Thursday, 27 April 2017

Shall I venture upon a local description of hell?

Shall I venture upon a local description of hell?

I doubt I shall not be able, but will make the attempt.

Hell has its own geography, but no one can tell how far its realm extends; it is infinite—that maybe is the most correct estimate to be given. I believe earth, sun, and moon, and all the planets, would not nearly fill it. But what foolish talk, there being neither space nor time here. And as for boundaries?—on one side only, far, far away, hell has its boundary; whether anyone ever reached it I cannot tell.

In the direction of that pale twilight, which decreases and increases alternately, there is a great gulf, a fathomless abyss, separating hell from Paradise. It is Paradise whence that radiance proceeds. And from the abyss, at regular intervals apparently, dead darkness gushes forth, repressing the faint far-off light of heaven, until the last ghostly glimmer is gone. Then it is night with us, the abyss appearing as a lake of molten fire, but its flames are void of light-giving power. That is Satan's residence, and the abode of damned souls. I speak of it with fear and trembling. Gradually the abyss, as it were, eats up its own darkness, the fair light reappearing and growing, until we see it as a tender radiance, clear as the twilight of a summer morn. And at times, as though a curtain of mist and cloud were suddenly rent asunder, a cataract of light bursts forth victoriously, overflowing from the heart of glory. Hell stands dazzled, struck to the core as it were. For in beauty and bliss eternal a vision of Paradise is given to the damned ones—no, not the damned ones, for though cast into hell we are not yet judged; it is given to those who, like the rich man, lift up their eyes in torment. And it is not only Paradise we see, but the blessed ones who dwell there.

Letters from Hell, L. W. J. S., Richard Bentley & Son, London, 1889