An actual vision of heaven and hell

 

 

The transition of the soul from earth to paradise without the intervention of death is an experience that few persons have had since the world began. "Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him" (Gen. 5:24). And "Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven" (2 Kings 2:11). These were translated to be forever with the Lord. A number of persons have died and then have come to life, and after relating what they saw in the spirit world, were taken again. But not many persons have been shown the realities of the eternal world and were then permitted to come back to life to remain indefinitely. The transition of Paul, when he was "caught up to the third heaven, or "paradise," and that of John,, when he was Ain the Spirit" on the Isle of Patmos, were temporary realizations of paradisiacal enjoyments. Such heavenly ascensions, whether corporeal or merely spiritual, of permanent or temporary duration, are not without special purpose in the divine plan of conferring blessings upon humanity.

In latter times, instances of soul-transitions to paradise of discontinuous duration are indeed rare. Mr. Barrett at one time had such an experience. It occurred some time during the year following his conversion, or possibly at a somewhat later period. He was at a meeting in a school-house in the neighborhood of his boyhood home, in Pennsylvania, his half-sister, Adeliah Barrett, a young girl about fourteen years of age, being also present. The presence and power of God being eminently manifested, they were having a most blessed service. During an outpouring of the Spirit, Mr. Barrett fell under the power of God. His half-sister says, "His breathing, for a moment, seemed like one dying and then he appeared like one dead for at least two hours." Two angels appeared to him as the dissolution of soul and body took place, and he was borne away in their company toward heaven. If any conversation passed between Mr. Barrett and the angels at any time, the fact is not known. The celestial guides did not pursue a perpendicular course, but followed that of an acute angle. It all seemed so real to him, even more so than earthly conditions. He looked at his hands; they were like those of his natural body; his features were apparently unchanged. But he was without gravity; and terrestrial gravitation did not affect him. In the rapidity of their flight heavenward, distance seemed to be annihilated. Soon the celestial city, in the glittering splendor of its exceeding brightness, appeared in view. The ecstasy that filled his soul at the mere sight of that "four-square city," is not within the compass of human language to describe. The glory of God and the Lamb, which is the light thereof (Rev. 21:23), thrilled his soul with rapturous and inexpressible delight. But the twelve foundations of the wall of the city, which were garnished with all manner of precious stones; the wall itself of jasper; the "city" of pure gold, like unto glass; the twelve gates, each one of pearl; and the street of gold, transparent as glass; all in themselves of gorgeous beauty and attractiveness, were things of indifferent interest as compared with the full and complete presence of Jesus within its four walls.

As they approached an entrance to the glorious place, the gate of pearl opened and they entered the portal of rest. Mr. Barrett then saw Jesus in the visible reality of His majestic, divine person. He sat upon a throne, and seated around Him was an almost innumerable company of redeemed spirits from all nations and times, and from infancy to old age. As they advanced toward the throne, Jesus came down to meet them. How blessed to behold his Lord and Master! but, oh, what burning sensations of immortal joy he felt as Jesus looked upon him with pleased countenance. Could it be true that Jesus left His royal seat to greet him, and that His visible face beamed forth tokens of approbation? Oh, what impassionate love! What condescension of supreme exaltation! Yes, it was so real.

The Lord showed Mr. Barrett the river of life, which sparkled with the luster of crystals, and the tree of life "in the midst of the street of it," "which bare twelve manner of fruit, and yielded her fruit every month" (Rev. 22:1, 2.). The glory of the Lord shone effulgently everywhere, giving light to the city and happiness to the redeemed and to angels. It appears that Mr. Barrett understood that he was to return to earth. He evidently was not forgetful of the manner in which he left his body, nor the circumstances in connection with the dissolution, and he requested the Lord to permit him to remain. But taking him outside the city, through the same gate he entered, and beyond the impassable gulf of separation, there, at the very door stead of hell, Jesus disclosed to him the state of damned spirits. The things he then heard and saw were fearful in the extreme. With diabolical cursings and blaspheming, and with writhings and gnashing of teeth, one upon another, they agonized in merciless torment. In pitiless and disconsolate association, they found no reprieve of anguish; but with utter despair and implacable vengeance one accused the other for his damnation, saying, "If it had not been for you, I would not be here." Oh, the thought of such a scene. After such a vision and such a hearing of the damned, Mr. Barrett was ever after a man of intense and incessant prayer and labor. He was anxious to return to earth to labor for the salvation of souls. But Jesus would not send him back to earth from such a scene. He was taken back to the celestial city and permitted to enter again. Jesus then told him to return and persuade men to turn to Him. He also told him that if he would perform the work faithfully that was given him to do, at the end of life he would pass away just as he did at the meeting. In that regard his half-sister, Adeliah (now Mrs. A. A. White), again says, "It was all brought so fresh to my mind as he was dying. Every breath was just as it was at the time of his passing away in the meeting." Here is the testimony of God Himself, in taking Mr. Barrett at death just as He did over forty years before, to the effect that he did the work of God in a faithful manner throughout his entire ministry. And the inference is that he lived an intense, dynamical life in God, such only as would give to his gospel labors the greatest possible degree of success.

The angels then led him forth from the city and back to earth. In his descent, coming down at the same angle he ascended, he saw the globular form of the earth, then the great expanse of country with its cities, rivers, and lakes. As he approached nearer, he saw here and there persons who seemed to be clothed in white, which represented the spiritual garments of righteousness. He also saw his body lying on the floor of the school-house and the people about it. The angels accompanied him to his body, and then for a moment he seemed not to realize anything until he felt some one rubbing his hands to aid the circulation of blood.

The wonderful manner in which the Lord exalted and honored Mr. Barrett was a great inspiration and incentive to greater activity in gospel work. His "visions" no doubt incited him to the extraordinary spiritual heights and conquests that were his. Avoiding even the appearance of boasting, he did not often relate his experience. On a certain occasion, in a camp-meeting tabernacle service during a rain storm, when most of those assembled were believers, he was divinely led to tell his heavenly experience, and the effect upon all present was very marked.

The facts given in this account have come from many sources, but are coincident one with the other. The author also heard Mr. Barrett relate the experience.

 

From: THE HAPPY ALLEGHENIAN, The Story of Clifford B. Barrett By M. L. Rhodes, No date.

 

 

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