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The Poorhouse Waif And His Divine Teacher by Isabel C. Byrum


Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

-- Longfellow.

While Edwin was still laboring among the stones in the field of grass, this thought came suddenly to his mind:

|If I should be so unfortunate as to die before I receive the assurance that I am going to heaven and I should happen to find myself in hell, how long would I have to be there? And how hot would be that fire that I have heard so much about from profane tongues? Would there be any ending or wearing away of eternity? and would the suffering after a while be less severe? or would it go right on just the same forever and ever?|

As his desire to know these things increased, he was willing to lay aside his thoughts concerning how he was to get the assurance that he was going to heaven, and as he passed from one heap of stones to another, he became sorely troubled. He longed for a friend to whom he could go for help, but no one was suggested to his mind. Even his friend Frank Kauffman, he was sure, could not enlighten him; for to none of the questions he already asked upon these subjects had he received satisfactory answers.

Then suddenly, as though he had passed into the great beyond, everything about him appeared to be changed. He seemed to have died and passed into hell, and the flames, as they rose in imagination about him, were penetrating every fiber of his being, and he cried out in his distress. But as though the vision had been only to teach him of the reality of that place of torment, Edwin felt himself caught up, as it were, and he was seemingly suspended in an endless space with the eternal realities of life opened up for him to view. For miles and miles nothing but space appeared to stretch before, above, and around him, with the glaring flames that he had just left but a short distance behind him.

Then the scene was changed, and he saw before him a great and high mountain of sand, and the thought of the impossibility of counting the grains was suggested to his mind. Again the scene changed, and each grain in the mountain seemed to be a year, and the grains as years began to form themselves into one continuous straight line, so long that the distance could not be measured by the human eye, for there was no end. Once more there was a change. The line of years took the form of a great measuring-rod, and strength was given Edwin to grasp the rod and to try to measure the duration of hell-fire; and he tried to see if in eternity there could be any possible way of forgetting the past. Twice with the immense rod he measured into the sea of Forgetfulness, but before the third measurement was taken, he saw from a backward glance that hell was no farther away from him than it had been at the first. In great distress Edwin dropped the rod, and the vision passed away.

When he realized that he was still in the field of grass and was on time's side of eternity, he was very glad indeed. Through the vision he was convinced of two things -- that hell and its torments were certain, and that eternity was without end -- and he was filled with a new determination and zeal to do everything in his power to obtain an assurance within himself that he was really on the road to the better world.

How sad that Edwin could not have gone directly to Jesus as some did in olden time and have heard him explain that to enter heaven one must be born again.

|The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.| |Except a man be born again, he can not see the kingdom of God.| (John 3:8,3).

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