Near-Death Experience Attributed To John Bunyan
Bunyan did not write the book "Visions
of Heaven and Hell" that is attributed to him. This
work was written by
George Larkin and published in 1711 with the title "The
Visions of John Bunyan, Being His Last Remains Giving an
Account of the Glories of Heaven, and the Terrors of Hell,
and of the World to Come." It was later published as
"The Visions of John Bunyan" and in the 19th century included
in some collected works of Bunyan. However, it has long
been known to have been written by Larkin more than 20 years
after Bunyan died. George Larkin wrote
Visions of Heaven and Hell by plagiarizing Bunyan's
1658 work entitled "A
Few Sighs From Hell, or the Groans of a Damned Soul."
Visions of Heaven and Hell
is listed as a "spurious work" by the
John Bunyan Museum in Bedford, meaning that the
book is considered a fake. This is why Wikipedia does not
list the "Visions" book as one of Bunyan's works. The author
claimed to have spoken to
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), the author of "Leviathan."
But Hobbes died in 1679, while Bunyan died in 1688, meaning
Bunyan had little more than eight years - between 1679 and
1688 - during which to see the exact vision, and plagiarize
almost exactly, what he already wrote 21 years earlier,
Few Sighs From Hell, or the Groans of a Damned Soul"
- in effect plagiarizing himself. In context, the author
Visions of Heaven and Hell was not a Christian
at the time when the angel appears to him and the author
was a borderline atheist at the time just prior to the vision;
John Bunyan's biography. Also, the author identifies
himself as "Epenetus",
not John Bunyan.
Visions of Heaven and
George Larkin, plagiarized from Bunyan's fictional work
Few Signs From Hell.")
1: Planning Suicide
evil persons have gone in a life of sin, and find that they
have reason to fear the just judgment of God, they begin
at first to wish there were no God to punish them. Then
little by little they persuade themselves that there is
no God, and look for arguments to back their opinion. I
had the unhappiness to know someone like this, who would
always be telling me there was neither God nor devil, and
no heaven or hell.
with fear and trembling that I first heard him speak about
these topics, but he spoke of them so often that I felt
I must consider what he said. From this time I found my
mind so confused that I could not remember the truths about
God which had appeared so clear to me before. I could not
think there was no God but with the greatest horror, yet
I questioned the truth of His being. I would not have parted
with my hope of heaven for all the riches of the world,
yet now I was not sure whether there was any such place.
confusion I went to my false friend to see what comfort
he could give me. He only laughed at my fears and pretended
to pity my weakness. His talks only made me more confused,
until life became a burden to me. It is impossible to tell
you the agonies I felt, until I was pushed to the edge of
desperation. I thought, "Why should I linger between despair
and hope? Would it not be better to end my life and find
out what is the truth?" So I decided to kill myself.
morning I went out into a nearby woods, where I had planned
to kill myself. But before I tried to use the knife I heard
a secret whisper say, "Do not fall into everlasting misery
to gratify the enemy of your soul. The fatal stroke you
are about to give yourself will seal your own damnation.
For if there is a God, as surely as there is, how can you
hope for mercy from Him if you willfully destroy yourself
who were made in His image?"
Where this secret whisper came
from, I do not know, but I believe it came from God; for
it came with so much power it made me throw away my knife,
and it showed me the great evil of suicide. The horror of
what I had almost done made me shake so much that I could
hardly stand. I recognized my deliverance to have come from
the Lord, and in gratitude I returned thanks.
I knelt down on the ground and
worshipped Him, asking that He would take away the blackness
in my soul so that I would never again question His being
or great power which I had just experienced.
I was surrounded with a glorious light, brighter than anything
I had ever seen before. I saw coming toward me a glorious
person like a man, but circled with beams of light and glory
which shined from him as he came nearer. I tried to stand
up, but had no strength left in me, so I fell flat on my
face. As he lifted me up and I was given new strength, I
said to him, "O my shining deliverer, how shall I acknowledge
my thankfulness, and in what manner should I adore you?"
majesty and mildness he replied, "Pay your adorations to
God, and not to me who am your fellow-creature. I am sent
from Him Whose being you have so lately denied, to stop
you from falling into eternal ruin."
This touched my heart with such
a sense of my own unworthiness that I could only cry out,
"Oh, how utterly unworthy I am of all this grace and mercy!"
To this the heavenly messenger replied, "When God decided
to show mercy He did not consult your unworthiness, but
His own unbounded goodness and vast love. He saw how the
grand enemy of souls desired your ruin, but He upheld you
by His secret power. Through this, when Satan thought that
you were destroyed, the snare was broken and you have escaped."
These words made me break forth into song, and I praised
my Savior and declared that He is God alone.
2: Beyond the Sun and Stars
heavenly messenger then said, "That you may never doubt
the reality of eternal things, I have come to show you the
truth of them: not by faith only but also by sight. I will
show you things never yet seen by mortal eye, and to that
end your eyes shall be strengthened and made able to behold
words of the angel I was very surprised, and doubted I would
be able to bear it. I said to him, "Who is able to bear
such a sight?"
To this he replied, "The joy
of the Lord shall be your strength." When he had said this,
he took hold of me and said, "Fear not, for I am sent to
show the things you have not seen." Then before I was aware
I found myself far above the earth, which seemed now to
be very small.
Then I said to my bright conductor,
"Please let it not offend you if I ask a question or two."
To this he replied, "Speak on. It is my work to inform you
of what you ask. For I am a ministering spirit, sent forth
to minister to you and to those that will inherit salvation."
I said, "Please inform me about that dark spot below, which
has grown smaller and smaller as we have mounted higher,
and which appears much darker since I have come into this
region of light."
replied, "That little spot that now looks so dark and despised
is the world which you have lived on. To obtain one small
part of that spot of earth so many men have risked and lost
their immortal souls; which are so precious that the Prince
of Peace has told us that though a man could gain the whole
world, it would not equal so great a loss. As you have ascended
higher towards heaven, the world has appeared still smaller
and more insignificant; and it will appear the same to all
who can by faith get their hearts above it. If the sons
of men below could but see the world as it is, they would
not covet it as they do now, but alas, they are in a state
of darkness. And what is worse, they love to walk in this
darkness. For although the prince of Light came down among
them and showed them the true light of life, yet they go
on in darkness and will not bring themselves to the light,
because their deeds are evil."
I asked him, "What are those multitudes of black and horrible
forms that hover in the air above the world? I would have
been much afraid of them, but I saw that as you passed by,
they fled; perhaps not being able to abide your brightness."
he answered me, "They are the fallen angels which for their
pride and rebellion were cast down from heaven. They wander
in the air by decree of the Almighty, being bound in chains
of darkness and kept unto the judgment of the great day.
They are permitted to descend into the world, both for the
trial of the elect, and for the condemnation of the wicked.
And although you see that they now have black and horrible
forms, yet they were once the sons of Light. They once were
clothed in robes of glorious brightness, like what you see
me wear. But the loss of this, although it was the result
of their own willful sin, fills them with anger and hatred
against the ever blessed God Whose power and majesty they
fear and hate.
me," I said, "O blessed conductor, have they no hopes of
being reconciled to God again, after some term of time,
or at least some of them?"
not at all. They are lost forever. They were the first that
sinned, and had no tempter; and they were all at once cast
down from heaven. Besides, the Son of God, the blessed Messiah
by Whom alone salvation can be gained, did not take upon
Himself the angelic nature. He left the apostate angels
all to perish, and took upon Himself only the seed of Abraham.
For this reason they have so much hatred against the sons
of men, because it is a torment for them to see men made
the heirs of heaven while they are doomed to hell."
time we were above the sun. My conductor told me this mighty
globe of fire was one of the great works of God. Yet all
the stars were not less wonderful; whose great distance
away makes them appear like candles in our sight. They hang
in their appointed places without any support. Nothing but
His word that first created them could keep them in their
words are enough," I said to my conductor, "To convince
anyone of the great power of their Creator, and to show
the evil of that unbelief which questions the being of the
God who has given so many evidences of His power and glory.
If men were not like beasts still looking downwards, they
could not help but acknowledge His great power and wisdom."
speak what is true," he replied. "But you will see far greater
things than these. These are but the scaffolds and outworks
to that glorious place that the blessed above inhabit. A
view of it shall now be given to you, as far as you are
able to comprehend it."
few moments I found what my conductor had told me was true.
For I found myself transferred into heaven, where I saw
things that are impossible to describe, and heard beautiful
songs that I could never sing. Whoever has not seen that
glory can speak but very imperfectly of it, and they that
have seen it cannot tell the thousandth part of what it
is. Therefore the great apostle of the Gentiles, who tells
us that he had been caught up into paradise where he had
heard unspeakable words which are not possible for a man
to utter, wrote that "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor
has it entered into the heart of man to conceive the things
that God has prepared for those that love him." I will give
you the best account I can of what I saw and heard, as near
as I can remember.
3: Elijah Explains
I was first brought near this glorious place I saw innumerable
hosts of bright attendants, who welcomed me into this blessed
place of happiness. And there I saw that perfect and unapproachable
light, that changes all things into its own nature, for
even the souls of the glorified saints are transparent.
They are not illumined by the sun; but all that light, that
flows with such transparent brightness throughout these
heavenly mansions, is nothing else but the shining forth
of the Divine glory.
to this glory, the light of the sun is but darkness, and
the fire of the most sparkling jewels are but dead coals.
Therefore it is called The Throne of the Glory of God, where
the radiance of the divine Majesty is revealed in the most
illustrious manner. God was too bright for me to look upon
as He was exalted on the high throne of His glory, while
multitudes of angels and saints sang forth eternal hallelujahs
and praises to Him. Well may He be called the God of Glory,
for by His presence He makes heaven what it is. Rivers of
pleasure continually spring forth from the divine Presence,
and radiate cheerfulness, joy, and splendor to all the blessed
inhabitants of heaven, the seat of His eternal empire.
my own part, I was too weak to bear the least ray of glory
that shot from that everlasting Spring of Light which sat
upon the throne. I was forced to cry out to my conductor,
"The sight of so much glory is too great for me to bear,
yet it is so refreshing and delightful that I would desire
to look, though I die."
no," said my conductor, "death cannot enter this blessed
place, nor sin nor sorrow can abide. It is the glory of
this happy place to be forever freed from all that is evil;
and without that freedom, our blessedness even here would
be imperfect. Come along with me and I will bring you to
one who is in the body, as you are. Talk with him for a
while before I take you back again."
I eagerly said, "let me stay here. There is no need of building
tabernacles, for the heavenly mansions are already prepared."
My shining messenger replied to this, "Here in a while you
shall forever be, but the divine will must first be obeyed."
as thought he conveyed me past thousands of angels, and
presented me to that great saint, the prophet Elijah. Though
he had lived in the world many hundreds of years ago, I
knew him at first sight.
is one," said my conductor to Elijah, "who by the commission
of the Imperial Throne has been permitted to visit these
realms of light, and I have brought him to you, to learn
said the prophet, "I shall gladly do. For it is our meat
and drink in these blessed regions to do the will of God
and the Lamb, to sing His praises, and serve Him with the
humblest adoration, saying, 'Blessing, and honor, and glory,
and power, be unto Him that sits upon the throne; and to
the Lamb for ever and ever: for He has redeemed us to God
by His blood out of every kindred and tongue, and people
and nation, and has made us unto our God kings and priests:
even so, Amen.'" And I likewise added my "Amen" to that
of the holy prophet.
prophet then asked me why this great permission and privilege
was given to me. (By which I understand the saints in heaven
are ignorant of what is done on earth; so how can prayers
be directed to them?) I then told him the events I have
already written here, at which the holy prophet broke forth
in praise, "Glory for ever be given to Him that sits on
the throne, and to the Lamb, for His unbounded goodness
and great condescension to the weakness of a poor and doubting
sinner." After this he said, "Now give attention to what
I shall speak. What you have already seen and heard I am
sure you cannot make fully understood to those not yet translated
to this glorious place, who have not yet been freed from
their earthly bodies. Nor is my being here in the body any
objection to what I say; for although it has not been subject
to death, yet it has been equally changed. It has been made
spiritual, and is no longer able to suffer. Yet in this
full state of happiness I cannot utter all that I enjoy,
nor do I know what shall yet be enjoyed, for here our happiness
is always new."
asked the blessed prophet to explain himself. I did not
understand how happiness could be complete, and yet still
be added to. The following was his reply:
the soul and body are both happy, as mine now are, I count
it a complete state of happiness. For throughout all the
coming ages of eternity, it is the soul and body joined
together in the blessed resurrection state that shall receive
this happiness. But concerning the object of our happiness,
which is the ever- adorable and blessed God, our vision
of Him is forever new. For as the divine perfections are
infinite, nothing less than eternity can be sufficient to
display their glory. This makes our happiness eternally
added to, as well as our knowledge of Him to be eternally
the apostle Paul said, 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
nor can it enter into the heart of man to conceive what
God has prepared for those who love him.' Yet the human
eye has seen many admirable things in nature. It has seen
mountains of crystal, and rocks of diamonds, it has seen
mines of gold, and coasts of pearls. Nevertheless, the eye
that has seen so many wonders in the world below could never
pry into the glories of this triumphant place. And though
the ear of man has heard many delightful and harmonious
sounds, even all that man and nature could supply him with,
yet he has never heard the heavenly melody which both saints
and angels make before the throne. The heart of man is so
fine and imaginative that it can conceive almost anything
that is, or was, or ever shall be in the world below, and
even what shall never be. Man can conceive that every stone
on earth shall be turned into pearls, and every blade of
grass into the brightest of shining jewels. He can conceive
that the whole earth be turned into a mass of pure gold,
and the air turned into crystal. He can conceive every star
to become as bright as the sun, and the sun to be a thousand
times larger and brighter. But all this is infinitely short
of what the eternal Majesty has prepared for all His faithful
4: The Happiness of Heaven
prophet continued, "I will briefly tell you about our happiness
here, for ages spent on this delightful theme would only
begin to explain it. That you may have the best understanding,
I will first explain about what the redeemed souls have
been delivered from, and secondly about the happiness that
they enjoy here.
the souls of all the blessed are forever freed from everything
that can make them miserable, which above all is sin. It
was sin that brought misery into creation. The blessed God
at first made all things happy, like Himself. Had not sin
defaced the beauty of His workmanship, angels and men would
have never known what is meant by misery. It was sin that
threw the apostate angels down into hell, and spoiled the
beauty of the lower world. It was sin that defaced God's
image in man's soul, and made the ones who were to be the
lords of creation into slaves of their own lust. It is sin
which can also plunge them into an ocean of eternal misery
from which is no redemption. It is an invaluable mercy that
in this happy place all the saints are forever freed from
sin through the blood of our Redeemer. In the earth below,
the best and holiest of souls groan under the burden of
corruption. Sin tries to cling to all that they do, and
often leads them captive against their will. "Who shall
deliver me?" has been the cry of many of God's faithful
servants, who at the same time have been dear to Jesus.
Sin is the heavy weight upon the saints while they live
in their corrupted flesh. Therefore when they lay their
bodies down, their souls are like a bird loosed from its
cage, and with a heavenly joy they rise up to heaven. But
here their warfare is at an end, and 'death is swallowed
up in victory.' Below their souls were deformed and stained
by sin, but here their bright souls by the ever-blessed
Jesus are presented to the Father 'without spot or wrinkle.'
only are the saints here free from sin, but also from any
temptation to sin. When Adam was in paradise, though he
was innocent and free from sin, yet he was not free from
temptation. Satan got into paradise and Adam fatally yielded
to his temptations. Like a disease, sin has eaten into the
human nature and corrupted all mankind.
each soul is freed from this. Nothing but what is pure and
holy can find admission here. That roaring lion who roams
back and forth throughout the earth seeking whom he may
devour, in respect to the saints in heaven, is bound fast
in everlasting chains. The temptations of the world shall
never again allure those who through faith and patience
have overcome it and safely arrived here. In heaven we look
with contempt on all earthly enjoyments. There is nothing
here that can disturb our peace, but an eternal calm crowns
all our happiness.
we are freed from all sin and its effects, we are also rescued
from punishment. After death, hell confines the sinner to
eternal misery. Yet the blessed are delivered from all these
these things are but the least part of the happiness of
heaven. Our joys are positive, more than just the negative
that we have been redeemed from. What these are I shall
try to show you.
we enjoy the sight of God, the blessed spring and eternal
source of all our happiness. But what this is, I can no
more fully explain than can finite creatures comprehend
infinity. Yet the sight of God continually fills our souls
with joy unspeakable and full of glory, and with a love
so flaming that nothing but the blessed author of it can
satisfy, nor eternity itself can end. It is that which makes
us live, love, sing, and praise forever while it also transforms
us into His blessed likeness. Beholding God's face, we enjoy
His love. His blessed smiles make glad our souls, and in
His favor we rejoice continually, 'for in His favor is life.'
And by this blessed vision of God, we come to know Him far
above how any had known Him in the world below. For the
sight of Him opens our understandings, and 'gives us the
light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of
Jesus Christ.' Here we all enjoy Him face to face. Below
the saints enjoy God in a measure, but here we enjoy Him
without measure. There they have some sips of His goodness,
but here we drink largely and swim in the boundless ocean
of happiness. Below the saints have their communion with
God broken off many times, but here it is uninterrupted.
Below love is mixed with fear, and fear has torment; but
here love is perfect, and perfect love casts out fear. In
heaven we love God more than ourselves, and one another
like ourselves. Here we enjoy the perfection of all grace.
heaven our understanding and knowledge is enlarged according
to the greatness of what we can observe and think. In the
world below light could only shine into our minds through
the windows of our senses, so God had to condescend to our
limited capacities when revealing His Majesty. Our purest
ideas of God were very imperfect, but here the gold is separated
from the dross and we can conceive the simplicity and purity
of God. We understand about His decrees and counsels, His
providence and dispensations. We clearly see here that from
eternity God was sole existing, but not solitary, that the
Godhead is neither confused in unity, nor divided in number.
We see that there is a priority of order but no superiority
among the persons of the Trinity, but that they equally
have the same excellency and power, and equally are adored.
Those ways of God that in the world below seemed unsearchable
and beyond our comprehension, we understand so clearly here
by His divine wisdom that the truth could not be made more
are some of the things that make our souls happy. However,
the happiness of the saints in heaven will not be complete
until their bodies are resurrected and united with their
souls. I will therefore show you what the resurrection body
shall be like:
the resurrection bodies of the blessed will be spiritual
bodies, like mine. You may better understand this not only
by seeing but by touch. (After saying this, the holy prophet
was pleased to give me his hand.) They will be bodies that
are purified from all corruption, yet will have substance.
They will not be like wind or air, as people on earth sometimes
I said to him that I always understood spiritual as the
opposite of material, so I thought that a spiritual body
must be immaterial, and not capable of being touched or
felt as I found his hand was.
the prophet replied that their bodies were spiritual, not
only because they were purified from all corruption, but
as they were sustained by the enjoyment of God without needing
food, drink, or sleep. Beholding the Lord is what supports
both their souls and their bodies, and is what they live
upon forever. "Have you not read," said the prophet, "that
the blessed Jesus, after His resurrection, appeared in His
body to His disciples when they were met together in a chamber
and the doors shut about them? And yet He called to Thomas
to come and reach forth his hand and thrust it into His
side, which shows it had substance.
bodies in the resurrection shall be immortal, and incapable
of dying. Below their bodies are all mortal, perishing,
and subject to crumbling into dust at any time. But here
our bodies will be incorruptible and freed from death forever,
for our corruption here shall put on incorruption, and our
mortality will be swallowed up of life."
I desired the prophet to bear with me a little, while I
gave him an account of my own ideas about these matter.
for I am ready to remove your doubt," he said.
learned," I said, "in the holy Scriptures that immortality
belongs to God only, and not to men. Daily experience tells
us that bodies of men are mortal, and die. Therefore Paul
told Timothy that God only has immortality."
I say that the bodies of the blessed here are immortal,
I am speaking about the bodies in their resurrected state,
that then they are subject to death no more. Man in his
corruptible state is mortal and subject to death. And there
is nothing more evident to all that dwell in the world below.
Even the bodies of all those glorified souls that are here
in heaven are at this time still kept under the power of
death. At the resurrection day, when they shall be raised
up again, they shall then be immortal. And as to what you
say from the Scripture, that the blessed God has only immortality,
it is very true. He is most essentially so in His own being
and nature; there is no angel or man that can, in that strict
sense, be said to be so. We are immortal through His grace
and favor; but God is immortal in His essence and has been
so from all eternity. In that sense He may well be said
only to have immortality. Whatever the blessed God is, He
is essentially so in His own being. It can likewise be said
that He only is holy, and there is none good but God, none
righteous, nor none merciful but He."
5: We Shall Know Each Other
"As I was brought here, I saw among the saints some that
appeared to shine with greater brightness than the others.
Are there among the blessed different degrees of glory?"
happiness and glory which all the blessed here enjoy is
the result of their communion with and love to the ever
blessed God. The more we see Him, the more we love Him;
and love changes our souls into His nature, and from this
results our glory. This makes a difference in the degrees
of glory. Nor is there any murmuring in one to see another’s
glory much greater than his own. The ever blessed God is
an unbounded ocean of light and life, and joy and happiness,
still filling every vessel that is put therein, till it
can hold no more. And though the vessels are of several
sizes, while each is filled there is none that can complain.
My answer therefore to your question is that those who have
the most enlarged capacity do love God most, and are thereby
changed most into His likeness. This is the highest glory
heaven can give. Nor let this seem strange to you, for even
among God’s flaming angels there are diversities of order
and different degrees of glory.
I was talking with the prophet a shining form drew near.
It was one of the redeemed. He told me he had left his body
below resting in hope until the resurrection; and that though
he was still a substance yet it was an immaterial one, not
to be touched by mortal.
"We here behold a sight worth dying for- the blessed Lamb
of God, the glorious Savior. Here we see Him in His kingly
office, on account of which He is called King of kings and
Lord of lords. But all the glorious greatness of our blessed
Redeemer does not make His kindness seem distant, but only
more precious. It makes heaven more than heaven to me to
find Him reigning here, Who suffered so much for me in the
world below. And our Redeemer’s great happiness increases
our own, as He invites each faithful servant to enter into
his Master’s joy.
we see not only our elder Brother, Christ, but also our
friends and relatives. Although Elijah lived in the world
below long before your time, you no sooner saw him than
you knew him. And so you will also know Adam when you see
him. Here we communicate the purest pleasure to each other,
a sincere ardent love uniting our society. And oh, how happy
is that state of love! Where there is love like this, all
are filled with delight. How can it be otherwise, since
in this blessed society there is a continual receiving and
returning of love and joy.
besides all the happiness that comes to us by our communion
with God and with each other, it is to me a mighty happiness
to understand all the deep mysteries of religion which the
wisest in the world below could not fully understand. Here
we discern a perfect harmony between those scripture texts
that in the world below seemed to oppose each other. And
here we are especially filled with wonder and gratitude
at discovering the divine goodness towards each one of us
in particular. In respect to my former life on earth, I
have seen the mercifulness of those very afflictions that
I once (when upon earth) thought to show His anger. I am
now fully convinced that no affliction that I met with in
the world below (and I met with many) either came sooner
or fell heavier or continued longer than was needful. My
hopes were not disappointed, but God used all things to
prepare me for a better eternal reward than what I had hoped
I remember that you are still in the body, and may be tired
with hearing what I could forever tell, so great is the
happiness that I possess. I shall only add one other thing
about our happiness: though a vast multitude of blessed
souls partakes of this joy and glory, this does not make
less of what each receives. For this ocean of happiness
is so bottomless that the innumerable company of all the
saints and angels never can exhaust it. Nor is this strange,
for in the world below everyone equally enjoys the benefit
of light. There is no one that can complain that they enjoy
it less, because another enjoys it also. All enjoy the benefit
of light as fully as if no one else enjoyed it but themselves.
If a multitude of persons drink of the same river none of
them is able to exhaust it, even though each of them has
the liberty of drinking as much as he can. So whoever enjoys
God enjoys Him as much as he can contain, according to his
I have given you a brief account of our heavenly Canaan.
It is not the thousandth part of that which might be said,
yet it is enough to let you see it is a land flowing with
milk and honey." In this happy place worldly relations cease.
Nor is there male and female here, but all are like the
angels. For souls cannot be distinguished into sexes, and
therefore all relations are here swallowed up in God."
no sooner spoken than he took me by the hand. Then, far
swifter than an arrow from a bow, we passed by several shining
forms clothed in robes of immortality, who looked at me
as I passed them. He said, to me, "Farewell, my friend,
your guardian angel will shortly come and bring you back
to the world below."
near the shining form of a redeemed one that stood before
me, who appeared extremely glorious, encircled with rays
of dazzling luster. I hardly could behold her for the exceeding
brightness of her face.
said to me, "For what I am, to Him that is on the throne
be all the praise and glory. The robe of glory which you
see me wear is only the reflection of His own bright beams!"
appear to be one who feels the mighty joys that you speak
replied, "You should not think this strange. The mighty
wonders of divine love and grace will be the subject of
our song forever. Here all human relations cease and are
swallowed up in God Who is alone the great Father of all
this heavenly family. As for the members of the family that
I left behind in the world below, I have committed them
to God. I shall be glad to see them all heirs of this blessed
inheritance. But if they should join with the grand enemy
of souls and refuse the grace offered them, and thereby
perish in their unbelief, God will be glorified in His justice,
and in His glory I shall still rejoice."
I desired to know whether the saints in heaven understood
and were concerned for what was happening in the world below.
To this she replied, "As to the
affairs of particular persons, we are not concerned with
them and are ignorant of them. Only God is present in all
places and sees all things. But the struggles and the victories
of the church below is told to us by the angels, who are
ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those that
shall be heirs of salvation. From what they report we are
excited to renew our praises to Him that sits upon the throne."
6: Conducted to Hell
the bright messenger who had brought me to heaven returned.
"I have," said the angel, "a commission to return you to
the earth from where I took you, after first visiting the
regions of the prince of darkness. There you will see the
reward of sin, and what Justice has prepared as the judgment
of those who would exalt themselves above the throne of
the Most High. "
heaven for earth was extremely disappointing. But to leave
heaven for hell turned my very heart within me! However,
when I knew that it was God's good pleasure, I was a little
comforted. So I said to my bright conductor, "That which
God has ordered I shall always be willing to obey. Even
in hell I will not be afraid if I may have His presence
with me there."
my shining guardian replied, "Wherever the blessed God grants
His presence, there is heaven, and while we are in hell
He will be with us."
bowing low before the Almighty’s throne, swifter than thought
my guardian angel carried me on a speedy journey down through
the heavens. When I saw the stars I told my conductor that
I had heard on earth that each one of these stars had their
own worlds. "But I would ask you to tell me the truth of
my shining guardian answered, "To Him Who is Almighty there
is nothing impossible. But from knowing that it is in His
power to do this, to argue that it is His will, is no good
logic in the school of heaven. We know what He pleases to
reveal to us, and what He has not revealed are secrets locked
up in His own eternal counsel. For anyone to inquire into
these secrets would be but bold and presumptuous curiosity.
There is no doubt that He can make as many worlds as He
wants, but He has not yet revealed it to us, and it is not
our duty to inquire."
time we had come down to the lowest regions of the air.
There I saw multitudes of horrible forms and dismal dark
appearances which fled from the shining presence of my bright
"These surely are some of the vanguard of hell, so black
and so frightening are their forms."
replied, "Now we are upon the borders of hell, and these
are some of the apostate spirits that wander around like
Soon we were surrounded with
a darkness much more black than night, and with a stink
far more suffocating than that of burning sulfur. My ears
were likewise filled with the horrible yelling of the damned
spirits, which in comparison with, would make the most discordant
notes on earth sound like beautiful music.
said my guardian angel, "you are on the edge of hell, but
do not fear the power of the destroyer. My commission from
the Imperial Throne secures you from all danger. Here you
may hear from devils and damned souls the cursed causes
of their endless ruin. What you ask them about, they will
answer. The devils cannot hurt you, though they would want
to, for they are bound by Him that has commissioned me."
came within hell’s territories, placed in the caverns of
the infernal deep in the center of the earth. There, in
a sulfurous lake of liquid fire, sat Lucifer upon a burning
throne. His horrid eyes sparkled with hellish fury, as full
of rage as his strong anger could make him. I saw that the
demons that had fled from us as we approached from heaven
had given notice of our coming. This had put all hell in
an uproar, and made Lucifer release horrid blasphemies against
the blessed God with an air of arrogance and pride.
would the Thunderer have?" said he. "He has my heaven already,
whose radiant scepter this bold hand should bear. Instead
of those never fading fields of light, He confines me here
in this dark house of death, sorrow, and woe! What, would
He take hell away from me too, that He insults me here?
Ah! Could I but obtain another day to try it, I would make
heaven shake and His bright throne to totter. Nor would
I fear the utmost of His power, though He had fiercer flames
than these to throw me in.
Although I lost the battle that
day, the fault was not mine! No winged spirit in heaven
strove better for the victory than I did. But, ah!" he continued
with a changed voice, "that day is lost, and I am forever
doomed to these dark territories! But it is still at least
some comfort to me that mankind’s sorrow waits upon me.
And since I cannot fight against the Thunderer, I will make
the utmost of my anger to fall on them."
amazed to hear his ungodly speech, and felt compelled to
say to my conductor, "How justly are his blasphemies rewarded!"
you have heard from this apostate spirit is both his sin
and punishment; for every blasphemy he belches against heaven,
makes hell the hotter to him."
passed on to see more sorrowful scenes. I saw two wretched
souls being tormented by a demon. He was continually plunging
them in liquid fire and burning brimstone, while at the
same time they accused and cursed each other. One of them
said to his tormented fellow sufferer, "O cursed be your
face, that ever I set eyes upon you! My misery is due to
you; I may thank you for this, for it was your persuasions
that brought me here. You enticed me, it was you who ensnared
me into this. It was your covetousness, cheating, and oppression
of the poor that brought me here. If you had been as good
an example as you had been a bad one, I might now be in
heaven. O what a fool I was! When I followed your steps
you ruined me forever. O that I never had seen your face,
or that you had never been born!"
other wretch replied, "And may I not as well blame you?
Don't you remember how at such a time and place you enticed
me to go along with you? I was minding my own business when
you called me away, so you are as guilty as I. Though I
was covetous, you were proud. Though you learned how to
cheat from me, yet you taught me to lust, to lie, to get
drunk and to scoff at goodness. So although I stumbled you
in some things, you stumbled me as much in others. Therefore
if you blame me, I can blame you as much. I wish you never
had come here, the very sight of you wounds my soul, by
bringing sin afresh into my mind. It was with you, with
you that I sinned. O grief to my soul! Since I could not
avoid your companionship on earth, O that I could be without
this sad conversation I learned that those who are companions
in sin upon earth shall also be punished together in hell.
I believe that this was the true reason why the rich man
seemed so charitable to his brethren (Luke 16:27-28). The
reason he did not want them to join him in hell was because
they would have increased his torments.
7: The Tortures of Hell
were yet more tragic scenes of sorrow that we saw as we
left these two cursed wretches accusing each other. One
woman had flaming sulfur continually forced down her throat
by a tormenting spirit. He did this with such horrible cruelty
and insolence that I said to him, "Why should you so delight
in tormenting that cursed wretch, and be pouring that flaming,
infernal liquid down her throat?"
is a more than just reward," replied the demon. "This woman
in her life time was such a greedy wretch that though she
had plenty of gold, she could never be satisfied. Therefore
I now pour it down her throat. She cared not who she ruined
as long as she could get their gold. And when she had gathered
together a greater treasure than she could ever spend, her
love of money would not let her spend enough of it to supply
herself with her basic living needs. She often went with
an empty stomach, though her money bags were full. She kept
no house because she would not be taxed, and would not keep
her treasure in her hands for fear she should be robbed.
She would not put her money in bonds and mortgages for fear
of being cheated; although she always cheated everyone that
she could. She was so great a cheat that she cheated her
own body of its food, and her own soul of mercy. Since gold
was her god on earth, is it not a just reward that she should
have her belly full of it in hell?"
her tormentor had done speaking, I asked her whether this
was all true. To this she answered me, "No; to my grief
it is not."
is this not true," I said, "and why are you grieved that
it is not true?"
if what my tormentor told you is true," she said, "I would
be satisfied. He tells you that he pours gold down my throat;
but he is a lying devil and speaks falsely. If it was gold
I would never complain. But he mocks me, and instead of
gold he only gives me this horrid, stinking sulfur. If I
had my gold I would be happy still, for I value it so much
that if I had it, I would not part with it even if an entrance
to heaven could be bought."
my angelic conductor that I was amazed to hear a wretch
in hell itself so greedy for riches while forever being
he said, "may convince you that it is sin which is the greatest
of all evils. Whenever the love of sin controls a soul,
it is the greatest of all punishments for them to be abandoned
to that evil love. The love of gold which this cursed soul
is consumed by, is a more fatal punishment than what the
demons can inflict upon her here."
said I, "if only wicked men on earth could for one moment
hear the horrid shrieks of those damned souls, they could
not be in love with sin again."
Truth has told us otherwise, for those who will not fear
His ministers, nor have regard to what His Word contains,
will not be warned though one should come from hell."
not gone much farther before we saw a wretched soul lying
on a bed of burning steel, almost choked with brimstone.
He cried out with such dreadful anguish and desperation,
that I asked my conductor to wait. I heard him speak as
miserable wretch! Undone forever, forever! Oh, this killing
word, 'forever!' Will not a million years be long enough
to bear that pain, which if I could avoid it, I would not
endure for even one moment for the sake of being offered
one million worlds? No, no my misery never will have an
end; after millions of years it will still be for ever.
Oh, what a helpless and hopeless condition I am in! It is
this 'forever' that is the hell of hell! O cursed wretch!
Cursed to all eternity! How willfully have I undone myself!
Oh, what stupendous folly am I guilty of, to choose sin’s
short and momentary pleasure at the dear price of everlasting
pain! How often I was told it would be so! How often I was
encouraged to leave those paths of sin that brought me to
the chambers of eternal death! But I, like a dumb animal,
would not listen to those pleadings. Now it is too late
to change it, for my eternal state is fixed for ever. Why
was I made a person, that I would choose this fate? Why
was I made with an immortal soul, and yet should take so
little care of it? Oh how my own neglect stings me to death,
and yet I know I cannot die! I live a dying life, worse
than ten thousand deaths; and yet I once could have changed
all this, but did not! Oh, that is the gnawing worm that
never dies! I might once have been happy, salvation was
offered to me and I refused it. Had salvation been offered
to me only once, it would have been an unforgivable folly
to refuse it. But salvation was offered me a thousand times,
and yet (wretch that I was) I still as often refused it.
O cursed sin, that with deluding pleasures leads mankind
to eternal ruin! God often called, but I as often refused;
He stretched His hand out, but I would not mind it. How
often have I ignored His counsel! How often have I refused
His reproof! But now the scene is changed, the case is altered.
Now He laughs at my calamity, and mocks at the destruction
which is come upon me. He would have helped me once, but
I would not accept His help. Therefore those eternal miseries
I am condemned to undergo are but the just reward of my
not hear this sorrowful lamentation without thinking about
the wonderful grace that God had shown to me, eternal praises
to His holy name! For my heart told me that I had deserved
eternal judgment as much as that sad wretch, but that God's
grace alone had made us different. O how unsearchable are
His counsels! Who can fathom His divine decree?
these thoughts I spoke to the sorrowful complainer, and
told him I had heard his woeful complaints. I saw that his
misery was great, and his loss irreparable, and told him
I would willingly hear more about it if this might possibly
help lessen his sufferings."
not at all; my pains cannot be relieved even for one small
moment. But by your question I understand that you are a
stranger here; and may you ever be a stranger! Ah, had I
but the least hope still remaining, how I would kneel and
cry and pray for ever to be redeemed from this hell! But
it is all in vain, I am lost forever. But so that you will
be warned about ending up here, I will tell you what the
8: A Lost Soul Speaks
miseries in this infernal dungeon are of two kinds: what
we have lost, and what we suffer. I will first speak about
what we have lost.
In this sad dark place of misery and sorrow, we have lost
the presence of the ever blessed God. This is what makes
this dungeon hell. Though we had lost a thousand worlds,
it would not be as important as this one greatest loss.
Could we but see the least glimpse of His favor here, we
might be happy; but have lost it to our everlasting woe.
Here we have also lost the company of saints and angels,
and instead have nothing but tormenting devils.
Here we have lost heaven, too, the center of blessedness.
There is a deep gulf between us and heaven, so that we are
shut out from it forever. Those everlasting gates that let
the redeemed into heaven are now for ever shut against us.
To make our wretchedness far worse, we have lost the hope
of ever obtaining a better condition. This makes us truly
hopeless. Well may our hearts now break, since we are both
without hope and help. This is what we have lost; and if
we think of these things, it is enough to tear and gnaw
upon our miserable souls forever. Yet, oh, that this were
all that our torments were!
we are also tormented by suffering and pain, as I will try
to explain to you now.
First, we undergo a variety of torments. We are tormented
here a thousand, no, ten thousand different ways. Those
that suffer upon the earth seldom have more than one affliction
at a time. But if they had ulcers, gallstones, headaches,
and fever all at the same time, would they not think they
were very miserable? Yet all those together are but like
the biting of a flea compared to those intolerable, sharp
pains that we endure. Here we have all the sufferings of
hell. Here is an unquenchable fire which burns us; a lake
of burning brimstone that ever chokes us; and eternal chains
that bind us. Here there is utter darkness to frighten us,
and a worm of conscience that gnaws upon us everlastingly.
Any one of these is worse to bear than all the torments
that mankind ever felt on earth!
But our torments here are not only various, but are also
complete. They afflict every part of the body, and torment
all the powers of the soul. This makes what we suffer the
worst of tortures. In those sicknesses which men have on
earth, though some members of their bodies will suffer,
yet other parts will have no pain. Here it is different;
every member of the soul and body suffers at the same time.
eyes are tormented here with the sight of devils who appear
in all the horrible shapes and black appearances that sin
can give them. Our ears are continually tormented with the
loud continual yelling of the damned. Our nostrils are smothered
with sulfurous flames; our tongues with burning blisters;
and the whole body is rolled in flames of liquid fire. All
the powers and faculties of our souls are also tormented
here. The imagination suffers with the thoughts of our present
pain and the memory of the heaven we have lost. Our minds
are tormented as we remember how foolishly we spent our
precious time on earth. Our understanding is tormented with
the thoughts of our past pleasures, present pains, and future
sorrows, which are to last forever. And our consciences
are tormented with a continual gnawing worm.
Another thing that makes our misery so awful is the sharpness
of our torments. The fire that burns us is so violent that
all the water in the sea can never quench it. The pains
we suffer here are so extreme that it is impossible for
anyone to know them except the damned.
Another part of our misery is the ceaselessness of our torments.
As various, as complete, and as extremely violent as they
are, they are also continual. We have no rest from them.
If there were any relaxation, it might be some relief. But
there is no easing of our torments, and what we suffer now
we must suffer forever.
The society or company we have here is another part of our
misery. Tormenting devils and tormented souls are all our
company. Dreadful shrieks, howlings, and fearful cursing
are our continual conversation because of the fierceness
of our pain.
The place we are in also increases our sufferings. It is
the completion of all misery, a prison, a dungeon, a bottomless
pit, a lake of brimstone, a furnace of fire that burns to
eternity, the blackness of darkness for ever; and lastly,
hell itself. Such a wretched place as this can only increase
The cruelty of our tormentors is another thing that adds
to our sufferings. Our tormentors are devils in whom there
is no pity. While they are tormented themselves, they still
take pleasure in tormenting us.
All those sufferings that I have recounted are very grievous.
But that which makes them the most grievous is that they
shall always be forever. All of our intolerable sufferings
shall last to all eternity! ‘Depart from me, ye cursed,
into everlasting fire,’ is what continually sounds in my
ears. Oh, that I could reverse that fatal sentence! Oh,
if there was but a bare possibility of salvation! This is
the miserable situation we are in, and shall be in forever."
9: Further Conversations
wretched soul had scarcely finished what he was saying when
he was tormented again by a hellish demon, who told him
to stop complaining. The demon said, "don't you know you
have deserved it all? How often were you told of this before,
but would not believe it? You laughed at those who warned
you about hell. You were even so presumptuous as to dare
Almighty justice to destroy you! How often you called on
God to damn you. Do you complain that you are answered according
to your wishes? What an unreasonable thing! You know that
you had salvation offered you, and you refused it. How can
you now complain of being damned? I have more reason to
complain, for you had a long time in which repentance was
offered you; but I was cast into hell as soon as I had sinned.
If I had been offered salvation, I would never have rejected
it as you did. Who do you think should pity you now, with
all that heaven had offered to you?"
made the wretch cry out, "Oh, do not continue to torment
me; I know that I chose destruction. Oh, that I could forget
it! These thoughts are my greatest torture. I chose to be
damned, and therefore justly am so."
turning to the demon that tortured him he said, "But I also
came here through your temptations, you cursed devil. You
were the one that had tempted me to do all of my sins; and
now you would reproach me? You say you never had a Savior
offered to you; but you should also remember that you never
had a tempter such as you have always been to me."
the devil scornfully replied, "It was my business to lead
you here! You had often been warned of this by your preacher.
You were plainly told that we sought your ruin, and go about
continually like roaring lions, seeking whom we could devour.
I was often afraid you that would believe them, as several
other souls did, to our great disappointment. But you were
willing to do what we wanted; and since you have done our
work it is but reasonable that we should pay you wages."
Then the fiend tormented him again and caused him to roar
out so horribly that I could no longer stay to hear him,
so I passed on.
dismal," I then said to my conductor, "is the condition
of these damned souls! They are the devils slaves while
upon earth, and he reproaches and then torments them for
it when they come to hell."
devils hate all the race of Adam," said my conductor. "And
because many souls are ignorant of their devices, they easily
succeed to bring them to eternal ruin. You will see more
how the demons treat the damned here."
a little further we saw a multitude of damned souls together,
gnashing their teeth with extreme rage and pain, while the
tormenting fiends with hellish fury poured liquid fire and
brimstone continually upon them. In the meantime, they were
cursing God and those about them, and were blaspheming in
a tremendous manner. I could not help but ask of one demon
that so tormented them, who were these souls that he tormented
he, "These wretches well deserve their punishment. They
tried to teach others the right road to heaven, while they
were so in love with hell that they came here. These are
those souls that have been our great helpers upon the earth,
and therefore they deserve our special attention in hell.
We use our full diligence to give every one their utmost
share of torments, for they not only have their own sins
to answer for, but also all the sins of those whom they
led astray both by their doctrine and example."
they have been such great helpers for you, I would think
that in gratitude you would treat them a little more kindly."
the impudent friend answered me in a scoffing manner, "They
that expect gratitude among devils will find themselves
mistaken. Gratitude is a virtue, but we hate all virtue.
Besides, we hate all mankind, and were it in our power not
one of them should be happy. It is true we do not tell them
so upon earth, because there it is our business to flatter
and deceive them. But when we have them here where they
cannot escape, we soon convince them of their foolishness
in serving us."
this I could only think about what infinite grace it is
that any poor sinners are brought to heaven, considering
how many traps are laid by the enemy to ensnare them by
the way. Therefore it is a ministry well worthy of the blessed
Son of God to save His people from their sins, and to deliver
them from the wrath to come. But it is also folly and madness
in men to refuse the offers of His grace, and to choose
to side with the destroyer.
farther on, I heard a wretch complaining in a heartbreaking
strain against those men that had betrayed him and brought
"I was told," said he, ‘by those
that I depended on, and that I thought could inform me correctly,
that if I said ‘Lord, have mercy on me,’ when I came to
die, it would be enough to save me. But oh, now I find myself
mistaken, to my eternal sorrow! Alas, I called for mercy
on my deathbed, but found it was too late. Before that time,
this cursed devil here told me that I was safe. Then on
my deathbed, he told me it was too late. Hell must forever
be my portion."
see, I did tell you the truth at last," said the devil,
"and then you would not believe me. A very fitting end,
don't you think? You spend your days enjoying sin, and wallow
in your filthiness, and you want to go to heaven when you
die! Would anyone but a madman think that would be just?
No; he that sincerely wants to go to heaven when he dies,
must walk in the ways of holiness and virtue while he is
alive. You say some of your lewd companions told you that
saying, ‘Lord, have mercy on me’ when you came to die would
be enough. A very fine excuse! If you had read the Bible
you would have known that ‘Without holiness, no one shall
see the Lord." Therefore, if you were willing to live in
your sins as long as you could, you did not finally leave
them because you did not like them, but because you could
follow them no longer. And this you know to be true. How
could you be so stupid to think you could go to heaven with
the love of sin in your heart? No, no, no. You were warned
often enough that you should take heed of being deceived,
for God is not mocked, but what you sow you reap. You have
no reason to complain of anything but your own folly, which
you now see too late."
lecture of the devil was a very cutting one to the poor
tormented wretch," I said to my conductor, "and shows the
true situation of many now on earth as well as those in
hell. But oh, what a far different judgment do they make
in this sad place from what they did on earth."
"The reason for this," replied
my guardian angel, "is that they will not allow themselves
to think what the effect of sin will be while on earth.
Carelessness ruins many souls who do not think about what
they are doing, nor where they are going, until it is too
late to help it."
10: An Atheist in Hell
not gone much farther before I saw a vast number of tormenting
demons. They were continually lashing a large company of
wretched souls with knotted whips of ever burning steel.
The tormented were roaring out with such loud cries that
I thought it might have melted even cruelty itself into
some pity. This made me say to one of the tormentors, "Oh,
stop your whipping, and do not use such cruelty on those
who are your fellow creatures, and whom you probably helped
lead to all this misery."
answered the tormentor very smoothly. "Though we are bad
enough, no devil was as bad as them, nor were we guilty
of such crimes as they were. We all know there is a God,
although we hate Him; but these souls would never admit
(until they came here) that there was such a Being."
these," I said, "were atheists. They are wretched men, and
tried to ruin me had not eternal grace prevented it."
no sooner spoken, but one of the tormented wretches cried
out mournfully , "Surely I know that voice. It must be John."
amazed to hear my name mentioned; and therefore I answered,
"Yes, I am John; but who are you?"
he replied, "I once knew you well upon the earth, and had
almost persuaded you to be of my opinion. I am the author
of that celebrated book entitled ‘Leviathan.’"
The great Hobbs?" said I. "Are you come here?"
replied he, "I am that unhappy man indeed. But I am so far
from being great that I am one of the most wretched persons
in all these dirty territories. For now I know there is
a God. But oh! I wish there were not, for I am sure He will
have no mercy on me. Nor is there any reason that He should.
I do confess I was His foe on earth, and now He is mine
in hell. It was that proud confidence I had in my own wisdom
that has so betrayed me."
case is miserable, and yet you admit that you suffer justly.
For how industrious were you to persuade others and try
to bring them to the same damnation. No one can know this
better than I, as I was almost taken in your snare to perish
is that," said he, "that stings me to the heart, to think
how many will perish by my influence. I was afraid when
I first heard your voice that you had also been cast into
hell. Not that I wish any person happy, for it is my torment
to think that anyone is happy while I am so miserable. But
I did not want you to be cast into hell, because every soul
that is brought here through my deceptions, increases my
pains in hell."
tell me," I said, "for I want to know the truth. Did you
indeed believe there was no God when you lived upon earth?
first I believed there was a God," he answered, "but as
I turned to sins which would lead me to His judgment, I
hoped there was no God. For it is impossible to think there
is a just God, and not also remember that He will punish
those who disobey Him. But as I continued in my sins, and
found that justice did not swiftly come, I then began to
hope there was no God. From those hopes I began to frame
ideas in my own mind that could justify what I hoped. My
ideas framed a new system of the world’s origin which excluded
from it the existence of God. At last I found myself so
fond of these new theories that I decided to believe them
and convince others that they were true. But before this,
I did find several checks in my own conscience. I felt that
I could be wrong, but I ignored these warnings. Now I find
that those checking thoughts that might have helped me then,
are here the things that most of all torment me. I must
confess that the love of sin hardened my heart against my
Maker, and made me hate Him first, and then deny His being.
Sin, that I so proudly embraced, has been the cursed cause
of all this woe; it is the serpent that has stung my soul
to death. For now I find, in spite of my vain philosophy,
there is a God. I have also found that God will not be mocked,
although it was my daily practice in the world to mock at
heaven and all that is sacred, for this was the means that
I found very successful to spread abroad my cursed ideas.
For anyone that I could get to ridicule the truths of God,
I looked upon as becoming one of my disciples. But now these
thoughts are more tormenting to me than the sufferings I
endure from these whips of burning steel."
indeed," I said. "See what Almighty Power can inflict on
those that violate His righteous law." I was making some
further comments when the relentless fiend who had been
tormenting them then interrupted me.
you see what sort of men they were in the world. Do you
not think they deserve their punishment now?"
I answered, "Doubtless it is the just reward of sin which
they suffer, and which you will suffer also. For you, as
well as they, have sinned against the ever blessed God,
and for your sin you shall suffer the just vengeance of
eternal fire. Nor is it any excuse to say you never doubted
the being of a God; for though you knew there was God, yet
you rebelled against Him. Therefore you shall be justly
punished with everlasting destruction from the presence
of the Lord."
the fiend replied, "It is true we know we shall be punished,
as you say. But if you say that mankind should have pity
showed them, because they fell through the temptations of
the devil, it is the same case with me and all the rest
of the inferior spirits. For we were tempted by the Bright
Sun of the Morning to rebel with him. And therefore, though
this multiplies the crime of Lucifer, it should lessen that
of the inferior spirits."
my bright conductor replied with an angry countenance. "O
you apostate, wicked, lying spirit! Can you say those things
and see me here? You know it was your proud heart that made
you rebel with Lucifer against the blessed God who had created
you with glory! But since you proudly exalted yourself above
your blessed Creator, and joined with Lucifer, you are justly
cast down to hell. Your former beauty has changed to your
present horrible form as the just punishment of your rebellious
the apostate spirit replied, "Why do you invade our territories,
and come here to torment us before our time?" And when he
had said this, he slipped away as if he did not want to
have an answer. After he was gone I said to my guardian
angel that I had already heard about the fall of the apostate
angels, but wanted to know more about what happened. To
this my guide answered me, "When you have finished your
earthly life and return to heaven, you shall learn many
things that you are not yet ready to understand. In your
present state do not desire to learn more than what is written
in the Scriptures. It is enough to know the angels sinned,
and for their sin were cast down to hell. But how pure spirits
could have a thought arise in their hearts against the eternal
Purity that first created them is what you are not yet capable
observed," said I, "that those in hell complain most about
the torment from their own sense of guilt, which confirms
the justice of their punishment. This gloomy prison is the
best place to rightly understand sin; for were it not so
evil, it would not be rewarded with such extreme punishment."
you say is very natural; but there is yet a better place
to see the just reward due to sin. That place can be seen
when you behold the blessed Son of God upon the cross. There
we may see the terrible effects of sin. There we may see
all of its true evil. For all the sufferings of the damned
here are but the sufferings of created beings; but on the
cross you see a suffering God."
said I, "did justice and mercy triumph and kiss each other
in that fatal hour. For justice was fully satisfied at the
cross in the just punishment of sin; and mercy triumphed
and was pleased there because salvation for poor sinners
was completed. Oh, eternal praises to His holy name for
ever, that His grace has made me willing to accept this
salvation, and become an heir of glory! For I remember that
some of those lost wretches here have lamented that when
salvation had been offered to them, they had refused it.
It was therefore grace alone that helped me to accept it."
point my shining guardian told me that he must bring me
back to the earth again, and leave me there until it was
time for me to enter my heavenly reward. "Come," he said,
"let us leave this place of sorrow and horror to the possession
of their black inhabitants."
very little space of time I found myself on earth again.
I was left at the very place where the angel had met me,
when I had been thinking about committing suicide through
the temptations of the devil who had tried to persuade me
that there was no God. How I returned there, I do not know.
But as soon as I was back there, the bright angel who had
been my conductor said, "John, I must go now. I have another
ministry to complete. Praise Him that sits upon the throne
for ever, who has all power in heaven, earth, and hell.
Praise Him for all the wonders of His love and grace that
He has shown you in so short a time."
was going to reply, the shining angel disappeared and I
was left alone. I spent some time considering the amazing
things I had seen and heard, and then knelt down and prayed.
When I rose up I began blessing and praising God for all
I returned back to my house, my family was very surprised
to see how my countenance had so greatly changed. They looked
at me as if they scarcely knew me. I asked them what they
were staring at. They answered that it was the change in
my face that caused it. I said, "How am I so greatly changed?"
told me, "Yesterday you looked so depressed that you seemed
the very image of despair. But now, your face appears radiantly
beautiful, and seems full of perfect joy and satisfaction."
you had seen," I said, "what I have seen today, you would
not be surprised at the change in me." Then I went into
my room, took my pen and ink, and wrote down everything
that I had heard and seen. And I hope that those who read
this will be moved in their hearts just as I have been as
I wrote everything down.
"The only thing that
burns in hell is the part of you that won't let
go of your life: your memories, your attachments.
They burn them all away, but they're not punishing
you, they're freeing your soul." –
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