all of a sudden, a blast of a trumpet called us all to the door.
A beautiful chariot of gold and two drivers clothed in white garments were standing very near. Immediately I seemed to fall into a trance and was lost to earthly things for a time. The angels came into the room and urged me to prepare quickly, saying, “For the Lord of the kingdom has need of you.”
I could easily understand their errand and language. I was filled with triumphal praise in the thought of immediately going home. Resuming consciousness of earthly things, I quickly arranged with Sena and Serva, who had only seen glimpses of glory in flashes of bright light, but felt the presence of invisible ones about the room, to carefully guard my body, should I leave it behind. I found myself in a semi-conscious state, and saw a number of holy beings about my bed, for I felt so weary, I had lain down. I had momentary thoughts run through my mind, ‘Is this really death? Am I really going to say good-bye to worldly things this day? Am I truly in the borderland of eternity? If so, blessed victory!’
I felt, now creeping into my soul, the raptures of eternal joy—oh, such light and visions of glory which were granted to me then! Spiritual truths and realities began to become very vivid to me, very clear to my understanding. I seemed to be passing into a large place where a new order of things existed. With one last effort to see and speak to my servants, I barely could say, “Good-bye,” as I saw their anxious eyes looking into mine.
I heard some broken sentences and tried to explain, when I thought they were far out of hearing, and I closed my eyes only to open them in an eternal day.
The next thing I noticed was that I was standing in one corner of the room looking with deep interest upon my body, which was quietly lying dead upon the bed. I cannot very well describe the strange yet joyful feelings of my soul on finding myself released from the body. I came forward and stood beside the bed and with feelings of joy mingled with pity. I said to my body, “I feel sorry to leave you behind, but you are still mortal and will be till the resurrection.”
I next saw three angels with me who seemed busy with some peculiar embalming process for my body, which I did not understand. They spoke to me most pleasantly and said, “Don’t be afraid. We have come as your escorts to your heavenly home, the light of which shines so brightly upon you now.”
How quickly I thought of that scripture: “The angels are all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation!” (Hebrews 1:14) I soon came to realize that physical eyes cannot see spiritual beings nor comprehend their movements except by some miraculous intervention, but that spirits can comprehend both matter and spirit.
I found that my vision was greatly improved since being freed from the mortal body—nor did I regret now that I was released, for everything seemed to shine with a luster and glow, with a brightness I had never known before, and what seemed more remarkable still, was that the sunlight did not help me in any way to see the things about me, for I knew it was night when all the world were asleep and that it was entirely dark to outward human eyes, yet to me everything shone with a splendor more grand than the brightest noonday earth ever afforded.
Again and again the scripture came to me: “Yea the darkness hides not from you, but the night shines as the day. The darkness and the light are both alike unto you,” (Psalm 139:12) and again, “There shall be no night there.” (Revelation 21:25)
I saw distinctly a number of angels about the room, each of which was covered with robes of pure and heavenly light, which made my soul so glad. I wondered why I could not have discerned them before, even while in the body. The scripture came to me where the prophet said: “The angel of the Lord encamps round about them that fear him and delivers them.” (Psalm 34:7)
From this time I began to feel a strange upward leaping tendency. My spirit felt a mighty pull heavenward as though elastic cords were fastened to all parts of my soul, with the other end reaching into the skies.
Sena and Serva sat weeping by the bedside. I tried to speak to them, but could not get their attention. I walked near to them and laid my hand upon their heads, but still they did not comprehend me. They only seemed to weep more bitterly for there seemed to be a soul touch. Then again their tears would dry and they would scan the room as though some voice had been heard, and I felt sure they realized something of my presence without comprehending the truth of what was happening.
The angels now began to sing and oh such sweet music I never heard while in the body. When they had finished the song, they said, “Will you now follow us?”
When we had stepped outside, I saw the chariot which seemed to be made of light. It was standing still at the threshold. I understood its meaning and the special errand of the angels, and I wanted to jump in so strongly, as I practically shouted, “Hallelujah,” which I am sure the angels heard, for they quickly said, “Glory to God in the highest.”
I tried to say good-bye to my sleeping body, the old home and my two servants when the angels hurried me to a seat with them in the chariot. They again assured me of a safe journey homeward. In a moment more the chariot began to rise with a swift and noiseless motion, and, at what speed I could not tell, we were going on our flight toward the eternal mansions.
No sooner had I taken my seat in the chariot than I found I could converse with the angels with perfect freedom. There seemed to be a kind of comprehension of ideas without the effort of words, and yet we spoke as spirits speak. I have often heard words spoken while in the body which were wholly in the ear of the soul, and yet most distinctly understood when there was no audible voice whatever—the same as at St. Paul’s conversion: he heard a voice distinctly in his inner consciousness while those who journeyed with him saw no man from whom the voice came.
I now asked, “Are you really and truly angels of God, about whom we have read and sung and heard so much while in the world?”
“Truly we are,” they replied, “but of our birth you know nothing, for in fact we were not born but created, not in the earth but in celestial regions. We have learned our lessons in the past eternities in the presence of God, but we are glad to be your servants and helpers now, and this has been our glad service ever since man was created upon the earth, but we can tell you more about ourselves at another time.”
I replied, “We have been strangers until this time, but you make me feel great confidence in your ability to safely guide the chariot. I have been looking forward to this time for many years, but did not know it was so near.”
“Oh,” said the charioteer, “you don’t need to be afraid. I will bring you safely to your eternal home.”
I looked out of the chariot again and saw we were moving with indescribable speed. The earth with its cities, towns and mountains was vanishing like a specter in the distance. We soon seemed to have the moon under our feet as we climbed the pillars of the heavens. We had much conversation on the way. I found the angels most tender and lovely beings, so full of instruction and helpfulness; my soul loved them exceedingly. I felt as though I was already acquainted with the heavenly kingdom, for the angels had told me so much. As I would look out from the chariot window, the stars could be seen everywhere just as I had always seen them from the earth; I knew then we had not gone beyond the regions of the solar system, so I asked the angel, “Where is heaven?”
“Oh,” said he, “it is not far away. The earth is the first habitation of man, and while he is of the earth he is earthly in his nature. Heaven is the future and everlasting habitation of all those who have prepared themselves for it. You will soon find that my words are true that heaven is not far away. Your Father’s love and care have provided both these worlds for you. Your heavenly home is your real home. The earth was only your birthplace, the place of your beginning. But when God gave you eternal life He connected you with all heavenly realms, for He gave you His life which has always been. Look and see,” said he, for I was deeply thinking about these things for they meant so much to me now.
I looked around; we were just entering a region of bright clouds something like a glorious, glowing, earthly sunset, only far better. The time had been very brief indeed, but we were actually slowing down in the great suburbs of the eternal kingdom.
“Listen a moment,” I said to the angel. “What music do I hear? Is it real or am I imagining it?”
“It is the song of the redeemed in heaven you hear. All the heavenly kingdom is full of music without a discord.”
No sweeter music ever fell on my ears. I was perfectly enraptured with delight.
“Are we near the gates of the city?”
“Very near to the portals of paradise,” he said. At this the angels bowed their heads and covered their faces with their hands, while I fell flat on my face in the chariot. Stillness reigned in our souls, but deep emotions began to heave in my heart. I felt I must break the silence by shouting the praises of God. The angels now began to sing with a sweet voice, “Holy, holy, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are all your ways, you King of Saints.”
I sprang to my feet and for a moment seemed perfectly bewildered with what met my gaze in every direction. The light was so transparent and far exceeding the most perfect day earth ever afforded. Clusters of heavenly flowers were growing everywhere. Groves of beautiful trees loaded with fruit, along with magnificent flowering shrubs beautiful beyond description met my eye in all directions. Roadways like winding streets arranged with exquisite taste and beauty, were penetrating this pleasure ground of glory. Lovely souls were coming and going, passing and re-passing each other with the salutations and courtesies that heaven only knows.
The chariot was now slowing its speed and such raptures of glory which filled my soul, I cannot describe them! I was simply lost in wonder, while I kept saying, “Surely I am at home at last.” The chariot seemed trembling as a thing of life and finally stopped beside a beautiful grove of fruit laden trees. The doors were opened and the angels stepped out. I practically sprang with one leap to the solid foundations of the heavenly kingdom. For a moment I stood perfectly entranced as I saw so many happy souls clothed in white garments of lovely patterns, and all with such bright and happy faces beaming with perfect contentment and satisfaction.
I could contain my feelings no longer. I fell on my face again beside the angel, with loud thanksgiving to God, and was in the act of worshipping the angel for his great care of and kindness toward me, when he said, “Worship God only! I am also a fellow servant of His and this is my joyous service.” At that he motioned to someone nearby. He came and was introduced as one of the elders of heaven, who gave me such a cordial welcome that my soul loved him intensely at once.
The angel now said, “I leave you in his care, but may see you again shortly.”
I put out my hand toward him saying, “I am sorry to see you go; you have been such a friend to me. What can I do for your great kindness to me?”
“Oh, you can soon help others,” said the angel. So waving with his hand, and with a lovely smile, he said, “Good-bye,” and his chariot was gone.
The elder now said, “Well, my son, you are now at home. All that you see and infinitely more is the provision of your heavenly Father’s love and almighty power. This is the borderland, my son, of the heavenly domain. Your sacrifices on earth were little when compared to your great gains here.”
“Oh yes, and they were really nothing,” I said. There comes to my memory a sweet passage of scripture which I never fully comprehended until now: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment works out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)
“Sure enough,” said the elder. “You have only begun to comprehend the glory; the weight of it you will yet feel.”
“The grandeur and beauty of everything excels my highest expectation. Everything seems so real. Do tell me if I am imagining this, am I in a dream, or is it really true that I am in heaven?”
“Oh,” the elder replied, “it is a common thing for souls when they reach the heavenly world to seem bewildered when first ushered into the presence of angels and the spirits of just men made perfect, and the glory of this kingdom. It does, indeed, exceed the most optimistic expectation. No, my son, you are not in a vision, you are really here. Your body indeed is left behind you, and you will find that you have many things to learn before you reach the Throne in the holy city. But be content, for I see you have thoroughly washed your robes and made them white before you left your earthly habitation.
“Be perfectly free,” said the elder, “in asking any questions you may like, for the knowledge of this world is acquired by investigation and inquiry as was our earthly knowledge. Every desire you have will be fully met. All your cravings, desires and longings after the knowledge of your everlasting habitation have been fully provided for here. Your heavenly Father’s will will be your will and all that you see, and infinitely more, are yours to enjoy forever. If you have made good use of your opportunities in your past life you have much treasure laid up in the city of which our Lord spoke while on earth and of which you will know more later on.
“I see,” said the elder, “that over there is another soul just brought from earth to paradise whom I must go and welcome.”
So saying, he went toward the chariot and there stepped out a lovely looking man, indeed, clothed in a robe of the purest white. The elder motioned me to him. As I came near and heard this conversation I found he was from the opposite side of the earth from which I had come. He spoke a different language from my own and yet I understood him well. In a moment he lifted up his hands and clasping them together he said, “Oh, bless God forever,” at which we both fell on our faces with adoring praise to our Almighty Father. We continued a long time for our souls were overcome with the raptures of this place.
When we arose, another saint, apparently of ancient times, came to him, and said, “Let me assist you in the ways of the kingdom.” I heard him ask him his name.
He answered, “I am Bohemond of northern Russia. Only a few hours ago I kissed my wife and children good-bye and embarked on a vessel on the White Sea at Onega bound for the North Cape. I only remember that the vessel was sinking and we were many fathoms below the surface. Oh, do tell me, is this heaven or is it but the mariner’s dream of home, when he is far away?”
“My son,” said this venerable father, “you have safely landed, not at the North Cape nor on the bottom of the White Sea, but in your eternal home. Your body no doubt is in the depths of the briny deep, but the angel was with you as the vessel went down and has brought you safely here. Your body will be cared for in the resurrection day of rewards.”
The elder who was with me said, “How quickly we are gathering from all lands into our Father’s house. This is only one of the many stations located in these distant portions of paradise. To these stations all souls come for their introduction into this heavenly home.”
“How is that, will you explain to me?”
“Surely,” he replied, “you will more fully understand as we go forward. You could not have endured the glory of the Throne without being prepared for it. Even now you could not endure the light so abundant within the city.”
Just at this moment I saw a woman step from a chariot. She seemed to be so bewildered that she sank down as one of the attendants approached her. She threw up her hands and cried out in amazement, “Oh, my God! I am not worthy nor fit for this glory. Oh, can I ever be made right with God?” She closed her eyes almost unconscious with bewilderment and it seemed that she could not speak as her attendant kindly addressed her with most loving words. At last she opened her eyes and looked about in wonder and amazement exclaiming, “Oh, these white garments, these golden goblets, trees of life and blooming flowers! I am not worthy of them. Have I really a right to be here and to all these beautiful trees loaded with such lovely fruit? Oh, the mercy of God! I was such a great sinner.”
“Yes, indeed,” replied her guide, “but your sins have all been forgiven. The angels make no mistakes. You have a right to these trees, for they are His on whom you have believed; yea they are yours, for you are His.”
At this she arose to her feet and said, “But have I the wedding garment on? I was earnestly crying when the chariot came for me. I was in such deep distress and confusion of soul, knowing I had not been prepared for so great a change.”
“You have been saved, my child,” said her attendant. “So as by fire; you were not a faithful servant of God; you did not build with gold, silver and precious stones, but with wood, hay and stubble, which have been burnt. God cannot reward you largely now. These infinite blessings spread out before you in all directions may be obtained by and by, when you are prepared for them. Be faithful to your present opportunities, for much is before you to be done. Advancements which ought to have been made in the world will have to be made here before you can go on to the city gates, or see the shining glory of the jasper wall. Come with me and I will assist you in a further knowledge of Christ and His eternal salvation and kingdom.”
I now said to the elder by my side, “Will you explain to me her great mistake?”
“Surely,” he replied. “She represents a very large class in the world who have not made good use of earthly opportunities. She was never deeply interested in her salvation till near the time of her death. Do you not see how gaunt and skinny she looks, and how little clothing she has, only a gown! Her repentance has been genuine and her faith accepted the promises of eternal life in her Lord, and her forgiveness has been complete. She has added but little grace and almost no growth to her soul. She now feels her great loss, as all such souls do and must feel. She has no treasure laid up in heaven. Paradise itself seems too good for her, but God in His great mercy will bring her on. These trees are for her. Their leaves are full of healing virtue. No one who has not received the gift of eternal life and been born again will ever be carried by the angels to this glory. Many, alas, perish from the earth in sight of the Redeemer’s outstretched arms of love and mercy because they will not accept His gracious help; they love the pleasures of sin more than God or these everlasting joys and pleasures at His right hand here forevermore.”
“Oh, blessed Christ,” I said loudly, “filled with everlasting love and mercy for your people, that even in the last moments of life, like the dying thief, they may be snatched from the jaws of death! But, oh, her great loss, how sad!”
A group of happy souls now came toward us. The elder introduced us. We were soon acquainted and conversed with each other with great freedom, although we had never met before. We seemed perfectly acquainted in a few moments and the visit was very pleasant indeed. One man practically shouted the praises of God with loud hallelujahs, saying, “Oh, my God, I bless you. I am in heaven at last!” a 
[1. Superscript letters indicate an editorial digression removed to the End Notes section to improve readability.]
* * * * *
It seemed most wonderful to me upon finding that I could converse with perfect ease and freedom with anyone I met, although we had been accustomed to different languages and tongues while on earth, and often had to speak through interpreters, but now I found, since I had laid aside the material for the spiritual, I could easily understand the thoughts of anyone. As quickly as he could think I could read his thoughts. Matters of detailed explanation were not needed or required as I had been accustomed to while in the flesh, for if a subject was plain to any one with whom I was conversing, it seemed that at once it was just as clear to my own mind. So I was quite surprised to find how quickly I could take in a knowledge of the spiritual realm, and yet a second surprise constantly met me: that of the great depth of divine truth.
For instance, many things I had learned from the Holy Scriptures, while in my flesh, were now opened with a depth of meaning I had never seen before. I could compare it to nothing better than to great layer after layer and strata upon strata of precious mineral rock, so that the deeper down and the further on one went, the more precious became the ore and the finer the metal. I said to the elder by my side, “How is this?”
He quickly and smilingly replied, “God never gives the best He has to give; you will find later on, that truth is unfathomable.” I now felt myself like a little fish just launching out from the mouth of a great river into a great and boundless ocean without a shore to be seen or depth that could be sounded.
My feelings were joyful beyond any power to describe to a mortal man of flesh and blood. It seemed that my entire spirit was in a perfect rapture of delight. I asked the elder, who seemed to take delight in remaining with me, how I was to account for this rapturous joy which was increasing so constantly in my soul, until I felt I would break out into shouting and hallelujahs. He said, “The Spirit of God is the atmosphere of heaven; His joy becomes ours on a larger scale than we ever knew while in our flesh. The great joy that you feel now is only a little foretaste of what you will feel when you are ushered into the city and about the Throne.”
Upon this I quickly remembered the Scripture where the prophet said: “In your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11, Acts 2:28)
A feeling of praise was continually rising up in my soul causing me to want to speak it out. I wanted to praise God, for ever giving me an existence, and still more for my salvation from sin, for changing my heart and bringing me into this glory. Nothing of an earthly character could have induced me to have gone back to the world. I seemed to laugh at the thoughts of the fear of death, which fear belongs only to the unrepentant and the unsaved.
The elder, who seemed perfectly conscious of my desire, said to me, “You don’t need to fear to give utterance to your feelings, for everyone praises God here. Those praise Him loudest and most who have learned how to praise Him best while on earth.”
The elder, whom I found to be Joshua of olden time, and who had been taking such an interest in my introduction into the heavenly state, now said, “Let us go to that cluster of trees and sit down a moment.” I noticed as we approached them that they were growing beside a great river whose waters were clear as crystal and sparkling with a light of which I had but a faint idea while I was in the flesh. The trees were beautiful beyond anything I had ever seen. Their form was so symmetrical and lovely, with no dead or withered branches. The leaves had such an aroma that the fragrance spread over everything and to all parts of the kingdom of God as I was told. Everyone was brought under its influence. I had felt the power of this fragrance long before I knew the source.
The elder now said to me, “Look across to the other side of the river;” where I saw clusters and groves of these trees lining the bank as far as the eye could reach. There I saw multitudes of redeemed souls clothed in the purest white and all of them seemed filled with the same spirit of praise which I had felt so constantly since entering the portals of the kingdom.
The elder again said to me, “Let us gather some of the fruit of these trees and then we will join that company over there.”
I replied, “I would be quite glad to do so, for I have eaten nothing since leaving the body,” and yet I felt no great sense of need. My hunger seemed more like what I had often realized while in the flesh when I felt a deep desire to hear a good gospel sermon.
My guide now said, “What kind of fruit would you prefer? You can have your choice of things here just as you used to in the earth. If you feel faint or weary from your long abstinence from food, this kind (pointing to a certain pear-shaped and beautifully colored fruit) is what you need, for the tree has twelve kinds, as you see, upon it.”
I said with feelings of deepest praise, “Oh, how wonderfully God has provided for us! Twelve kinds of fruit on each tree, ripening their fruit every month, and the leaves never withering! Wonderful!”
“Here,” said he, “pluck from the boughs on this side of the tree and eat.” I did so, and much refreshing and enlightening grace as they imparted to me, it is beyond the comprehension of mortal man to know; it must be eaten to be understood. The taste of the fruit was delicious indeed. The earth never furnished anything like unto it for taste, not the orange, peach, nor melon. Nor would the fragrance of the rose compare with it. “When anyone eats of these trees,” said the elder, “he can never die again, grow older nor feel weary; death has no more dominion over him. One of these trees grew in the Garden of Eden. After our first parents had sinned against God, they thought to eat of the fruit of it also, but God said, No, for had they eaten of it they would always have lived in that sinful, dying state. So a flaming angel was sent to guard it, and so man never eats of it until he has passed the boundaries of his earthly life.”
“Now,” said Joshua, “let us cross over.” To my great astonishment I found we could walk upon the surface of the water, which seemed like a sea of glass, it was so transparent, and yet it was gliding and rolling along as beautifully as any stream I had ever seen on earth. I quickly remembered the Word of God by His prophet: “But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.” (Isaiah 33:21)
As we walked along, I asked him, “How is it that we do not sink in the water?”
He said, “You seem to have forgotten that you have left your body behind you, and that you are now ready to be clothed upon with a far more excellent body than you have ever known. Your spirit cannot sink in these waters. You will soon find that you can go from place to place at will either in the air or upon the solid foundations of the celestial country, but let us go quickly,” he said, for I was inclined to linger at every fresh object I came in contact with, “for I must introduce you to that great company you see over there.”
As we went on, I glanced up and down the river and saw many other spirits, still later arrivals than I, passing on toward the gathering legions of the blood-washed. Among them was my friend, Bohemond of Russia, whom I met as he stepped from the chariot only a short time before.
My soul was filled with such an inexpressible sense of praise to God for the unspeakable gift of eternal life and for such a rational sense that it was I, myself, who once had lived in a world of sorrow and death, the memory of which, with a conscious freedom from it, now filled my soul indeed with ecstasies of eternal joy. b
* * * * *
By this time we had climbed the eastern bank and were approaching near to a multitude of happy spirits. Many of them turned toward me. The elder now said, “You will feel yourself entirely at home with them.” And after a brief word of introduction, he said, with a pleasant smile, “Good-bye, I will see you again,” and he was gone. Among the very first I met was the spirit of a dear man, an old friend of mine in Norway, and one whom I had known from his childhood. I had said farewell to him at a foreign port nearly four years ago and had not heard a word from him since, till I saw him among this multitude. We were soon face to face. He looked bewildered and in wonder.
I said, “Truly, is this you, Mr. Hansen, the friend of my youth?”
“Oh, indeed, and is this the face of Seneca Sodi?” And with that we embraced each other in our arms as redeemed souls only can.
“I was not looking for you now,” I said to him, “you looked so well and strong when I saw you last.”
“Oh, yes, indeed, but I am here, and nothing could induce me to go back.” He asked me, “How long since you came?” I was just proceeding to answer him when another stepped near to us whom I had known so well for many years. She was a noble Christian woman and a faithful servant of Christ in His vineyard on earth, who had turned many to the Lord. I had not heard of her departure from the earth, but here she was with such a halo of light about her head that at once I thought of the words of the Lord: “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3)
I saw also among the great company the spirit of an infant which had so recently passed away. The one taking care of it said its mother had wept and grieved much and many had tried to comfort her on the day of its death, but that her sorrow was too great to receive much consolation. ‘Oh!’ I thought. ‘If she could only see it now in this glory and with such care she would quickly brush away her tears and rejoice in the way God has provided for all His children.’ I at once began to think of many of my friends and dear relatives who had gone on many years before. Where are they now? I wondered. So I asked one of the earlier arrivals if he knew the system or order here, in reference to those who had left the world years ago. “Oh,” said he, “they have gone on to the city itself, of which you see the light over there in the distance,” pointing toward the source of the river.
“Shall we not go there soon ourselves?” I asked.
“Yes,” said he, “as soon as our company is made up, which is now nearly full.”
I looked across the river from whence I had just come, and saw quite a number gathering about the trees and could hear them most clearly shouting, “Bless the Lord, oh my soul!” I saw others gathering from various points all of whom seemed to have escorts or ministering spirits to guide them in their first introduction into the heavenly country.
I thought again of that precious word of God: “Carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom.” Abraham’s joy is certainly come now, I whispered to myself. Then I modestly and reluctantly asked, “Is Abraham anywhere about here?” and referred to that Scripture just quoted.
“Oh!” they said, “he was just here just a little while before you came, but was suddenly called into the city on some important errand, for everyone here is engaged in a joyous service for our Lord. No doubt he will be here again soon as he or someone of the elders or ancients always guides these gathering multitudes to the gates of the city.”
I seemed now to be conscious that we were somewhere near one of the great entrances or gateways into the heavenly world, where all the souls from certain sections of the earth are brought and welcomed. From the very moment of my departure from the body there was a constant and mighty drawing of my soul upward toward the Throne of God. It seemed scarcely possible for me to remain upon the earth even to take one last look at terrestrial things, for I knew I had passed beyond the limits of time into a boundless eternity; I wondered deeply why I felt that strange feeling and tendency to leap upward, and so I felt a freedom to ask one near me if he could give me an explanation. “Oh!” said he. “We all felt just the same. It is the law of spiritual gravitation which draws all beings, which have been purified and made holy, to this great kingdom where God is. No doubt you have often felt something of it while yet in the flesh. Sometimes you inwardly sighed and wished to be freed from your mortal flesh. The pull of this force was such that during sickness or severe trouble you have often said, ‘Oh! That I had the wings of a dove, then would I fly away and be at rest.’ (Psalm 55:6) It was that which made St. Paul say as you will no doubt remember: ‘It were better for me to depart and be with Christ.’” (Philippians 1:23)
“Ah, yes,” I replied, “I see that now, but it is not the case, I am sure, with all souls when they leave the body without any regard to their moral or spiritual state.”
“Oh, no,” said my friend, “there are two great centers in the spiritual universe of God. They might be compared to the two poles of a magnet with which no doubt you were acquainted while in your probationary state, the positive and the negative. All souls are drawn toward one of these two places, according to their respective condition. God’s Throne is the great center of his everlasting kingdom of light; toward it, all gracious spirits, who are blood-washed, are drawn from the time they accept Christ and were born of Him, with more or less conscious power according as they yielded themselves to his holy will, and were transformed into his blessed image.”
“I understand fully what you mean,” I replied. “I knew something of it while in my earthly life and have often spoken of it to those around me, but will you tell me, in a word, more about those who chose a sinful life in the world?”
“Just the opposite,” he replied. “They are drawn with a mighty force downward toward the pit of eternal death, where death shall always reign.”
Just at this moment I saw one coming toward me whom I recognized as my old grandfather, who had been gone from the earth for more than thirty years. He was a very faithful servant of God during his lifetime on earth. He was old and gray when he left us, but here he was in the beauty and vigor of manhood. “Oh, Seneca!” he said. “You are home at last.”
“Indeed,” I said, as I embraced him in my arms, embracing each other with a love-kiss earth never knew. His words of welcome were so heavenly. We both shouted out, “Bless the Lord, oh, my soul!” He asked many questions about relatives and friends, the condition of the church where he used to worship, how long since I left the earth, etc., but I soon found that his questions were more like the queries of one of the elders of heaven when he asked the beloved disciple in Patmos: “What are these that are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they?” (Revelation 7:13) The elder knew better than John himself. I soon discovered his superior knowledge even of terrestrial things which had transpired long since his day on the earth. I remembered then—oh how strongly!—that in the blessed Book it says that the angel which talked with John while in Patmos said: “I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book.” (Revelation 22:9) I said to him, “How is it you know so much about the things of the world since you left it?”
“Oh!” said he. “We have great liberty here in the vast domain of this great kingdom of Almighty God. Many have come since I entered the portals of heaven whom you know well. We have had many long and precious visits. They have told me much.”
“I trust that in due time we can have such a visit,” I replied, “for I am so glad to have met you.”
“Indeed we will,” said grandfather, “but here comes Abraham and I want you to meet him.”
“Sure, I shall be made happy beyond my power to tell you for I have read and heard of him all my life. Oh, my soul! So many wonderful favors are shown me.”