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Hell and the Duration of Punishment

 

I am here, Paul

I merely want to say that I was present at the church tonight and listened to the preacher tell his congregation what he didn't know about hell. What he said, in many particulars, was untrue; however, it was pleasing to hear him tell his people that there was no physical suffering, although he didn't explain to them why there could be no such suffering.

I mean that no spirit, when he goes into hell, carries with him his physical body, or any other body that has such substance that would be affected by fire and brimstone and the other unreasonable things that the churches have for so many years taught and terrified their members with, and as a consequence, caused them to believe that the Father is such a "cruel" and "wrathful" Father, demanding that His "cravings for satisfaction" be supplied by the sizzling of the bodies of His children in fire. No, this damnable doctrine is not true, and I am glad to see that the churches are ceasing to believe it or teach it!

But the doctrine that the preacher taught is quite as bad, and as useless as the former, for the reason that punishment of sinners and those who are out of harmony with God, is a fact which they all will realize when they come to the spirit world. With that being so, to teach that this punishment is everlasting is as harmful as the one that I first mentioned.

How strange that preachers and teachers will try to cause their people and listeners to believe that God is such a wrathful and vindictive being, having less love and mercy than the most wicked earthly father has for his children! It is so very deplorable that these supposed instructors of what God is, should make such attempts to blaspheme Him, completely disregarding His Great Qualities of love and tenderness, and His desire that all His children become happy.

Oh, I tell you that these preachers will have a woeful sin to answer for when they come to an accounting! And this will not be at the "great judgment day," as they teach, but will be just as soon as they enter spirit life and realize the great harm that they have done to many who have followed them in their teachings. And they will realize that awful result very soon after their entrance into the spirit world.

For they will have come to them, as clouds of witnesses, the spirits of those who were under their instructions on earth, bringing with them all the evidence of the results of their erroneous beliefs and the stains of this great sin of blasphemy.

I, Paul, write this, for I have suffered from this very cause myself. When on earth, I taught some doctrine like unto the one that these preachers are now teaching, and even now I realize that I am responsible to some extent for many false beliefs. But I thank God that I am not responsible for all that is ascribed to me in the Bible, and that if my true teachings were known and taught, the blind and erroneous beliefs that are now so prevalent among Christians would not exist. I tell you that mortals do not conceive of the great harmful and deplorable results that flow from their beliefs in the Bible in many particulars.

This book is one of falsehoods and forgery and imputations that have no resemblance to what the Master or any of his apostles taught. And you can readily realize how anxious we all are that these errors and untruths be removed from the minds and souls of men. The hell of the orthodox preachers, as formerly taught - that is, a hell of brimstone and fires - is not the true hell, and has no existence save in the minds of these orthodox believers.

The true hell is a place and a condition, and one is not separated from the other. And while the condition of the soul and the beliefs of men create the hells to a very large extent, yet hell is a fixed abiding place, made and established, and of such a character as to suit the inhabiting of it by the soul according to the condition of that soul. To illustrate, a soul that is less vile and less filled with evil thoughts and the recollection of evil deeds and false beliefs is in a very different place from the soul that has more of this evil in it. The former soul would not find its habitation in the same place as the latter soul, any more than the highly developed soul would find its home in the same place as the soul that is less developed.

Heaven is a place, or many places, suited to the development of the soul. At the other extreme, hell is a place suited to the souls that are in a condition of degradation and evil. I mean to be understood as saying that place and condition of soul are correlative terms - the home of the soul depending on the condition of the soul. As these different hells vary, so they are suited for the souls of spirits according to the defilement of soul.

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 creates a man's hell to a very large extent, and that it 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 the darkness in which he finds himself. Hell is also a place. It is a place that has all the appearances and ingredients that are in exact agreement with a person's state as produced or caused by the condition of his mind or soul.

It is not a place of universal character, fitted for the habitation of all 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 appearance and surroundings that are suitable for causing the 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. The heaven of the redeemed, or those who have received the Divine Essence in their souls and have become of the Divine Nature of the Father, is a distinct heaven from that wherein those live who have been restored to the perfect condition of their natural love that the first parents 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 happiness and joy to its inhabitants, in addition to the happiness which their soul perfection and development cause them to have.

Then, as heaven is a place, having real substance that is perceptible to the spirits who 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. They are 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; further, these planes and divisions, whether of heaven or hell, have a more real existence than mortals have in their places of habitations 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 who 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 who are realizing its tortures and realities, and I will not take the time here to attempt to describe it in detail. I will only say that, as it has not entered into the minds of men to conceive of 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, because the darkness and sufferings of a few years, as you mortals say, bring about an eternity of light and happiness.

The law must rule. But in all the apparent harshness and suffering and want of mercy, the great 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 this 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 a 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 to them. Regarding the second proposition by the preacher 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 in hell 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 have 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 that the saying of Jesus proved it to be, not only because it was in the Bible, but also because the true meaning of the original Greek word can have no other translation. He said this not knowing, or if knowing, not recalling that Jesus, even if he used such expression, did not speak in Greek, and that in order to obtain the true meaning of the word used by Jesus in back of the Greek word, he (the preacher) must go to the word as it was uttered by Jesus for 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 had. But 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, the shade of meaning that they give it in their interpretations may not be an exact translation of 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 or more words, without reference to other declarations of the same book that have 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, that he had no right to indulge in speculation concerning the philosophies of other men; and that he could find nothing in the Bible 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 had 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 also 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 if there had been no possibility of their ever leaving it (First Epistle of Peter 3:19,20. "...being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water..").

Also, the preacher might well have considered more deeply the contradiction presented in the Bible that, at the time of Noah, because of their great sins when mortals, God "punished" His children as He never punished any other of His children for their disobedience, utterly destroying them by one great catastrophe, removing His only living human creatures from the face of the earth, and thus leaving only Noah and his family to serve as a reminder of the great failure of God Himself, in His Creation of the most perfect and the "Very Good." No, in addition to recognizing this obvious contradiction, if the preacher had searched the Bible, he would have found that the hell that contained the spirits of all the human race that were living at the time of the flood (except Noah and his family) was not eternal in its duration.

And again, had the preacher searched even 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 the possibility of release upon certain 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." (Matthew 12:32.)

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 duty bound to do. Could he have rid his mind of the beliefs that the creeds of his church had driven into his intellect, and of the teachings of the ancient Fathers, as well as of the churches that had taught such false and damnable doctrines for so many years, his conclusion 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 I want to say here that he needs as much commiseration, if not more, 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 that 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; 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 that location, the better off they will be. Further, that that condition changes, and it will change. The hell of a spirit's 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 blessing, I am

Your brother in Christ, Paul