A Dialogue Between A Scholar And His Master Demonstrating the following;
Where the blessed and the damned Souls go when they depart from their Bodies
How Heaven and Hell are in Man
Where the Angels and Devils dwell in this World's Time
How far Heaven and Hell are asunder
What and where the Angels and Human Souls are
What the Body of Man is
Why the Soul is capable of receiving Good and Evil
Of the Destruction of the World
Of Man's Body in and after the Resurrection
Where Heaven and Hell shall be
Of the Last Judgment
Why the Strife in the Creature must be.
The Scholar asked his Master, Where does the Soul go when the Body dies? His master answered him; There is no Necessity for it to go anywhere. Why not! Said the inquisitive Junius:
Must not the Soul leave the Body at Death, and go either to Heaven or Hell? No, replied the venerable Theophorus. Only the outward mortal Life and the Body shall separate itself from the Soul. The Soul has Heaven and Hell within itself already, according as it is written, the Kingdom of God comes not with observation, neither shall they say, it's here! Or it's there! For behold the Kingdom of God is within you." And whichever of the two, either Heaven or Hell, is manifested in it, shall stand forever.
Here Julius said to his Master; This is difficult to understand. Doesn't it enter into Heaven or Hell, as a man enters into a House, does it not into another World?
The Master spoke and said; No, there is no such kind of entering in; because Heaven and Hell are everywhere, and universally co-exist.
How is that possible? Said the Scholar. What, can Heaven and Hell be here, now, right where we are now sitting? And if one of them might, can you make me believe that both can be here at the same time?
The Master said, I have told you that Heaven is everywhere present; and that is true. For God is in Heaven; and God is everywhere. I have said also, that Hell must also in like Manner be everywhere; and that is true also. For the wicked One, who is the Devil, is in Hell; and the whole world, as the Apostle has taught us, lies in the wicked one, or the evil One; which is the same as saying, not only that the Devil is in the world, but also that the world is in the Devil; and if in the Devil, then in Hell too, because the Devil is there. So Hell therefore is everywhere, as well as Heaven; which is the thing that was to be proved.
The Scholar, shocked at this, said, Please explain this to me. To whom the master said: Understand then what Heaven is: It is the turning of the Will to the Love of God. Wherever you find God manifesting Himself in Love, there you find Heaven, without traveling for it so much as one Foot. And you can understand by this what Hell is, and where it is, as well. I say to you, it is but turning the will into the wrath of God. Wherever the anger of God is manifest, there certainly is Hell. So it is the turning of your will either into His Love, or into His anger; and you are accordingly either in Heaven or Hell. Make certain that you understand this. And this comes to pass in this present Life, where Paul speaking, says, "Our Conversation is in Heaven." And the Lord Jesus Christ says also; " My sheep HEAR My voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give them the Eternal Life; and no one shall pluck them out of my Hand." Observe, He did not say, I will give this to them after this life is ended, but I give it to them now, in this life. And what else is this Gift of Christ to His Followers but an Eternity of Life; which for certain, can be nowhere else, but in Heaven. And also if Christ is in Heaven, and they who follow Him in the regeneration are in His hand, then they are where He is, and so they are in Heaven: yes, and none shall be able to pluck them out of Heaven, because it is He who holds them there, and they are in His hand which nothing can resist. All therefore does consist in the turning, or entering of our will, into Heaven, by HEARING the Voice of Christ, and both knowing Him and following Him. And so on the contrary it is also. Do you understand this?
How Does The Will Enter Into Heaven?
His Scholar said to him; I believe, in part, that I do. But how does the will enter into Heaven? The Master answered him; I will endeavor to explain; but you must be very attentive to what I shall say to you. Know then, my son, that when the ground of the will yields itself up to God, then it sinks out of its own SELF, and out of, and beyond, all ground and place that is or can be imagined, into an unknown place, where God alone is manifested, and where He alone works and wills. And then it becomes nothing to itself, as to its OWN Working and Willing; and so, God works and wills in it. And God dwells in this resigned will; this is the process of sanctification, and so, the soul enters into Divine rest. Now in this case when the body breaks, the soul is thoroughly penetrated all over, with divine love, and so thoroughly illuminated with divine light, even as a glowing hot iron is by the fire, because it is thoroughly penetrated, it loses its darkness and becomes bright and shining. Now this is the hand of Christ, where God's love thoroughly inhabits the soul, and is in it, a shining light, and a new glorious life. And then the soul is in heaven, and is a temple of the Holy Ghost, and is itself the very heaven of God, wherein He dwells. Yes, this is the entering in of the will, into heaven, and also the way it comes to pass.
Be pleased, sir, to proceed, said the scholar, and explain this to me a little more. The master said: The Godly soul, you see, is in the hand of Christ, that is in heaven, as He Himself has told us. But the un-Godly soul is not willing in this lifetime to come into the Divine resignation of its will, or to enter into the will of God; but goes on still in its own lust and desire, in vanity and falsehood, and so enters into the will of the Devil. It receives into itself nothing but wickedness; nothing but lying, pride, covetousness, envy, and wrath; and therefore it gives up its will and whole desire to the Devil. This is the vanity of the will; and this same vanity or vain shadow must also in like manner be manifested in the soul, which has yielded itself up to be its servant; and must work in that, even as the love of God works in the regenerated will, and penetrates in to it. And it is not possible for this soul to come into the rest of God; because God's anger is manifested in it, and works in it. Now when the body is parted from this soul, then begins the eternal despair; because it now finds that it has become altogether vanity, even a vanity most vexatious to itself, and a distracting fury, and a self-tormenting abomination. Now it perceives itself disappointed of everything which it had before imagined itself to have and be. It realizes that it is blind, naked, wounded, hungry, and thirsty; without the least prospect of ever being relieved, or obtaining so much as one drop of water of eternal life. And it feels itself to be a devil, even to itself, and to be its own vile executioner and tormentor; and is affrighted at its own ugly dark form, appearing as a most hideous and monstrous worm, and it would flee from itself, if it could, but it cannot, being bound with the chains of the dark nature, which it has sunk itself into, while in the flesh. And so not having learned nor accustomed itself to bow down to divine grace, and being also strongly possessed with the idea of God, is an angry and jealous God, the poor soul is both afraid and ashamed to bring its will into God, which is it's only deliverance.
The soul is afraid to do it, as fearing to be consumed by doing it, because it sees the Lord as a devouring fire. The soul is also ashamed to do it, because it is perplexed at its own nakedness and monstrosity; and therefore it would, if it were possible, hide itself from the majesty of God, and cover its abominable form from His most holy eye, though by casting itself still deeper into the darkness, it will not enter into God; no, it cannot enter with its false will; even though it strives to enter, yet it cannot enter into the love, because of the will which has reigned in it. For such a soul is captivated in the wrath; yes, and is itself, nothing more than wrath, having by its false desire, which it has awakened in itself, comprehended and shut itself up with this wrath, and so transformed itself into the nature and property of wrath.
And since the light of God does not shine in it, nor the love of God persuade it, the soul is a great darkness, and is an anxious source of fire, carrying about a hell within itself, and not being able to discern the least glimpse of the light of God, or to feel the least spark of His love. Thus it dwells in itself, as in hell, and does not need to enter into hell, or be carried there; for in whatever place it may be, so long as it is in itself, it is in the hell. And though it should travel far, and cast itself a hundred thousand miles from its present place, to be out of hell; yet it would still remain in this hellish source and darkness.
If this is so, how does it come about, the scholar asked, that a heavenly soul does not in the time of this life perfectly perceive the heavenly light and joy; and the soul which is without God in the world, does not feel hell, right here, as well as it will hereafter? Why should they not both be perceived and felt, as well in this life as in the next, seeing that both of them, Heaven, and Hell, are in man, and one of the two, (as you have shown) works in every man?
Theophorus returned this answer: The kingdom of heaven is in the saints, this very moment, operative and manifesting itself by faith. They who carry God within them, and live by His Spirit, find the kingdom of God in their faith; and they feel the love of God in their faith, by which the will has given itself up, into God, and is made Godlike. In a word, all is transacted within them by faith, which is to them the evidence of the eternal invisible things, and a great manifestation in their spirit of this divine kingdom, which is within them. But their natural life is nevertheless encompassed with flesh and blood; and this standing in a contrariety to Heaven, and being placed through the fall in the principle of God's anger, and surrounded about with the world, which by no means can be reconciled to faith, these faithful souls cannot help but to be very much exposed to attacks from the world, wherein they are sojourners; neither can they be insensible of their being compassed about with flesh and blood, and with this world's vain lust, which ceases not continually to penetrate the outward mortal life, and to tempt them in many ways, even as it did Christ. Where the world on one side, and Devil on the other, not without the curse of God's anger in flesh and blood, thoroughly penetrate and sift the life; and it comes to pass that the soul is often in anxiety when these three entities all set upon it, at the same time, and hell assaults the life, and manifests itself in the soul. But the soul sinks down into the hope of the grace of God, and stands like a beautiful rose in the midst of thorns, until the kingdom of this world shall fall from it in the death of the body; and then the soul becomes truly manifest in the love of God, and in His kingdom, which is the kingdom of love; having from this time forth, nothing more to hinder it. But during this life it must walk with Christ in this world; and then Christ delivers it out of it's own hell, by penetrating it with His love throughout, and standing by it in hell, and even changing it's hell into heaven.
But in that you also ask, why the souls, which are without God, feel hell in this world? I answer; they bear it about with them in their wicked consciences, but they do not know it; because the world has put out their eyes, and its deadly cup has cast them into a sleep, a very fatal sleep. Notwithstanding, it must be admitted that the wicked do frequently feel hell within themselves during the time of this mortal life, though they may not apprehend that it is hell, because of the earthly vanity which cleaves to them from without, and the sensible pleasures and amusements with which they are intoxicated. And also it is to be noted, that the outward life in every one such as these, still has the light of the outward nature, which rules in that life; and so the pain of hell cannot, so long as that has rule, be totally revealed.
But when the body dies or breaks away, so that the soul cannot enjoy such temporal pleasure and delights any longer, nor the light of this outward world, which has at this time been totally extinguished to it; then the soul shall stand in an eternal hunger and thirst after such vanities as it was in love with here, in this life, but it can reach nothing, but that false will, which it had impressed in itself while in the body; and in which it thrived, to its great loss. And now because it had too much of its will in this life, and yet with all of this, it was still not contented with it, it now, after this separation by death, as it did then, have none of it; and this continual lusting, creates in it an everlasting thirst after that which it can from now on, never obtain, and causes it to be in a perpetual, anxious lust after vanity, according to its former life, and in a continual rage of hunger after those sorts of wicked and lewd things, where it was immersed, while in the flesh.
It would do more evil still, but it has nothing to do evil with, left to it; and therefore it does perform this one thing only in itself. All is now internally transacted, as if it were outward; and so the un-Godly soul is tormented by these furies which are in his own mind, and brought upon himself by himself. For he is in truth become his own Devil and tormentor; and that in the very things, in which he sinned here while on earth. When the shadow of this world is passed away, it abides with him still in the impression, and is made his prison and his hell. But this hellish hunger and thirst cannot is not manifested to the soul, until the body which ministered to the soul the things which it lusts after, and with which the soul was so bewitched, is stripped off from it.
I perceive then, said Junius to his master, That the soul having been shameless, and having served all of the lusts during this life, retains still the very same inclinations and affections which it had before; so that when it has no more opportunity nor capacity to satisfy them; and when it finds that it cannot, then hell will open in that soul, which before had been shut up, by means of the outward life in the body, and of the light of this world. Do I rightly understand?
Theophorus said, you understand correctly. Go on.
On the other hand, the scholar went on, I clearly perceive by what I have heard, that heaven must be in a loving soul, which is possessed of God, and has subdued the body, to the obedience of the Spirit in all things, and perfectly immersed itself in the will and love of God. And when the body dies, and this soul is redeemed from the earth, it is now evident to me, that the life of God which was hidden in it, will display itself gloriously, and heaven will consequently be then manifested. But notwithstanding, if there is not also a local heaven besides, and a local hell, I am still at a loss where to place a large part of the creation, if not the greatest. For where must all the intellectual inhabitants abide?
In their own principle, answered the master, whether it be of light or of darkness. For every created intellectual being remains in its deeds and essences, in its wonders and properties, in its life and image; and therein it beholds and feels God, as being everywhere, whether it be in love, or in wrath. If it is in the love of God, then it beholds God accordingly, as He is love. But if it has captivated itself in the wrath of God, then it cannot behold God otherwise than in the wrathful nature, nor perceive Him otherwise than as an incensed and vindictive spirit. All places are alike to it, if it is in God's love; and if it is not there, every place is hell. And where should I pray for it to go? Since if it should go a thousand miles off, or a thousand times ten thousand miles, and this ten thousand times over, beyond the bounds of the universe, and into the imaginary spaces above the stars, yet it is still in the very same point from where it started. For God is the place of Spirit; if it may be lawful to attribute to Him such a name, to which the body has a relation: and in God there is no limit; both near and far off, is the same; and if it is in His love, or in His anger, the will of the spirit is altogether unconfined. It is swift as thought, passing through all things; it is magical, and nothing corporeal or from without can obstruct it; it dwells in its wonders, and they, are its house.
Therefore it is with every intellectual being, whether of the order of angels, or of human souls; and you need not fear that there will be room for all of them, even if they are a multitude.
At which, the scholar said; I indeed, remember, that it is written concerning the great traitor, that he went after his death to his own place.
The master here said: The same is true of every soul, when it departs this mortal life: and it is true in like manner of every angel, or spirit; which is necessarily determined by its own choice. As God is everywhere, so also the angels are everywhere; but each one is in its own principle, or in its own place. The same essence of God, which is a place of spirits, is confessed to be everywhere; but the appropriation, or participation is different to everyone, according to what each of them has attracted by their will. The same divine essence, which is with the angels of God above, is with us also below: and the same divine nature, which is with us, is likewise with them; but in a different manner and degree. And what I have said here of the divine, is no less to be considered by you in the participation of the diabolical essence and nature, which is the power of darkness, as to the various modes, degrees, and appropriations of it, in the false will. In this world there is strife between them: but when this world has reached an end for any one them, then the principle catches that which is its own: and so the soul receives companions according to what they choose, either angels or devils.
The scholar said again: Since Heaven and hell is at strife in us, in the time of this life, and God Himself is also near to us, where can the angels and devils dwell?
The master answered: Wherever you do not dwell to your self, and to your own will, there the holy angels dwell with you, and everywhere all over round and about you. Remember this well. On the contrary, where you dwell to yourself, in self-seeking, and self-will, there you may be sure, the devils will be with you, and will take up their abode with you, and dwell all over you, and round about you everywhere. Which God in His mercy please prevent.
I do not understand this, said the scholar, as well as I could wish. Pleased make it a little more clear to me.
The master spoke again: Mark well what I am going to say. Where the will of God in anything wills, there is God manifested; and in this very manifestation of God, the angels dwell. But where God in any creature is not allowed to will, with the will of that creature, there God is not manifested to it, neither can he be; but dwells in Himself, without the co-operation and subjection of the creature to Him in humility. There God is an un-manifested God to the creature. So the angels do not dwell with such a one; for wherever they dwell, there is the glory of God. What then dwells in such a creature as this? God does not dwell there; the angels do not dwell there; and where God does not will, the angels also do not will. The case is evidently this, in that soul or creature its own will is without God's will, and there the Devil dwells; and with him all that is without God, and without Christ. This is the truth; hide it in your heart.
The scholar: It is possible that I may ask several impertinent questions; but I beg of you, sir, to have patience with me, and to pity my ignorance, if I ask what may appear to you perhaps ridiculous, or may not seem fit for me to even expect an answer to. For I have several questions still to propound to you; but I am ashamed of my own thoughts in this matter.
The master: Be plain with me, and propose whatever is upon your mind; yes, do not be ashamed even to appear ridiculous, so that by querying you may become wiser.
The scholar thanked his master for this liberty, and said: How far then are heaven and hell apart?
To whom he answered: As far as day and night; or as far as something and nothing. They are in one another, and yet they are at the greatest distance one from the other. No, the one is as nothing to the other; and yet notwithstanding they cause joy and grief to one another. Heaven is throughout the whole world, and it is also outside of the world, everywhere that is, or that can even be imagined. It fills all; it is within all; it is outside of all; it encompasses all; without division, without place; working by a divine manifestation, and flowing forth universally, but not going out of itself. For it works only in itself, and is revealed, being one, and undivided in all. It appears only through the manifestation of God; and never, in itself only: and in that being which comes into it, or in that in which it is manifested, there also it is that God is manifested. Because heaven is nothing else but a manifestation or revelation of the eternal one, wherein all the working and willing is in quiet love.
So in like manner hell also is through the whole world, and dwells and works only in itself, and in that which the foundation of hell is manifested, namely, in self, and in the false will. The visible world has both in it; and there is no place that heaven and hell may not be found or revealed in it. Now man as to his temporal life, is only of the visible world; and therefore during the time of this life, he does not see the spiritual world. For the outward world with its substance, is a cover to the spiritual world, even as the body is to the soul. But when the outward man dies, then the spiritual world, as to the soul, which then will have its covering taken away, will be manifested either in the eternal light with the holy angels, or in eternal darkness, with the devils.
The scholar further asked: What is an angel, or a human soul, that they can be manifested either in God's love or anger, either in light or darkness?
Theophorus answered: They come from one and the same origin: they are little branches of divine wisdom, of the divine will, sprung up from the divine word, and made objects of the divine love. They are out of the ground of eternity, where light and darkness spring: darkness, which consists in the receiving of self-desire: and light, which consists in willing the same thing with God. For in the conformity of the will, with God's will, is heaven; and wherever there is this willing with God, there the love of God is undoubtedly in the working, and His light will not fail to manifest itself. But in the self-attraction of the soul's desire, or in the reception of self into the willing of any spirit, angelical or human, the will of God, works only with difficultly, and is to that soul or spirit nothing but darkness; out of which, notwithstanding, the light may be manifested. And this darkness is the hell of that spirit wherein it is. For heaven and hell are nothing else but a manifestation of the divine will either in light or darkness, according to the properties of the spiritual world.
What the body of man is; and why the soul is capable of receiving good and evil.
Scholar. What then is the body of man?
Master. It is the visible world; an image and essence, or compound of all that the world is; and the visible world is a manifestation of the inward spiritual world, that has come out of the eternal light, and out of the eternal darkness, out of the spiritual compaction or connection; and it is also an image or figure of eternity, whereby eternity has made itself visible; where self-will and resigned will, i.e., evil and good, work, one with the other. Such a substance is the outward man. For God created man of the outward world, and breathed into him the inward spiritual world for a soul and intelligent life; and that is why, in the things of the outward world, man can receive and work evil and good.
Of the destruction of the world; of man's body, in and after the resurrection; where heaven and hell shall be; of the last judgment; and why strife in the creature must be.
Scholar. What shall be, after this world, when all things perish and come to an end?
Master. The material substance only ceases; i.e., The four elements, the sun, moon, and stars. And then the inward world will be wholly visible and manifest. But whatever has been wrought by the will or spirit of a man in this world's time, whether evil or good shall not cease. I say, every such work shall there separate itself in a spiritual manner, either into the eternal light, or into the eternal darkness. For that which is born from each man's will shall penetrate and pass again into that, which is like itself. And there the darkness is called hell, and is an eternal forgetting of all good; and the light is called the kingdom of God, and is an eternal joy in and to the saints, who continually glorify and praise God, for having delivered them from the torment of evil.
The last judgment is but a kindling of the fire both of God's love and anger, in which the matter of every substance perishes, and each fire shall attract into itself its own, that is, the substance that is like itself: thus God's fire of love will draw into it whatever is born in the love of God, in which also it shall burn after the manner of love, and yield itself into that substance. But the torment will draw into itself what is wrought in the anger of God in darkness, and consume the false substance; and then there will remain only the painful aching will in its own proper nature, image and figure.
Scholar. In what matter, and form, shall the human body rise?
Master. It is sown a natural and elementary body, which in this lifetime is like the outward elements; yet in this gross body there is a subtle power and virtue. As in the earth also there is a subtle good virtue, which is like the sun, and is one and the same with the sun; which also in the beginning of time sprung up and proceeded out of the divine power and virtue, from which all the good virtue of the body is likewise derived. This good virtue of the mortal body shall come again and live forever in a kind of transparent crystalline material property, in spiritual flesh and blood; as shall return also the good virtue of the earth, for the earth likewise shall become crystalline, and the divine light will shine in everything that has a being, essence or substance. And as the gross earth shall perish and never return, so also the gross flesh of man shall perish and not live forever. But all things must appear before the judgment, and in the judgment be separated by the fire; yes, both the earth, and also the ashes of the human body. For when God, shall once move the spiritual world, every spirit shall attract its spiritual substance to itself. A good spirit and soul shall draw to itself its good substance, and an evil one, its evil substance. But we must here understand what is meant by substance, a material power and virtue, the essence of which is virtue, like a material tincture (such a thing as has all figures, colors, and virtues in it, and is at the same time transparent), the grossness whereof shall have perished in all things.
Scholar. Shall we not rise again with our visible bodies, and live in them forever?
Master. When the visible world perishes, then all that has come out of it, and has been external, shall perish with it. There shall remain of the world only the heavenly crystalline nature and form, of man also only the spiritual earth; for man shall be then compleatly like the spiritual world, which as yet is hidden.
Scholar. Shall there be husband and wife, or children or kindred, in the heavenly life, or shall one associate with another, as they do in this life?
Master. Why are you so fleshly-minded? There will be neither husband nor wife, but all will be like the angels of God, i.e., Masculine virgins. There will be neither, son nor daughter, brother nor sister, but all of one stock and kindred. For all are one in Christ, as a tree and its branches are one, though distinct as creatures; but God is all, and in all. Indeed, there will be spiritual knowledge of what every one has been, and done, but no possessing or enjoying, or desire of possessing earthly things, or enjoying fleshly relations any more.
Scholar. Shall they all have that eternal joy and glorification alike?
Master. The scripture says, "Such as the people are, such is their God." and in another place," with the holy you are holy, and with the perverse you are perverse." and Paul says, "in the resurrection one shall differ from another in glory, as do the sun, moon, and stars." therefore know, that the blessed shall indeed, all enjoy the divine working in and upon them; but their virtue, and illumination or glory, shall be very different, according as they have been endued in this life with different measures and degrees of power and virtue in their painful working. For the painful working of the creature in this lifetime is the opening and begetting of divine power, by which that power is made movable and operative. Now those who have worked with Christ in this lifetime, and not in the lust of the flesh, shall have great power and transcendent glorification in and upon them. But others, who have only expected, and relied upon, an imputed satisfaction, and in the meanwhile have served their belly-God, and yet at last have turned, and obtained grace; those, I say, shall not attain to so high a degree of power and illumination. So that there will be as great a degree of difference between them, as is between the sun, moon and stars; or between the flowers of the field in their varieties of beauty, power, and virtue.
Scholar. How shall the world be judged, and by whom?
Master. Jesus Christ, that "Word of God which became man," shall by the power of His divine stirring or motion separate from Himself all that do not belong to Him, and shall wholly manifest His kingdom in the place or space where this world is now; for the separating motion, works all over the universe, through all at once.
Scholar. Where shall the devils and all the damned be thrown, when the place of this world has become the kingdom of Christ, and as such shall be glorified? Shall they be cast out of this world? Or shall Christ have, and manifest His dominion, out of the sphere or place of this world?
Master. Hell shall remain in the place or sphere of this world everywhere, but hidden to the kingdom of heaven, as the night is hidden in and to the day. "The light shall shine forever in the darkness, but the darkness can never comprehend, or reach it." And the light is the kingdom of Christ; but the darkness is hell, wherein the devils and the wicked dwell; and so they shall be suppressed by the kingdom of Christ, and made his footstool, i.e., a reproach.
Scholar. How shall all people and nations be brought to judgment?
Master. The eternal Word of God, out of which every spiritual creaturely life has proceeded, will move itself at that hour, according to love and anger, in every life which is come out of eternity, and will draw every creature before the judgment of Christ, to be sentenced by this motion of the world. The life will then be manifested in all its works, and every soul shall see and feel its judgment and sentence in itself. For the judgment is indeed immediately manifested in and to every soul at the departure of the body; and the last judgment is but a return of the spiritual body, and a separation of the world, when the evil shall be separated from the good, in the substance of the world, and of the human body, and everything enters into its eternal place. And thus it is a manifestation of the mystery of God in every substance and life.
Scholar. How will the sentence be pronounced?
Master. Here consider the words of Christ. "He will say to those on His right-hand, come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me meat; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you clothed Me. I was sick, and you visited Me, in prison, and you came to Me". Then shall they answer Him, saying, "Lord, when did we see You hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, or in prison, and ministered to You?" The king shall answer and say to them; "In as much as you have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it to Me." and to the wicked on His left-hand He will say, "Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels. For I was hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, and in prison, and you did not ministered to Me." and they shall also answer Him and say, "When did we see You thus, and ministered not to You?" And He will answer them, "Truly I say to you, in as much as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me." and these shall depart into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.
Scholar. Master, please tell me why Christ says, "What you have done to the least of these, you have done to Me; and what you have not done to them, neither have you done it to Me." and how does a man in his working, do it for Christ, Himself?
Master. Christ dwells really and essentially in the faith of those that wholly yield themselves up to Him, and He gives them His flesh for food, and His blood for drink; and so He possesses the ground of their faith, according to the interior or inward man. And a true Christian is called a branch of the vine of Christ, and a Christian, because Christ dwells spiritually in him; therefore whatever good any shall do to such a Christian in his bodily necessities, it is done to Christ Himself, who dwells in him. For such a Christian is not his own, but is wholly resigned to Christ, and has become His peculiar possession, and consequently the good deed is done to Christ Himself.
Therefore also, whosoever shall withhold their help from such a needy Christian, and forbear to serve him in his necessity, they thrust Christ away from themselves, and despise Him in His members. When a poor person that belongs to Christ, asks anything of you, and you deny it to him in his necessity, you deny it to Christ Himself. And whatever hurt any shall do to such a Christian, they do it to Christ, Himself. When any mock, scorn, revile, reject, or thrust away such a one, they do all that to Christ; but he that receives him, gives him meat and drink, or apparel, and assists him in his necessities, does it likewise to Christ, and to a fellow-member of His own body. No, he even does it to himself, if he is a true Christian; for we are all one in Christ, as a tree and its branches are.
Scholar. How then will those subsist in the day of that fierce judgment, who afflict and vex the poor and distressed, and deprive them of their very sweat; necessitating and constraining them by force to submit to their wills, and trampling upon them as their footstools, only that they themselves may live in pomp and power, and spend the fruits of this poor people's sweat and labor in excess, pride, and vanity?
Master. Christ suffers in the persecution of His members. Therefore all the wrong that such people do to the poor ones under their control, is done to Christ Himself; and falls under His severe sentence and judgment! And besides that, they help the Devil to augment his kingdom; for by such oppression of the poor they draw them off from Christ, and make them seek unlawful ways to fill their bellies. No, they work for, and with the Devil himself, doing the very same thing which he does; who, without intermission, opposes the kingdom of Christ, which consists only in love. All these oppressors, if they do not turn with their whole hearts to Christ, and minister to, or serve Him, must go into the hell-fire, which is fed and kept alive by nothing else but such selfishness, as that which they have exercised over the poor here.
Scholar. But how will it turn out with those, and how will they be able to stand that severe trial, who in this time so fiercely contend about the kingdom of Christ, and slander, revile, and persecute one another for their religion, as they do?
Master. All such have not yet known Christ; and they are but as a type or figure of heaven and hell, striving with each other for the victory. All rising, with swelling pride, which contends about opinions, is only another form of selfishness. And whosoever does not have faith and humility, nor lives in the Spirit of Christ, which is love, is only armed with the anger of God, and helps forward the victory of the imaginary self, that is, the kingdom of darkness, and the anger of God. For at the day of judgment all selfishness shall be given to the darkness, as shall also all the unprofitable contentions of men; in which they seek not after love, but merely after their imaginary self, that they may exalt themselves by exalting and establishing their own opinions; even stirring up princes to war for the sake of the same, and by that means, occasioning the desolation of whole countries of people. All such things belong to the judgment, which will separate the false from the true; and then all images or opinions shall cease, and all the children of God shall dwell forever in the love of Christ, and the love of Christ in them.
All whoever in this time of strife, namely, from the fall to the resurrection, are not zealous in the Spirit of Christ, and desirous to promote peace and love, but seek and strive for themselves only, are of the devil, and belong to the pit of darkness, and must consequently be separated from Christ. For in heaven all serve God, their creator in humble love.
Scholar. Why does God allow such strife and contention to exist in this time?
Master. The life itself stands in strife, that it may be made manifest, sensible, and palpable, and that the wisdom may be made separable and known. The strife also constitutes the eternal joy of the victory. For there will arise great praise and thanksgiving in the saints from the experimental sense and knowledge that Christ in them has overcome darkness, and all of the self nature, and that they are at length totally delivered from the strife; at which they shall rejoice eternally, when they shall know how the wicked are recompensed. And therefore God suffers all souls to stand in the free-will, that the eternal dominion both of love and anger, of light and darkness, may be made manifest and known; and that every life might cause, and find its own sentence in itself. For that which is now a strife, and pain, to the saints in their wretched warfare here, shall in the end be turned into great joy to them; and that which has been a joy and pleasure to un-godly persons in this world, shall afterwards be turned into eternal torment and shame to them. Therefore the joy of the saints must arise to them out of death, as the light arises out of a candle by the destruction and consumption of it in its fire; so that the life may be freed from the painfulness of nature, and possess another world.
And as the light has quite a different property than the fire has, for it gives and yields itself; whereas the fire draws in and consumes itself; so the holy life of meekness springs forth through the death of self-will, and then God's will of love rules, and does all in all. For in this way the eternal One has attained feeling and separation, and brought itself forth again with feeling, through death in great joyfulness; that there might be an eternal delight in the infinite unity, and an eternal cause of joy; and therefore that which was before painfulness, must now be the ground and cause of this motion or stirring to the manifestation of all things. And herein lies the mystery of the hidden wisdom of God.
Every one that asks receives, every one that seeks finds; and to every one that knocks, it shall be opened. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with us all. Amen.