While residing in a British colony, as a Wesleyan minister, I was called one evening to visit Miss D., who was said to be dying. Mrs. Young, with whom she was met weekly for religious instruction, feeling a deep interest in her spiritual welfare, accompanied me to her residence. We found her in the chamber of a neat little cottage, exceedingly ill, but confiding in the merits of Jesus; and after spending some time with her in conversation and prayer, we commended her to God and took our departure without the least hope of seeing her again in this life.
Soon after we left she seemed to die; but as the usual signs of death which so rapidly develop themselves in that country did not appear, her friends concluded that she was in a trance (Acts 22:17; 2 Cor 12:2-4) and anxiously waited to see the end. She remained in this state for several days, during which period we repeatedly visited her; and the only indications we could perceive that life was not extinct were a slight foaming at the mouth and a little warmth about the region of the heart. She was watched with great interest both night and day; and after having been in this state for nearly a week, she opened her eyes and said, Mr. C. is dead.
Her attendants, thinking that she was under the influence of delirium, replied that she was mistaken, as he was not only alive, but well. Oh, no, said she, he is dead; for a short time ago, as I passed the gates of hell, I saw him descend into the pit, and the blue flames cover him. Mr. B. is also dead; for he arrived in heaven just as I was leaving that happy place and I saw its beautiful gates thrown wide open to receive him, and heard the host of heaven shout, "Welcome, weary pilgrim!" (Luke 16:19-26).
Mr. C. was a neighbor, but a very wicked person; and Mr. B., who lived at no great distance, was a good old man and for many years had been a consistent and useful member of the church of God. The parties who heard Miss D.'s startling and confident statement immediately sent to make inquiries about the two individuals alluded to, and found, to their utter astonishment, that the former had dropped dead about half an hour before, while in the act of tying his shoe, and that about the same time the latter had suddenly passed into the eternal world. For the truth of these facts I do solemnly vouch. She went on to tell where she had been and what she had seen and heard.
After being sufficiently recovered to leave the house, she paid us a visit; and Mrs. Young, as well as myself, heard from her own lips the following account of what she had passed through. She informed us that at the time she was supposed to die, a celestial being conducted her into the invisible world, and mysteriously unveiled to her the realities of eternity. He took her first to heaven; but she was told that as she yet belonged to time she could not be permitted to enter into that glorious place, but only to behold it, which she represented as infinitely exceeding in beauty and splendor the most elevated conception of mortals, and who glories no language could describe (1 Cor 2:9; Is 64:4; Ps 31:19).
She beheld the Savior upon a throne of light and glory, surrounded by the four and twenty elders and a great multitude which no man could number, amongst whom she recognized patriarchs, and prophets, and apostles, and martyrs, and missionaries who had died in that colony, besides many others whom she mentioned; and although those parties were not named by the angel that attended her, yet she said that seeing them was to know them. She described those celestial spirits as being variously employed, and although she felt herself inadequate to convey any definite idea of the nature of that employment, yet it appeared to be adapted to their respective mental tastes and spiritual attainments. She also informed us that she had heard sweet and most enrapturing music, such as she had never heard before; and made several attempts to give us some idea of its melodious character, but found her notes too earthly for that purpose. While thus favored, the missionaries already referred to, and other happy spirits, as they glided past her sweetly smiled, and said they knew where she came from, and if faithful to the grace of God, she would in a short time be admitted into their delightful society. All the orders of heaven were in perfect and blessed harmony, and appeared to be directed in all their movements by a mysterious influence, proceeding from the throne of God.
She was next conducted to a place which she described in the most terrific language, and declared that the horrid shrieks of lost spirits still seemed to sound in her ears. As she approached the burning pit, a tremendous effort was made to draw her into it; but she felt herself under the protection of her guardian angel. She recognized many in the place of torment whom she had known on Earth, and even some who had been thought to be Christians. There were princes and peasants, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, together in a dreadful and unquenchable fire, where all earthly distinctions and titles were forever at an end. Among them she beheld a Miss W., who had occupied a prominent station in society, but had died during the trance of this young woman. She said that when Miss W. saw her approach, her shrieks were appalling beyond the power of language to describe, and that she made a desperate, but unsuccessful effort to escape.
The punishment of lost souls she represented as symbolizing the respective sins which had occasioned their condemnation. Miss W., for instance, was condemned for her love of money (1 Tim 6:9, 10; Jer 17:10-11), which I had every reason to believe was her besetting sin; and she seemed robed in a garment of gold, all on fire. She said there was no sympathy amongst these unhappy spirits, but that unmixed hatred, in all its frightful forms, prevailed in every part of the fiery regions.
She beheld parents and children, husbands and wives, and those who had been companions in sin, exhibiting every mark of deep hatred to each others society, and heard them in fiendish accents upbraiding and bitterly cursing one another. She saw nothing in hell but misery and despair; and heard nothing there but the most discordant sounds, accompanied with weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 13:41-42; Mark 9:43, 48; Rev 14:9, 11; Rev 20:10, 15; Rev. 21:8).
Miss D. was conducted to another position, when she had a view of heaven, and hell, and Earth; and she described the Earth as appearing like a vast stage crowded with human beings, and full of confusion and blood. From this stage persons were continually falling off; and others were rapidly approaching its edge, and would very soon disappear; amongst whom was Mrs. L., an intimate friend of ours, who died a fortnight afterwards. Other persons, whom she named, were represented as near the edge of the stage, and although quite well when she made this communication, did in every case shortly afterwards leave this probationary state.
She was next taken to a place where she was permitted to see the moral state of the world. A lady, holding a prominent position in the church, was represented as sitting under a tree of most luxuriant and beautiful foliage, with a long tube in her mouth, by which she was drawing people to her; and the conducting angel informed Miss D. that the tube indicated the power of this woman's persuasive language, the foliage of the tree her religious profession, and its trunk the state of her heart. On looking at the trunk she beheld that its core was rotten and full of venomous reptiles. Miss D. told this afterwards to the lady in question; and from her unChristian temper on the occasion, and her subsequent conduct, she fully proved the correctness of the representation. (Matt 23:27).
Another lady, a professor of religion, highly respected for her apparent piety, was represented to her as having yielded to temptation, and withdrawn her heart from God; and when her backsliding was announced in the world of spirits, Miss D. looked toward the Savior, and thought she perceived the appearance of blood trickling from His wounds, as if crucified afresh. (Heb 6:6). When Miss D. was at our house, she sent for this person, and in the presence of Mrs. Young and myself, told her the above; and according to her penitential acknowledgment, but to our utter astonishment, it was a correct view of her state.
Miss D. had likewise the moral condition and perilous circumstances of a young man brought to her view. He was in possession of religion, was represented as assailed by a very plausible temptation, and would make shipwreck of faith if he did not resist it. She made this disclosure to him also in our presence; and after some evasion on the subject, he appeared greatly agitated, and declared that such was his temptation, although he had not mentioned it to anyone. For some time he resisted, but finally fell into the snare; and his sad experience proved the correctness of Miss D.'s communication.
A lady was represented to her as attired in the purest white and surrounded by a number of little children, whom she was striving to wash in pure water, that they too, might be white and clean; and the angel told her that the lady's robe was indicative of her purity of heart and her holiness of life, and that her employment symbolized the nature and effects of her exertions in the church of God. I was well acquainted with this lady, and could bear witness to the correctness of this picture; for she was in my opinion one of the holiest of women, and was exceedingly useful to children and young people; indeed, the honored instrument of bringing many of them to God (Dan 12:3).
According to the testimony of Miss D., she knew without being informed the various beings she met within the world of spirits. It appears to be a region of knowledge intuitively obtained, without any laborious effort or inquiry. This view of the subject is calculated to strike terror into the hearts of those who, by their neglect or influence, destroy souls, as it supposes they will know their victims when they shall meet them in the world lying beyond the tomb; but it is a view well adapted to excite pleasurable emotions in the breast of Those who turn many to righteousness, as it encourages the hope of their recognizing their spiritual children.
The opinion seems correct that the inhabitants of eternity know what is taking place in this world. The temptations presented by wicked spirits (1 Pet 5:8), the guardianship of angelic beings (Ps 34:7 and 91:11), the cloud of witnesses represented by the apostle as looking from their place of rest upon Christians running the race set before them (Heb 12:1; Heb 11:1-40), and the joy felt in the presence of angels of God over one sinner that repents (Luke 15:10), certainly very strongly countenance the opinion. This also agrees with Miss D.'s statement; for she told us most distinctly that the state and circumstances of the population of our globe were fully known to the inhabitants of the other world. How startling is the thought! If Earth is without a covering to eternity, oh, that mortals were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end! (See Deut 32:29).
Miss D. lived about three years after that trance, and then died happy in the Lord.
This experience resembles some of the old NDE reports like that of
are filled with a heavy Christian interpretation, bias, symbolism,
background, and/or embellishment. There appears to be an experience here
but it appears that things were added to it along with Bible references
for the purpose of "saving souls." Such NDE accounts have to be
evaluated based on the background of the experiencers and any potential
biases. There appears to be more here to this NDE than originally
is a friend of ours; and he that is not ready to entertain him is not at home."