Experiences of a Colonial American Theologian.
January 7-8th, 2008
Santa Cruz, California
Received by FAB
I am here, Jonathan Edwards.
Yes, just as you have suspected, I have had more poor souls than I can remember come to me with their sad stories, and I saw that I profoundly misrepresented the Loving God to them. I see you are curious about my story, so I will oblige you.
When my soul left my body, I felt as light as a feather. I had often wondered what Heaven must be like, and I knew that I was passing from this world of tears to a much better one. I looked down on my body, all sick and careworn, and I had the elated thought, “It’s happened! And I will be there.” Then I thought over a lifetime, and how all the troubles I had would be gone forever.
I was hardly able to focus on these thoughts, for I found myself in the presence of my beloved grandfather, whom I had assisted in his ministry, and who had meant a great deal to me. I was overwhelmed with joy to see him. The first thing he said is that I had nothing to fear. Though I had often speculated about the afterlife, actually being there was a shock, and my grandfather’s timely comment helped greatly to relieve the anxiety and discomfort of these strange new surroundings. And it was strange to me, unfamiliar because I had read nothing in the Bible that corresponded with what I saw. But I assumed I must be in Heaven because everything was so beautiful.
After visiting with other spirits who were family and friends, my grandfather, noticing my surprise and discomfort, commenced, in a gentle and gradual way, to explain to me that many things I believed were simply not true. He explained that he was talking to me out of concern and benevolence, and that what he said would be corroborated by my future experiences in this different world. And he was right, for after much time in these unaccustomed surroundings, I found myself in a very different place, which was much darker and much less beautiful.
Let me satisfy your curiosity. You read that I often would sit in rapture about God’s greatness and goodness, so why would my place of habitation not be correspondingly beautiful? Well, these sincere periods of contemplation were really just pious speculation. They could not alter the unhappiness that came upon me when I began to realize that I had misled not only myself but so many others. The Great God Jehovah I never saw, as I had expected to. I thought I would be sitting near the Father’s throne singing hosannas to the Prince of Peace and the Lamb of God. But instead, all I experienced was a certain unfriendly dullness on the part of my surroundings and my neighbors.
You have the thought, if I had been so rigorous in my moral inventory of myself, why wouldn’t this be reflected in my surroundings? After all, you channeled Francis of Assisi as saying that he inherited happiness. Well, I have talked with him, and he told me that there was some unhappiness he also experienced as a result of his erroneous beliefs.
You do not know me as I was on earth. I did love and care for people. Yes, I certainly did. But as I now see it, this love for my fellow mortals, and my preoccupation with religion, could not overcome a certain hardness of heart, which resulted from my theological beliefs. I was completely sincere in my profession of faith, but I didn’t attend to those matters that Francis of Assisi did, to the extent that he did. No, I lived in a different type of space, and I found over here that there was much I did not comprehend that Francis understood perfectly well.
This comparison with Francis of Assisi is healthy for you. You are learning the relative importance of theology in the happiness or unhappiness of spirits. What you have trouble understanding is, why was Francis’ experience so much happier than mine, when his theology was exactly the same? Well, his emphasis, both in his mind and his soul, was more in accord with the Master. That is, he lived his life and conducted his inner life more according to Truth, as I now see it.
What perplexes you is the mystery of the human soul. And what you must realize in my case is what you already know: that soul condition is the most important factor for spirits. It so happened that my theological beliefs actually impeded my soul development, whereas Francis’ inner life was closer to the original purity of the Master’s inner life. But my inner rigor served me well, for as I gradually learned the truth, I began to progress. My regrets and my remorse were great, and it felt at times that I would never overcome them, but I did, with the help of many kind Angels and those spirits who had taken a particular interest in my life.
At a certain stage in my spirit life, the thought dawned on me that the Heaven I pined away for on earth could actually be mine, and that I could attain this Heaven by praying for God’s Love. No matter how many I had misled, I realized that I had the key to my own salvation. So instead of torturing and tormenting myself, I used my considerable energy and commitment, which I had always possessed, toward this great end of bringing God’s Love into my soul. I was told that It would result in new and different feelings, and sure enough, this happened. After this joyful experience, I focused on this Love. I found that my earthly diligence with my inner life was very helpful. The virtues of self-control and moral rigor were now transferred to this great Love, and as I progressed, so my happiness increased, until I got into the true Heaven. And what I saw there was beyond words to describe.
As I look back on my entire spiritual life, I see that I was dedicated to the things of God, and that I was able to bring forward in my pursuit of God’s Love the same qualities that I possessed on earth. So from this, you can learn that character strengths and virtues always benefit a spirit, and sometimes in surprising and unexpected ways.
Well, I have given you this rather long description of my experience for your edification and enrichment. I can assure you that I am now a most happy and light spirit, who is entirely unencumbered with beliefs that surprise me now. And yet that’s who I was.
Jonathan Edwards (October 5, 1703 – March 22, 1758) was a colonial American Congregational preacher, theologian, and missionary to Native Americans. Edwards “is widely acknowledged to be America’s most important and original philosophical theologian”. He is known as one of the greatest and most profound of American theologians and revivalists. His work is very broad in scope, but he is often associated with his defense of Calvinist theology, the metaphysics of theological determinism, and the Puritan heritage. His famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” emphasized the just wrath of God against sin and contrasted it with the provision of God for salvation; the intensity of his preaching sometimes resulted in members of the audience fainting, swooning, and other more obtrusive reactions. The swooning and other behaviors in his audience caught him up in a controversy over “bodily effects” of the Holy Spirit’s presence. (Source: Wikipedia)