The Last Visit — Continued
We stood a moment almost bewildered at the great scenes before us in every direction. We now descended from this great platform or elevation, to find David’s chariot was standing nearby. Mother, Mary and Geneviève had just stepped from it. Oh, indeed, it was a glad surprise to see them again in the midst of the great moving hosts about us. We clasped hands and with a love-kiss, clean and pure as heaven itself, we all felt that the unions begun on earth were far sweeter here than any family ever knew while in the earthly life in the flesh. But no wifehood or husband’s place is desired or hardly thought of in heaven.
David now said: “I must bid you good-bye. The visits and journeys with you have been most pleasant indeed; but I will see you all again. Gabriel with his chariot stands yonder for you. Before you go, shall we not join in one more service of thanksgiving and praise?”
Bohemond fairly shouted at this and we all took our harps and joined David in one sweeter hymn of praise. When we had finished, David waved his hand a pleasant farewell, and his chariot moved away and was lost from our gaze as we followed him with longing eyes, for we had learned to love him exceedingly.
Gabriel now came and addressed us most lovingly. Mother, Geneviève and Mary all knew him well, but I had only seen him once since he bade me good-bye at my first entrance into paradise; but I found he was one of the chief angels of heaven, one of the archangels, yet he was Daniel’s servant while yet in the world. I found he led the band who announced the birth of the Savior and guarded the sepulcher at His death and rolled back the stone at His resurrection.
He now invited us to seats with him in the chariots. “For,” said he, “I am sent into paradise.” We accepted his invitation and were soon stepping into the first chariot of heaven, and one that has traversed the distance between heaven and earth multiplied thousands of times. In that chariot we were soon all seated.
The angel now said to mother and Geneviève: “Have you any choice of routes for the journey through paradise? We have a command concerning Seneca, and you are more than welcome to journey with us to the gateway.”
“Indeed,” they both spoke at once, “we would be greatly pleased to go with you, and thou mayest choose the route for thou knows best.”
“Perhaps Seneca has a choice.”
“Oh, Gabriel, thou blessed of God, choose thou for us, for thou hast knowledge of all places in the kingdom which we have not.”
“Leaving it to me then we will go by way of the mountain regions which lie to the southeast, going out at Benjamin’s gate.”
“Good,” said Geneviève, “nothing could please Mr. Sodi better, for he always enjoyed the stupendous and romantic scenery of the earth. David, whose chariot has just gone, has very recently brought Seneca, mother and Mary with myself from the preparatory departments for children, which is far toward the southwest, to the children’s amphitheater in the city where I have been for quite a time assisting the little ones in their first lessons in heaven. Seneca enjoyed the return trip through the mountain region splendidly; so I am sure thou hast chosen wisely.”
“Now,” said Gabriel, “when you are all ready we will be going, for we have to meet our Lord, with very many others, at the gate of Benjamin, which is toward the southeast. I wish for Seneca and Bohemond to sit with me.”
We took our places beside the angel, while mother, Geneviève and Mary sat together in the rear. In a moment more our chariot moved away.
“Oh, Seneca, thou blessed of God,” said the angel, “thou art a chosen vessel, selected for a special errand by the Lord Himself.”
“Oh, tell me, Gabriel, what is before me. Heaven has been one glad surprise at every turn since I stepped from the angel’s chariot, at a distant portal of paradise when we first entered this kingdom of glory.”
“Everything is before thee,” said the angel, “almost nothing behind in comparison to what is yet beyond. But Seneca, thou art a favored saint of God and the unfolding’s of His intentions toward thee will be made known in due time.”
At this, mother, who was intensely interested in the conversation, spoke and said: “Oh, Gabriel, the man by thy side is my own son and was cared for by these hands from the day of his birth and I am deeply interested in all that is transpiring.”
Genevieve now stood to her feet in the chariot and leaning forward clasped her arms to my neck and said; “Oh, Gabriel, this man was my husband on earth and most sweetly were our earthly lives spent together. But here we are joined in an eternal union.”
At this the angel laughed and said; “Are you married again?”
“Oh, no, we are not married, for saints do not marry in heaven, nor do they wish to; but these bonds of highest friendship will be eternal, will they not?”
“Sure,” said the angel. “Your love and oneness will be far sweeter than ever it was on earth.”
“But I would like to know,” say Geneviève, “and I know thou canst tell me, if the angels themselves were ever in love among themselves with a love similar to that of husband and wife?”
At that question, Gabriel slacked the speed of his chariot and turning his head to glance over his shoulder at Geneviève, who stood with her arms still about my neck, he said; “Thou hast almost put me to blush for we are inferior to you, who have descendants and creations of your own. We have no; bride neither bridegroom. But marriage was such a leading passion with the inhabitants of the earth that our Lord intends perpetuating it in eternity, only changed. He is now and ever will be the bridegroom and all the saints, you, not us, will be His brides. We were the working bees of the great family of man on earth and in heaven, neither drones nor queens, but we are all content with our sphere of action. We know no sorrow nor any unfulfilled desire, which cannot be fully met here in heaven or on earth. We are your servants, and this trip to the gate of Benjamin and to paradise is my joyful service.”
At this Mary stood up and said: “Oh, Gabriel, this man by thy side is my father, from whom I parted when only just an infant. I think it must have been thane own chariot which brought me to the care of dear grandmother as I learned to call her later.”
At this the chariot stood still and the angel arose and turning himself about he laid his hands upon our heads with the blessings of the chief angel of God and said: “Oh, ye saints of the Most High, I was present when the morning stars sang together and tuned my harp to that sacred melody of the skies. I am the same now as I was then. But before you is an endless progression, an eternal destiny, with exaltations, honors, and blessings of which you know but little now.”
“Now,” said Gabriel, “we must be going, for soon we must join others at Benjamin’s gate.”
The chariot moved on with great speed. The scenery was all new to Bohemond and myself, and Geneviève said it was almost new to her. The mansions were beautiful with all the decorations that any soul in heaven could wish. Thousands of saints were coming and going, like a hive of busy bees.
“I see David’s chariot,” said the angel, “coming down that broad avenue yonder.” In a little while we were side by side, with greetings and congratulations, for his chariot was now filled with ancient men and women; saints of renown.
On the chariots moved, side by side, we went, till at last the shining of the wall began to appear and the great gate of Benjamin loomed up before us and as we were slackening our speed, we noticed the most beautiful chariot we had yet seen standing just near the gate. It glittered with the gold of heaven, set with diamonds of beauty. Our Lord Himself was in that chariot. His twelve apostles also were with Him. Such a halo of light: almost with dazzling brightness, shown all about that chariot. In a few moments the three chariots stood side by side. We all bowed our heads, saints and angels together, before Him who had prepared this city for us.
David’s harp was of great proportions. He stood before us all and announced a hymn. We all arose and sang again; while standing in the chariot, the praises of our Lord and Redeemer.
The angel, Gabriel, sang with loud hosannas an ancient solo. Daniel, who was in David’s chariot, and who was a fast friend of the angel, said: “Sing it again,” and surely the sweetest music to which we had ever listened rolled from his hallowed lips.
“Now,” said the angel, “look through this gateway,” and behold, there was an immense company of new arrivals standing just outside, and singing some new songs. This company had been escorted here from different places in paradise much the same as we had been only a short time ago. Stephen, the martyred saint, had led this company. While he was getting them ready to pass through the gateway into the presence of their Lord Jesus, who now beckons us all to a raised elevation close beside the gateway, He laid His hand gently on my head and said: “Son, be of good cheer, thy earthly mission is not yet completed, but as I once called Moses and Elias from these shining gates, so now I send thee to make known what thou hast seen and heard, which is but a tithe of what thou shalt yet see, but this is all they will receive at thy hand now. True unfeigned faith in many sections of the earth is waning. Thou wilt find a faithful helper, on whose head my blessings shall rest. When thou have completed thy journey to the earth, I shall confer the elder’s blessing upon thee — an earlier inheritance of the “purchased possession.” All heads were now bowed, while He prayed and committed me to the angel’s care.
Bohemond and the women came close to my side and said:
“Is it true we must part?”
“Only for a time, yes, only for a time.” And with exaltation, I cried: “I shall soon see you again.”
The Lord said: “Hasten to thy mission, I must welcome these outside the gate, for I have redeemed them by my blood.” So saying, He called Gabriel to His side and gave him a charge concerning me. I bade my kindred and all those who came to see me off good-bye, saying: “I will see you again,” and I mounted the angel’s chariot.