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At first I could not understand how these people of Swift could travel
so conveniently in the air, for their wings are very small and the
exertion when flying is very limited. But the lightness of the body, the
heaviness of the air, and the unusual strength of the Swiftites, each
conduces its share to the fortunate result.

In my thoughtlessness I envied these gifted people and wished that when
I would return to my world, I could enjoy such privileges of flight. I
soon checked this rising covetousness, and again contentment flung over
me its white mantle.

The bodies of these Swiftites are covered by nature with a clean growth
of soft, silken hair. They change their garments with the seasons, but
at all times dress very sparingly and neatly. They are so easily clothed
that all their apparel occasions them no more trouble than the more
seasonable covering of the head gives to our women.

The average length of life is nearly four hundred years of our time.
There are very few worlds in space where the general health of its
inhabitants is as perfect as is found on this beautiful planet. There
are but few doctors because there is but little demand for them. Those
who are engaged are under government service, and all persons who are
unfortunate enough to become ill receive at least all medicine and
professional attention free.

We are quite an exceptional world in our medical system. In all my
journey I saw comparatively only a few worlds that have the private
system of medical treatment. Have we not noted the laboring husband
bending at his toil for eight or ten hours to pay the physician who
calls for a few minutes? In some cases this program is continued for
weeks, until the honest toiler finds himself confronted with a doctor's
bill and medicine bill to haunt him until the debt is either forgiven or
paid at great sacrifice.

On the world of Swift and in the vast majority of civilized worlds in
space, the community or government furnishes a salaried physician within
reasonable reach of every home. The doctors of Swift are not expected to
work night and day. They have shifts to divide the toil equally.

In architecture this distant planet excels us by far. I improved the
opportunity and went to witness a magnificent temple of worship which
has been in process of erection for over two hundred years. Any conceit
that I previously had on account of the large structures of my own world
quickly vanished at the sight of this imposing edifice. During my visit
the winged workers were laboring on the upper stories and I watched them
with great wonderment as they descended from the clouds to carry
materials to the higher stories. Can you imagine the picture of workmen
flying in all directions with tools, each one busily employed? It is
promised that the present generation of employees will live to see the
completion of this notable structure.

This vast building is the national religious center of the Swiftites.
Each government has such a central station, and from it all temples of
worship are controlled. Here the church and the state are yet married,
and the state maintains its religious departments with careful scrutiny.
The chief ambition of each government has always been to outshine the
others in the glory and magnificence of its central temple which, of
course, is fire proof and almost time proof.

One may wonder as he gazes upon this extensive structure why there are
seventy thousand sleeping rooms and dining halls built after such
extensive plans as to entertain, at one time, twenty-five thousand
guests. All this is to accommodate the vast throngs that take their
sacred pilgrimage once in a year under an arrangement by which one tenth
of the able-bodied go each thirty-nine days, which corresponds to our
month.

The most notable feature of this central temple is the main service
room, built at fabulous cost and capable of accommodating one hundred
thousand pilgrims at one time. The most costly sections of this one room
are guarded night and day by armed government soldiers.

The religion of these Swiftites is of a very pure kind. The ministers of
this national church are fully equipped before entering upon their
office. The training schools for ministers attracted my closest
attention. Fortunately, these people have no language complications as
we have, so that a prospective minister can spend some of his time
studying the Book of God's Revelation instead of spending a great
portion of his training period in learning the languages in which the
book had once been written.

A minister's training consists as much in voice culture and the many
branches of elocution as it does in acquiring a correct knowledge of
God. But in illustrative teaching Swift leads us by far. I was
profitably entertained in the main temple as I listened to one of the
famous orators discoursing to an audience of eighty thousand. Not only
did his canary-like voice penetrate to all parts of the large room, but
his objective illustrations clinched the truth remarkably well.

A series of special services is held at the close of each month. The
most wonderful of all these exercises, or renditions, is called "The
Mediator Service." This is one of the most spectacular and impressive
exercises outside of Heaven. Even the famous Passion Play of
Oberammergau (our world) with the less glorious exhibitions at Horitz
and Selzach, all dwindle into insignificance compared with "The Mediator
Service" on the world of Swift.

During my visit I witnessed the full program of this sublime rendition.
The music was inexpressibly grand as rendered by the vested Mediator
Choir. Naturally the Swiftites have sweet, bird-like voices. Can you
conceive the effect of a triple choir of these human warblers all
trained in perfect harmony and unison?

When you consider that nearly the whole population witnesses these
special exhibitions at least once a year, you can the better understand
why the spiritual condition of the people has reached a high very level.

I investigated the many interesting features of this inviting world and
found that in some respects we are inferior to these human bird
creatures, although in many other respects we are superior. Electricity
is known in their world, but they have not yet harnessed it; hence they
are ignorant of telegraphy and a long list of similar inventions which
we enjoy.

In agriculture the Swiftites are ahead of us. They raise their crops
with less labor relatively than we. All things considered it is easier
to live on Swift than here.

Knowing that my time was limited, I decided to secure some nuggets of
truth by a personal interview; so I concluded to appear to the wisest
person on the planet, who was a woman of wonderful mental acquirements.
In addition to her superior intellect she was also bewitchingly
beautiful.

I waited for the best opportunity and came near to her as she was about
to spread her wings for a morning flight from the beautiful summit
near her summer home. Not wishing to cause her undue alarm, I at first
spoke softly, remaining invisible and watching her rare eyes send their
glances toward the palmy trees around me, as her wings were relaxing
quietly at her side. She was positive of having heard a voice, and as
she still further scanned the immediate surroundings I saw that
perplexity was furrowing marks upon her face.

[Illustration: Beautiful Plume on the World of Swift.]

"Hast thou time to spend with a friend from another world?" I calmly
inquired as I was still unseen by her.

She was nervously agitated, but being of strong fibre she quickly
rallied with her answer, "Where art thou and who art thou?"

"I am on a peace mission from a far distant world," I quietly said as I
slowly became visible to my audience of one.

Naturally she was alarmed at my appearance, and consequently I drew
gradually farther and farther away until she gained more self-possession
and turned interestingly toward me.

"Ah! how can you be a spirit without wings?" were her first unexpected
words.

"But I am no spirit," I said assuringly.

"You cannot be otherwise," she insisted.

"Believe what you wish, we have no time for parley. I am delighted to
visit your world and I desire, if possible, to have some mysteries
solved. Can you help me?"

Plume, for that is the name I called her, was much unsettled. She
scanned my form with wild curiosity and I feared that she would at once
use her wings at their swiftest.

"Pray do not fly hence," I quickly urged. "I will never harm you, even
though we could converse together forever. Believe me true, and rest
your wings and heart in peace."

My words had some effect toward calming her mind and with more placid
features she still looked at me half shrinkingly.

"Are you not happy that you have wings with which fly?" I continued,
hoping to create a more natural familiarity.

"Happy? No more than for my feet, my ears, or my life," she answered in
a more composed manner. "You say that you are from another world. Where
can that be?" was her welcome query.

Then I pointed my finger in the direction of our world and remarked:

"If you could travel in that direction on swift wings day and night for
a few millions of years, you would still be far, far away from the world
where I live."

"And is that world inhabited by sensible creatures?"

"It is."

"But how could you have traversed so great a distance?"

"Never can I explain that mystery to you. Be content that I am here."

"Are you in the image of the other human creatures in that far away
world?"

"In general they are all fashioned as I am."

"No one having wings?" she added with surprise.

"Not one."

"How can that be true?"

"Because we were made without them."

"And have you no way of moving through the air at pleasure?"

"Not without artificial machinery."

"Artificial machinery?" she repeated. "What can you mean by that?"

Of course they have no word for balloon or flying machine, and I found
it difficult to describe the shape and explain the philosophy of these
things. I did the best I could in her language, and after I had finished
my description she for the first time smiled and said:

"That sort of a construction would be a fine thing for the indolents of
our world who, through misuse or lack of use of their wings, have no
more ability to fly."

This was interesting to me and I closely inquired as to the cause of
this loss of the wing power. Plume grew more and more familiar in her
address and in a long conversation told me of the many conditions that
make people unfit to fly. I deduce from our conversation a few of these
causes.

1. Simple neglect.

2. Gluttonous life.

3. Sensuality of a low and heavy life.

4. Pride. Some yield to a superstitious notion that it is honorable to
make but little display of themselves, and allow their wings to be bound
or partly clipped.

5. Certain kinds of sickness render the wing-chords inoperative.

I learned that altogether nearly one-half of the population are unable
to fly. How my mind flew back to our own life as I was learning of these
sad conditions. There is a sort of a life on wings in our world,
although the wings are invisible. But on account of the low, mean lives
so many are living, they never rise above the miasmic contagion of the
sin and self level. These unseen wings are either paralyzed or clipped.

Plume now actually stepped toward me. What a graceful tread. She was
indeed the most charming creature I had met outside of my own world. She
seated herself near me on the rustic bend of a tree unlike any in our
world and hurried her questions at me as if she realized that I would
not tarry long. At length she gratefully said:

"I am beginning to believe that you are really a son of another world,
or else I am reveling in a day dream."

"Happy am I that I can learn from you some of the truths after which I
am seeking," was my evasive reply. "Tell me, Plume, something about your
faith religiously."

"I worship the God who made all things and am hoping to live in the
wider life after my mortal days are ended."

"Do you expect to meet, in that wider life, representatives from other
worlds?"

"Ah! I have often thought that it might be so," she answered, as her
face brightened in poetic fervor, and her eyes sparkled with seraphic
luster.

"It shall all be so, and much more," I declared. "In that life you can
fly without wings and mingle with the pure from the unnumbered worlds of
space."

"What an incentive to a pure life," she quickly added.

"Talking of wings, do you object if I see more closely the cut and style
of your wings? I never saw before a human creature possessing a pair."

After a moment's hesitancy she raised her right arm and with it the one
wing unfolded. I ventured near enough to see the intricate network of
muscle and bone woven around the arm and filling the space between the
raised arm and the side of Plume's body. She was surprised at the
interest I manifested in the human wing. After this she offered to
furnish an able escort to conduct me to several points of interest.

All this I declined and informed my talented friend that I must hasten
away to another world.

"Let me go with you," she strongly insisted.

"Your wings are not of the right kind," I replied hurriedly.

"They are strong enough to bear us both," were her inviting words.

"But not beyond the atmosphere of this world," I explained.

I quietly arose, scanned once more the beautiful valley before me, and
indicated that I was about to wane into the invisible. Then did her
womanly nature assert its supremacy and she, for the first time, touched
my hand imploringly:

"Have I been dreaming, or do my eyes deceive me? How can all this be
true? Your hand is sensible to my touch. I implore you to remain until I
speak to you more about the sciences of your world."

In all my journey I never yielded to persuasion before. But somehow I
consented to spend a season longer of most charming fellowship, talking
of the elements in nature, their chemical affinities, and the laws of
matter and mind. Plume was unusually bright in the philosophies, and I
gathered from her many truths which had always before been hidden to me.

Finally I became rigid in my determination to leave, for I knew that I
could not stay.

"Grant me one request," she begged.

"Let me hear it."

"Promise me that you will return."

"Impossible, impossible!"

The parting that followed was indeed memorable. Without any further
notice I suddenly vanished, but still tarried invisibly in close
proximity.

Plume was now left in deep bewilderment, and I could not even
conjecture the details of her warring thoughts. Finally I saw that for
which I had tarried. Plume lifted her wings and flew skyward as
beautifully and gracefully as any bird of our earthly air.




CHAPTER XXII.

Heaven.


After my ambition to visit one thousand worlds had been realised, and I
was darting toward the confines of our own little Solar System,
instinctively I looked out once more over the vast stretches of space.
All around me, at amazing distances, loomed up the millions of spheres
which I had not visited by reason of my limited time. I felt like some
one who, after gaining his first thousand dollars, has a wild craving to
accumulate ten or one hundred thousand more.

Still I scanned the heavens while deeper longings pervaded my soul.
While in this mood the most unusual vision flashed upon my eyes.
Suddenly I forgot whither I was going and in wild astonishment I drank
in the first view of Heaven. Inwardly I marveled that I had not seen at
least a part of it before.

Heaven is fashioned on a transcendently large scale. It is not a single
sphere, but a universal chain of vast and luminous star-groups,
scattered harmoniously throughout the infinite regions of space, so that
a part of it lies suspended preciously near to our own Solar System.
Heaven is more real and substantial than the suns and planets of the
universe, although not one of its numberless parts can be detected by
the human eye, or discerned through a telescope. These luminous orbs
that constitute Heaven control the movements of the planets, suns and
systems which we call material. They are whiter than snow and shine with
a luster not dazzling, but restful to the eye capable of seeing them.

How this glimpse put to naught all my former crude conceptions of
Heaven, and if I found myself unable to describe the wonders of many a
dark world which I have visited, how much less could I portray the
vastly superior beauties of Heaven which are so far beyond the glory of
dark, rugged worlds that I felt an inexpressible desire to take up my
abode there at once and to remain forever.

Inwardly I shouted for joy as this new light illumined my face, and I
loathed to think of proceeding on my journey to any sin-cursed world of
the universe, for the ties of kinship, friendship, and earthship all
vanished at the sight of such resplendent spheres.


THE GREATNESS OF HEAVEN.

There is no language to be employed that can fitly describe the parts of
Heaven I saw, and I know that the greater glory was curtained from my
view. But the size of the lustrous orbs is not equaled by the large
material suns that blaze in the depth of immensity. Heaven's diamond
splendor extended as far as my unassisted eyes could reach, and
according to the way it appeared it must extend without limit.

It would require one hundred millions of years for a child of God to
take one excursion trip to the physical worlds of our universe. Then
there are millions of such universes, (I know of no better name to use)
each one occupying its own immense stretches of space. These universes
average about sixteen hundred millions of worlds each.

Heaven is infinitely greater than this whole material fabric, so that if
a spirit is inclined to travel, he will need all eternity to study the
works of God as displayed in the glorious abodes of Heaven and in the
changing aspects of created worlds.

Let us give a deeper meaning to the stanza of the poet by substituting
"million" for "thousand."

When I've been there ten million years,
Bright, shining as the sun,
I've no less days to sing God's praise,
Than when I first begun.

Compared with this life more vast, does it not appear that our own
insignificant existence on our tiny Earth is as the creeping of a mere
insect on the leaf of a giant oak?


PERMANENCY OF HEAVEN.

The only permanent or imperishable feature of our universe is the Heaven
part of it. The created or visible worlds are mere dark appendages of
the real spheres, and are serving their parts in bringing fruit to
their Maker.

Sin-cursed and sinless worlds are coming to an end continually, and as
rapidly are new ones flung out or old ones re-peopled to serve as garden
plots to bear fruit in the form of created intelligences who serve and
admire God through choice.

Heaven is indestructible. It has already been in existence since the
morning of time. In all my journey, no angel or mortal could tell me how
many cycles ago that was. But it must be said that Heaven does not
always present the same aspect. Mansions are built for the reception of
new arrivals, or for the vast delegations from millennial worlds.


THE INHABITANTS OF HEAVEN.

They come from all parts of the universe, from millions of spheres. The
righteous of any world, at death, are suddenly transported to that part
of Heaven lying nearest to their world. This is the Abraham's bosom
where the spirit is happy until it takes up its abode with its own
spiritualized body in a millennial reign, after which, by a decree of
the Final Judgment, it is given its credentials to the illimitable life
of all Heaven.

This is Paul's third heaven. Oh! what unlimited expansion! What
incomprehensible principles, to move at large in quest of universal
truths as seen in the seven types of Heaven's spiritual intelligences,
and in the unending manifestations of God's work and love as displayed
in all heaven and in all the peopled planets of space!

Not one of these blessed inhabitants ever grows old or suffers fatigue.
They are capable of moving with tireless energy from one part of
Heaven's vast domains to any other portion.


DEGREES OF HEAVEN.

In space there are many sinless worlds where human species are
propagated, not as the result of any sexual affinities, but in a manner
totally unintelligible to a finite mind. They who reach Heaven from such
a world cannot drink in the same kind of enjoyment as those who come up
out of great tribulations from the spheres of a sin-cursed world, and
who have struggled for mastery and forged their way to the sky through
armies of aliens.

But these creatures are perfectly contented, for they have no way of
realizing the glory resulting from the victory over the world, the flesh
and the Devil.

Then there are degrees of glory among those who come from a sin-cursed
world. Some have many treasures laid up in Heaven, while others centered
their affections too much upon the transitory things of time and sense.

There are also various orders or degrees of glory among the seven types
of intelligences of which Heaven's multitudes are composed. Some of
these may be suggested to your mind when you read more of this sevenfold
life.

[Illustration: A Glimpse of Blissful Life in Heaven.]


SEVEN TYPES OF INTELLIGENCES.

1. The first class of beings is composed of those whom we comprehend as
the Trinity, whose highest glory is expressed in the Mediatorial
personage who can be seen at will by any of Heaven's hosts from any
world.

2. The cherubim and seraphim, or the highest order of spirits, who
have always been pure and holy. They constitute the next rank of the
celestial host.

3. The third class is composed of the general host of angels who also
have been holy from eternity, and who serve as ambassadors to various
points of the limitless creation.

4. The spirits of those who have risen from sinful worlds by virtue of a
God-approved and God-appointed Mediator. To join the ranks of this class
we, who serve God, are hastening. This is no low order or caste in
Heaven, but they who belong to it vie with higher angels, and taste
sweetness beyond the capacity of those who, in other respects, are our
peers. The angels desire to look into the deep mystery of salvation's
plan.

5. The matured and maturing spirits of those who left sinful worlds
before God held them accountable for their deeds. To this class belong
our children who precede us into the final abode.

6. The spirits of those who have risen from sinless worlds to take
their infinitely higher degrees in this Heaven life.

7. The matured and maturing spirits of those who left the sinless worlds
before sense perception was duly developed. They form a distinct class
of spirits and have their distinctive marks.


UNITY OF HEAVEN.

Redemption's plan for each sinful world is somewhat similar to ours, so
that there is a oneness in the whole family of the redeemed. This is one
main factor that makes the bond of unity perfect and renders the
fellowship of the celestial hosts absolutely without a flaw.

True enough, each of the seven classes of intelligences is a mystery and
a glory to the others. But there is no friction, no jar. Each one is
perfect in himself and happy in spirit.

Although each one of the vast companies carries the distinctive impress
and the spiritual peculiarities of his own planet, yet they are all now
fashioned after the symmetry of the Heaven life, and no one bears a
single repellant feature, but rather each spiritual body is beautiful
to the eyes of all the others, and each one breathes the same atmosphere
of purity and converses in the self-same language of love.


A HOME-LIKE PLACE.

No feature of Heaven is more beautiful than its home-like atmosphere.
The soul is not chilled by the two-thousand-mile-cube cities, or by the
long, long stretches of Divine masonry. God is as a real father, and all
his subjects are as our blood-relations. We feel it, and the inspiration
of these truths takes a deep hold of Heaven's vast populace.


EMPLOYMENT.

Now and then large excursion parties visit various points of our own
universe and frequently span the incredible distances in order to study
the works and life of other universes.

Each soul is occupied in gratifying its own master passion, and lives in
the delightsome fellowship of the saints.


TRANSPORTATION.

There are no vehicles or cars of any kind. Actual wings are unknown


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Online LibraryWilliam Shuler HarrisLife in a Thousand Worlds → online text (page 12 of 13)