6: The Children’s Great Cathedral

The place was most beautiful indeed. The decorations were beyond description, for everyone seemed to take an interest in the children and had brought flowers celestial, worked into bouquets and wreaths of artistic beauty, with blooming shrubbery of an unfading character and of many kinds. I thought of the Scripture: “Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.”  (Psalm 96:6)

“Beautiful and grand indeed!” I whispered. The decorations overhead, the carpets underfoot, the upholstery and cushions were of the finest fabric, with tiny seats also of celestial velvet, for the little ones. A thousand golden chains sparkling with diamonds, and gems of rarest beauty were arranged for the leaders in the service. A large and beautifully arranged platform was in the center on which several thousand could sit or stand, elevated so that all could easily be seen and heard. This was for the leaders in the great public services.

Great multitudes of children were quickly filing in, and gathering towards this great center. They had escorts guiding them to their respective places. They, like all the inhabitants of heaven, were clothed in shining garments of the purest white. They had all entered the portals of the heavenly domain at some point of paradise, for it will be remembered that all souls enter paradise first of all, and as they are prepared for the fuller enjoyment of the King and His glory, they pass on toward the Throne where God Himself is seen and enjoyed in all His glory and majesty.

All these children had been for a longer or shorter period in the preparatory departments of paradise, but they had now entered through the gates with greatly extended privileges.

As I glanced over the countless multitude of little ones, I was most strongly reminded of the words of our Lord: “Suffer the children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mark 10:14) I thought again that no longer was the warning needed that: “Whosoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Mark 9:42) ‘No,’ I thought, ‘thank God, no more experiences of being cuffed about as many had been on earth. No more little heartaches and sobs. No more being falsely accused and blamed by irritated older ones!’

I thought as I looked over this wonderful gathering that every child had a history of its own. I thought of little Mary and her sad story of whom we used to sing on earth. A mother who was preparing some flour for baking into cakes left it for a few minutes when little Mary, with childish curiosity to see what it was, took hold of the dish which fell to the floor spilling the contents. The mother struck the child a severe blow, saying, with anger, that she was always in the way. A fortnight afterward little Mary’s sickness had increased to her death. On her death bed while delirious she asked her mother if there would be any room for her among the angels. “I was always in your way, mother, you had no room for me at times in your heart. And shall I be in the angels’ way?” The broken-hearted mother then felt no sacrifice too great, could she have saved the child.


When the dewy light was fading
And the sky in beauty smiled,
Came this whisper, like an echo,
From a pale and dying child:

“Mother, in that golden region
With its pearly gates so fair,
Up among the happy angels,
Is there room for Mary there?

“Mother, raise me just a moment;
You’ll forgive me when I say
You were angry when you told me
I was always in your way.

“You were sorry in a moment,
I could read it on your brow,
But you’ll not recall it, mother;
You must never mind it now.

“When my baby sister calls me
And you hear my voice no more;
When she plays among the roses
By our little cottage door;

“Never chide her when you’re angry.
Do it kindly and in love:
That you both may dwell with Mary,
In the sunny land above.”

Then she plumed her snowy pinions
Till she folded them to rest.
Mid the welcome song of rapture
On the loving Saviour’s breast.

In the bright and golden regions,
With its pearly gates so fair,
She is singing with the angels.
Yes, there’s room for Mary there.

I wondered and said to myself, ‘Is she among these countless crowds I see?’ Everyone seemed to be so contented and happy and without that feeling of loneliness and fear which is so natural to all children on earth when absent from parents or home. They seemed to be so rational and appreciative of their situation. Some of them had died when tiny infants and had known nothing of the earth, so they seemed to be somewhat amused at the story of their former life and beginning in the world. “Oh, this wonderful scene: the grandest I have ever witnessed either on earth or in heaven,” I said to Bohemond. “My whole soul is in raptures of delight.” We could hear the voices of thousands who were praising God, with loud, yet most sweet words, and with their harps of gold. The great amphitheater was simply ringing with the melodies of heaven. David’s chariot stood still on the street, but he with the remainder of our company had gone on toward the great central gathering, for our Lord Himself was seated on the platform, blessing the multitude as they came past. His blessing was filled with such enlightening grace that the children suddenly broke out with such intelligent praise that one might think they had been here for many years.

Just at this moment I was very happy to see dear mother coming toward me. I had parted from her at my first introduction to Moses when she went outside the gate to assist a group of these little ones.

“Oh, mother,” I shouted, “I am so glad to meet you again. Have you been with these children ever since you left me when we were talking with Moses, for you went to take charge of a group of children singing their songs just outside the gate?”

“Yes, indeed, and they are now among this mighty crowd praising God and for the first time they look upon their Saviour’s face and receive His gracious welcome.”


* * * * *


“I should like to know who this is with you, mother, who seems to bear the family likeness.” I noticed an eager smile upon the face of a beautiful young woman who stood beside her.

“Well,” said my mother, “I have been waiting to see if you would recognize her, for you once knew her as a little infant”

“Oh, mother, I want to know if this is my own darling child who left us when only three months from her birth!”

“Indeed,” replied mother, “this is your child and I have watched over her ever since she came into paradise.”

From that moment she hugged me with deep and sweet praises to God. We could not weep, for there are no tears in heaven, but our rejoicing was more precious than anything I had ever known on earth. “Well,” I said, “dear child, I only knew you as a little infant, but now you have grown to womanhood. We wept much when you died, for our home was deserted and stripped of all the light and joy which you brought into it. Your mother and I were not active Christians then, but for many days and nights we could hear your voice with a plaintive cry calling us to this city of light.”

“Oh,” said Mary, for that was her name, “it was the angel who carried me to paradise, for he went back to speak to you for your cheer and comfort, so he told me later on.”

“Well, my dear child, I am so glad to see you once again after more than forty years have passed, now grown to your maturity. How graceful you look! You must have been well cared for.”

“Cared for! No soul lacks attention in heaven. This your mother has been my mother since my tiny life in paradise began. But I have often met my real mother, for she was here long before you came. Have you not met her yet?”

“No, dear child, but I know I will soon. I have asked after her quite often, but I find she is detained in some distant place in paradise assisting a group of young people who had recently come, but who were not prepared for the glory of the city, and she cannot leave them just now.”

“Yes,” said Mary, “I know quite well where she is and have been to see her often.”

“Among many others whose bodies were buried beside your own, we lost your little grave, but we knew you were not lost. The meeting which we had looked forward to seemed so like a dream, but, oh, how real it is! Your mother no doubt has told you all about our family which you never knew, but when we have an opportunity we will talk it all over.”

“Oh, indeed, I will be delighted to hear you tell me all about each one of them—no, I mean, each one of us.”

“Well, dear mother, I am glad you have brought my child to me. But will you tell me something about the law of growth and development in heaven from that of a tiny infant to the maturity and development which I see before me?”

“Well, you know that the trees of life have twelve kinds of fruit, adapted to all the needs of the human soul. There is no lack of opportunity, for the means of knowledge and instruction are abundantly offered here, according to the growing demands of each soul. Yet the growth and development of each depends much upon its own efforts. There are but few idle people in heaven and yet traits of character developed on earth during the formative period of life continue with us here unless they are changed or overcome during the probationary state. Everyone has his identity and peculiar characteristics developed during his life. If an individual was slack and lazy in his earthly life, the same tendencies continue with him here. There is, however, no such thing as a stubborn or obstinate spirit among all these children, nor in all heaven. Every will bows in sweet harmony with God, but some make more rapid advancement than others, which depends upon their own exertions and energy. As they apply themselves to all the means of instruction and partake wisely of the fruit of the trees, they move along the lines of heavenly development. A similar law prevails here as on earth. Natural law indeed is extended into the spiritual realm. Our souls never cease to grow and develop intellectually and expand their grasp of eternal realities. There is a grand perfection in heaven which allows for an eternal progress toward the fullness of our great Father in whose image we all are. But as on earth, so in the kingdom of heaven, much of our duty and labor of love is for each other, and ever will be.”

I then said to my mother, “Persons who have been separated but a short time will see and know each other much as they saw them when they parted in the world.”

“Quite the same,” she said, “only the difference between the earthly and the heavenly state. But in the case of parents whose little ones were taken in infancy and the parents remained in the world for many years, they shall not meet them as infants, but like yours, developed toward maturity.”

“Oh, yes, I see, it would be a great calamity if they should remain tiny infants or were untaught little children.”

“Now, look over this great company,” said mother. “You see multitudes of classes formed and the angels, elders, and more experienced ones are teaching them the knowledge of heaven and new hymns of praise, and soon we will all join in some choruses and if you have never heard music, you will hear it now, when all these children are praising God together, for most of them have learned to use their harps.”

Mary, who had been standing nearby listening to our conversation, came up close and said, “I am so glad, dear father, to see you here. How long since you have come?”

“Only a short time,” I replied.

“I hope soon to hear all about our family since mother left you and even before, for you may tell me some things she has not. I do not know why I was taken from you so early, but our good Father knows best and all He does is best and just at the right time. I remember being a little infant in your arms and on mother’s breast, but I haven’t much recollection of the world, but I am told it is much inferior to this land of light and joy.”

Her memory was doing its work. She took me by the hand and hugged once more and began to praise God in such sweet tones that it seemed for the time that all the events for nearly forty years were annihilated and we stood as father and infant.

Just at this moment my companions of the chariot, who had gone on toward the center of the great hall, motioned to me. We all went toward them and at a given signal the mighty assembly fell upon their faces in adoring praise to Him who was in the midst and was fairer than the sons of men. Many of these children looked upon His blessed face for the first time. Such a welcome He gave them, which showed His great love for the little ones.

The harps were all tuned to the voice of the singer, and as we now arose, all stood, and many with outstretched hands toward Him with one great voice made the arches and domes of heaven to resound with melodious infant praises. How strongly I again remembered the words: “Suffer the little children to come unto me for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mark 10:14)

These meetings I found were frequently for the children in which they were taught the worship of God and instructed concerning the sad fact of sin, and that without the great atoning sacrifice of their Lord, none of them could ever have entered the blessed portals of this heavenly domain. They were taught about His sufferings and death for them, the sin and awful fall of our first parents in Eden, and how judgment came upon all to condemnation, and that an eternal night of hell would have been theirs if their Lord had not suffered for them. I noticed their intense interest in the story of the cross and their deep appreciation of what the Lord had done for them. The prints of the nails yet in His hands and feet were an object lesson to them indeed.

The time came at last for dismissal. The great assembly arose, and the doxology began:

Praise God, Great Author of all love,
Praise Him all creatures here above,
Praise Him below, a mighty host:
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.[3]

[3. . In heaven the wording of doxology is changed to fit the place where it is sung. -EP]

As we sang the doxology, it seemed that earth and heaven had united. The veil between seemed very thin. In fact, we knew we were all one great family and that very soon all of earth’s redeemed would be forever together. The benediction was pronounced by our Lord Himself, with such blessed words of heavenly love, it seemed like He might almost be back upon earth blessing the little children.

We were soon scattering in all directions, but the children’s joyous songs and faces beaming with such expression of contentment, as they were passing through the great archway, constantly attracted my attention.

I said, “What perfect satisfaction, so complete is their joy! They have all the company anyone could wish. No one longs for company not found here. There is no danger, nor any feeling of fear. There is no one in all the wide domain of this heavenly kingdom with any evil intent or desire, but perfect confidence and trust in every soul.”

David who came near me just then with his harp strings trembling with an air of peculiar sweetness and who seemed to be enjoying the grand procession as well, stopped nearby. I said to him, “Do you find any homesick children wanting to go back to their old homes in the earth?”

“Not one,” he replied. “If parents could only see and know this glory into which their children have entered they would not mourn over their departure from the earth so bitterly.”

I said to David, “I remember just now your word concerning your own child when it had died. Your grief had been most intolerable during its sickness, but when it was dead, you said, ‘I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.’” (2 Samuel 12:23)

“Yes,” said David, “and I have been with him nearly three thousand years in this glory. Twenty years after his death I followed him and found he had grown to mature years and had been a thousand times in similar places as this and much instructed in the ways of the eternal city.” g


* * * * *


As we were leaving the children’s great convocation, David came and asked if we would like to take a quick trip into paradise. As his chariot was now going, we gladly accepted the invitation, and in a short time mother, myself and my daughter stepped out of the chariot about six thousand kilometers [4] from the gate of Manasseh. This was a new but most beautiful place in paradise to us. David said, “Enjoy yourselves as you like. I will call for you later,” and his chariot moved on. In the distance I saw another chariot reducing its speed. Four souls clothed in the garments of heaven were seated inside. To one of them I was particularly drawn. He was clothed in a white gown only. The moment he found he was within the gates of paradise and opening his eyes upon the glory before him, he fell prostrate upon his face with the deepest emotion, both of praise and regrets over the past. He was greatly bewildered over the glory of which he felt so unworthy. He tried to praise God but could not look up for shame, he was so nearly naked.

[4. “A thousand leagues.” That is about 3,500 miles. A league being about 5.7 kilometres (3.5 miles).]

One of the saints who seemed to understand his situation addressed him and said, “You are saved. Think not of your past. What God has forgiven He remembers no more.”

“Yes,” said the man, “but I am so unworthy. The angels assured me that the gate would be open for me. Only a few hours ago I was a lost sinner and far from God. I have come direct from the jaws of eternal death. Oh, tell me, am I in heaven? The sermon I cannot forget. Oh, how God blessed the preacher! His words went to my heart. I was grieving over my sins and crying. I was praying—Oh, how Jesus revealed Himself to me, and gave me rest! I was on my dying bed. They called for a meeting and our house was crowded, only last night. Oh, tell me, I pray you, am I in heaven?”

“You are safe,” the saint replied, “safe at home. Can you repeat any of the sermon to us?”

“Indeed I can, every word of it. Hosea 10:12. ‘Is it time to seek the Lord? At 5 a.m. when the first gleams of the morning appear, you ask, “Is it time to seek the Lord?” A voice from heaven whispers, “They that seek Me early shall find Me.” At 7 a.m. again you ask, “Is it now time to seek the Lord?” A voice from the Throne replies, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth.” Oh, what a beautiful Light is circling round the brow and becoming a center of joy within the character of that child of God who has early learned to lisp the name of Jesus! Again at 9 a.m. the bell calls and you ask, “Is it time to seek the Lord?” Conscience trembles and says, “I have passed many an open door of grace already and the sins of my youth are multiplied.” As you listen to the voice you hear it saying, “Now is the accepted time: now is the day of salvation.” High noon has now come to many a soul here. The most important period of life has already past or is now upon you. The golden opportunities of childhood and youth will return to you no more. Yet you say with an indifferent air, “Is it time for me to seek the Lord?” Satan now begins to whisper, “Your heart is hard, you cannot easily repent with all your cares upon you.”

“‘Turn your eyes upward and listen,’ the preacher said. ‘As you say, “What must I do to be saved?” everything within you has been saying, “Repent, repent.” Now the echo comes back from heaven as though sounded with the trump of God, “Repent ye and believe the gospel. Come unto me and I will give you rest. In the day that ye seek me with all the heart I will be found of you.”

“‘Consider your situation as it is in God’s sight. Think you of the littleness of time that is left you for so great a preparation. Think you of your accountability to God. You will soon stand before Him, and render an impartial account of your stewardship. Think you of your reply to Him who sits upon the Throne when He shall say, “Friend, how have you come in here not having on a wedding garment?” (Matthew 22:12) Oh, think of your feelings when you will look this way and that, to find yourself so confounded that you are speechless, as you recall the days when showers of grace from heaven fell so often upon you, and your heart yielded no fruit of righteousness in return. Think of the barren fig tree that stood so many years in the vineyard, having been dug about and watered so long without any fruit, that when mercy shall cry, “Cut it down,” anticipate your sorrow and think what your feelings will be.

“‘Think deeply of the weeds which have been growing in your heart so long and scattering their seed in other soil around you. Think of the ripening harvest from your sowing, and that, “Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” Think of the rich man in torment, remembering good only to lighten his sorrow, knowing it might have been otherwise with his soul, but now being tormented he could see “Lazarus afar off in Abraham’s bosom.”

“‘As these considerations are before you, hurry with all speed to Him who alone is able to save you. Oh, do not live longer as if there were neither a bed of death nor a bar of judgment. Be wise. Look your danger in the face. Anticipate the day when you shall behold a God in judgment and a world in flames, and flee to your God from the wrath to come.’”

With this the man bowed his head again and with sobs of emotion mingled with joy and grief, he arose and said, “Oh, thank God, I remember it all and was earnestly praying when the chariot called for me. Oh, I did and do hate every sin of the past. I do love God. I am His forever. Hallelujah to Jesus!”

Quite a group had gathered to hear this sermon. When he had finished we all united in one great shout of praise to God.

“Oh, yes,” he said, “I am in heaven! Thank God for His everlasting mercy. I am out of hell. I am in heaven.”

When he had finished his sermon my mother and daughter went to him and said, “Good brother, we rejoice with you that you are in heaven. You see your folly in not having made better preparation for this land of light and love, but be faithful to every opportunity for your advancement. Your guides will instruct you into the ways and laws of this heavenly kingdom.”

I also gave him words of cheer, and he began to praise God again and said, “I do bless God for that preacher. His words were surely sent by the Holy Spirit. They went like an arrow to my soul.”

At this an elder came and said to him, “Be of good cheer, my brother, the angels have brought you safely to this paradise and far toward the interior from the gate of entrance. Many of the ancient saints spend much time about the threshold of paradise and assist all who enter. But a large number of them have just been up to some great praise services within the city and have not yet returned, and the angel has brought you here. Pay good heed to all your opportunities, for much is before you.”

“Oh,” he cried out, “only let me know what I must do to be in harmony with this holy place. Oh, heaven, you are mine! Am I at all purified from my sin? Oh, am I acceptable to God. Will He welcome me?”

“Surely,” said the elder, “when you are prepared for the light and glory of the city, you will be brought to its gates and ushered in with the welcome of your Lord. If you wait among these trees, do not be restless nor neglectful. Almost the entire catalogue of the Christian graces must be learned by you. Partake freely of the twelve kinds of fruit on the trees, they will impart light, life and grace to your soul. Press the leaves to your nostrils and bind them to your heart and no taint of evil will remain in you.”

At this we saw David’s chariot coming in the distance.

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