NYC Fellowship home page

Forums

Inspirational Writings

Audio Files


“Love One Another”

JOHN 15:12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Parable

 

 

 

 

By

VALDO PETTER


PROLOGUE

 

            In regard to keeping aloof from all that has to do with war, Christ never taught such a thing nor will I try to tell you that He did. War is a great and ugly sore upon the world. They who enter that sore in order to kill, commit a sin, even though it seems to be the only thing that can be done to help cure the sore. They who hold up their hands in righteous horror and refuse to stain their holy garments by entering this sore, commit a sin; even though they claim that if they are against war they must keep entirely out of it.

 

            Christians are in a world full of sin. It is contrary to God’s plan for them to set themselves upon a pedestal and say they will have nothing to do with it. They will never remove sin in that way. They might as well refuse to assist an injured man on the street because the accident was due to the drunken condition of that man.

 

            While some Christians make martyrs of themselves, perhaps even refusing to don a uniform, and perhaps resting away in a penitentiary, their Savior is on the battlefield, comforting those who will be comforted, caring for the wounded and dying, helping wherever He can to make things a little easier, a little more like peace, for He said, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” He said that also for those who will accept it on the battlefield. He said it for His children to impart to others, whether behind beautiful stained-glass windows, or out where death is often more common than life.

The Author.






“LOVE ONE ANOTHER”

 

A Parable

 

            A Watchmaną had been sent to a far away place. There was a great floor as if made of glass. Hosts of fiends were gathered around it. Legions of them rose higher and higher, tier upon tier, further and further back. A low cloud seemed to encircle the floor, and a muttering thunder rolled in it as in a distant storm. Suddenly the thunder ceased in the cloud; except for a battle, as it were, of men at war below the floor, there was no sound. From high in the air, at an angle pointing towards the floor, the Watchman saw a shape rapidly drawing nearer. In a few seconds he knew that it was Satan. Two dragons were hitched to a chariot which came as a whirlwind. They shot past him, and on the north side of the great floor they alighted, racing around near the edge, the wheels of the chariot whirring over the smooth surface. Satan stood in the chariot. Now and then he would recognize the demon masses with a wave of his hand. Whenever he did this, they gave vent to terrific yells.

 

            Finally the chariot stopped and he leaped out of it. Something strange happened: he grew larger and larger, till he stood three times as high as a man. Then he walked with measured strides till he had completely encircled the floor and returned to the center of it, where he stood motionless for the space of about half an hour; thereby greatly increasing the tension of the impatient, dance-lusting demons who were as a steel spring tightly wound.

 

            Not a sound came from the vast hordes while Satan stood. The Watchmen felt as if he were in a dream. His thots presented themselves unbidden. Why were all these demons here with their many doings? Because an insignificant body of men were trying to murder each other according to the good and bad ambitions of their Governments. If they could have seen these demons and what belonged to them, they would have found out how little the living human race is, compared to the spirit world. But instead, they only considered themselves, how great they were, how vast their armies were, and how good their cause always was.

 

            Just a brief moment of a possible seventy or eighty years to live before entering either of the two kingdoms: the Kingdom of Love or the Kingdom of Hate. And to squander even one of these years thus! That every one of them were conscious every day of their existence on earth that they represent but a mite of the living beings, and that they themselves are spirits with earthly bodies which they must wear a while as a mere test to prove whether they are fit for hell or heaven! Also that their life on earth is but a very low form of existence; that what is really life is not to be found in their earthly state, but in their spiritual state. When they will have become spirits, they will look back at their earthly life as having been only the first inch of their existence compared to the hundreds of miles of spiritual life extending away into infinity for every one of them; whether they are in heaven or in hell, whether they want to continue their existence or not.

 

            What a terrible thing to fall into the hands of demons such as the Watchman saw! But here they were, surrounding that pitiful human army of fighters like a big spider watching a fly struggling uselessly in its web.

 

            Drums began to beat, immense drums that sounded like a thousand pieces of artillery. The Watchman looked at the place where Satan had been; but he was no more there. Instead he saw a large figure spinning over the floor. It was Satan dancing. He wafted himself along like a breeze, without effort, backwards, forwards, sideways, upwards, and across and around, over the floor he flew!

 

            The noise increased its time. Faster, faster, faster! But the Old Serpent kept up with it. At times he would leap high in the air; then the eager crowds would give a tremendous roar. Suddenly he gave them a signal. With a passionate bellow of joy at their liberation they surged from every side upon the floor, dancing as they came. In a few moments their numbers had flooded the floor. Some danced alone, but the greater part danced in couples. It would have taken many thunders combined to have been heard above the noise of this soul-thirsty mob.

 

            It was indeed to be regretted that the Watchman had no eye for dancing, else he might have recognized new varieties of dances heretofore unknown; and which those of the human race who have fallen so low as to adopt this amusement would have hailed with delight.

 

            A large space was always left clear around Satan. Now and then a messenger came to him. The demons continued to become more and more drunken with the excitement of the dance. After a certain time the drums and dancing stopped. Those who had been at work began to come on the floor, while those who had danced went to replace them on the battlefield. During the change the Watchman walked down from the place where he had stood and went under the floor.

 

            It was very dark now. He carefully picked his way among the bodies lying on the ground and in the trenches; some still had life in their mangled bodies. The men had ended their fighting for that night at least. All was silent. As he walked he said to himself, “Why are not men utterly against causing such dismal days and nights for themselves? Has life too few sorrows that they should spend masses of men, homes, and money, to manufacture more? It would seem that way.”

 

            A soldier lay on the ground a little apart from a heap of others. The Watchman gave him no thot, thinking that he was only one of the many dead. But a pale one was coming swiftly in his direction. He was almost upon him when a demon came with a rush to the soldier’s side and raised a barring hand to the pale one.

 

            “Let me do my work,” said the pale one in a low voice.

           

            “No, not yet. I first,” replied the demon tensely.

 

            “Then proceed,” answered the pale one as he sat on the ground nearby, his elbows resting on his knees and his hands supporting his lean jaws.

 

            The demon knelt by the side of his victim and addressed him thus:

 

            “See Death sitting over there? You thot he would take you now. He will presently.”

 

            The soldier uttered a groan and said wearily: “Go away—let me alone—I am a soldier—I am a Christian.”

 

            “Certainly you are a Christian,” agreed the demon, “but you will die a sinner’s death tonight. You are a brave warrior, but it takes less courage to kill in war than to say it is wrong to kill or to repent for having killed. However, you do not believe that. But allow me to remind you that the way you are dying is an eternal way. Look at Death with his fingers itching to grab you! He will not get your wife and little son, for they will not meet you when they leave the earth—they are Christians.

 

            “Perhaps you remember of having read this is your Bible: ‘But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law. And they that are of Jesus Christ have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof.’˛ That just fits you, does it not? Especially did it fit you when you were destroying other men.”

 

            The demon paused a moment, and the suffering man said slowly: “O my God! I am a church member; my mother and wife are Christians. I am a Christian—why do you allow that demon to torment me so? You know I came to fight for a good cause, to help my country. I sacrificed my best for it. O my God!”

 

            “I would not bother about God if I were you,” replied the demon. “You have been working for Satan with your whole soul lately, and now you want God to pay you? Satan will pay you all that you deserve. You know his wages.”ł

 

            Then addressing the pale one he said, “I am thru now.”

 

            The pale one rose to his feet with a sigh of relief that his waiting was at an end. He solemnly advanced a step or two and was at the side of the unhappy being, whom he touched with one of his fleshless fingers. The tortured body gave a slight quiver. The pale one started off, dragging the man’s terror stricken soul with him, leaving the dead body behind.

 

            The Watchman moved on slowly. He stopped where a demon had begun to plague a dying soldier somewhat as the previous one had done. A pale one had not come yet. He was trying to terrify the man in order to make him think of nothing but the hopelessness of his state till a pale one should come.

 

            “You are lost! Death is almost here. Hell’s gates are opened for you already. Your chances of escaping are all gone. You are Satan’s subject now and will be forever. You are destined to eternal punishment. God hates you. He is not caring about you; you have sinned entirely too much for his mercy to reach you. It is only those who live sinless lives that enter heaven. Your many and great sins can never be forgiven; God would never consider even looking at a miserable sinner like you. Tho you may have been good before, these last months of sinning have abolished all chances for you to attain heaven. God never can love such as you. You are—”

 

            But the soldier heard no more. He stopped his ears as best he could and began to murmur a few words very slowly and with effort. The moment he started to do this, the demon threw his hands before his face as if to protect it from intense heat and turned away grinding his teeth. At the same time a pale one who had been rapidly approaching abruptly changed his course. These two servants of Satan knew they had no more power over this man, for his feeble utterance was a prayer:

 

            “Father—I—have—sinned—I—have—sinned—I—have—murdered—forgive me.”

 

            That was all, only a simple confession and a request for forgiveness; but it was enough, it came from the heart. Even before he had quite finished his brief prayer, the Watchman heard a pure, clear sound from far above. Its sweet notes penetrated thru the night air over the battlefield. The demons hovering in the vicinity of the soldier slunk away. Then a shaft of light came down to the soldier and gleamed in an endless column stretching away from the earth to the heavens above. Three angels were suddenly standing by him. He tried to hid his face and said:

 

            “I—am—not—worthy—I—am—a—sinner.”

 

            One of the angels replied, “My friend, God heard your confession of guilt and prayer for grace. It was not too late. No one is worthy of it, but all can receive the gift of God, which is: forgiveness of sins and eternal life, eternal love. We have come to take you home. Would that there were many others like you!”

 

            The man’s misery was finished for all time. He was forever made free from his broken earthly shell, a shell that even at its best is always far from perfect. The angels bore him up and away from the darkness and vileness in which he had been.

 

            As the dance was almost ready to commence again, the Watchman directed his steps back towards his former position on the floor. A few stragglers were still arriving. The drummers were rapping lightly on the edges of the drums—they were anxious to begin. Satan gave the signal and immediately the drums were beaten with full force while the legions got into motion. It was a repetition of the first dance, just a wild turmoil and uproar.

 

            Around the edge of the floor, large, flaming, red torches began to appear on long pillars of stone. The cadaverous forms of the demons took on an infernal hue as they leaped and jumped in the light distributed by these crimson torches.

 

            Of a sudden, above the noise of the dancing, Satan spoke:

 

            “Bring the Christian soldiers! We are ready for them!”

 

            Then followed a wild, soul-craving cheer of approval from hell’s pitiless offspring.

 

            The Watchman saw what seemed as a great meeting place appear in the center of the floor. There were benches and a pulpit as in a church. A certain distance away from each end of the platform stood a pillar bearing a red torch similar to those around the floor. The masses had parted, forming a lane thru which the souls were driven, each one enshrouded in a dark mantle. They were scarcely able to advance for fear, but a company of fiends was behind prodding them on without mercy. They were made to sit on the benches, filling every one. They were too bewildered and downcast to even so much as raise their heads and look about.

 

            Then Satan came upon the platform. He stood and examined the seated audience for a few moments, smiling at his prey with a cruel, sneering look. The blazing torches cast dismal, flickering shadows over the dejected throng and the countless on-lookers. Instead of giving forth a real light, they only added to the gloom of the ominous atmosphere.

 

            “Demons,” began Satan gaily, “we are going to have a pleasant variation to our ball. This will be a glorious and unusual regalement for us.”

 

            Then severely:

 

            “You, souls, look up to me. You need not demur so much for you will see more of me in the future. You may as well become acquainted with me now. I am going to preach a sermon to you. Hell will not be so bad as you may have thot, since I am starting you off with a sermon—but do not decide that till I am thru.

 

            “You may think that I cannot preach a genuine sermon. But remember how I quoted Scripture to Christ himself.4 I know the Bible as well as any preacher, if not a great deal better. As a proof that I can be a minister of the Gospel, the Bible says that I can change myself into an angel of light.5 Consequently you need have no doubt as to whether I can preach or not.

 

            “Death: It belongs to me, especially when inflicted in war. At the time of the second death, death and hell and whosoever is not found written in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire,6 for men will proceed further in ungodliness and they will wax worse and worse till that time.7 Death is hell’s most terrible power. Without it I could do nothing, for death must always come and do its work before the deal can be fully closed, or, till a soul is completely in my hands. That is why war is my pet method of giving death a greater opportunity to close deals by the wholesale. If I can get death to grasp a soul after I have gotten that soul to follow me, I do not need to worry about keeping him wicked anymore. Of all my inventions, death is the supreme one. It is the climax of an unsaved person’s career on earth. Not so for a Christian, because real death does not exist for him. What you call death on earth is for a true Christian a mere passing from good to best, and has none of the popular awfulness connected with it. On earth all are said to die, but there is a difference in what you call dying: if a man passes from good to best, it is not death, it is life; if a man passes from bad to worse, it is death, and again death.8 Therefore, in the latter case he passes from bad to worse and then worst. I will mention this again.

 

            “Now that you have arrived at the beginning of your real life, I am going to explain to you a few facts that you could easily have known yourselves while on earth. I tell them to you in order that you may be fully convinced that you alone are to blame for being on your way to hell, and in order that in later millenaries you will have food for thot.

 

            “Without doubt some of you have been told that every soldier who dies in battle goes to heaven regardless of his former deeds; that by giving his life he atones for all his sins. When you will have heard what I have to tell you, I think this notion will be changed, even tho I will not dwell specially on it. Instead I will discuss if even a good Christian soldier succeeds in reaching heaven.

 

            “Perhaps your people back home think that all soldiers are fairly good. Perhaps they have read what one man said about having seen thousands of soldiers under all conditions, at the front and at the rear, and never saw one drunk. Or perhaps they have read what one of your world-famed religious workers* said: ‘Decency and virtue are becoming the popular thing in the American Army—the easier, not the harder, path to travel for your boy. * * * Your boy is living a clean life in France. Do not let any man deceive you with rumors to the contrary.’ Therefore, they too believe that surely most of the soldiers, if not all, go to heaven when they die, and return with a new religion if they live. They are blind if they believe thus. They are fools if they believe that it ever has been or ever will be easier to be decent and virtuous than to be otherwise. As long as I and my angels exist, we will continue to make it easier to come our way than God’s way. We have always done it so. I suppose it would sort of surprise them to be told that what Jeremiah said about the people having assembled themselves in troops at the harlots’ houses9 was literally true today.†

Following are the author's notes pertaining to the above paragraph:
*The name of this person, and the name and date of the magazine in which the statement appeared, can be given upon request.
†This happened under personal observance overseas. The dates and places of such occurrences can be furnished.

 

            “However, we will not dwell on the immorality of the soldiers as a bar to heaven. We shall go a step farther than that.

 

            “Most of you, while on earth, were leading proper lives which at your death would have perhaps brot you to heaven—at least you thot so. You began killing men thinking that you were continuing your heavenward march. But if you had thot much about the matter, you would have discovered that your march was hellward, and straight hellward.

 

            “Those of you who claimed to follow Christ, listen to this what your Jesus said: ‘My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews.’10 Can you understand that? And yet to claim to do as he did, to belong to his kingdom? If you considered that you had an obligation to kill in order to be loyal to your country, then Christ’s disciples had a far greater obligation to fight and kill for their Master and thus be loyal to him. Had it been his will that Christians participate in killing, he would have set the example11 then and there. But he did not. Instead, he rebuked the one who went only so far as to cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant, and said that ‘They that take the sword shall perish with the sword.’12 Furthermore, he says: ‘A new commandment I give unto you, that ye also love another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.—Every one who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment.’13 Thus, by your love one to another were you to be known as Christians. It was to be the same kind of love that Christ had. Was it not great and Christ-like love towards your fellow-men when you began to annihilate them? Was it not an absence of anger in your heart?

 

            “Remember that I am speaking only to the Christian soldier, for this can never apply to worldly soldiers.

           

            “Perhaps you do not consider enemies as being your fellow-men, and think that you are fulfilling Christ’s teachings if you love one another on your side. But wait, what about this: ‘Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you.14 But I say unto you, resist not him that is evil. Love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you.’15Did you ever have to pray for such that persecuted you? You would have if you had had the courage, and enough love for God, your brothers, and your own soul to refrain from killing. Then you would really have suffered shame for Christ’s sake. But the way you did, there was no difference between you and the rest of the world, in spite of the fact that you were told ‘Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God. Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord.’16 The world does not say all manner of evil against you and revile or persecute you17 as long as you agree with it and me to murder. Wonderful Christians you are!

 

            “Do you not think that I am preaching very well for a devil? I know that you would give a great deal if I had told you some of these things before your first death. I certainly enjoy telling them to you at this time! But I am not at all thru yet.

 

            “As I cited a while ago, Christ gave you a new commandment, which means that the old one is no more. He repeats that commandment in John18 when he says, ‘This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you.’ Paul emphasizes this when he wrote, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: love therefore is the fulfillment of the law. If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink.’19 That is the kind of love Christ had. If you want to love one another even as He loved you,20 you must love the way I just quoted above.

 

            “Of course, destroying men is loving them, is working no ill to your neighbor, is giving them to drink and feeding them. Only in regard to that last clause you made a slight mistake in that you fed them death and gave them their own blood to drink. Oh yes, I know that the war had to be, that there was no other way but to have it. I know you will say that you fought for Democracy, and you did. But it was not a duty for you as professing Christians to take part in the killing. That is what I wish to prove to you.

 

            “Now further, according to Paul: ‘God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.—Live in peace: and the God of love and peace shall be with you.’21 Which implies that if you are not at peace in your acts and thots, God is not with you, for he is not a God of fighters and havoc creators. He is a God of peace!

 

            “Do you begin to see why you landed amongst us instead of among angels? Do you not wish that you had noticed some of these passages before you came this far? My quoting them to you is just a reminder of the opportunities that you missed of traveling on the narrow path. I suppose you never thot that I, Satan, knew so much about what was right.

 

            “When you as Christians killed others, did you ever think of this passage, ‘Let us work that which is good towards all men’?22 Not only to some, but to all! And did you ever stop to think that instead of wrestling against flesh and blood you were supposed to wrestle against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places?23 If you had resisted the desire or the impulse that caused you to kill, that would have been wrestling against the above mentioned powers. But no, it was easier to fight men; and I do not blame you, for we are much harder to fight than flesh and blood. It takes all the manhood a man can summon with God’s help to resist us—much more manhood than it takes to handle a rifle. You chose wisely in choosing to run against the easiest enemy, if you only consider your earthly existence. But considering your most important existence, I will guarantee that it will go harder from now on, even if it seemed easier at first. It is just a matter of resisting us for a while on earth and then being rid of us eternally, or not resisting us and then coming into our clutches for all time. You are probably aware of the fact that a man reaps what he sows.24 Let me tell you that there is nothing truer in religion, in nature, in heaven, or in hell, than this. Of course, if a man truly repents in time, disowns what he sowed, admits that he was in great error, considers himself worthy of punishment, and asks for pardon, then he will not reap to the extent of going to hell.

 

            “When your Governments began to disagree, whether part of them were right or not, why did you as Christians have to join in the quarrel to the point of killing? Hear this: ‘If any man have a quarrel against any, even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye; and above all these things put on love which is the bond of perfectness, and let the peace of God rule in your hearts.’25 Perhaps the world would call it a weakness to forgive; but after all there is nothing grander and nobler than a heart that can rise like a star above all jealousies and hatreds, and forgive even as Christ forgave—even as Christ forgave with such a great self-sacrificing love, tho he had every reason and right not to forgive (according to man’s notions).

 

            “And when you were sighting your rifles, did you conscientiously think of this, ‘Whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus’?26 Just try to imagine Jesus in a trench shooting at other men. Just think of him who said ‘Father forgive them’ as charging with a bayonet in hand to gore others. Then think that you wanted to live as he did, think as he did, and love all as he did!

 

            “Of course, we know that the Bible is poetically written in order not to mean what it says, especially in such passages as I am quoting. It takes certain great personages to carefully study out the enigmatical meanings and then explain them to us in prose. The Bible was not written so that a little child could understand what is right and wrong! I should say not! By this time you must all know that you ought to have the name ‘Fool’ written upon your hearts and minds for saying that you followed the Bible. It was an absurdity, even a sacrilege, for you to claim that you were followers of Christ when you overlooked his most vital requirements. Why did you not simply say that you were Godless and were on your way to hell, instead of being hypocrites?27

 

            “‘For God has not appointed us to wrath; Be at peace among yourselves; Be patient toward all men; But ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves and to all men. Why not rather take wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? Love * * * is not provoked, taketh no account of evil.28 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and railing, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you.29 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.’30 These are a few more of the simple but noble requirements of Jesus. They are similar to the ones that I mentioned before, only in other words. They are so crystal clear that no two meanings can be given to them. I want you especially to notice the last three, they sort of belong together. You will be forgiven as you forgive. Not that God’s forgiveness is under your control, as you might say; but if you really accept his forgiveness: You are a small cog wheel and God is a great cog wheel connected directly to the power plant (as it were), and as the great cog wheel turns, so must the small one turn.

 

            “If we had been placed on earth in your stead, I know that we would have operated it far better than you did. At least we would not have made the assertion that we were doing it a certain way when in reality we were doing it in another. If we had had the desire to make it a hell, we would have done so and called it a hell.

 

            “If you spoke in favor of killing, I suppose that you were abstaining from all appearances of evil and the very God of peace sanctified you wholly.31 You certainly had a set of very elastic consciences. Also, if someone had asked you whose servants you were, mine or God’s, you would have felt insulted. But ‘The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle to all men.’32 Not gentle to his friends only, but to all men, which is practically impossible for most human beings—if we may judge by the way so many are ready to murder.

 

            “You confidently expected that some day you would see God. But I wonder what you could have thot when you read this: ‘Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord’?33 It appears to me that when you started to follow Jesus, you took the wrong track and thus we switched on to my road instead. I am thinking that I must be a wise old devil to have fooled such sages as you into believing that I was your gentle, loving Savior. And I am thinking that I trained my demons very well, because they have made quite a success out of you; they have made you believe that the wrath of man worketh the righteousness of God, instead of not the righteousness.34

 

            “Perhaps those few in this audience who never took the trouble to look up such passages in the Bible, or thot that there was nothing in the Bible anyway since it was all myth and poetry, will begin to wish they had spent enough time to at least seriously consider whether or not they should adopt and study it. Perhaps they vainly think that they would have done better than these who did try half-heartedly.

 

            “During your earthly sojourn, what did you think a Christian ought to be like? Whatever you thot, it cannot have been this, or you would not have so happily landed here: ‘Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by his good life his works in meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter jealousy and faction in your heart, glory not and lie not against the truth. This wisdom is not a wisdom that cometh down from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where jealously and faction are, there is confusion and every vile deed. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without variance, without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by them that make peace.’35 What do you make out of such a creed? Does that wisdom from above refer to dropping bombs and firing big guns?

 

            “God took pains to make things plain for you in regard to what were his requirements for entering into that heaven of his. But, thanks to my efforts and your stupidity, you did not understand. If I were one of you, I would call myself a self-made resident of Hades. But do not congratulate yourselves because of this, thinking that a distinction will be made between you and the rest. You will all get your full share of troubles in whatever form they may be, physical, mental, or otherwise. I am almost inclined to quit with my fine sermon and escort you to hell at once, where I can see you writhing, and hear you groaning and sighing, as you suffer in my home and curse yourselves. Naturally, and perhaps logically and philosophically, some of you thot that hell was only a tradition. However, when we shall have heated hell to a white heat and have you in it, then you will be kind enough to recognize hell as being a real place, and give us due credit for having made it a hell even hotter than the pious old folks on earth described it as being.

 

            “No doubt you who claimed to be Christians were in the habit of reading the following hopefully and without considering the verse below it: ‘But according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness’36 and therefore you were rather unpleasantly surprised when you saw what manner of beings came to receive you, and who did not take you to where dwelleth righteousness. Even now you are very much disappointed in your fond hopes, and are wondering if after all you have been cheated by God and his promises. But, if it will be of any comfort to you, I can lay aside your doubts, I can prove to you whether God treated you right or not. I only need to cite the verse following the one above, and which you neglected to read as carefully as you should have: ‘Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for these things, give diligence that ye may be found in peace, without spot and blameless in his sight.’37 If you will reflect a little you will readily see that when your time came to die you were not found in the pursuits of peace, without spot and blameless in God’s sight, as you perhaps supposed you were. But you were in a state of mind that fitted admirably with my ideas, consequently I had my demons take you—you matched hell so perfectly!

 

            “Observe this, and do not fail to note that murderers are included in the list: ‘But for the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.’38 Thot this referred to other men? Or did not believe it? Aha! Not believe it!

 

            “But you believe it now, and will continue to believe it forever, whether you wish to or not. Life will always stay with you because you are life. There is no such a thing as total death. Since I mentioned it to you previously, you are no doubt mindful of the fact that the first death is not an end of life as it is commonly thot of, but a mere step either from bad to worse or from good to best. Not from good to better, but from good to best. A righteous person passes thru death once and emerges into the best, the purest, the holiest state of life possible, which is in God’s Kingdom. An unconverted sinner emerges into a worse state of life in my kingdom, and then he has to take another step down thru another death to arrive from worse to worst.

 

            “What each one calls ‘I’ is absolutely impossible to blot out. There is one great privilege that you had on earth which you will never have again in heaven or in hell, because you will not want it or have any use for it in heaven, and in hell it would not be justice to let you have it again. That privilege is: You can make yourself good or bad. After you have died the first death you may change bodies and places, but you can not change your characters; no more than if you were born an Indian you could expect to become a Chinaman later. That is, you cannot change your characters from evil to good. As for changing from good to evil, there is really no law for or against it,39 because you would have no such a desire. Your characters are chosen before you leave the earth, whether you believe it or not. And whatever character you choose, you will continue to grow in it for all ages to come.

 

            “Therefore, when you die as a saved person, you take a very great leap into righteousness as you enter heaven, and you fully realize the perfection of love, purity, honesty, holiness, justice, and rightfulness that is there. You will then expand eternally into the countless variations of perfect love.

 

            “But when you die as an unsaved person, you take a jump into a great wickedness as you enter hell, and fully realize the depths to which all unrighteousness can sink. And this unrighteousness will be directed on you in many ways, according to how much you deserve.

 

            “In heaven you become an active part of all that is done there, and enlarge in it and add to it. But in hell you are very limited, you cannot even take part in the wickedness—which would be a certain satisfaction to some of you. You will always be entertained with multitudes of devices for the torture of body and soul. (We prepared these devices for you, and you sanctioned them yourselves on earth by taking our road.) Concerning anything that you might wish to do, you will be inactive eternally. It will be an everlasting slavery, while in heaven it will be an eternal liberty.

 

            “After the second death, the fearful experiences you have been living thru in hell will be greater, because then God himself will have officially judged and condemned you.40 And—I may as well say it—we, together with you, will be made to endure all the bitter and evil things that we caused others to endure on earth and in hell, but in a greater degree; for the law that ‘you shall reap what you sow’ means that you reap a great deal more than you sow. You will suffer the same things as we because you agreed to what we did in hell while you were on earth.

 

            “All this is no secret. We know what our judgment shall be, and you could have known it also if you had studied your Bibles. Nevertheless we will continue to do our worst! Our time is short. Woe for the earth and for the sea!”41

 

            (Satan did not repeat any of the passages referring to the judgment of himself as he might have done in these last paragraphs.42 The Watchman noticed that the feelings of the demons were tense as he spoke; but, in order not to interrupt Satan, they controlled their wrath for some later time.)

 

            “Perhaps you do not believe or think that the Bible explained plainly that there would be such terrible things in store for you. If that is true, here are a number of passages that refer to persons who die unsaved, who die with their sins unconfessed to God:

 

            “‘And these shall go away into eternal punishment: but the righteous into eternal life. But the sons of the kingdom shall be cast forth into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth. And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth. Bind him hand and foot, and cast him out into the outer darkness; there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few chosen.’ Notice that last sentence particularly. ‘And shall cut him asunder, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth. And cast ye out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.43 Than having two hands to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire. Rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell; where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.44 Whose end is destruction. That they all might be damned (or judged) who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.45 Weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you.46 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment unto the day of judgment.47 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.’48 And after the day of judgment, this is what happens: ‘And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire. But the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire.’49

 

            “Finally, listen to this: ‘And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a great voice, If any man worshippeth the beast and his image, and receiveth a mark on his forehead, or upon his hand, he also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is prepared unmixed in the cup of his anger; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment goeth up for ever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, they that worship the beast and his image, and whoso receiveth the mark of his name.’”50

 

            After the recitation of these matchless words pertaining to the final end of sinful man, Satan remained silent a few moments. Then he continued his sermon.

 

            “Do you not wish that I had bombarded you with such a rapid fire of passages during your residence on earth? Remember that you could have bombarded yourselves with the same passages if you had studied your Bibles with faith. But you must understand that such passages alone could not have made you good Christians, because a person is not a good Christian who is one by reason of a constant fear and terror that these things might happen to him. This brings us back to the keystone of the lesson for tonight: You should have loved one another even as Christ loved you. Then you would have confidently placed your souls in his keeping, and thanked him that he made it possible for you to escape all these terrible things—if you wished to escape them. So long as a person fears these passages, or for that matter fears anything, he has not yet learned to be a true Christian; he has not learned what perfect love is; for ‘There is no fear in love: but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath punishment; and he that feareth is not made perfect in love.’51 Ah, I tell you a true Christian is the bravest man to be found, even tho he may fall sometimes as did Peter!52

 

            “Anyone who does not believe the passages I have quoted about hell—those passages describe what will happen to such a person.

 

            “Perhaps by this time you will be thinking that God’s requirements are so complicated and hair-splitting that: ‘After all, who could follow them?’ But God’s requirements are very simple,53 and the whole scheme of being a true Christian is expressed in one word:

 

            “Love.53a

 

            “Love all men, and not only the Kingdom of Love is your inheritance, but you make heaven on earth for many others at different times, and all the time for yourself. There is nothing more to true religion than Love, for if you have perfect love you will have faith, hope,54 self-sacrifice, and all the rest. Christ said, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second like unto it is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments the whole law hangeth, and the prophets.’55

 

            “I fear,” continued Satan, “that some of you will begin to sleep if I keep on much longer! But I feel like a genuine minister tonight, and I am giving the message with full force to you so you will resolve never to attend my services again, but go forth auto riding all day Sunday, till they get a new man in the pulpit who has higher ideals and more modern views than the old fogy you have now. However, here is the time when you cannot stalk out of the church determined never to come and listen to the old crank again! I have this congregation forever!

 

            “I think you would enjoy being convinced a little more of my right to take you into hell. I will keep on proving it to you from the very book some of you thot you were following, and some of you thot not worth looking into.

 

            “‘In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.’56 You would hardly dare to call it righteousness to kill after all the passages that I have mentioned. Even a demon would not call it love for a man to turn a machine gun on other men. He would call it hate; and he ought to know, since he is made of hate. You may say that it was not hate that prompted you to use a machine gun, but a desire to eradicate evil—that is the world’s way, not the Christian’s way, of eradicating evil: by force, by hate, whether you are conscious of its being hate or not, whether you would define it as being merely a dislike for the other men or a duty that you must perform for your country.

 

            “Do you not know that God is love?57 Then why such long faces because you have disembarked into the Kingdom of Hate instead of into the kingdom of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit?58 You hated during your brief stay on earth. Now you may continue to hate all you wish; no one will say a word against it.

 

            “Here it is plainer yet: ‘Beloved, if God so loveth us, we also ought to love one another. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot love God whom he hath not seen. And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also’.59

 

            “Again you may insist that you did not hate. Then did you love?

 

            “Of course you said to yourselves, ‘God is a kind God; even if we do not quite closely follow everything he teaches, he will take us in.’ Yes, God is a very kind and longsuffering God, or else he would have exterminated the human race off of the face of the earth long ago. But he is also a just God; otherwise he would not be truly kind and loving. You are partaking of justice. You ought to know that if you had been true children of God, you would never have thot of not following everything he taught; for it would have been great joy to be as perfect as you could, and obey your Friend in all of his simple requirements.

 

            “In spite of the many proofs I have given, I do not doubt but what some of you will still want to find a certain consolation in the belief that it is after all not your own fault that you are arriving into hell, but God’s. I intend to explode that notion before we get thru here tonight. Not that I care about proving that God is righteous, but because it is my privilege to make hell just as much hell for all of you as it can be made to be.

 

            “Here is the way that real Christians should feel and think: ‘For the time is come for judgment to begin at the house of God: and if it begin first at us, what shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God?’60 During your few years of testing on earth you should have remembered the above, that the judgment begins with you, and have made yourselves ready to pass it when it will come. And you should carefully have considered that if you must be judged, what will be the lot of those who do not even pretend to obey the gospel, or who do not believe that they will be judged? This thot ought to have been enough to scare you if nothing more. Probably you believed that you would be judged, and imagined that you would pass; but you forgot the important part: you did not obey the gospel of God.

 

            “In the next verse it says, ‘And if the righteous is scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?’61 I tell you, if you truly expected to attain heaven, you should have read your Bibles till you were absolutely sure whether you were following your Jesus or not—it would not have taken you long to find out if you had really tried. And you should not have read it just to gain heaven and escape hell, but because you loved to read it, and loved Jesus so much that you could not but read his Word with care. However, instead of reading it thus, you merely skipped lightly over the passages that grated on you, or else you translated them to suit your fancy—as if Christ’s simple commandments needed translating!

 

            “It was a very fine thing that you undertook when you began to travel the heavenward road, but a serious thing. It did not mean just to take the road and get to heaven somehow, but to follow it with hard work; work which is after all turned into pleasure and deep joy thru love, in spite of the sweat and grind that it sometimes involves. You cannot obtain anything worth while without some trouble and self-denial.62 Even a death-bed conversion costs self-denial, because the individual is forced to admit that his whole life was a failure before God; that his beautiful God-given life was thrown away. What a bitter thot that a whole life has been wasted during the only time that it could be on earth! Such an individual has experienced more hopeless trouble and distress than any true Christian ever did. Indeed, God had given you a beautiful way to do better, but you chose your own harder way and came into my hands for it.

 

            “But I do not care, so long as I have got you. I wonder how you like me by this time? Maybe you are tired of me; maybe I do not visit the homes enough, or talk too plainly against card playing and lodges to suit some of the wealthy members of the church. Maybe I should be more careful of what I say on their account, because they pay the largest church dues. But I am sorry to disappoint you, for I have taken this church under my charge for a number of years, and I am going to preach to you whatever I wish. Aha! My nice little flock of lambs, do you not love me, your gentle, kind shepherd? Perhaps you think that I use my shepherd’s staff in too rough a manner.

 

            “We all understand that if you had actually taken it to heart that the righteous scarcely be saved, it would have meant to ‘Suffer according to the will of God.’63 That is, to be mocked by the world, perhaps called unpatriotic, a slacker, or a non-combatant. This would have been too much like veritably suffering for Christ’s sake, and crucifying the flesh64 or being reproached for the name of Christ,65 and having men ‘Reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.’66 But you should not have forgotten that in the last two quotations were the words ‘Blessed are ye’ if such things are done unto you. They should have been passages filling you with joy and courage, instead of fear that they might be truly said of you.

 

            “Here is another one: ‘Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the son of man’s sake.’67 And two more: ‘If the world hateth you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, A servant is not greater than his Lord. If they persecute me, they will also persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.68 And be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.’69 These words were spoken for true Christians; and they bring deep joy and love to all whole-hearted followers of Christ.

 

            “But you! A great lot of Christians you are! Did you really think that the Bible was mostly written in poetic or mythical picture language, not meaning what is said so plainly? My souls, I think God did not intend to write poetry or use half true, round-about ways to tell you how to keep out of hell, to tell you how to attain perfect love. Certainly he wrote some poetry, like the Psalms, but he wrote his laws and requirements in a straightforward manner, meaning exactly what he meant them to mean—no two ways about them. In his business he does not have a different price for the lowest cannibal than he has for the greatest philosopher. He has one simple, plain way for anybody to live as a true hero for Christ and finally enter heaven. He has explained that way perfectly, beyond all quibble and doubt, for those who want to follow it simply and faithfully. Take this truth from me since you would not take it from the Bible! I have had enough experience to know how true it is.

 

            “Perhaps some of you think that I should not say ‘hell’ so often or talk about it in my sermon, but be a nice preacher and use some other more refined name, if I speak of it at all.

 

            “But Hell is Hell! And that is the place where you are bound for. Christ said, ‘Ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers, how shall ye escape the damnation (or judgment) of hell?’70 He speaks of the hell of fire, hell fire, and hell, in many other places. The above quotation was meant for such as you as well as for the audience he was then addressing. When he said it he did not lower his voice and say in a half apologizing way: ‘Ye misled, well-meaning persons, ye offspring of good but ignorant people, how shall ye escape the reprobation of that lower, underground place which in Greek is called so and so, and in Hebrew this and that, and which does not really mean the place of torment, but a place of reformation and correction.’

 

            “He said: ‘Ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers, how shall ye escape the judgment of hell?’

 

            “Perhaps you thot that there were a half a dozen Greek mythological places to go to, and that none of them would be so bad. You were mistaken: there are two places to go to, and there is no myth about them. They are Heaven or Hell. But maybe you say, in your ever ready desire to twist the meaning, that the rich man went to Hades,71 or that he went to Gehenna, which are probably not so low as hell. Let me tell you that wherever you may say he went, whatever word or language you use, the fact remains that he was in a hell, in a place of torments, and in anguish in the flames. The point is that he did not go to heaven. If he was in a special place or if there is a special place where souls wait for the judgment day or not, is of no consequence whatsoever. However, I do not know of any being who has started a business of tormenting souls in competition with us; therefore I rather imagine we were the people he came to.

 

            “I cannot remove from your mind the thot of how you would have been delighted had I preached this sermon to you ere you died. It would probably have converted one or two of you, or at least scared you a little.”

 

            At this gibe, the demons surrounding the desolate throng expressed their approval with loud, mocking cheers. When they had finished, Satan made further butt of the souls.

 

            “Do you think that I am getting too long-winded? Are you anxious to reach hell, and wish I could cease in order that you could go? Be patient. You have plenty of time ahead of you to feel, see, and hear hell in every one of its many departments.

 

            “I shall repeat some verses which most of you have heard so often that you failed to apply them to yourselves. The greater part are very common; there are others similar to them—I cited some a while ago. Perhaps the fact that they are common made you overlook them, or think them of little importance. Yet, had you followed their teachings, I fear I would not have the pleasure of your presence here tonight.

 

            “‘But I say unto you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you. To him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer the other; and from him that taketh away thy cloak withhold not thy coat also. Give to every one that asketh thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. And if ye love them that love you, what thank have ye? For even sinners love those that love them. And if ye do good to them that do good to you, what thank have ye? For even sinners do the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive again as much. But love your enemies and do them good.72 Finally, be ye all likeminded, compassionate, loving as brethren, tenderhearted, humbleminded: not rendering evil for evil, or reviling for reviling; but contrariwise blessing; for hereunto were ye called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For, He that would love life, And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips that they speak no guile: And let him turn away from evil, and do good; Let him seek peace, and pursue it.’73

 

            “This sounds old fashioned and foolish, especially the first quotation, in these days of ‘business is business.’ You would have been pro-enemy or non-combatant to have lived according to the above when it came to war—in the eyes of the world. But in the sight of God you would have been heroes. It was just a matter of choosing whether you wanted to be called great74 by God in eternity, or ‘alright’ by men whose days are as grass.75 You evidently chose that which is the most accessible and the most tangible. This was also said of you: ‘For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.’76

 

            “Notwithstanding all this evidence against you, you were calling ‘Lord, Lord,’ therefore you were sure of escaping hell. It was a mere oversight on your part that you did not consider the place where it says, ‘Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.77 Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?78 There are a number of warnings in the Bible along this line which you had plenty of opportunities to consider, for instance: ‘Take heed therefore how ye hear.79 Strive to enter in by the narrow door: for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able.80 For many are called, but few chosen.81 Many that are first shall be last; and the last first.’82

 

            “Here is a warning that you should have engraved upon your memory when you first attempted to travel on the narrow path: ‘Look therefore whether the light that is in thee be not darkness.’83 You ought to have turned up your wicks a little higher, or have procured different lamps, before daring to invite death of soul and body by killing others. Your lights must have been of an improper kind, or very dim, not to show you all this which I have been telling you tonight. They were so because you let my demons select them for you, and tend to them afterwards. I wish to compliment them on their excellent choice and on their efficiency in trimming your lamps.

 

            “This part of my sermon is now finished. The final close to it will come later on, for we will first have a second part in which you will be given an opportunity to ask questions.

 

            “I flatter myself that you will now admit the verity of the passage stating that Satan can fashion himself into an angel of light.84

 

            “The truth is what all wicked and ungodly persons hate to hear. That is why I have been telling you the truth this evening. That is why I tell lies to earthly beings.85 I tell the truth to you because there is no more a need to delude you; you are mine. I tell lies to earthly beings because I could not get them in my clutches otherwise.

 

            “The only reason why you are not in heaven or on your way there tonight is that you did not allow yourselves to learn what perfect love is, and obtain it freely from Jesus.”

 

            After these words Satan turned to some attendant demons and said, “Bring a vessel of blood and set it near me.” In a moment a large vessel filled with blood was brot and placed according to his request.

 

            “We will now all rise for the benediction,” he announced. With a rustling of garments and much shuffling of feet the souls slowly obeyed. Satan picked up the vessel with both hands and drank the contents with one smacking gulp. Then he spoke further:

 

            “Be seated.” Again they obeyed him.

 

            “I am ready. Has any one any questions? I want you to understand whose fault it is that you are here. You would not have been human beings if you were already convinced by what I have preached to you.”

 

            There was a dead silence, no one even moved. But soon the Watchman could see certain signs of hope showing on their faces. Arguments were occurring to their minds that they thot would prove worthwhile. They had not learned to truly realize their state, or they would have been content not to ask a single question. Satan’s sermon had, as it were, brot their thots back to earth again, and they were thinking as earthly beings would.

 

            No one seemed to want to ask the first question. They began to whisper among themselves. Finally one got up and asked this:

 

            “Were we not obeying Christ’s teaching when we gave our lives for our country? If not, why did he say, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’86 And in another place it says, ‘We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.’”87

 

            “Yes, you were giving your lives,” replied Satan, “but here is the whole trouble: first you made others lay down their lives. When Christ said these words he did not intend for you to kill others while you were offering yourselves as a sacrifice. If he had, he would have said so, or he would have set the example at the cross. There are many ways of laying down your lives without taking other peoples’ lives, and thus making your so-called sacrifice a hollow mockery. As Christians it was your sacred duty to offer yourselves even before anyone else as helpers for the wounded, and sick, and broken hearted. But to offer yourselves as killers, that was not your part. As followers of Christ you were to do what he would have done.”

 

            “But then,” asked the same soul, still unconvinced, “how can you say that it is our fault when it says in the Bible that one can and should have righteous indignation? And did not Jesus have righteous indignation when he drove out those that bought and sold in the temple? I did not want to go to war and kill, but the enemy did such cruel things to innocent women and children that I simply had to go and avenge them or lose all my self respect. I am sure it has been so with many of us here.”

 

            “That is a great argument you have!” Satan answered with a sneer. “Righteous indignation is proper. But your first mistake is this: it is not stated in the Bible as you would have me believe. However, ‘Be ye angry and sin not’88 means almost the same as righteous indignation. Therefore your question can be called Scriptural.

 

            “Jesus took a whip or scourge and drove those traders from the temple, but he did not use a sword; and, if I remember correctly, not one of them was even crippled from having the whip applied to him. I think that you are getting things entangled: righteous indignation is one thing, and righteous killing another. Jesus had the first, but not the second—for it does not exist. If anyone ever had a right to claim righteous indignation as a necessary thing, it was the disciples when Jesus was taken captive. If Jesus had intended that what you call righteous indignation implied killing others to save the innocent, he would have had a trained army or twelve legions of angels to set the example89 when he was taken. In fact his disciples were inclined to killing in righteous indignation as those of old times had done, and whose law they had been following. You know, or ought to know, of the time when messengers were sent to make ready at a village and they were not received, then his disciples said: ‘Lord, wilt thou not that we bid fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elijah did?’ But Jesus turned and rebuked them saying, ‘Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of, for the Son of man is not come to destroy lives, but to save them.’90

 

            “I see that you have to wait till the Devil explains the Bible to you before you believe or understand it! This sounds like a regular Bible class, does it not? And to think that I would have to explain all these things after having so plainly told you that religion is love to all men, enemies included! But I expected it. You are looking at the matter in the light of the old law, forgetting that a new law has been established by the Jesus you falsely attempted to follow.

 

            “As to avenging the cruel things done by the enemy, supposing that you had considered this first: ‘Avenge not yourselves, beloved, but give place unto the wrath of God: for it is written, Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord. Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense. And again, the Lord shall judge his people.’91"

 

            “But it was not to avenge myself. I wanted to avenge the persons who had been cruelly treated,” persisted the soul.

 

            “That is impossible, especially the way you went at it!” exclaimed Satan. “When you avenge someone else, it is mostly avenging so as to satisfy your own private wrath. Furthermore, avenging will not help those who were cruelly treated, it merely allays wrought up feelings. But pretending that you actually meant what you said, and that it is right, why did you not kill the very ones guilty of the atrocious deeds and then quit? Or look for some more genuinely cruel enemies? Instead of continuing in the war and killing many men who were no more cruel than you were, and who no doubt never heard of the cruel deeds you knew about.

 

            “But vengeance is wrong, in whatever form it is executed. It is giving evil for evil.92 And I repeat: in going to war with revenge as a motive, you are merely gratifying your wrath against the enemy by spilling blood, and without helping the ones you are avenging. Any more questions?”

 

            A soul asked the following: “I have read that ‘If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men.’93 Then if it is not possible, you do not have to be at peace, it seems to me.”

 

            “You are a logical thinker, you are!” Answered Satan contemptuously. “Of course if the passage stood alone, and you wanted to give it that meaning, you could. But above and below it are passages that I have already cited in my sermon and in my last answers, such as: ‘Recompense to no man evil for evil—avenge not yourselves—if thine enemy hunger, feed him.’ By taking certain passages alone, you can make the Bible mean anything you wish, if you are not after the true meaning. You must give this passage (and any passage similar to it) the meaning that will harmonize with the true spirit of the Bible teachings. However, in a way your translation is correct because by refusing to kill you would no doubt have some enemies, and would thus not be able to live at peace with all men. This would not be your fault, but theirs. But here is the real answer to your question: not living at peace with all men does not include killing, as you naturally inferred.

 

            “I am surprised that you did not bring up this passage: ‘Think ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you nay; but rather division.’94 If you had, I would have given you the same answer as above. A person who adheres to a principle is sure to have enemies and people divided for or against him. But because of that He does not need to hate anyone in the ordinary sense of the word, or kill—as you would want to infer.

 

            “What else do you want to know?”

 

            A soul sitting next to the one who had just spoken asked, “What about where Jesus told his disciples to buy a sword?95 If that does not indicate preparedness to kill or something in the line of armed protection, I do not know what would!”

 

            “Yes,” replied Satan, “I suppose that Jesus was talking to a group of sheriffs at that time, was he not? Just before mentioning the sword, he asked his disciples if they had had any lack when they went on their missionary excursions. In other words, if they were well received and had no opposition. They answered no. Then he said to buy a sword. That is, that from now on the world would no more receive them as before, it would hate them and turn them out; therefore they would have to look out for their own welfare, be armored against the world and stand, so to say, along for the right; and also be sharp and keen in order to show the world what Christianity is. You see a weakling will not do for a Christian. It takes a brave man to be a real follower of Christ, a man who is not afraid to wield the sword of the spirit96 relentlessly.

 

            “Furthermore, a few verses beyond what you brot up, the disciples asked if they should smite with the sword (perhaps it was one of the swords mentioned in verse 37, perhaps not). One even cut an ear off of the high priest’s servant. But Jesus promptly rebuked them and healed the wound, saying, ‘Suffer ye them thus far. Put up again the sword into its place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword,’97 Does that sound as if he had told them to buy swords in readiness to kill when he should be captured? There were so few of the disciples compared to the enemies of Jesus that, without at all interfering with Christ’s dying upon the cross for sinners, they could just as well have put up a fight for an example to you—if it was the intention that Christians should resist.

 

            “As I have said, you can make the Bible mean anything you wish if you are not after the true meaning. But if you are honestly trying to get the true meaning, you will never fail to get it, and need never fear that you have not the right meaning. You must only be sure that you are doing it wholeheartedly and with the simplicity of a little child.

 

            “What else?”

 

            “How about the place where it says, ‘All things are cleansed with blood, and apart from the shedding of blood there is no remission?’”98 asked a soul.

 

            “Ignorant man, you might as well quote the beginning of that verse also,” replied Satan with disdain, “‘And according to the law, I may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood,…You fool, if you had at all read your Bible with understanding, you would have discovered, in that little brain of yours, that this passage has no more reference to war than ‘Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judah and his brethren.’ Aside of the fact that this has nothing to do with war, listen: thru Christ, the offering of sacrifices or shedding of blood was abolished; the old law was removed. You ought to know that. But you rather followed the old law.

 

            “Now use your brains and do not ask such self-evident questions. What else?”

 

            With some reluctance a soul gathered his mantle around him, and standing up he said: “I have read in the Bible, and in the New Testament at that, a passage that sounds like war. It reads as follows: ‘For if the trumpet give forth an uncertain voice, who shall prepare himself for war?’99 Paul used war as an example there just as if he never thot anything bad about it. Why did he do that?”

 

            “Is it possible?” Satan replied with astonishment. “After what I have just said? Oh yes, you are merely an average, wise human being that knows it all. But I thot that you could at least understand a simple thing like that when you were ten years old. That human race God put on earth must be more stupid than even I supposed! Can you not see that there is nothing to that as an argument for war, no more than that where it says ‘Come let us kill him;’ or, ‘He will come and destroy the husbandmen’100 should mean for you to go and do likewise? Or that ‘I robbed other churches’101 should mean that Paul was stealing articles out of churches?

 

            “I have told you once not to ask such self-evident questions. And let me tell you that if you begin to bring up such trifling arguments, then you might as well start with Genesis and argue everything to the end of Revelation. We have no time for really foolish questions like this. You are supposed to have a little common sense of your own. Now, what is next?”

 

            No one stirred or said a word. Probably they were afraid to ask something too simple. Finally Satan snorted out a loud “Well?” after which a voice made itself heard, and said:

 

            “The Bible states that we should submit to every ordinance of man.102 Is not killing in war an ordinance?”

 

            “That is what it states in the Bible,” answered Satan. “You are supposed to accept all laws, for instance tax laws, without remonstrating. For, as it says two verses below the one you referred to, ‘So is the will of God, that by well-doing you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.’ When they impose laws upon you that are hard, you must endure them quietly and submissively, as long as they do not compel you to do something contrary to the will of God. If you agreed to all their laws and desires, you would not be any different than a moralist or a similar good but Christless person. It does not say to agree or approve, but to be subject to the ordinances. A few verses further it says: ‘For this is acceptable, if for conscience toward God a man endureth griefs, suffering wrongfully.’103 If you go forth to kill, the above verse does not apply to you. Neither does the next: ‘For what glory is it, if, when ye sin, and are buffeted for it, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye shall take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.’104

 

            “You might as well go to a Cannibal island and eat men because the inhabitants make an ordinance that you must. The truth of the matter is that you are to be subject as Christ was: ‘Because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.’105 (Notice that these passages all follow in the same chapter of the one you quoted.) That is a noble submission to man’s ordinances. Your submission was a weak agreement to pull the trigger because you were told to do so.

 

            “Another passage that would fit well with the above is: ‘Forasmuch then as Christ suffered in the flesh, arm ye yourselves also with the same mind; for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that ye no longer should live the rest of your time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past may suffice to have wrought the desire of the Gentiles, and to have walked in lasciviousness, lusts, wine-bibbings, revellings, carousings, and abominable idolatries: wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them into the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.’ Also: ‘But if a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed.’106

 

            “I would make a good leader for a mid-week prayer-meeting, would I not? This does sound like a prayer-meeting, and no doubt it seems as unnecessary to you here as it did on earth. But you will not be compelled to attend such meetings very often after this—altho you may wish to!

 

            “Have you any more wisdom that you wish to pit against the Bible?”

 

            “Are not preachers messengers of God?” asked a soul arrogantly. “Do they not study the Bible and explain it to the people? I have heard many of them say that God countenances war and killing, or something to that effect. Can they be wrong? They are preachers, and if preachers cannot know what is right, who can?”

 

            “Yes, oh yes, preachers are good men, they know what is right,” replied Satan. “But have they not themselves admonished you to read the Bible? Supposing you had read it diligently, you might have run across this: ‘Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: the one do it of love, knowing that I am set up for the defense of the gospel; but the other proclaim Christ of faction, not sincerely, thinking to raise up affliction for me in my bonds.’107 Thus you cannot even lay the blame on the poor preachers, because you were plainly warned in regard to the different brands of such men there are in the world. You are not to depend on ministers to bring you to heaven, although they can be of very valuable assistance in showing you how to get there, and it is your duty to take their help and advice, provided it harmonizes strictly with the Scriptures.

           

            “The Bible is a means of knowing what or who is right. Every one of you had opportunities to examine it. If you did not examine it, it was all your fault, because you are not from some heathen tribe that has no Bible. No matter how wicked a few of you may have been, and therefore perhaps never opened a Bible, that is not an excuse. You could have studied the Bible. ‘And Thou Capernaum, shalt thou be exalted unto heaven? Thou shalt go down unto Hades: for if the mighty works had been done in Sodom which were done in thee, it would have remained until this day.’108 You were Capernaum. Every opportunity was yours in regard to learning what true religion is. Some of you took the opportunities and bent them to your own ideas, and some of you refused to even take them. Whichever of the two classes you belonged to, one is about as bad as the other, although one might say that the first is the least desirable.

 

            “Any more questions?”

 

            A soul arose as if to speak, then sat down again. Either he became frightened at the appearance of Satan, or else he forgot what he wanted to ask. Satan said to him. “Better try again. This is your chance. No use getting stage fright now, or what will you do when you are established in hell?”

 

            But he did not try again. Finally another soul asked as follows: “Several times you have mentioned about old and new law in your sermons and answers. Explain more fully about it. I do not understand it. What is old law anyway? It seems to me that if it were very important, the Bible should have explained very clearly whether the old law should be followed or not.”

 

            “Ah, the Bible was not clear enough! Wait!” exclaimed Satan. “The old law is what you have been following, and you say that you do not know exactly what it is? That is indeed quite a confession to make, that you do not know what you have been following. I must give you credit for being so frank.

 

            “Since you really do not seem to know, I will tell you: For instance the twentieth chapter of Deuteronomy, in which the rules of warfare are given, that is old law. Also where it says: ‘And thine eyes shall not pity; life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. Thou wilt give them hardness of heart, they curse unto them. Thou wilt pursue them in anger, and destroy them from under the heavens of Jehovah. But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; there was not a man left.’109 There are many places where it describes how the old law was carried out, how the people went to battle. You could bring up the wars of the Israelites and quote passage after passage as arguments that God was not utterly against war; forgetting that the Israelites were far from being Christians. In fact they were practically heathens when they were led out of Egypt. God could not deal with them as with true Christians because Christ had not come yet. He had to deal with them very much as he has to deal with the nations of today, because, although Christ has come, very few people have really accepted the fundamental teachings of the New Testament. He wanted to deal differently with them than with worldly nations. But first they were to learn the principles of Christianity. Do you suppose that many of them had an idea of what true conversion is? Very few indeed. God was leading them to better things. He gave them the Ten Commandments to start with. He tried to teach them a little of the new law, which Christ was to perfect and command men to follow closely, when he said: ‘Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart. * * * Thou shalt not take vengeance nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people; but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am Jehovah.110 Vengeance is mine, and recompense.111 If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink.112 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath. Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for there is a happy end to the man of peace.’113>

 

            “Then, when they had trodden under foot all the good that God had planned for them, He said: ‘Oh that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! Then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.’114

 

            “In the beginning, while he was still leading them, they always turned against him. When they desired a king, God opposed it, and also said, ‘They have rejected me, that I should not be king over them.’115 But the people wanted a king; they said, ‘Nay; but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.’116 That was what they wanted, and that was their mistake: They wanted to be like other nations, not like God wanted them to be. That was what you wanted, and that was your mistake: You wanted to be like other people, not like God wanted you to be.

 

            “God let them have their way. He did not force them to live as he wished, because he forces no one.117 They went further and further from him. Finally God sent his own Son who explained the requirements of a true child of God, with all the clear, irrefutable details as you have them in the New Testament. Then things were changed: ‘The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent.’118

 

            “Therefore, from the time of Christ, men were and are to accept him fully and wholeheartedly, or not at all. No half way between. Either one way or the other. Completely for God or completely for me. Christ himself says: ‘I know thy works, that thou are neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.’119 That is the great trouble with you Christians in these modern days; you are lukewarm; you want to be popular with the world as well as with the church. Again it says: ‘For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is become guilty of all.’120 You either follow Jesus, or you follow me.

 

            “As I have explained, in the times before Christ, God wanted to bring the Jews gradually to him in preparation for Christ’s Kingdom; but they soon turned away from him to their own desires. Then Christ came and told just how God’s people should live and what his gift was to every one who would accept it, whether they were Jew or Gentile. If the Israelites had followed God’s precepts, they would have become a light to the world, and they would have paved the way for the early coming of Christ’s Kingdom.

 

            “What did the Israelites accomplish with all their wars and killing, besides their other heathenish practices? Did they become a world power of lasting qualities? Who spoke against them, and condemned them as being hypocrites and a generation of vipers?

 

            “God’s own Son.

 

            “In regard to your complaint about the Bible not being clear in stating whether the old law should be followed or not, listen to this: ‘A new commandment write I unto you, which thing is true in him and in you; because the darkness is passing away, and the true light already shineth. He that saith he is in the light and hateth his brother, is in the darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light.’121 The darkness is the old law; the light is the new law. ‘For until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remaineth, it not being revealed to them that it is done away in Christ.’122 The old law was a sort of veil over God’s real desires. It was taken away thru Christ; only you did not know it, or you did not want to believe it.

 

            “The clearest proof that the old law is abolished thru Christ for his followers is this: ‘Ye have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, Resist not him that is evil: but whosoever smiteth thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.’123 What can you want plainer than that? Still, it seems that you did want something plainer, and chose to stick to the old law, since you did not find anything plain and clear enough to suit you. The result is that you are here, for the old law became a road to hell thru misuse.

 

            “But the trouble did not lie in its not being plain enough. No, it was too plain for you. You did not want to believe it fully or even partly, although you did read and hear it. Then, too, some of you never even took the time to find out how clearly these things were explained. You did not look far enough into the future to see that your earthly life was but a mere vapor compared to your next and eternal life. If you had, you would have been more concerned to find out about these matters.

 

            “Now then, have any more of you some riddles you would like to have me solve?”

 

            Near the back of the audience a soul jumped up and spoke with animation, saying: “All that you have expounded is very true regarding our neglect to look up these things in the Bible as we should have. But I am far from convinced that God is righteous, because if he would be, he would give us another chance. We would do anything he says in order to enter heaven and avoid this. We know just how serious life really should be taken, and that our earthly existence is but a mere atom compared to what our next existence is. We know how little anything that could possibly have happened to us would have been worth considering, compared to keeping our souls spotless from the world. We know that we should have had the true, self-sacrificing love of Christ, which was ready to help all men, not just to love some and murder others. We know exactly how we should and would now conduct ourselves. Therefore: why does not God give us another chance? Why are we condemned forever, when some of us see and admit our mistake?”

 

            “You have said something great,” answered Satan. “It is too bad that God is not here to learn from you, and discover how unrighteous he is toward you, you poor sinner. Only in that last statement of yours, I would say stubbornness instead of mistake.

 

            “Supposing that you are once more a human being on earth and have decided to go out skating. You go to a lake which you have never seen before. While you are fastening on your skates, an ordinary looking man comes along and says:

 

            “‘Do not go on that ice! It seems strong here, but out in the middle it is always very much thinner than here. If it should give way under you, nobody could reach you. Take my advice, and stay off.’ The man starts off up the road. You sit there with one skate in your hand, watching him disappear around a bend. He had the appearance of a common sort of a man, and you say to yourself, ‘I guess that ice is strong enough. That man thinks I am ignorant because I am a stranger here. I will risk it anyway.’ You begin to skate. Soon you leave the shores and strike out for the center of the lake. As you near the center, the ice breaks, and down you go with a splash and a yell for help! Perhaps someone hears you and comes out on the ice as far as he can, but he knows this peculiar lake and cannot come anywhere near you. The ice is so thin that you can just barely hold to its edge without breaking it further. You attempt to climb on it, but it only gives way more and more, letting you back under the cold water. You cling to it as much as you can.

 

            “Now you know perfectly well what you would do were you given only one more chance to avoid the lake. You may believe every word the man told you, even if he was an ordinary man and following his advice would have caused you to sacrifice the pleasure of skating. You know just how thin the ice is, how cold the water is, how treacherous the whole thing is. Therefore, why are you not given another chance to decide if you will go on the lake or not? Why does not someone save you, and give you the other chance you so much covet? But such thots do not help you. You drown.

 

            “Perhaps you will want to ask this: ‘Why did not the man sit down and wait to see what I would do?’ The answer to that is: because he plainly warned you, and took it for granted that you had the usual amount of common sense accorded even to a child. He said all that it was his natural duty to say to a sensible man.

 

            “Heaven is not made for fools, especially not for self-made fools. All this applies to your present position. You have fallen thru the ice; you are admitting your stubbornness and foolishness; but nevertheless you are drowning.”

 

            Satan reviewed his audience a few moments in silence, then he resumed his talking.

 

            “I think that God will be seriously considering the possibility of engaging my services as an evangelist! I feel that I can talk to you like a wise old minister, with the only difference that you believe me somewhat better than you ever did your faithful old shepherds. Probably most of you are at last forced to realize that truth is truth, and that there is no way of getting around it any more. In hell I have things arranged so that you will always be conscious of the truth, and thus be able to condemn your own selves. Tonight you are receiving an introduction to this system.

 

            “Bring me another drink!” he commanded suddenly.

 

            While he received his drink, a few of the souls whispered to each other; but the greater part kept a sullen silence. During the time that Satan would talk as he did, they forgot their real state, forgot what a really horrible being was talking to them; and that, while it was all truth, it did them no good now—only added to their torture. Whenever his real character was revealed, as at this time, hopelessness settled down over them like a great, gloomy cloud.

 

            Satan flung the empty vessel to one side; it landed against one of the torch pillars. Then he reached into the pulpit and brot out an ancient war-flail with a metal swingle set with ugly looking spikes. Then he stopped and reached in again, bringing out a heavy 155cm gas shell, painted green. He placed these two articles on the pulpit and said:

 

            “That vessel of blood suited me better than preaching. I feel natural once more.

 

            “Do you see these two war weapons?” he continued, as he pointed at the shell and the war-flail. “In deference to modern civilization, I will say that they are both the same in regard to the spirit in which they were and are used, although it is hardly fair to give that war-flail credit for being as bad as this gas shell. I wish to show you by this that civilized or humane warfare is a lie, is a myth; that war is of me, is brutal, is insane, is inhuman, today as well as in prehistoric times, and even more so! Probably you are more ready to believe that now than you were before you had actually been in war, when you had only read about it in the papers.

 

            “Any more questions?”

 

            No one stood up or offered to ask anything. They were afraid again. The silence became too long for Satan, he said impatiently:

 

            “Come on! Hurry up! Do not be so hesitant. This is your opportunity to receive light on the subject.”

 

            Thereupon a soul rose to his feet and began to talk rapidly, saying: “Your speech has been addressed mostly to those who were Christians or claimed to be. I see that they deserve all that is coming to them. But I never pretended to be a Christian. However, I lived a decent and orderly life. Had I known that all these things were written in the Bible, I would certainly have accepted them and lived up to them in the right manner. I was not aware of these things, so I can hardly be blamed for not having heeded them. It seems to me that these Christians ought to be condemned more than such like me—and your talk apparently points that way. If God is righteous, why should he want to condemn me severely? I who never made believe or tried to be a Christian, because I did not realize what it all meant, and because I lived as morally as seemed necessary.”

 

            “Too bad, friend, that I appeared to neglect you and your kind in my talk,” answered Satan, as tho speaking to an old comrade. “We are so accustomed to have such like you coming into hell by the millions that we do not think much of it. But when we get a group of Christians as we have here, then it is an event and a rare victory for us. Therefore we make the most of it; and in the beginning we treat them in a different way than the usual rabble composed of souls equal to you. If we took time to celebrate with all the souls we get as we are doing with these, we would never be seen in hell. We have a few mixed in who did not profess Christianity because I knew they would ask a question or two that the others would not.

 

            "Referring to your query, I presume that when I answered the soul who had a complaint against the preachers you were thinking about the question you wanted to ask, or else you might not have asked this. By what you said, I do not believe that you ever read the Bible to any extent, but perhaps you knew of the passage ‘Father forgive them; for they know not what they do,’124 and decided that as long as you sinned ignorantly, you would obtain a free pass to heaven. When Jesus uttered these words in his darkest hour, he expressed his greatest gift to mankind. He was willing and desired that any person, regardless of what he had done or what position of life he was in, should receive forgiveness of sins freely. Yes, freely. But it must be desired and accepted:

 

            “‘He that will, let him take the water of life freely. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.125 If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. And him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.’126

 

            “I need not comment on the above, except perhaps the last quotation. You may say that you believed on Him. But listen: if you had believed in the true sense, you would certainly have believed, studied, and faithfully followed all His requirements. Perhaps you never heard this passage: ‘Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the demons also believe (Satan hesitated a moment)—and shudder.’”127

 

            “Jesus was willing that even those who nailed him to the cross should receive the water of life freely, because he loved them, and also because some of them were doing it in ignorance. But if any one of them did receive it, he had first to indicate that he truly wanted it.

 

            “I imagine that you pitied yourself and thot you were in darkest ignorance, therefore: how could you help it if you did according to God’s commandments or not? Nevertheless, it was all your fault. You had all the chances a man needs in order to become acquainted with God’s ways. You knew how to do good, and did it not, therefore it was a sin for you not to do it.128 You could have obtained mercy for unbelief, and even for ignorance.129 God would gladly have accepted you, he would have wanted to accept you. But it is too late now. You have no excuse for the ignorance you claim to have had. It really was not ignorance after all. ‘And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more.’130 These words refer to you as well as to a Christian. Much was given to you, much was committed to you, but you were not a faithful servant.

 

            “Even if you had been really ignorant thru no fault of your own, remember that ignorance may lessen guilt, but it does not necessarily remove it. Perhaps you read or heard in some way that ‘It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you (Capernaum). But he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.’131 Therefore you thot that you were safe enough, because you considered yourself a Tyre or a Sidon and would only receive a few stripes, or none at all. But even if you had gotten only a few: he who receives any punishment at all, is not forgiven. A true child of God receives no punishment.132

 

            “The standard for right and wrong required of a real Tyre or Sidon is not so rigid as of a Capernaum. A man of a heathen tribe lives a good or a bad life as well as a civilized person. He does things worthy of stripes, or he does not do things worthy of stripes. Only he has not so clear and fine a division or insight, in regard to what is right and wrong as a civilized man does. He is not at all sure of his ground, he does not know who is really God, or if there is only one true God. Therefore he lives in a constant fear and superstition lest he might not be doing the right thing, and finally he dies without receiving the light he instinctively and fearfully sought—unless some missionary obeyed Christ’s commandment and went to bring him the light.

 

            “For a man who dies in that kind of ignorance, it is more passable than for a Capernaum. Such a man can reach heaven; but you, never.

 

            “Still, it may be that I made a mistake, and should first have inquired if by chance you did come from darkest Africa, and are a real Tyre and Sidon; and knew not, and should be beaten with a few stripes or none at all. Did you have no opportunities to read the Bible?”

 

            “Oh yes, I did,” answered the soul. “But it seemed rather dry and foolish. I could not see any good reason why I should pay so much attention to it; besides I saw how little it appeared to help those who did read it. Of course, once in a while, out of curiosity, I did look in it.”

 

            “Dry and foolish, no sense in taking heed to such an old book, how?” answered Satan in mock agreement. “You also seem to have a grudge against others. Because some individuals did not appear to derive any benefit from it, you concluded that you would not either. Therefore you never tried otherwise than with curiosity, or with the notion that it was uninteresting. No wonder it was senseless to you. Why did you not notice some whom it did help, and ask them about it? I think you must shoulder some of the blame, even if perhaps some Christians should have taken more pains to tell you of the Bible. It is their duty to spread the gospel; but you have the final responsibility for your own soul. However, perhaps you did not have the privilege of going to church?”

 

            “Yes, I did, of course,” replied the soul, reluctantly. “But how could I care to go every Sunday when those preachers are so uninteresting with their long-winded sermons, and when they read strange, uncomprehensible things out of the Bible? And, anyway, it looked too sort of pious to go to church.”

 

            “It is too bad,” responded Satan, “that you did not have a style of ministers made to your order. But how do you expect to go to church every Sunday, where the Bible is spoken about, and find a regular sermon always interesting if you make no true attempt to study your Bible? If you would go to hear an impersonator of Charles Dickens, would you not get much more benefit from it, and be far more interested, if you had read the books of Dickens? As for its being too pious, that means that you, a brave warrior, were too much of a coward to have your friends see you go to church.

 

            “No, you have no excuse. You belong in hell. We all knew that long ago, and did not bother much about you—you were safe for us. You were destined for hell long before you ever entered the war, while it was not so with many of these others. They are unexpected company, but very desirable. Because my talking was not directed to your kind, you confidently thot that you were better than these would-be Christians. You thot that they were receiving more punishment than you were. But just wait, your turn is coming! I have not the time to go into details concerning your personal future, but rest assured that it will be worth your while, and at least equal to anything inflicted on these others. You will soon forget your notion of being less to blame for landing in my home than these Christians who got into our clutches by a narrow margin.

 

            “For your benefit I will again repeat a verse that I quoted in my sermon. It was written especially for such as you, and for those who merely pretend to be Christians: ‘But for the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murders, and fornicators, and sorcerors, and idolaters, and all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.’133

 

            “That ought to silence you.

 

            “Have you any more questions, my children?”

 

            “One of the sentences in your last answer has formed a question in my mind that I have been trying to get at,” said a voice from the crowd. “We Christians who have lived good lives most of our years on earth, and have done wickedly perhaps only in the last few weeks or months, why should we be sent to hell without any consideration of all the good that was in us, and that we did during all these years previous to this little breach of ours in coming to kill men?”

 

            “What a very reasonable question!” ejaculated Satan. “I wonder if I can answer it? I will try:

 

            “Suppose a first-class bridge of steel and concrete were being built across a wide river. But when the builders would be within several rail lengths of having every rail laid across it, they would quit working, and say, ‘It is a fine, strong bridge; everything is in shape except for these last few rails. Why bother about putting them in?’ An engine would start crossing the bridge, but just before getting clear across it would have to stop. As long as those few rails are lacking, no matter how strong and perfect the bridge may be otherwise, it is useless to the engine. No talking or thinking about the fine qualities of the bridge will help. Those last rails must be installed, or the bridge is as so much scrap iron.

 

            “Supposing further that for some sudden reason the engine simply had to start going clear over the bridge. The engineer would say to himself, ‘O, well, I guess it will go somehow.’ He would put on full steam—the next instant his engine would be wrecked with him.

 

            “In the first place, you were the builders, you were fools enough not to put in the last rails—in reality no builders would be so foolish as to do this, which shows just how foolish you were. In the second place, you were the engineer. Of course, you will say that ‘No engineer would be senseless enough to run his engine over a place where he knew that rails were missing; furthermore, the statement that he put on full steam is absurd.’ And you are right. No sane man would do thus. But in your case, you did do those very things. You were running your engine, that is your soul, and were either thotless enough to attempt crossing in spite of reason, or you did not take the trouble to look out of your cab window to see how the track was ahead. And you did it with full steam when you plunged into the occupation of murdering as many men as you could.

 

            “Whatever the engineer may have or may not have thot before he tried to cross the place, the fact remains that the engine was wrecked from those few missing rails as surely as if the whole bridge had been gone.

 

            “It is a pity that you did not think of all this before. However, I do not think so, neither do the demons; for we would not have you with us, had you thot in time. Your question ought to be answered to your full satisfaction now, you self-righteous Christian. Hell fits you well.

 

            “But if you still have doubts, here is a Scripture passage that applies to you: ‘Whosoever therefore shall break one of these last commandments and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.’134 As you see, such a mild transgressor will be the least in heaven, he will be in the lowest degree of heaven, he will just manage to get in. And you, who have broken the greatest of God’s great commandments, who had the opposite of perfect love in your hearts, you think that you should not be sent to hell? You think you should have a chance to reach heaven because of your former goodness? Use your own judgment. You all know better than to expect such unreasonable things.

 

            “Here is another appropriate passage: ‘For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is become guilty of all.’135

 

            “If my answer is not convincing and clear, let me tell you that I cannot make it clearer, and no other being can.

 

            “If you have any more good questions, be sure to ask them, because you will not always have the privilege of asking me thus—I am usually not in the mood.”

 

            One of the souls sitting near where the Watchman was, stood up and said: “In connection with the passage you quoted a while ago about what Christ said on the cross, the following words come to me: ‘Like as a father pitieth his children, so Jehovah pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.’136 The way you speak, it sounds to me at times as if God is not compassionate, and merciful, and longsuffering, and like a father to us.”

 

            “Are you blind?” answered Satan in an exasperated tone of voice. “I am talking to a group of lost souls, telling them why they landed here. The above is for other occasions than this. However, we can use it also.

 

            “The passage you have quoted is as true as gold. Why did you not very seriously consider it before you died? Why did you not consider that He pities them that fear him? The spirit of that passage is one of the things I hate about God: in spite of the fact that you deserve nothing of the kind, he pities you, and considers that you are dust; therefore he gives you such a beautiful chance to come to his home. A beautiful chance it is, for all that you have to do is to love all persons as Christ did. And what can give greater, purer joy to the heart than to fill it to overflowing with a self-sacrificing love that will do all to help any one in the name of Jesus! If some of you had honestly tried to acquire this love, you would have discovered what an immeasurable depth of joy and peace it would have brot you.137 But instead you retained that old selfish love that will only make sacrifices for certain persons, or certain organizations, and murder others. This last love should never be called love, for it is not love; it is selfishness.

 

            “You may contend that this is a strong statement; that many a deed done in war time is real self-sacrificing love. That is true. But killing is never self-sacrificing love. Even in a so-called righteous war, the man who kills another must first have the plant of murder in his heart, be it great or small, be he conscious of it or not. Therefore murder in the hearts of men is at the root of every war.

 

            “These righteous wars, or even a war for Democracy, are just the same as I am tonight, as my refined talk is. It is truth, it is good, it is righteous, but it does not make a real angel out of me. I am still Satan, even tho I may talk and behave beautifully.

 

            “To finish this answer, I will say that God’s love, pity, and longsuffering for you are not such that, no matter if you serve me and never confess your sins, he will forgive you and take you in. He would not have true love, or be God, if he did. His love is a love that is ready and longing, at any time before it is too late,138 to give you an undeserved forgiveness of sins—if you will ask for it from your heart.

 

            “Are you all satisfied now, or are there more questions?”

 

            Rather hurriedly a soul got up and said: “But in spite of all you say, how can any of it be true, because the Bible itself says that there is no truth in you?139 Therefore your whole talk is a lie, if the Bible is true.”

 

            “Ah!” exclaimed Satan, putting one of his hands over his mouth in feigned surprise. “I suppose I forgot to memorize that passage! I would not have talked to you tonight if I had thot you would be so sharp and cunning. And this comes after all that you have heard tonight!

 

            “No, there is no truth in me when I deal with human beings; and I am proud of it. But that does not say that I do not know what truth is. Do you not know, you fool, that it is impossible to work against something without knowing what it is? I have to know truth from beginning to end in order to work at all successfully against it. I repeat for your benefit that I can change myself into an angel of light, and that it says so in the Bible.140 Still think I am contradictory in my talk you idiot?

 

            “Why did you not mention more of that verse and thus help me out? That is, give your brothers a correct idea of what I really am. I am very proud of that verse, only I do not want human beings to pay any attention to it. Listen: ‘Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and standeth not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof.’141 That is me! If you had considered me as the Bible does, and as I really am, you would not have had such a wonderful opportunity to make my acquaintance.

 

            “Have you any more questions that I cannot answer?”

 

            “All your arguments and quotations may be correct,” said a soul pessimistically, “but do you think that Christ really came on earth to found a craven creed of soft, cowardly submission to anything that comes against a man?”

 

            “Yes!” answered Satan, without a second’s hesitation. “Christ founded a noble, heavenly creed of loving, gentle, self-sacrificing submission to any hardships that come against a man because he refuses to partake of my deeds and my desires! If you had listened closely you would have heard me say that it takes a brave man to be a Christian. A braver man than it takes to be a murderer. A braver man than you ever were.”

 

            As Satan gave this answer, the Watchman realized, more than he had at any other time, how he can indeed change himself into an angel of light.

 

            After a short silence, Satan asked for more questions. A soul spoke thus: “Supposing that all what you have been telling us tonight were followed carefully by Christians on earth, then what about the nineteen hundred years of Christianity which testify that Christians in general did not live as you say they should? Are all these Christians damned?”

 

            “If they are damned or not is really none of your business,” retorted Satan. “God judges all things justly. Those nineteen hundred years are passed. During all that time Christianity has advanced. More and more light was received thru the Bible, and as it was received, the true Christians were bound to live up to it if they wanted to be free from sin. The main reason why they could not have as much light as now, was that they did not have access to the Bible as it is now possible to have. But in spite of that, in the early centuries a few Christians did understand what perfect love is, and refused to kill in war. However, aside of this special requirement of Jesus, many of these old time Christians lived wholeheartedly for Christ, and did everything that they could know was according to God’s teaching. And such Christians, had they had access to the Bible as the nations do at the present time, would have lived just as faithfully to their increased knowledge as they did to their forcedly limited knowledge. Therefore no one can say that he is living a better Christian life than one of these earlier Christians did; or that the earlier Christians should be damned more than the present ones.

 

            “As the knowledge and accessibility of the Bible has increased, till now it can hardly be more perfected, so the standard of Christianity has risen, till now no one belonging to civilized nations can have any excuse for not living the perfect Christian life which Christ taught.

 

            “Supposing that the old time Christians had had every opportunity to know what perfect love is, and still had not adopted it: that would have been no justification for you to follow their example. When Luther began the reformation, why did he not consider all the past centuries testifying that the church had carried on in such and such a manner, and therefore should continue thus to the end of time? He did not concern himself about the past years of Christian testimony which was not according to the new light he saw, and which he knew was not conforming to Christ’s wishes. He fearlessly made a complete change in the Church’s corrupt ways. Any clear-minded, unsuperstitious person can understand that this reformation was according to the desires and teachings of Christ.

 

            “But the way you speak, if your argument amounted to something, then the reformation had been contrary to Christ. Furthermore, your argument contradicts itself. In upholding the reformation against another, new reformation, you would have to say: ‘What about the four hundred years testifying that all true Christians live according to the reformation; a reformation that was started against the fourteen or fifteen hundred years testifying that the church lived according to a certain way?’ You see the result? An absurd statement.

 

            “You are wise, you human beings, but I am wiser. Perhaps there is another puzzling question for me to solve?”

 

            A soul replied in a weary, whining way, saying: “Your arguments sound very good. But in spite of your calling it noble, and all sorts of fine names, it looks to me as tho Christianity meant for a person to go around with a long face, never smile, never enjoy life, always thinking of entering heaven and avoiding hell, and how wicked are those who go to war, and keeping aloof from all that has to do with war. I suppose that it would be worth while to live that way, but it is a queer way. Christianity is thus a melancholy sort of religion which permits only to have thots in heaven.”

 

            This soul had evidently forgotten where he was, and that he was no more an earthly person.

 

            “If I were you,” answered Satan, “I would be melancholy now. I would wear a long face and never smile at the present time. You must have had so much crape wrapped around yourself that you failed to listen to my talking, or you would not be so pessimistic about Christianity. But I am glad you brot up the question—anything, just so it proves to you that God is right and you are not. You are a man who blindfolds himself before entering an art museum, and then complains because it is the dullest place he ever went into, and wonders how anybody could find it interesting.

 

            “It is my religion that makes people never smile and always be unhappy, not only on earth, but thru eternity. My children may seemingly be joyous, but it is only for a time, and it is a tin can joy in comparison to the deep, eternal joy of a Christian. My children cannot understand about the Christian’s joy because they never had a taste of it. They have no idea what real joy is, because only a child of God can experience it.142 To them it is like playing a classic piano solo for a chief of some savage tribe: he calls it mere noise.

 

            “There is no joy like the Christian’s joy. He has no fears, either for this life or for the next one. Did you not know this: ‘These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say, Rejoice. Whom not having seen ye love; on whom though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory.’143

 

            “If you had truly followed Jesus, you would have known what this means to the heart: ‘Jehovah is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside still waters. He restoreth my soul…Surely goodness and lovingkindness shall follow me all the days of my life; And I shall dwell in the house of Jehovah for ever.144 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.’145

 

            “Yes, Christians are happy. A man going about with a sanctimonious air, thinking of how wicked others are, how wicked are those who kill, and claiming to be a Christian, is a fake and a liar. A Christian is not to think how wicked others are and how good he is. He must consider that in himself are the seeds of as great wickedness as any one else is capable of committing. He is made out of the same dust as the next person, only the next person may be getting into the mire, and it is his business to try and pull him out by telling him how bottomless it is, how treacherous his position is; instead of throwing clods of mud at him in order to sink him deeper. If the person is stubborn, it is the Christian’s sacred duty to warn him, even with sharp words; not because he wishes to abuse the unfortunate one, but because he wishes to draw him safely out of the bottomless mire.”

 

            Satan waited a few moments for this answer to take root in the minds of the souls, then he continued the discussion by asking:

 

            “What is next?”

 

            A soul sitting on the front row had something to say this time. He spoke as follows: “In general, the way you have talked all evening about the inconsistency of Christianity, one would get the impression that there are almost no true Christians on earth, that they are all more or less corrupt. And really I do not remember of seeing many good ones like you speak of. Therefore Christ’s teachings have been a failure, after all.”

 

            “A failure, were they?” replied Satan, scornfully. “Do you judge every Christian on earth by yourself? Do you think that they are all as corrupt as you are? I am talking to a group of Christians who were failures, therefore you receive the impression that all are like you. Did you think that I had the Christians of the whole world gathered here? Have I not told you that this was an unusual regalement for us?

 

            “Remember that there are many true Christians who come up to all the standards of Christ. They are not so noticeable to the world as the failures are. If a machine is well oiled and runs smoothly, without much noise, all is well and it is not noticed. On the contrary, if it is out of order, it makes an unusual racket and is noticed at once.

 

            “If you could but see all the quiet spirits who have the Bible as their best companion, and search in it daily with a heart full of peaceful joy, knowing that Jesus is with them! And often, during hard trials, when they become in spirit as helpless little children, the Great Physician puts his cool, gentle hand on their feverish foreheads, smoothing back the contrary hairs. Then it is that they experience happy contentment and carefreeness such as the world never dreams of, for they have cast all their cares upon him in prayer.146 If you knew of all this, then you would never say that Christianity was a failure, or that there are practically no real Christians.

 

            “Now that you do know a little more about the matter, does it not make you wish that you had put your trust in the wisdom of God instead of in your own? Of course it has more earthly honor to it to come home and tell how you fought and destroyed the enemy than to have all this joy I have been telling you of. However, your ideas of life suited me very well before you died—but now I want you to have the correct ideas.

 

            “Are you thru with your problems?”

 

            “It is all very nice to talk about refusing to kill,” said a soul rather briskly, “but some people must do it in order to protect the country. Any nation that is of importance cannot do without such persons. Should we let others do this in our stead so that we may escape hell and still have our country? Is that what we must do to be true Christians?”

 

            “You speak grandly for a man on his way to hell!” exclaimed Satan. “You reason things out like a savant. This evening has proven again how stubborn and blind are those who do not want to see. You claim that some persons must be men slayers. You need not fear that if you are not a man who kills, there will be nobody to do such work. There will always be enough persons ready and anxious to be in the killing profession when a war starts. Because some people do not want to know better than to be saloon keepers, is no reason why you should become a bar tender when you know enough and really wish to be a banker. If you think that you must go to kill in war as long as some ‘must’ go, then you can keep on going till the coming of Christ. He says that the world will continue in sin till his coming, as the people did in Noah’s time till the flood came and destroyed them all.147 He also says, speaking of the last days, ‘And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled: for these things must needs come to pass; but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.’148 What he says is true.

 

            “I repeat that if you want to do as the world does as long as it is necessary, or you ‘must’ for any reason, then you will never be a Christian. You could have discovered that in the Bible, for it says, ‘But evil men and imposters shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.’149 Perhaps you thought that in time the world would become better, and you would become better with it. But the world is continuing to grow worse as surely as there is a heaven and a hell. He who does not believe this is going through life with his eyes and ears closed.

 

            “Your question almost asks if preparedness is not an absolute necessity, therefore I will say a word on that subject. I suppose you would contend that preparedness is just the same as putting a roof on your house to keep out the rain. But, if you enlarge on this argument and follow out the reasoning of what preparedness implies, instead of putting a shingle roof on your house, you should build it under a water fall in order to keep the rain from coming in. The only peace guarantee would be a universal adoption of Christ’s teachings, not an exchanging of lead and steel with powder behind to hasten the exchange.

 

            “Nevertheless, preparedness must always be, and will always be. I want it so. Without preparedness there could be no war, therefore every nation must have it. As long as there are worldly people, just so long must there be preparedness among them. But Christians are true brothers to one another, even though they may belong to different nations. Therefore they need not think of killing each other or anyone else. The wicked must guard and watch one another; and they must have as much militarism as possible in order that they may protect themselves from themselves. It is the way of the world, and it cannot change. I taught it to the world. God allows it as a sort of curse upon them for their wickedness.

 

            “As for the last part of your question, that may sound very reasonable to many. But it is only a foolish question that need never have troubled you in the least.150 God has a far greater mind than you have. He knows how to arrange all things in a just manner. He will decide what to do with those who were sent to hell because they had to go to kill in your stead! Do you not know, you fool, that outside of theory no one actually goes to war in somebody’s stead, in the way that you argue?

 

            “Furthermore, even if certain questions similar to the above come up, and even if they may sound reasonable to you:

 

            “‘Have faith in God.’151

            “Your part was only to do as He commanded, and trust him to make all things work out with justice. It is his business to deal justly. Therefore, it is impossible for a small human mind to fathom or explain the system of his justice. Your business was to love all men regardless of arguments or doubts that others in their ignorance wish to present. ‘O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out!’152

 

            Satan paused a moment, then continued.

 

            “Perhaps you are one of those who say that as Christians they would wish that the others receive forgiveness for their sins, but first they must destroy some of them before it can be brought about that they recognize their sins and are in position to receive forgiveness. You think that you must help God forgive by murdering, that you must kill a few in order to save the rest from their sins. In other words: murder in the name of and for the Cause of the God of peace, and the Prince of Peace who said, “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you.’153

 

            “I say again, that all God wanted every one of you to do while on earth was to have perfect love. If you have perfect love, you will do his commandments instinctively and with great joy. The rest—He will tend to it all.”

 

            After these words, not a sound was to be heard. The souls felt crushed once more; not so much because of Satan’s personality this time as that the truth was at last beginning to penetrate.

 

            It was now near midnight. Even on the battlefield beneath, all was silent. Not even a groan from some wretched soldier with burning wounds and a desire for better things—for it was so still that a groan could have been heard. The sky had been overcast, but now the clouds had partly scattered. However, a heavy bank was rising in the northwest. Perhaps a storm was approaching. Somehow the torches were not burning quite so high as before; they had the appearance of a lamp that is lacking sufficient oil. But they still cast enough of their crimson flare over the awful hosts.

 

            It seemed as though the unusual silence had taken hold of every demon and soul; they were all as if petrified. The Watchman wondered if there was any reason for this silence. Then a gentle breeze brought a strange, sweet sound to his ears, unlike anything he had been hearing. The breeze passed on and all was silent again. He strained his ears to catch the sound once more—it had been so soft and silvery.

 

            He heard it again; but there was no breeze bringing it this time. Gradually it increased. The souls began to notice it; they lifted up their bowed heads and let fall a little of their subdued, depressed attitude. Satan wore a look of pleased brutality. How glad he was for all the agony that he could inflict on the souls, sometimes with words of an angel, sometimes with words of scorn and hate!

 

            The melodious sounds were now quite plain, although they were faint and far away. They came from a large opening among the scattered clouds. The Watchman saw the opening grow wider and he beheld, as it were, a beautiful, glowing body of light that seemed to be among the stars.

 

            As the silvery sounds had gradually increased, so this glowing body of light became more distinct. Finally he could discern a sparkling as of angels gleaming to and from in the light. It was like a mirage. And the music—the Watchman never forgot those wonderful harmonies! It was as a thousand symphony orchestras and yet as a mother singing a lullaby to her little child.

 

            The souls knew what that was which they saw and heard. Nevertheless, Satan broke the spell by saying derisively:

 

            “Look well! Listen closely! This is your opportunity to see and hear a bit of heaven. Those are saved souls rejoicing together with angels on their way home. Do you not wish that you were up there? Perhaps you would like to go up even now if I would only permit you. Aha! Look well, so that you can remember it vividly down in Hades, and realize how much you have gained by not taking to heart this passage: ‘For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’154

 

            “If only you were pure and holy as those up there! But no, you much rather be impure and unholy for all ages; at least you chose to be so before you died, when you could easily have chosen otherwise. But do not feel too disappointed or jealous of those saved ones being brought to their reward with such honor and glory, for in hell the demons will rejoice at your coming and will give you as honorable a reception as you deserve. It may be that you will not feel inclined to rejoice with them.”

 

            What pitiless words! Yet what he said was all too true. This made it all the harder for the souls; they turned their faces away from the vision in utter despair. But among all these hopeless souls, there was one who seemed to have a certain confident air about himself, as if he could make all this vanish whenever he chose.

 

            After a cloud had blotted out the light, a soul became inspired. He stood up trembling with excitement.

 

            “Let me go with those angels into heaven so I can plead my cause!” he said with great eagerness. “They will pity me. I will promise God and the angels to do anything they may ask, just so I can finally reach heaven. Let me go!”

 

            “You, go? You miserable soul?” answered Satan contemptuously. “Do not for a moment believe that they can desire your company as you desire theirs. They could and did while you were on earth, but no more now. They cannot. Your name and memory are erased, are blotted out forever from heaven.155 You are mine! MINE!”

 

            But the soul was still desirous of pleading his notion. “Just let me send a message,” he argued further. “You can dispatch one of your demons and he can deliver the message to an angel who will take it to heaven. I know they will listen to it. I know that you are Satan the Terrible, and that I deserve to be where you are, but in spite of it, let me have my wish. Surely if you are so confident that we are forever in your power, you will not fear to let me try this. Allow us to prove that we must stay in hell. Send a messenger for me!”

 

            “You think you can deceive me, don’t you?” replied Satan sneeringly. “You do not want to prove a thing. You think that God and his angels will accept you and that you will thus not have to return to me. You think that I am afraid to let you try your scheme? Wait a moment, I will soon show you how much you could accomplish. You could find out for yourself if you had any sense. But you are no exception to the rule: you have none. However, supposing that I did send a messenger in your behalf, what would you have him say to God?”

 

            “I would have him say,” replied the soul, “that I am ready to do anything in order to get to heaven. That I am willing to be set as a human being on the highest and coldest mountain peak in the world, and be made to sit there on the ice without even once changing position for five hundred years, without receiving food and never becoming benumbed or accustomed to the cold; and yet not die during all those years. I would simply stay there and suffer. I could thus also be an object lesson to other people.

 

            “Or he could tell God that I am willing to be placed in a den full of snakes and scorpions, and be made to remain in it any number of years—a hundred, five hundred, or a thousand—without ever becoming reconciled to these loathsome animals; always fearing them and feeling their bites and stings; and yet never die. I would endure it all if I knew that heaven would be my reward afterwards.

 

            “If these two ways would not find approval, he could tell God that since I know there is nothing that could possibly be too much of a hardship to be worth experiencing for heaven, I am willing to take any other punishment that he sees fit, on earth or in hell, if only it is not eternal, if only I will at last reach heaven where I can forget all misery and sorrow through everlasting time. Such would be my message to God. He would see that I am repentant and willing to suffer all, and thereby warn others, and cause them to prepare for heaven when otherwise they would not have. Now send a messenger!”

 

            “What!” ejaculated Satan, “Do you think that I will risk letting such a genius as you enter heaven? No; I will put you to inventing tortures in hell. You certainly display an unusual skill for that work; one would think that you had been in hell already. But I must commend you for one thing: you still possess the good old idea that hell will consist of nothing but ordinary physical torments. Did you never suppose that in some cases, perhaps just the thot that thru your own foolishness you are not in the Kingdom of Love would be enough torment?

 

            “After all my explanations, I did not think that you would bring up such stuff as this. I suppose I have the same result many preachers have: The audience does not understand the plainest, clearest explanations, or else they do not want to; or they forget them even before they have told the minister how lovely his sermon was. Before you began your rambling speech, why did you not think of the story I told you about the man who drowned in the lake?

 

            “While you were on earth, God gave you an easy chance to reach heaven, compared to all this which you say you are willing to impose upon yourself. But true religion is not just a ‘get to heaven and avoid hell’ proposition. According to your own words, your main object is to escape eternal damnation at all costs. Do not forget that God gave you such a beautiful, simple religion not to get you into heaven just to get you there. He gave you such a religion in order to give you a character of perfect love, as a result of which you naturally go to heaven, when your time comes to leave the earth. All those who have the perfect love of Christ are gathering in one place to stay for eternity and expand their characters. That place is heaven, the Kingdom of Love.

 

            “The sooner you accept a character of perfect love, the happier and safer you are, and the more you please God. And yet, God is so kind, so merciful, that even after a life of sin, if you in your last hour decide from your heart to put on this love, he will give it to you, and you will enter his home. He will even make the great exception of not requiring baptism, if it is impossible to have it at such an extreme moment.156

 

            “I have already explained to you what a character of perfect love means and implies in its simplicity and matchless beauty.

 

            “Furthermore, I presume you think that God would believe that you could endure such terrible afflictions, as you have suggested, when you could not even endure it for a few decades to have people point at you and say: ‘Ah, there goes a non-combatant. He is afraid to handle a gun. He is not patriotic; he is a slacker. He is willing to have us protect him, but he will not help protect himself or us. Let him alone; he is merely one of these fanatic Christians who think that they are too good to shoot in war time.’

 

            “No, you rather took the chance of going to hell than to hear such things said of you. And now you would ask God to believe that you would undergo any sufferings for even a thousand years! Sufferings which, if you will give the matter a little serious thought, you could not and would not endure for a day; in spite of all your brave assertions. Just consider what it would mean to live thru such heathenish tortures as you propose. After you would have been in one of them for a few hours, you would forget all about tonight, and how terrible the thot of eternal condemnation is. You would be ready to quit and take chances of avoiding hell some other way. But God should swallow all this fabricated nonsense of yours. I must admit that you give God credit for more patience than anybody ever has heretofore. But if he did have a patience such as you expect of him, he would not be a just God.

 

            “He gave you a fair chance, well within your reach. You refused it, scorned it. Now you wish to dictate to him far more difficult methods to get yourself into heaven. You ought to see that if you would be allowed to follow any method you happened to choose, even if it was only a suggestion to suffer punishment that is not eternal, God would be forced to change his entire system, all his perfect laws of right and wrong, from the time we left heaven until now. Then, too, it would no more be a just system. Probably you would be the only one who could enter heaven, for, according to my knowledge of human nature, no other person would undertake such hard ways of obtaining mercy.

 

            “As for your being a warning to others, God says that you would not be a warning.157 How could people believe that you are sincere, when you could not be sincere in ordinary trials before? You would justly be a subject of derision. You would remind them of a heathen whose self-invented gods require all sorts of self-inflicted tortures. Friend, you would have made a better heathen than a Christian.”

 

            Satan paused but a moment, then said:

 

            “One more opportunity for a question or two. Nothing trifling; we have little time left.”

 

            The soul who had such a confident air, shot up and spoke exultantly, saying: “Now I have got you! It was making me feel very bad to have you prove from the Bible that it was all our fault. But all the time I was trying to think of a certain passage that I knew did not fit with all this. It came to my mind a while ago. It proves that the Bible is a book of lies by your presence here. Listen: ‘And the angels that kept not their own principality, but left their proper habitation, he hath kept in everlasting bonds under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.’158 Why are you not under darkness in bonds as it says? Answer me that if you can!”

 

            A snarl of extreme hatred and enmity against God arose from the vast hosts of angels that kept not their own principality. The Watchman had never heard them utter such a vindictive sound as this was.

 

            Satan ground his teeth as he shook his great fist heavenward in fearful rage. Then he exclaimed in an infuriated tone:

 

            “Curse you, you miserable soul! Who do you think you are to want to know so much? What business have you to ask such a question? We approached this subject near enough before. Why must you bring it up again? I have been telling you that the Bible is true; can you not believe it yet? But the worst is that I am compelled to answer your impertinent question, or you will go into eternal damnation thinking that it is not your fault, and that the Bible is false.

 

            “Your question has inflamed afresh all our hatred against God; and for asking it, I would want to cast you to the bottom of hell without further delay. But I must convince you that the Bible is not false. I must explain this matter carefully to you Christians; after all it will add to the proof that you alone are at fault, and also it will show you that you are no better than we are.

 

            “Demons! Utter not a sound while I explain. There is no object in hiding the facts, since they have come up in this manner.

 

            “We lost our estate, our principality, in heaven because we refused to obey God’s commandments. We remember well how beautiful it was up there. But we became stubborn, we wanted our way. We got it, and we are glad that we did. As a punishment we were cast into darkness and received such shapes as we have. Also, we retained the characters we sprouted against God, for we want to retain them, and we must retain them. When we think of what a beautiful place we took away from ourselves, and of the beautiful shapes that we had, the places we must exist in now, and the ugly shapes we have, are a bondage. But we never regret that we took it all away from ourselves by behaving against God—as I will explain further. It is a terrible bondage; and it is our fault. That makes us mad. If we could only blame God with justice! But we cannot. We hate him all the more because he is not at fault.

 

            “We hate him and justice because we must thus be in the hell we made ourselves, and must know that at the last day it or a similar place will become our everlasting place of torment! We hate him because he is so just that he put us out of heaven for what we did and desired to do, instead of allowing us to pollute it as we pleased! We can never forgive him for having refused to let us rule heaven as we wished. We can never forgive him! We hate him!

 

            “We hate justice and love. Those two things had no reason for existing. Why could we not take them out of heaven and still remain where it was so beautiful! But since we could not remove them from their place, we far rather be in this bondage.

 

            “We know what justice and love are. We know that God is both of them perfectly. We hate justice all the more because it brought us here. We hate love all the more because love alone can render perfect justice. Without true justice, there is no true love. Without perfect love, there is no true justice.

 

            “Already in heaven we knew what would be the result if we failed to overpower God. But we decided to blot out justice and love at any price. Because of our decision, we have at least succeeded in creating a great kingdom where love and justice are not.

 

            “After our misbehavior, God created human beings on earth. The greatest pleasure of our kingdom is to cause these beings also to lose the estate and principality which we lost. God is giving them a chance to win this estate merely by accepting his love. They are tested on earth, and their characters will never change, as ours did, when once they pass into hell or heaven. We are the only ones who ever changed characters in heaven, and it will never again occur.159

 

            “Thus, while we are really in bondage, it is not a bondage because we would desire to change our characters. But it is a bondage because we cannot do as we would want to in heaven, and must therefore do it in this darkness. And do it we will!”

 

            After these words of Satan, the demons gave forth a wild scream of triumph. At the same time it was also an expression of their absolute enmity against God; therefore it was doubly wild and fierce. Its echoes reverberated far into the darkness.

 

            When they were again silent, Satan said,

 

            “If any of you doubt whose fault it is that you are entering hell; if any of you think that the Bible is false: then doubt and think in your own perverse and headstrong way, if you please to do so. But regardless of your stubbornness and hardness of heart, you will be in torments from now on into eternity. That fact is indisputable.

 

            “In a little while you will all be on your way to hell. I could have sent you earlier, and have had you convinced in general of your guilt and hopelessness with a few words. But I desired to prolong your hoping, and also blast it, by explaining the matter in detail. Now, I am going to give you the essence of all that you have heard. What I am going to say will not be a further attempt to prove your guilt, but simply a summing up of tonight’s discourse. It will be the key to all that has been said and that has happened since you came among us. Had you carefully considered it before, you would have known that all your questions and arguments were in vain.

 

            “I am glad, and rejoice greatly, to see that you were so stupid and failed to apply it to yourselves. It has given me an opportunity to add a little cream to your desolation and misery, the taste of which will remain with you through the ages to come.

 

            “A few more words to settle this, your last stand upon earth. Then you go!”

 

            Satan paused, surveying his audience with gratified lust and hate blazing in his eyes. It was a complete victory for him.

 

            The blood red and evil looking light of the once flaming torches was almost extinguished. But it was still possible to discern the individuals of the congregation because of the two torches close by. Over the great throngs there was an almost total darkness, except for a narrow belt of dim light around the edge of the immense floor. If it had been entirely dark, the aspect would not have been so terrible as this spectral mixture of inky blackness and crimson illumination.

 

            The bank of heavy clouds had come rolling up with rapidity; the thunder had begun to mutter and rumble; now and then a brilliant flash of lightning had cut its way through the restless clouds. The sky was almost completely covered, except for a strip along the south and southeastern horizon.

 

            Whether it was merely a coincidence or not, the Watchman could not determine, but a few moments after Satan ceased to speak, a deafening crash of thunder descended from the now boiling clouds, accompanied by a blinding flash of lightning. It was a fitting punctuation to his harangue. Also, it was a forerunner of the tempest approaching like an express train, borne along by a great wind which the Watchman heard coming with an ominous rushing sound.

 

            One terrific crash of thunder after another followed the first outburst. The lightning flashes came in such a continuous succession that they put fear in the Watchman’s heart; for they, together with the lurid, dying glow of the crimson torches, and the dismal blackness, caused a feeling of chilliness and unknown terror to sweep over him.

 

            A deafening report would explode immediately overhead, and its echo or another thunder could be heard rolling and rumbling in the distance. The Watchman supposed that the elements would pause after such a fearful convulsion. But no, almost on its heels would follow a worse detonation.

 

            Then, with a suddenness that was more startling than the thunder, and with a penetrating power of voice that made every word understandable above the cannonading of nature’s artillery, and above the roar of the approaching wind and rain, Satan began his final words, articulating each syllable as hard as possible.

 

            “This is the end. This is the last answer that I have for you. It covers all the points that were mentioned, if it is accepted with complete faith:

 

            “‘Love one another. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.160 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and that he was carried away by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: and the rich man also died, and was buried. And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things: but now here he is comforted, and thou art in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, that they that would pass from hence to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from thence to us. And he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house; for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. But Abraham saith, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one go to them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, if one rise from the dead.’”161

 

            The wind and rain of the storm came with a fury upon the assembled hosts, even before Satan was through with his final answer; and the torches died down altogether just before the wind struck, as though all was finished. But in spite of the darkness, the thunder, the blinding flashes of lightning, and the vehement wind driving the down pouring torrents of rain and hail onto them with a sudden violence, Satan’s stentorian voice rose easily above it all—as though it were riding on the mighty wings of the tempest itself.

 

            The victims of Satan were now utterly without hope. The last words of Satan had come upon them as one explosion after another, crushing them completely, and scattering their few remaining hopes beyond all recovery for everlasting ages. They were experiencing for the first time what it means to be absolutely without desire for the inevitable future to become present.  When in human form, even if they dreaded the future at times, they always had a certain hope, knowing that on earth a storm can never last. But now all was changed. It was of no avail to have an earthly ambition to plunge through the darkness in order to get beyond it. The darkness that they had entered was bottomless, limitless. They knew that they would only keep on sinking deeper, and deeper, and deeper into its fearful blackness as the years, the centuries, the millenaries, the tens of millenaries would roll by ceaselessly—but so slow!

 

            “To hell with them! To hell with them!” shouted Satan with that mighty voice that again fairly drowned the noise of the tempest. Instantly a mad commotion began among the hordes as they took up the slogan, and shouted with Satan in a pandemonium of piercing shrieks and hoarse bellows:

 

            “TO HELL WITH THEM! TO HELL WITH THEM! TO HELL WITH THEM!”

 

            A pathway was opened and a company of demons herded the souls away through the lane. Perhaps they were now realizing that after they died as unconfessed sinners, God no more stretched forth his kind, interfering, and guiding hand, when danger threatened, as he had so often done for them on earth; even when they did not deserve it, and when perhaps they seldom thanked him for his mercy, when perhaps they were unconscious of his guarding presence. They were no more known by any creature outside of hell’s crew; for: “Jehovah knoweth the way of the righteous; but the way of the wicked shall perish. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: As wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.”162 Their names were blotted out of the book of life.163

 

            Already the demons were turned loose for the wild dance which began afresh over the entire floor. They had been worked up to such a bursting point by their diabolical exultation at the ever increasing wretchedness of the souls, and by their hatred re-inflamed against God, that they leaped into the dancing with a terrific frenzy. Their madly moving feet trampled the benches and pulpit with savage recklessness.

 

            The souls knew that in a few moments they would be cut off from this earth; that in a few moments they would be gone never to see their native land again, where they had had so many opportunities to do right.

 

            As they moved along, the Watchman followed them, and he thought on this wise: “What a difference between the two ways of suffering! In the one, we know that it is not our fault, but Satan’s: that we are enduring it for the sake of our Savior; and that in the end we shall be with Him in the Kingdom of Perfect Love and Everlasting Joy. In the other, we know that it is our fault; that we are enduring it four our sake; and that in the end it will be an eternal suffering in the Kingdom of Hate. If we would carefully, and with prayer, compare the two, which one would we choose? Would we not realize that the first one is but for a few vapory years; that soaring above it all, no matter how great the suffering may be, there is continuous Love and Peace in the heart? Would we not realize that the second will be everlasting, never ceasing, never ending; and without an atom of love or peace?”

 

            Satan in his chariot, and the company of demons following him, escorted the souls up into the night and away. In spirit the Watchman could see them go on their journey through the wastes of space, beyond the universe, to hell. Never to return. Gone forever. Lost.

 

 

 

THE END







home