Access to the Tree of Life

James Martin Peebles, Immortality and Our Employments Hereafter.  Boston: Colby and Rich, 1880:163-168.

The Gifts and Clairvoyant Sight of Elmira P. Allard, a Shaker Sister, Enfield, N. H.

From my youth up to this present time I have had the most unmistakable evidences of spirit communion.  In the year 1838 believers in our society experienced a revival in which those who were in any degree mediumistic were used as mediums, myself among the number.  At first, however, I did not behold spirit forms, but seeking anxiously through prayer and supplication for clear spirit-sight, it pleased God and His holy angels to open my vision, since which time I have often walked and talked with the angels of God—yea, I have heard them converse, and seen them engage in sacred dances and marching.  From departed spirits I have learned songs almost without number.  Spirit life is as natural to the spirit eye as is the earthly life to the physical eye.  When I am in the superior spiritual state things are far more substantial to me than are the things of the external life.  Spirits that have just left their bodies appear clothed much as they were in their mortal form, which ancient and holier spirits are clad in celestial attire, shining as the sun.  I have been taken by guardian angels to distant lands and cities, and shown their regal splendors, together with the sins and abominations practiced by their inhabitants; and also beheld the judgments of God poured out upon them.  The causes of many calamities or judgments upon earth are spiritual, angels of justice proving themselves swift witnesses.  The angel of judgment has shown me many things that I hardly dare mention—things that will come to pass upon this nation for its political wickedness, manifested toward the Indians and other inferior people.  Many times have I seen a holy city located just over our temporal buildings—a sort of summer land, adorned with glory and magnificence, the habitation of saints and angels, and to me as real as any natural city.  In the immediate distance were mountains, rivers, valleys, beautiful gardens, vineyards laden with purpling fruitage, flowers of delicious fragrance, and enchanting hills, upon the sides of which were singing birds and harmless animals.

In this spirit land I have seen kings and nobles, priests and prophets.  The former having become humbled had lain aside their kingly pretensions.  Near where I saw these characters they have one building called the “Congress House of Justice.”  Here was Washington, Adams, Lafayette, departed prophets, and many of the noblest of the great men of the last century.  They were conversing upon subjects relating to political economy, as well as receiving instructions from higher unselfish intelligences, to be applied to earthly governments.  The spirit world is a counterpart of this, only in the higher mansions of God, or spheres, as they are now called, everything seems more ethereal and peaceful.  Once I saw Dr. Franklin in what might be called the telegraph office, communicating with the inhabitants of earth.  In another apartment of this building, which far surpasses my power of description, were Plutarch and Pliny, who, showing me an immense crystal globe enveloped in glittering stars, and planets represented by different colors, said, “These are planets yet to be discovered.”

I have seen the careless, the thoughtless, and the worldly selfish, in the prison spheres of darkness.  They seemed dormant and half dead, and I heard what might be compared to the trump of God wakening their sleeping souls, and watching them.  I felt sure that they were startled from their lethargy to partially, at least, appreciate their darkened condition; and I have seen, too, higher spirits, moved by affection, go to their aid, telling them of eternal day and the City of Peace.  At length, weary and heavy-laden, they would move on, guided by missionary spirits, to flowing fountains, where, with tattered garments, they would stand under the glittering sprays, and would seek to wash the stains from their soiled vestures.  Oh, it is a fearful thing to live a selfish life for fame—a life for that meat which perisheth!

In hours of worship I have seen hosts of spirits enter or stand around our house of worship during service, some of which I was familiar with in the earth-life.  They appeared in every feature and gesture to my spirit vision, as though they still inhabited mortal bodies, only they were more light and ethereal.  I have seen them inspired our elders and elderesses when bearing their testimony against the lusts of the flesh and the pride of life; I have seen them approach mortals and speak to them, and these mortals echoing would speak the same words, hardly knowing why they did so.  I once saw an elder brother, who had passed to spirit life from one of the western states, enter our house of public worship, and handing an open spirit Bible to Elder Henry Cummings, asked him to read the tenth chapter of Acts.  Elder Henry, immediately rising, took from his pocket a Testament, and read the same chapter, making it the basis of his discourse.  It is surpassing strange to me that all are not consciously susceptible of spirit influence—that all do not see them as I do, and feel the gentle touches of their snow-white hands.

In the world of spirits there is a council called the “Spirit Council.”  This council, conferring together, sent missionaries in various vehicles to mortals and wicked spirits, hoping to impress them to turn and walk in the ways of holiness.  The Christ spirit of love always strives with men and with degraded spirits.  Remember that disorderly spirits, still sympathetically connected with the earth, moving in your midst—vile wicked spirits—are capable of doing great harm to humanity.  They can commit actual sin through easy, negative-minded people upon earth.  Changing worlds does not change immediately the desires of the miser, the thief, or the carnally-minded.  These passions and tendencies do not pertain to the body—that is material, unthinking, and irresponsible.  It is the spirit that thinks and wills and does through the body; and it is the spirit, whether it is in the body or out, that is morally responsible.

Once I saw a large company of spirits erecting a capacious stone building.  It surprised me.  I observed them until one story was accomplished, for they worked very rapidly.  After it was erected I stepped into it, but found no way to ascend to the lofts above.  Looking about I came to what I afterwards learned was an elevator.  This was long before I learned about any such convenience upon earth.  I am certain, from travels and observations in the spiritual world, that nearly all mechanical inventions are first conceived and arranged in the Spirit-Land.  Passing into one of the other lower rooms in this building, I saw a very extensive table covered with plates, goblets filled with pure water, dishes of cake beautifully frosted, and most inviting fruits; and here were hundreds of spirits partaking of the luscious viands.  At one of my visits in the land of soul life I met Elder John Lyon.  He said he had started to attend a conference at the Congress House of Justice.  I said, Can I go in?  He replied: “A large collection are assembled for the purpose of helping the government.  We hope to influence the people against war, and purge the nation from political dishonesty and unrighteousness.”

At one time, while traveling in spirit life, attended by my angelic teacher, I met a company going on a pleasure excursion, to take a sail, they said, on Lake Pleasant; they invited me to join them, which I did.  This lake was in oval form, and had upon its banks waving trees and overhanging vines.  The sail of itself was delightful, but was intensified by music, song, and holy words of wisdom.  After this we took a winding road up a mountain path to a lovely park dotted with fruit-trees, and interlaced with delightful paths, and the whole encircled by a high wall overhung with ivy and clustering vines.  Here the party engaged for a little time in religious worship.  Near a magnificent building in this park stood a stately tree, whose leaves were as shining as silver and gold, and I was told they represented the first and second appearing of Christ.  One apartment in this building was devoted to the education of foreign spirits, another to the consideration of spiritual gifts, and how to make them the most effectual among the children of men.  Over the archway leading from this room was the sentence, written seemingly in golden letters, “Holiness to the Lord.”

In concluding these descriptions of spirit life and heavenly orders, I must say, in humility of spirit, that I have utterly failed to do the subject justice.  The most gifted tongue of earth cannot describe the angel homes of the beautiful and the worthy.  The spirit world is to me the real world.  If I know that mortals exist, so do I know that our loved ones exist in heaven.  I have walked and talked with them, and, like the apostle of old, I hardly know at times whether I am in the body or out.  And oh how my soul burns to teach and impress mortals to be good and pure and Christ-like—to “overcome,” that they may inherit and have access to the tree of life.

Visions and Spiritual Experiences through the Mediumship of Eunice Bathrick, a Shaker Eldress.

I am now in the sere of life, and as my earthly career is drawing to a close, I rejoice to say that invisible agencies have supported me all through these changing years up to the present time.  I have felt the companionship of spirits, as though they were tangible to the physical touch; I have seen them as distinctly as I see things with my natural eyes.  I have frequently conversed with them audibly, and though I heard no external response, the answer, in some unexplainable way, was intelligently echoed to my interior consciousness.  I have been informed of, and prophesied of events before their occurrence, and have been turned from the course I was pursuing, where dangers awaited me, by loving, ministering spirits.  I have heard angelic voices, have been patted upon the shoulder when in the room by myself; have listened to heavy footsteps, so heavy as to seemingly jar the floor, the ground, and the forest through which I was walking.

Listening to the songs of angel hosts, I have committed them to writing.  Sitting quietly alone at twilight, I have sung under the inspiration of angels one new song after another, till they numbered scores; and they were joined in aim and purpose like intertwining links in a golden chain.  It is impossible for me to find language to describe the landscapes that I have seen in vision; their verdure, their velvety lawns, their crystal streams, and musical birds, almost overcame me with a joy and a love for God and his creatures.  On some of these green lawns were lofty trees, with delicate vines, climbing over and clinging to the branches, bearing transparent fruit resembling clusters of grapes.  Walking on these lawns, among these groves, and in the alcoves, were children dressed in white, with teachers instructing them.  The pure and beautiful angels seemed to have no fixed abode, but roamed at will through elysian fields, while the darker spirits seemed confined to given localities; and the atmosphere in which they moved appered to me hazy and gloomy.  There were no green fields, no fragrant flowers, and no dancing fountains, to cheer their desolate abode.  These were shown to me for lessons of instruction.  The places where some good spirits were conducted, after leaving their bodies, appeared to me like the outer court of a magnificent building, with architectural beauty surpassing all earthly workmanship.  Their walls were festooned with vines and flowers, and hung with paintings symbolizing sacred scenes in the Scriptures, and the lives of good and pure men and women.

At one time I saw, in vision, public worship held among spirits.  The building stood facing the south, with a sloping, undulating plain, I should judge, a mile in length, at the extremity of which was a dense forest, through which murmured a winding river, with banks fringed with delicate mosses.  All of the surroundings tended to promote contemplation, and a prayerful mood of mind.  The extensive and symmetrical building for worship was of pure white, and, as far as I could see, without the least ornament.  It was clearly constructed for worship, and not for the display of pride.  I did not enter the structure, but the two doors facing the south stood open, as they had been left by the assembled throng.  Before approaching so near, and while standing in meditation, I saw the brethren and sisters—angels they were—go forth in the march and the dance.  I saw them pass the windows, arranged in white transparent robes, as they moved like seraphs to the heavenly music.  It seemed to me as though I was at the very gates of the City Celestial, the home of the New Jersusalem, and was about to join in the song of the hundred and forty-four thousand.  In that heavenly world—for I seemed to be there—I was pained when told by my guardian angel, that I must return again to the material world; and now I only desire to stay upon earth, that I may do good and help poor mortal souls to rise into the resurrection-life, where alone is found peace and true happiness.

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