3: Just Outside the City Walls

Just as we were coming near the great gateway one of the elders came and met us, saying, “All welcome, ye children of God. Your Redeemer stands just inside the gate over there at which you will soon enter.” The elder made such a lovely bow and his words were so cordial and full of love it seemed to send a thrill of gladness over every soul.

I looked up at the majestic wall. It was of great height and shone with a brightness I cannot describe. It rested on twelve massive foundations, each having the name of one of the apostles above it, and so they decreased to the twelfth and presented the appearance of a majestic stairway. The name of Peter was written on the first foundation, Paul on the second, John on the third, James on the fourth, and so on to the top. From this topmost foundation, garnished with an amethyst, the wall rose to a great height. The light streaming from these foundations was most precious. Just here I noticed Abraham passing nearby, and I asked him the mystery of the wall and its foundations.

“Oh,” said he, “this wall is the eternal security of God’s people. As long as this wall shall stand they are eternally safe. The mighty truths of God, promulgated by the apostles, as taught by our Lord Himself, is our eternal safety. Certain of the angels many long years before my time on milk, abode not in the truth, and God cast them out and they fell into eternal darkness and shame. But now this wall, of which you can see but a very little portion, entirely encircles this giant city, and within the truths suggested by these foundations we shall ever abide, going in and out and finding everlasting comfort. You see that great Judean gate over there? Its frame and hinges are of the purest gold and set with one great pearl. This gate always stands open for there is no restraint in heaven. Unbounded liberty is now yours forever. And the wall has respect to these outside as well as to those inside. The angel at the gateway is to give direction to all who may inquire. You will further remember that there are twelve of these gates as well as twelve foundations and there are twelve angels as well as twelve gates. No man can enter these gates not fully prepared. Did you notice some who dropped back far into the rear? In the world the truth had to be observed for any advancement. This wall with its gates marks a definite experience in the journey of the redeemed. It is a fuller development of the great truths suggested by the ancient tabernacle, the holy and the most holy place has reference to the saints on earth and those in heaven.”

Just at this time I noticed many happy souls with the glory of God upon them, coming through the gateway toward us. They were all clothed in the purest white and each with a harp in his hand. As they drew near us, there began to be a general recognition of each other. These had been redeemed from the sections of the earth from which we had come. Many of them were old friends who had passed from the earth many years ago, yet whom we had known so well in early life and as soldiers in the Lord’s army many of us had fought His battles together.

The recognition was so full and memories so fresh it seemed as only yesterday when we had parted from them, when they said good-bye and sailed toward the harbor. There was no attempt to restrain feelings for they could not be restrained. It was one ‘hallelujah’ to God. They seemed as much delighted as we. I thought again how weakly we had believed God’s word in the earth and yet how divinely true it was. We spent a long time in shaking hands and in love’s embrace, with a conscious sense that we were now united in an eternal union. I thought again of Paul’s words: “Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) Many angels were mingling among us and seemed in great delight at witnessing our joy.

One of them said to me, “We have been watching over you since your infancy in the world, looking forward to this very time. We rejoice with you and have an increasing joy as we behold your own.”

Abraham now stood up prominently before us all and with his hand motioned for silence, and said, “I wish now to repeat to you all a portion of God’s Word which I know you will recognize: ‘But ye are now come unto Mount Zion and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first born which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling which speaks better things than the blood of Abel.’” (Hebrews 12:22-24)

Indeed it brought it fresh to all our memories, for our hearts were burning with great emotion, but scarcely did we know what to say, we were so over-awed at our surroundings, and the real consciousness that it was ourselves and our friends who had met in an undying state and in a sinless country, and in the presence of some who had lived thousands of years ago amid customs so different from our own, also face to face with the angels of whose beginning we knew nothing, among all whom I saw none who seemed aged or feeble. Some that I had known in the earth as old men now seemed young and the very picture of health and enjoyment. The angels also were clothed with youthful appearance and vigor. I said to one of them, “How is it that the passing of so many years does not make its mark upon you here?”

“Oh,” said the angel, “one day here is as a thousand years of an earthly existence. No one ever grows older in appearance or feelings in this world. We are undying and undecaying. We are clothed only with immortality. No one ever feels a pain or knows a sorrow here.”

Just at that moment, a woman who had been standing near and listening to the conversation, clapped her hands with ecstatic joy and said, “Oh, blessed be God for such a deliverance! I was greatly afflicted for thirty years before I was released from my earthly pain and sorrow. I was reduced to poverty and want, often spending many days and nights alone and lonely. My sickness was of long duration and my suffering was great. Occasionally a passing neighbor would visit for a moment, sometimes leaving a bunch of flowers and sometimes a prayer that God would support me in my affliction. One dark night there came up a very great storm of wind and rain. The lightning flashed constantly and the thunder shook my cabin until I certainly thought it would fall down. Being all alone my fears were great. But all at once a light, beautiful and soft, filled all the room, and I thought I heard a voice whisper saying, ‘Be not afraid, I am with you, you shall not be afraid of the terror by night.’ Suddenly I seemed to see the presence of shining ones in my room. I sat up in my bed and said, ‘Oh, Lord, are You here?’ and repeated a word from the prophet: ‘I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song.’ (Isaiah 12:2) All the remainder of that night I was filled with praises to God. My soul was exceedingly happy.”

Just then the angel who had been talking with us, smilingly said, “I know all about that night and was present with you. I was present also at your bedside the night you died and strengthened your soul that your trust might be perfect until you were released, and my co-charioteer over there brought you safely to the portals of paradise.” Just at this moment she began to praise God again for her great deliverance, and I said to myself again, ‘Surely those who had the poorest and hardest fare in the world are happiest now.’

We have lingered long enough just for a glance at the surroundings outside the city walls. I must hurry on to what was within, for great attractions were inside. d


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We were nearing the great gateway. Every one of the new arrivals was filled with wonder and excitement. We had heard so much about the holy city while we lived in the world, of its many mansions, its streets of gold, its gates of pearl, its transparent light without sun or moon, so that we all felt an intense yearning to enter in. But the greatest attraction of all was to see Him whom our souls loved and by whom we had been redeemed and by whose blood we had been washed from our sins. We had already been told that He was waiting near the gate in one of the mansions and that the great Book of Life would be near Him and be opened to the pages bearing our names. This filled us with great anxiety—although we felt a sweet assurance that our names were there, and that we would receive His gracious welcome. Yes, we felt sure or we never would have been carried by the angels into paradise were it not so. For we had confessed Him on earth and we knew He had already confessed us before His Father and the angels. This gave us comfort, and then we knew we had been eating of the tree of life and drinking of the crystal river, so with confidence we kept looking forward. We knew we had been trying to please Him, and the conscious sense that all our sin had been forgiven and our robes washed and made white was additional consolation to us now. We felt we would soon stand before the Judge of all the earth.

God’s Word seemed further comfort where He says: “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” (Revelation 22:14) We felt such a comfort in this assurance, that if we had a right to the tree of life, and the fruit given us was by an elder’s hand, and that Abraham himself had refreshed and immortalized us from the river of God which came from the Throne itself, that the angel at the gate would not prevent us from entering now.

Just at this time my mother, who had been busily engaged in conversation with others, came to me and said, “You need have no fears. It gave me much joy when many years ago I was passing near where the angel was recording the names of those who had been born again, and seeing your name I at once asked the angel who it was. He called another angel who had just come from the scenes of earthly conflict, where they were having great religious awakenings, and asked him if he could tell who these were whose names were just written. ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘I have just been among them,’ and described everything in such detail that I had all assurance it was you. Then other names which I saw registered were from the same place. My old home—our old home. Indeed the memory of it is dear to me as I think of it now. We will talk over the details of it someday, as things have been since I left you all. My soul was filled with exceeding great joy when I saw your name. Then the angel told me when he found I was your mother, that he went with you and your cousin, whom I knew so well, one night as you went from the scenes of prayer and stood by your side late at night, while you solemnly made a vow and pledged faithfulness to God and to each other, that he went and woke your father who was sleeping in another room and led him out to witness your covenant. Oh, you may know that not only I, but the angels rejoiced with me when they brought me the news. He also told me of the conversion of other members of our family, and many more in the neighborhood.”

“Well, well,” I said, “does heaven have such communications as these with the affairs of the world?” How little we seemed to know it! Yet my mother’s words brought up all this past experience. The scenes of my conversion, midnight prayers, earnest labor for others, the events she just alluded to with many others all came rushing through my mind and the memory was fresh as though but yesterday.

I said, “How blind I was not to see the angel who was with me. The mighty veil of mortality, how it blinds the eye of man from spiritual beings and things! How far away they seem to be and yet how very near! I remembered how angels assisted Lot and his family from the condemned city of Sodom, and why should they not assist in the soul’s great struggle after salvation! For I remember: ‘They are all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation.’” (Hebrews 1:14)

By this time we were entering the massive Judean gateway. Our hearts were all filled with joy in the expectation of so soon seeing Him whom our souls loved. As we passed through the gateway the most beautiful scene met our gaze that we had ever witnessed before in heaven or on earth. Human language cannot describe it. To say the streets were pure gold or transparent glass would give the best idea by way of comparison of any object I know. The great thoroughfares leading from the gate seemed to lead off toward the center of the holy city. On the right hand as we passed in were mighty, stupendous columns of precious stone shining with a brightness that heaven only knows. Massive domes and great archways were overhead. Nothing showed any signs of decay or age. No rubbish or signs of wear. The light toward the mansions was exceeding great. Our Lord now came forward to meet and welcome us. Twelve legions of happy souls had now filed in at the great gateway and stood before our King. The glory and majesty of His being can never be described. The beloved disciple on Patmos once tried to tell of His glorious appearance as He revealed Himself on earth. He was then clothed with a flowing garment down to His feet and girt about with a golden belt. His head and hair seemed white as snow, and His eyes as a flame of fire. His feet were glowing like burnished brass. His countenance was like the sun at midday, a sharp two-edged sword was in his mouth and seven stars were in His right hand. (Revelation 1:13-16) But when the disciples saw Him on the Mount of Transfiguration sixty-three years before, His garments then shone as the light and His face with the brilliancy of the sun. On earth He was called the fairest among ten thousand and altogether lovely. But as He is now in His exaltation in heaven—the language is too tame to express His glory. He bore the marks in His hands, and above His sandals the nail prints showed distinctly. He was the very embodiment of light. It was not dazzling to our eyes as was Moses’ face to Israel of old, for we were prepared for it—since the days of our conversion on earth until we passed through this gate we were being prepared for this vision of our Lord. Oh, how powerful were the words of Scripture as I looked upon His face and then glanced far into the city! “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, for the glory of God did lighten it and the Lamb is the light thereof.” (Revelation 21:23) He was also the embodiment of love itself. Every feature of His face spoke of love. Indeed it was the reflection of His Father’s infinite love. All the love in heaven or in the church on earth came from Him. He welcomed us to Him, and as we came, by one mighty impulse we all fell on our faces and began to worship Him with adoring praise, saying, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain and has redeemed us to God by your blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation.” (Revelation 5:9) The angels and the saints who met us, also joined and sang some new songs which we had never heard before. Our souls were in ecstasies of joy not to be described.

How long we remained upon our faces we could not tell for our gladness, joys and great satisfaction were so deep and blessed we took no note of eternity’s register. He now addressed us in most loving words, giving us His cordial welcome and confessing us before the multitude of angels present, and to His Father’s face, and without further introduction we felt perfectly acquainted.

“Come,” said He, “look into this Book. I have opened it to the pages most interesting to you.”

We all gathered around Him in turns as closely as we could, to look upon the pages of the great Book of books, the heavenly records of the past and future.

Not only were our names written, but underneath them were many things bearing upon our work for God while in the earth. I then remembered what God had said by one of His prophets which I read a hundred times over. That a, “book of remembrance was written before Him for them that thought upon His name, ‘And they shall be mine,’ saith the Lord of hosts, ‘in that day when I make up my jewels.’” (Malachi 3:16-17)

We only took time to read a little of what was written, for our Lord said, “You now have perfect liberty to go where you will and to read at your leisure the contents of this most wonderful book.” In glancing over its pages we noticed the names of some who were with us when we first entered paradise, who had fallen back in the rear and remained far outside the gates of pearl. Without any further words of explanation we knew that they were not prepared, but were like the ancient high priest when unsanctified, unworthy of the altar, so these could not serve around the Throne. Yet we knew they would be brought in, for they were somewhere along the river of life and among the trees whose fruit was their food and whose leaves were for their healing. Their present reward was all that God could give them with their present stage of grace. These leaves, we knew, were only for those whose names were in the Book of Life and that they have the same healing power in them that the sanctifying grace of God had in His kingdom on earth. The remedy indeed was around them, but they would not receive it. They never realized the deep meaning of the precious sacrifice for them, but how thankful to know that the power of His blood is so effective for those of His people on this side of the river as well as on that. We knew also that much of our redemption is yet to follow and will be realized at the resurrection morning of the great day.

I had often wondered if we should have knowledge of the lost ones and should miss any of our friends from the holy city, if we would not be filled with sadness and grief, although God had said: “All tears should be wiped away.” (Revelation 21:4) But now I found it was all settled; I had been there long enough to pass the river of life, drink of its crystal waters, eat of the fruit of the trees upon its banks, and be greeted by thousands of the blood-washed from the chariots of God, beside entering in at the gates, and during all this time only the highest emotions of praise filled my soul. I was so completely in God’s love, and my own will was so lost in the conscious will of my blessed Redeemer, that I had never thought once of weeping about anything. In fact, I found that all my faculties and inclination to sorrow and sadness were gone and I could see things as God sees them.

And then as I stood beside my Redeemer and Lord, and the great Book of Life lay open before me, and I could see far into the city and could see multitudes of happy souls whom I had not met nor did I know who they might be—some I did not know, but some whom I had known on earth and had feared were among the lost might be here in the city, and especially since I had been greeted by some whom I never expected to see in heaven. And in looking over the pages of the Book of Life I saw the names of many whom I thought would not be there, and I knew they must be somewhere in the great city or in the vast domains of the paradise of God.

I now felt eager to go on and mingle with the happy souls which I saw passing in all directions. The Lord had said, “You have entire liberty. Go where you will.” I turned to see the rest of our legions, for I had been so enraptured by what I saw and heard, that I had stayed long, but to my surprise they had scattered in many directions—some had gone with their friends to quiet places, and beneath the trees, they were sitting on the upholstery of heaven in joyous conversation; others, meeting with old friends, had boarded the chariots and with them gone to distant places of the city.

My mother was still near me and motioned for me to come with her. We walked only a short distance and sat down beside a stupendous column of what seemed jasper and sapphire, shining with the light which the eternal city only knows. The cushions were of the finest fabric, and the upholstering had been done by the hands of saints and angels, for everyone is busily employed in heaven. Compulsion is not known, but contentment of which we only knew the shadow while in our most restful moments in earth, seemed to clothe everyone here as a garment. e


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I now turned to my mother and said, “I have been wanting a private talk with you for some time. It does seem so good to be here with you. It seems like a very short time since I sat upon your knee and you told me the story of our future home. How little I comprehended the reality of it! But we are safe in the city now and I want to ask you some questions about our home here, our privileges and duties.”

“Be perfectly free to ask any questions you like. We learn of the wonders of our Father’s house, just as we did on earth, by applying ourselves to all the means and sources of knowledge.”

“I want to know first what privileges we have here in heaven, both in the city and outside in paradise and elsewhere, and what are the laws that govern these privileges and our behavior?”

“I understand fully,” she said, “what you want to know. You have asked some very important questions, and I am glad to assist you with any detailed explanations you wish.

“Your privileges, however, are unbounded. Your capacities for pleasure and enjoyment are greatly enlarged since leaving the scenes of your earthly life. Everything here invites the fullest exercise of every faculty of your soul. Your behavior will be governed by a knowledge of God’s will. You will never wish to do anything or act in any way contrary to the will of God.

“The law of love and light is the law of the heavenly kingdom. No one wishes to do anything here which would not be morally right. There is no thought or suggestion by anyone, of himself or another doing anything morally wrong. You have found, no doubt, before this that you have no inclinations within yourself or temptation from without to do any wrong thing. Everything that you feel inclined to do is right, so far as moral right is concerned. Your knowledge is yet limited. Whatever God approves and your knowledge comprehends, you will approve from the innermost depths of your soul. His will becomes law to you. He never charges guilt upon anyone here, for no one in all this heavenly kingdom has any feelings or wish to disobey. Sin is not known here. That great curse of the earth is entirely banished from these streets and mansions of the city, from the drives, walks and resorts of paradise as well. No stain of sin has ever been here since God cast out the angels who sinned. Every one of those thousands whom you see over there coming and going are the image of God so completely that they have no desire to do otherwise than just to fulfill His will. Our duty here is only a blessed privilege. It is our great delight to do all we ought to do. Restraint and compulsion, of which I remember we knew so much in the earth, are words which have no meaning here. You have noticed, no doubt before this, that everyone you have met or seen has been perfectly joyful and happy. Discontent is unknown here. Everyone is altogether satisfied and entirely at rest.”

“Oh, how wonderfully grand this is!” I replied. “But I should like to know further, if I do not weary you with my questions, what privileges we have here in heaven, by way of going from place to place, and visiting among the beautiful mansions I see lining those great avenues and thoroughfares of the city. Our Lord has said, ‘Go where you will, enjoy yourselves.’”

“Oh!” she said, smilingly. “Go just where you please. All that you see and infinitely more are yours—yes, all are yours. Do you not remember that Scripture: ‘All are yours, and ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s’? (1 Corinthians 3:22-23) I have been here for over sixty years and I have gone multitudes of times to distant parts of the city, and yet I have seen but a little portion of my inheritance. Speaking in language which you will better understand, the city is fifteen hundred miles each way and its height is the same as its length and breadth. (Revelation 21:16-17) So its vastness is sufficient for you and you have the privileges of it all.”

“Oh, my mother! How wonderful are the works of God! I am simply lost in admiration and wonder!”

“Indeed,” said she, “your wonder will never come to an end. Story upon story is built and the inconceivable height and glory and vastness can never be fully comprehended by us. You see those fountains over there gushing with their pure water of life?”

“Yes,” I replied, “I have been noticing them for quite a while and wanted to ask you concerning them, for I see so many gathering about them and drinking from golden goblets. I presume they are free for all?”

“Indeed, and they are throughout the city and even to the remotest parts of paradise. Do you remember the Scripture which I used to read to you nearly seventy years ago, that, ‘The Lamb which is in the midst of the Throne shall feed them and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters’?” (Revelation 7:17)

“Sure enough, I have read it hundreds of times since, but I never thought it meant so much.”

“But when you get to the Throne itself you will see the greatness of its meaning as you cannot now. You have already eaten of the trees of life, and drank of the crystal river, I am sure, for you have that privilege immediately on coming into the border lands of heaven, but did you notice there were twelve kinds of fruit on each tree?” (Revelation 22:2)

“Yes, so the elder told me. I have eaten only a very few times since entering paradise, and others have selected for me. Those lovely trees in the midst of the street, how full of fruit they are!”

“They were all planted and are growing by the immediate direction of our Lord Himself,” said mother. “You remember His words while on earth: ‘I go to prepare a place for you,’ (John 14:2) and here it is. Those fountains and trees with all their blessing are forever yours. One never tires of anything he has here, nor wishes for anything that he cannot have. The varieties of food are so abundant you can eat and be wholly satisfied.”

Just at this moment we saw one not far away, whom among the thousands we distinguished as one of the elders. I said to mother, “Would he mind stopping for a short visit with us? What do you think?”

“No doubt he would be pleased to do so.” So she motioned for him to come over to us. As he was coming toward us she said, “Oh, it is Moses, sure.”

“How thankful I am,” I replied, “for I have been wishing to see him ever since we entered paradise.” But as he came nearer I felt something of an awe coming over me as I remembered his greatness while on earth. I also felt a fear that the questions which I wished to ask him might not interest him since, as I thought, he had been asked the same a thousand times.

“You don’t need to fear,” said mother, “to ask him any questions you like, for he will take great pleasure in assisting you in any way he can.”

Meeting a group at one of the fountains nearby, he was detained for a time, in conversation with them. While waiting for him, I said, “I remember in the Scriptures it is said, ‘There are twenty-four elders in heaven.’”

“Yes,” said mother, “twelve from former dispensations and twelve since the days of Christ.”

I asked if there were the same distinctions and reverence shown here as on earth.

“Quite the same,” said she, “only on a true basis—for past fidelity and merit. The elders are greatly honored here in heaven. They have already had their resurrection which gives them superior advantages for enjoyment and service and yet their bodies are so spiritual that instead of being a hindrance to them they are a very great help and advantage. You have noticed, no doubt, how wonderfully they are in the likeness of the Lord Himself.”

“I have noticed that already in what I have seen in Abraham and Joshua, and I now remember that Scripture where the prophet said, ‘I shall be satisfied when I awake in your likeness.’” (Psalm 17:15)

“Indeed,” said mother, “and we are all looking toward that event with great interest. No doubt you have heard since your coming that the Lord has intimated that the time has nearly come when the general resurrection will take place. When you and I and all these multitudes of souls shall have our spiritual bodies. The great Father Himself, whose Spirit you so abundantly feel and which is the very atmosphere of the city and all paradise, has made us all to feel and know that the time is nearly here. There are some events to occur upon earth first, and then our Lord Jesus accompanied with all the angels and this mighty host of redeemed spirits made perfect, will descend to the earth, the order will be that when we are near the earth where our bodies are sleeping (for what we used to call death is only a sleep), that the archangel will give a great shout of victory and the trumpet of God will be blown with a mighty blast and the power of God will awaken and revive all our bodies and they will instantly spring from the dust and with a mighty change will be made spiritual and we will instantly be united with them and be forever in the perfect image of Jesus, and the last stroke of our redemption will be completed.”

“Oh!” I replied. “How wonderful is the plan of our redemption! God has given us, I remember, the same idea of what you have been saying as recorded in the New Testament Scripture.”

“Yes,” said mother, “and this is the hope and expectation of all the church in heaven and on earth. But I see Moses is now coming to us and we will have to leave further conversation on this subject until another time.”

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