November 21st, 1916
Received by James Padgett
I am here, St. Paul. I desire tonight to finish my message on Hell - what it is and what its purpose is.
As I said before hell is a place as well as a condition, and, the man who believes that it is nothing more than a condition of his mind or soul will be wonderfully surprised as well as disappointed. I know the condition of mind and soul to a very large extent creates a man's hell and is the chief source of his suffering and the darkness that surrounds and envelops him; yet this condition is not the only source of that suffering or of darkness in which he finds himself.
Hell is a place, and a place that has all the appearances and ingredients that are in exact agreement with his state as produced or caused by the condition of his mind or soul, and is not a place of universal character and fitted for the habitation of souls, irrespective of conditions of degrees of defilement and sin and darkness. It is not a single place forming a common home for all fallen souls, but is composed of many and different places, and as has been said, there are many hells having gradations of appearances and surroundings that are suitable for causing additional sufferings which souls may have to endure.
The expression, "the lowest depths of hell" is not a meaningless one, but portrays a truth, a real existing fact that many spirits are now experiencing the reality of. In its broadest sense, hell is every place outside of heaven, and heaven is that place where everything entering into it - its appearance and qualities and its inhabitants - is in perfect harmony with the respective laws of God and His will concerning the same. And this statement involves the fact that there are several heavens, because the heaven of the redeemed, or those who have received the Divine Essence in their souls and become of the divine nature of the Father, is a distinct heaven from that wherein live those who have been restored in their natural love to the perfect condition that the first parent possessed before the fall - the condition of the restitution to mankind of that perfection which was lost by the disobedience of the first man and woman.
Mortals usually believe that heaven is a condition, and the Bible, in which so many believe, attempts to describe this heaven with its streets of gold, and pearly gates, etc., and as a fact it is a real, substantial place, having all the elements and appearances of a home of bliss, which help to bring to its inhabitants happiness and joy in addition to the happiness which their soul perfection and development cause them to have.
Then, as heaven is a place, having real substance, perceptible to the spirits that inhabit it, why should not hell be a place of real substance also, with those qualities and appearances, exactly suited to add to the unhappiness of those who are fitted for it? The spirit world, both heaven and hell are places of substance, having their planes and divisions and limitations of occupancy, and not mythical, invisible conceptions of mind as you mortals ordinarily conceive ghosts to be. The spirits of mortals are real and more substantial than are the physical bodies of mortals, and these planes and divisions, whether of heaven or hell, have a more real existence, than have the mortals in their places of habitation or confinement in the earth life.
The hells are places of darkness and sufferings but in them are no fires or brimstone, etc., as have been so commonly represented by the preachers and teachers of the orthodox churches, because there is nothing therein that would feed fires or that fires could affect, and there are no devils or Satan, though there are evil spirits of men that are more wicked and vicious and horrifying than have ever been pictured of the devil and his angels. In your communications you have had some very realistic descriptions of hell from those who are actually living therein and are realizing its tortures and realities, and I will not take the time here to attempt to describe it in detail, and will only say that as it has not entered into the minds of men to conceive the wonders and beauties of heaven, neither have they ever conceived of the horrors and sufferings of hell.
But from all this men must not understand that the punishment and darkness which the spirits of evil endure in the hells are specifically inflicted by the Father because of any wrath that He may have towards these spirits, or to gratify any feelings of revenge, or even to satisfy any outraged justice, for it is not true. Man, when he becomes a spirit, is his own judge and executioner, submitting to and receiving the inexorable results of the law, that whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap. This is a law that is necessary to preserve or bring about the harmony of god's universe, which, of course, is absolutely necessary, and while it may appear to man, at first sight, to be a harsh and cruel law, yet in its workings and results, even to the individual spirit who may suffer in the reaping, it is a most benign and beneficial law, for the darkness and sufferings of a few years, as you mortals say, bring about an eternity of light and happiness.
The law must rule; and in all the apparent harshness and suffering and want of mercy, the Great Divine Love of the Father overshadows the sufferer and finally makes the defiled and wicked soul become one of purity and goodness. Men may never have thought of the fact; that if it were possible for these evil spirits to live in heaven, their sufferings and unhappiness would be greater than what they endure by living in the place that is more in agreement in its surroundings and appearances, with their own distorted conditions of soul. So even in their hells, the Father is Merciful and Good.
And regarding the second proposition of the preacher (Dr. Ratcliff) in his sermon, namely, the duration of suffering or of the life of the spirit in hell. His conclusion was, that this duration of the spirit is eternal, everlasting and without end. How it must have hurt and violated the teachings of his soul and his conception of the loving Father, to come to such a conclusion! But, yet, being bound by his creeds and the domination of his belief that the Bible is the sole authority upon hell, as well as heaven, in the conviction of his mind - and here I want to emphasize mind, for his heart was not in agreement, he declared that the duration of the sufferings and life of the hells is eternal, and the saying of Jesus proved it to be, not only because it was in the Bible, but because the true meaning of the original Greek word, can have no other translation; not knowing, or if knowing, not recalling, that Jesus, even if he used such expression, did not speak in Greek, and that back of the Greek word, in order to obtain the true meaning of the word used by Jesus, he, the preacher, must go to the word as it was uttered by Jesus and its true meaning.
So many preachers and commentators on the Bible attempt to determine a most vital truth by a shade of meaning that they conceive a particular word in its original, may have, when they are not justified in concluding that such word had at the time used, such shade of meaning, or that the original as they conceive it to be, was the original word actually spoken or written. They seem to lose sight of the fact that the writings of the Bible, I mean the manuscripts to which they make reference to prove the correctness of their conclusions, are far removed from the original writings, and that by reason of the copying and recopying of the word upon which they rely, and the shade of meaning that they give it in their interpretations may not have been the word originally used. Of course, they have no way of learning this fact, and, consequently, they have to resort to the best authority that they can have access to. But under such circumstances, it is not a justifiable thing to have a vital question of man's future and destiny determined by the shade of meaning that may be given to one word or more words, without reference to other declarations of the same Book, having relation to the subject matter of the inquiry.
The preacher said that in his conclusion as to the question he must be governed by the Bible alone, and had no right to indulge in speculation of the philosophies of other men, and that in the Bible he could find nothing that would justify him in coming to any other conclusion than that the duration of punishment in hell is eternal. Well, he was not honest with himself, for if he had searched a little more deeply and have given as much credence to other parts of the Bible as to the passage that he quoted, he would have found a strong statement to the effect that the evil spirits in hell have the possibility of leaving it, and not only that but that a part of the great mission of Jesus, upon whose supposed declaration the preacher based his conclusion, was to show the way and induce these spirits of evil to leave their hells. This was the Master's first work after he became a spirit, and he would not have attempted to preach to these wicked spirits in hell, so wicked, according to the Bible, that God because of their great sins when mortals, punished them as He never punished any other of His children, for their disobedience, utterly destroying them as a race and His only living human creatures from the face of the earth, by one great catastrophe, leaving only Noah and his family as a reminder of the great failure of God in His creation - the most perfect and the "very good." So I say, if the preacher had searched the Bible he would have found that the hell that contained the spirits of all the human race that was living at the time of the flood, except Noah and his family was not in its duration eternal.
And again, had the preached searched further he would have found that the Master Himself, declared by necessary implication, that, at least, for some of the wicked who became inhabitants of hell, there was possibility of release, and certainty upon conditions. I refer to the declaration attributed to him where he said, "He that sinneth against the son of man, it shall be forgiven him, but he that sinneth against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come." (Matt. Chapter 12--Verse 32)
Now, to any reasonable man there is only one interpretation of this declaration and that is, that for any and all sins, except that against the Holy Ghost there is forgiveness in the next world as well as in the mortal world, and that being a fact, it is an irresistible conclusion that the Father would not compel a spirit to remain in hell after He had forgiven that spirit's sins.
No, the preacher had not searched the Scriptures, as he was in duty bound to do, else his conclusion, could he have ridden his mind of the beliefs that the creeds of his church had driven into his intellect, and of the teachings of the ancient fathers, and of the churches that had taught such false and damnable doctrines for so many years, would have been very different. The preacher repudiated the old teachings that there would be physical suffering in hell, or fire or brimstone, etc., and expressed his commiseration for those preachers and others who had taught such doctrine, and for their awful responsibility and accounting, and his commiseration was needed and appropriate. But l want to say here that he needs as much, if not more, commiseration for the preaching of his false doctrines, as did those preachers to whom he refers. He has more light, or may have, and his accounting will be correspondingly greater.
I have written a long letter, and you are tired and I must stop, but before doing so, let me declare the truth to be, that hell is not a place of eternal punishment. That all the hells as well as other parts of the spirit world are places of progression and the privilege of probation is not taken from any spirit no matter how wicked, for all are God's children and in His Plans for the perfecting of the harmony of the universe, and man's salvation, all the hells will be emptied and the hells themselves destroyed. But men must not think from this that the duration of suffering in these hells is necessarily short, for that is not true; some of the evil inhabitants of these places have been in such darkness and suffering for centuries, as mortals count time, and may be for centuries more, but the time will come when they will have the awakening to the fact that they may become children of light, and then when they make the effort to progress, they will succeed. The sooner that mankind learns that hell is not a place of punishment to satisfy the wrath of an angry God, but merely the natural and necessary living place of the spirit, whose condition of soul and mind demands, and that condition changes, and it will change, the hell of its habitation will change until finally for that spirit all the hells will disappear.
You are tired and I must stop. So thanking you, and leaving you my love and blessings, I am your brother in Christ,