Visions of Heaven and
by John Bunyan
Chapter 1. Planning Suicide
When evil people 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.
It was 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.
In my 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.
One 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 worshiped 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.
Suddenly 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?"
With 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
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 alone is God.
Chapter 2. Beyond the Sun and
The 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 heavenly things."
At these 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
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
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 answer whatever you ask. For I am a ministering spirit, sent
forth to minister to you and to those who will inherit salvation."
Then 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."
My conductor 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 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."
Then 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."
To this 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
"Tell 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?"
"No, not at all. They are lost forever. They were the
first that sinned, and had no tempter; and they were 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."
By this 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
"These 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
"You 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 glorified above inhabit. A view of it shall
now be given to you—as far as you are able to comprehend it."
In a 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 those who 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 who love him." I will give you the best
account I can of what I saw and heard, as near as I can remember.
Chapter 3. Elijah Explains
When 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,
which 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
Compared 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
For my own part, I was too weak to bear the least ray of
glory which 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, 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."
"O rather," 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."
Swift 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
"Here 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 from you."
"That," said the prophet, "I shall gladly do. For it is
our food 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 who sits
upon the throne; and to the Lamb forever 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.
The prophet then asked me why this great permission and
privilege was given to me. (By which I understand, that 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 forever be given to Him who 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
transformed. 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."
I then 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:
"When the soul and body are both perfectly 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, which 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 progressive also.
"Therefore 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 excellent
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
Chapter 4. The Happiness of
The 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 which they enjoy here.
"Firstly, the souls of all the glorified are forever
freed from everything that can make them miserable, which above all, is sin.
It was sin which 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 which threw the apostate angels down into hell, and spoiled the
beauty of the lower world. It was sin which 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 clings 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.'
"Not 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.
"Here 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.
"Since we are freed from all sin and its effects, we are
also rescued from punishment. After death, hell confines the
unforgiven sinner to eternal misery. Yet the redeemed are delivered from all
"However, 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.
"Here 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 unspeakable joy, 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.
"In 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 holiness and purity of
God. We understand about His decrees and counsels, His providence and
dispensations. We clearly see here that from eternity God existed alone—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 simple.
"These are some of the things which 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:
"First, 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 which are purified from all
corruption—yet will have substance. They will not be like wind or air, as
people on earth sometimes foolishly imagine."
Then 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
To this 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.
"Our 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."
Here I desired the prophet to bear with me a little,
while I gave him an account of my own ideas about these matter.
"Speak, for I am ready to remove your doubt," he said.
"I have 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
alone has immortality."
"When I say that the bodies of the glorified 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 who
dwell in the world below. Even the bodies of all those glorified souls who
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—then they shall
then be immortal. And as to what you say from the Scripture, that the
blessed God alone has 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 to alone have immortality. Whatever the
blessed God is, He is essentially so in His own being. It can
likewise be said that He alone is holy, and there is none good but God, none
righteous but God, and none merciful but He."
Chapter 5. We Shall Know Each
I remarked, "As I was brought here, I saw among the
saints some who appeared to shine with greater brightness than the others.
Are there among the blessed different degrees of glory?"
"The happiness and glory which all the glorified 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—until it can hold no more. And though the vessels are of several
sizes, while each is filled there are none who can complain. My
answer therefore to your question, is that those who have the most enlarged
capacity do love God most—are thereby changed most into His likeness. This
is the highest glory which 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.
While 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.
He said, "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.
"Here 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.
"But besides, all the happiness which 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 which I once (when upon earth)
thought to show His anger. I am now fully convinced that no affliction that
I ever met with in the world below (and I have met with many) either came
sooner, or fell heavier, or continued longer—than what was needful for my
good. My hopes were not disappointed—but God used all things to prepare me
for a better eternal reward than what I had hoped for.
"But 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 can never exhaust it. Nor is this strange, for in the world below
everyone equally enjoys the benefit of sunlight. There is no one who
can complain that they enjoy it less, because another enjoys it also. All
enjoy the benefit of sunlight as fully—as if no one else enjoyed it but
themselves. If a multitude of people 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 capacity.
"Thus 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 are 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."
He had 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."
I drew near the shining form of a redeemed one who 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.
She said to me, "For what I am—to Him who 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!"
"You appear to be one who feels the mighty joys
that you speak of."
She 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 would 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!"
Then 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
people, 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 who shall be heirs of
salvation. From what they report we are excited to renew our praises to Him
who sits upon the throne."
Chapter 6. Conducted to HELL
Then 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 God."
To leave 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."
To this 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."
Then 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 this matter."
To this 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
By this 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 conductor.
I said, "These surely are some of the vanguard of hell—so
black and so frightening are their forms!"
My conductor 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 stench 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.
"Now," 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 who has commissioned me."
We then 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.
"What 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."
I was amazed to hear his ungodly speech, and felt
compelled to say to my conductor, "How justly are his blasphemies rewarded!"
"What 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!"
We then 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!"
The 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—but 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 godliness. So although I tempted you in some things, you
tempted 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 it here!"
From 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 (Luke16:27-28). The reason he did not want them to join him
in hell—was because they would have increased his torments!
Chapter 7. The Tortures of Hell
There 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 demon! 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?"
"This 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, 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?"
When 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."
"Why is this not true," I said, "and why are you grieved
that it is not true?"
"Because 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."
I told my angelic conductor that I was amazed to hear a
wretch in hell itself so greedy for riches, while forever being tormented.
"This," 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!"
"O!" 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."
"Eternal 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."
We had 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 follows:
"Ah, 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 forever!
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 that it would be so! How often I was encouraged
to leave those paths of sin—which 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
forever! 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 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 own doing!"
I could 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
After these thoughts I spoke to the sorrowful complainer,
and told him that 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."
"No, 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 forever 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 damned suffer."
Chapter 8. A Lost Soul Speaks
"Our 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.
1. In this sad dark place of misery and sorrow, we have
lost the wondrous 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
2. Here we have also lost the company of saints and
angels, and instead have nothing but tormenting devils!
3. 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.
4. 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!
But we are also tormented by
suffering and pain, as I will try to explain to you now.
1. First, we undergo a variety of torments. We are
tormented here a thousand, no, ten thousand different ways! Those who 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 be very miserable? Yet all those together are but like the biting of
a flea—compared to those intolerable, sharp pains which we endure. Here
we have all the sufferings of hell. Here is an unquenchable fire which burns
us; a lake of burning brimstone which ever chokes us; and eternal chains
which bind us. Here there is utter darkness to frighten us, and a worm of
conscience which gnaws upon us everlastingly. Any one of these is worse to
bear—than all the torments that mankind ever felt on earth!
2. But our torments here are not only various—but are
also universal. 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.
"Our 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 yellings 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
3. Another thing that makes our misery so awful—is the
sharpness of our torments. The fire which 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.
4. Another part of our misery is the ceaselessness
of our torments. As various, as universal, 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
5. The 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.
6. The place we are in also increases our
sufferings. It is the epitome of all misery—a prison, a dungeon, a
bottomless pit, a lake of brimstone, a furnace of fire which burns to
eternity, the blackness of darkness forever; and lastly, hell itself. Such a
wretched place as this, can only increase our wretchedness.
7. The cruelty of our tormentors is another thing
which adds to our sufferings. Our tormentors are devils in whom there is no
pity. While they are tormented themselves, they still take pleasure in
8. 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, you who are 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!"
Chapter 9. Further Conversations
This 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?"
This 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."
Then turning to the demon that tortured him he said, "But
I also came here through your temptations, you cursed devil! You were the
one who 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!"
To this 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.
"How 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."
"The 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."
Passing 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 so cruelly?
Said he, "These wretches well deserve their punishment.
They led others astray, and were so in love with sin, 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."
"Since they have been such great helpers for you, I would
think that in gratitude you would treat them a little more kindly."
To this the impudent fiend answered me in a scoffing
manner, "Those who 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 would 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."
From 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.
Going 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 whom I depended on, and
whom 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!"
"You 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 who sincerely wants to go to heaven
when he dies, must walk in the ways of holiness and virtue while he is
alive. You say that 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 have sowed—you have reaped. You have no reason to
complain of anything—but your own folly, which you now see too late."
"This 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
"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
Chapter 10. An Atheist in Hell
We had 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 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
"No!" 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."
"Then these," I said, "were atheists. They are wretched
men, and tried to ruin me had not eternal grace prevented it."
I had no sooner spoken—but one of the tormented wretches
cried out mournfully, "Surely I know that voice. It must be John."
I was amazed to hear my name mentioned; and therefore I
answered, "Yes, I am John; but who are you?"
To this 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.’"
"What! The great Hobbs?" said I. "Are you come here?"
"Alas," replied he, "I am that unhappy man indeed. But I
am so far from being great, that I am one of the most wretched people 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, which
has so betrayed me."
"Your 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 forever."
"It is that," said he, "which 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
"But tell me," I said, "for I want to know the truth. Did
you indeed believe there was no God when you lived upon earth?
"At 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 that there was no God. From those hopes I began to frame ideas in
my own mind, which 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, which I so proudly
embraced, has been the cursed cause of all this woe; it is the serpent which
has stung my soul to death! For now I find, in spite of my vain philosophy,
that 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
"Sad indeed," I said. "See what Almighty Power can
inflict on those who violate His righteous law." I was making some further
comments when the relentless fiend who had been tormenting them then
"Now you see what sort of men they were in the world. Do
you not think they deserve their punishment now?"
To which 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, away from the presence of the Lord."
To this 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 Lucifer—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."
To this 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 which 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 into your present horrible form—as the just punishment of your
To this 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 that 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 of understanding."
"I have 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
"What 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!"
"Surely," 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 forever, 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—which
makes me differ from them."
At this 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
In a 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 who sits upon the throne forever, who has all power in
heaven, earth, and hell. Praise Him for all the wonders of His love
and grace—which He has shown you in so short a time."
As I 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 His goodness.
When 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 which caused their astonishment.
I said, "How am I so greatly changed?"
They 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."
"If 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.