The Gate of Heaven, Chapter 6

Chapter VI: A Verdict of Revelation

“Shall we think about moving now?”

Omra’s voice is equally soft, persuasive, and sympathetic as that of Myhanene; but, coming unexpectedly after the musical vibration to which I had been listening from the mysterious around, it aroused me to a recognition of his presence with something of a start. I was still in a state of dreamy uncertainty as a result of the vision, the last scene of which had transported me through the mists, and I was in a condition of bewilderment as to where, and under what circumstances I was environed for the moment—whether I was actually lying up on the slopes as I originally found myself, or lying on one of the couches in the Court of the Voices.

Omra’s voice, however, speedily recalled me to a true sense of my surroundings.

“If you think it is advisable—yes,” I replied, “but I am scarcely clear as to who and where I am for the instant.”

“You need not apologize for that,” he assured me with an indulgent smile. “A little action will soon help you to recover yourself.”

“That is what I need—to recover myself,” I answered. I am almost wondering how much of my old self remains for me to recover.”

“Leave yourself in my hands, and we will soon determine that point.”

“I would like to ask you one question, if I may,” I ventured.

“Have you only one to ask?” he enquired encouragingly.

“I anticipate you have many, and I shall be pleased to help you as far as in me lies.”

“If I attempted to ask only a fraction of the questions the vision has prompted, I am afraid I should keep you engaged for a very considerable time.”

“I have no doubt of that,” he replied. “And when I had reached the end of your enquiries, even then they would not have taken up a single pulse-throb of eternity. There is, therefore, no need for you to curtail your research. Where shall we begin”

Such outspoken generosity at once placed me at my case. Here was another instance of the same spontaneous ministry I had everywhere experienced. If anything, it came with more rippling freedom from the lips of Omra than in others. Yet I had stood in awe of meeting him. What an exposition he offered of the Master’s words, “He that is greatest among you, the same shall be servant of all!”

With this encouragement, I lost no time in placing my first difficulty before him.

“I am more than a little surprised that in the end there was no—shall I say decision, arrived at.”

There was a suggestive pause, and then he asked, “Where did the last scene leave you”

“Lying on the slopes, where Helen found me, with the boy in my arms.”

Another short silence.

“That seems to suggest another commencement rather than an ending,” he answered reflectively. “It would be somewhat out of place to hear a decision in such a connection, would it not?”

“But what need was there to introduce the final scene? That is my difficulty.”

“Every need,” he replied laconically. “Was not your waking on the slopes the natural sequence to your falling asleep under the feet of the horses in the street.”

“Certainly! But—” I was at a loss how to proceed.

He gave a passing salutation to a friend at the moment, then quickly enquired: “Yes? But—?”

“Do you not understand my difficulty?” I asked.

“Quite. I only want you to recognize it as clearly as I do myself, if possible; then I will show you where the error lies,” he said sympathetically.

“It seems to me that the accident introduced a perfectly natural break in the course of events,” I ventured to suggest.

“Where do you find the necessity for any break?” he asked, as he passed his hand through my arm and drew me closer to him in a gentle fraternal pressure. “Breakages are always to be avoided rather than encouraged. The eternal purposes of God are monumental testimonies to this great truth: ‘Without variableness or shadow of a turning.’ Where can you find room for the suggestion of a break? Let us review the accident and see if we can discover any reason for it. You rushed to the assistance of a helpless child—was knocked down—God’s providence at once automatically leaps to the assistance and recognition of your ministry, and by the anaesthetic of a swoon saves both yourself and child from suffering. The period of unconsciousness passes—you open your eyes—the scene has certainly changed, and, instead of finding yourself in a hospital, where you would have been under other circumstances, you wake to find that you are still holding the child in your arms, not only unhurt, but considerably advantaged by what has taken place. There has been a breaking away, most certainly, but it is the breaking away of a prisoner from his prison-house into the freedom of life. You have no doubt about you being the friend who ran to the assistance of the child.”

“Most certainly not!”

“So far, then, we are agreed. Now let me ask you to try to follow me, while I anticipate a little. I appreciate the feeling of novel uncertainty in which you find yourself, perhaps even more than you yourself are able to realize. The stream of events is, just now, so strong that you are scarcely able to keep your feet. Nor do I expect you to do so. If I may use an allegorical anachronism, I scarcely expect a child during the violence of its birth-throes to scientifically analyse the process. This you will be able to accomplish presently. In the meantime, let me indicate what is actually taking place as viewed from the position you will occupy when you reach the gate. For this purpose I need not trace the genesis of life prior to its human phase, a point at which it enters on a significant combination marking a legitimate starting point.

“The one point I ask you to bear in mind is that we are not starting at the origin of life, but at a spot where two streams meet, and, joining, become a river which will empty itself into the ocean. Now, as we see it, the first reach of this river is the measure of the earthly course, or, to drop the figure, the physical life is nothing more than the infant stage of the soul’s existence. The scriptures always use the characteristic terms of infancy—innocence, ignorance, and incompetence—as relating to the condition, and never use the terms of maturity. They are taught as in a nursery by means of picture- stories—parables and allegories, and the only lesson they are expected to learn is, “Little children love one another.” The whole span of the mortal life is spent in the kindergarten class of the school of the eternities.

“At the close of the term, the soul is passed on to whatever place the elementary examination of the class shows it to be qualified for by its practical application of the love lesson. The liberty conceded to children in the lower class allows the free expression of individuality, directed by the advice of under-teachers; but in the higher school a more rigorous system prevails—law and order obtains, and the older child is subjected to the discipline of obedience.

“This you have been permitted to watch under the direction of Myhanene and his friends, and I hope the brief sketch I have given you has enabled you to get a better understanding of your position.”

“Yes—it has in a measure,” I replied with some degree of hesitation, “but where did the elementary examination you speak of come in my case?”

“That introduces another thought, the explanation of which will not be uninteresting to you. When I said that law and order was observed in the sphere through which we have passed with Myhanene, I did not mean a mechanical or iron-bound law, that treats all alike without reference to circumstance or condition. Justice demands that each case shall be considered with that care and impartiality you have just observed in your own case. In many instances—your own for example – the evidences are so obvious that the examination is postponed until this point of your progress is reached. In those cases a kind of roving commission is allowed under such guidance as you have received. In this pursuit you have seen much, heard much, learned much; your eager, enquiring soul has been bountifully fed. Your hunger for maternal love has led you into enquiries which have revealed even a greater love than you set out to find—a love which has constrained you to leave the lesser for a moment and press on in the sure and certain hope of reaching the one ideal which still lies on beyond. Is this not so?”

“It is not only so, but it is considerably more than so. I have, in laying aside the physical, lost something, but I remain the same personal living entity, and in place of that which I have lost, I have received abundantly more than a compensation. All this I am compelled and ready to acknowledge, but still I am without an answer to my question, ‘why has no decision been given respecting the analysis of my life?’”

Those softly penetrating, liquid eyes looked compassionately into my own as I pressed my point, and his silent lips grew into a lingering, patient smile.

“Were your ears heavy and your eyes holden that you did not hear and see the verdict?” he enquired almost in a whisper. “Or was it that such judgment was too divinely sweet to be entrusted to the outer senses? I have already told you that our proceedings are not marked by mechanical formality, hoping that, acting on that suggestion, you would look around and recognize the glorious recognition You received when the verdict was pronounced.”

“When the verdict was pronounced?” I repeated with a gasp.

“Yes,” and he smiled so indulgently. “But perhaps I am inclined to expect too much at a time when the birth-throes are making such a claim upon you.”

“Why do you veil your speech in mysticism?” I pleaded. Will you not speak plainly?”

“I will endeavour to speak plainly,” he answered with quiet deliberation after a brief silence; “but let me answer your first enquiry by a word of explanation. What you are pleased to call mysticism is the native language of the soul. That it is not understood by you is due to the fact that, so far, you have not been liberated from the final influences of the earth—you have not yet entered into the full freedom of the spirit. I mention this because you will presently be looking back in an endeavour to discover and trace the gradual progress by which you broke away from this bondage to the flesh, and the far-reaching effects by which the soul is followed into its new abode. My object in this respect has not been to mystify but rather to instruct you.

“Now let me explain when and how the decision you seek was given. To understand this as clearly as I would like you to do so, I must ask you to bear in mind three points I have already explained. Life is essentially eternal, varying in its mode and scenes of manifestation, but in continuity it is indestructible; in its human expression, revelation has classed it allegorically as the stage of infancy; and, compatible with this condition, the only law the individual is responsible for observing is the one most natural to this stage—thou shalt love. Do you understand me so far?”

“Perfectly,” I replied.

“That being so,” Omra continued with measured deliberation, “all the mysticism of the vision’s allegory vanishes from your understanding, and you will now be able to gather up its conclusions and see them in the light in which they appear to me. The vision did not cease at the instant you rushed to the rescue of the child. It carried the action forward to completion. You saved the boy, and recovered your consciousness to find him in your arms on the slopes. An illustration of the fact I affirm of the continuity of life. It had not experienced a break, but merely changed its scene of operation. The idea of death is altogether out of the question. I think this will explain to you why the vision was carried over.”

“Yes, I can begin to see its purpose and meaning now.”

“If that is so, there remains little more for me to say before ‘the light that shineth in darkness’ shall reveal to you the true finding of that analytical vision. I will again remind you of the two latter points I mentioned in reference to the earth-life—its infancy stage, and the solitary lesson it was expected to learn and apply. I am quite willing to share your opinion that, when that scene in Whitechapel was introduced into the vision, the analysis may have shown that a balance was due from you. If the decision had been given then, that decision might have been as in the case of the Babylonion monarch—‘Thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting.’ But God, being both just and merciful, it is not to be wondered at that He should concede that which a mortal would allow, and permit an act that was in progress when the fiat went forth, to be considered in the award. What was the value of that last effort you made? You apparently lost the analysis of it as presented in the vision.

“Let me tell you what the record was. You saw the child’s danger! Instinctively you rushed to save it—was trampled down, and, together with the child, was crushed. What prompted the instinct to save? The carefully nurtured humanitarian habit of your life? This was so strong with you that the thought of your own safety never crossed your mind, in your desire to save the child. In other words, you had so learned the lesson of your standard that it had become part of your life, constraining you to obey the command of the Christ: ‘Follow me.’ ‘He gave Himself for us.’ You did likewise when you laid not yours, but yourself, upon the altar of sacrifice in your desire to save that child. Thereby in losing your life you found it, and the dénouement of the vision—your waking as you did with the child still in your arms—is the award, ‘Well done!’”

“But your explanation leaves me even more bewildered than the mystery itself,” I gasped in an abandonment of surprise. “Do you mean me to understand that by a single unpremeditated act such as that it is possible to reverse the effect of a life—say of careless indulgence.”

“I am not astonished at your surprise,” Omra made reply, “though I may remind you that it is not the first you have had since your arrival. Surprises have been your constant companions since you met your old friend Helen, and now you are entering on a new environment—taking your place in a somewhat more advanced class in the schoolroom of life – and here, you will find them crowding even more thickly around you, until you are able to use the new faculties and powers with which you will find yourself endowed.

“I must, however, say one word in reference to what you call ‘a single unpremeditated act’ and its effect. You have yet to recognize and bear in mind that the brand of heresy is not necessarily an infallible guarantee of ungodliness. The Nazarene is the Field-Marshal of the army who wear that heresy mark of liberty. That one ‘unpremeditated act’ was not so foreign to your nature and daily life as you may imagine—it was rather the well matured harvest of a carefully cultivated sympathy you had encouraged for those who, like yourself, had experienced the hunger for an affection and companionship which was beyond their reach.

“To stretch out a helping hand, to give a sympathetic glance, to breathe a compassionate word, to help to bear a soul-crushing burden, came more naturally to you than you would be inclined to admit, but these unnoticed nothings of earth are carefully cherished and garnered here against the day when the Lord makes up His Jewels; they are precious assets which are laid up where moth and rust does not corrupt! mustard seeds sown by the wayside—cups of water supplied to the fainting and the weary—grains of kindness thrown compassionately to the unknown and the outcast—tears of sympathy shed in secret which the Lord has preserved in His bottle for recognition and reward in the day of His reckoning. In the mass of heterogeneous miscellanies scattered along life’s highway by heretics who were not considered worthy to be recognized by the so-called Church, your ‘one unpremeditated act’ will be found to be preserved, and the value at which heaven’s experts will estimate it has been already indicated, when I tell you something you failed to recognize—”

“What is that?” I interrupted him to inquire, my soul aflame with wonder at the volubility of his findings of treasures hidden in the apparently barren fields of life.

“Surely there can be nothing more you have to reveal—nothing more that remains to be said!”

“So far I have but spoken of the seeds which have been sown by those labourers of ‘whom the world was not worthy.’ I have made no attempt to estimate the value of the harvest they shall reap in due time, whether it shall be thirty, sixty, or a hundredfold. I am interested just now in pointing out to you how justice values that ‘one unpremeditated act’ by which you threw off the physical and found admittance into the higher life. This was an instance where, in the losing of your life you found it, and the child you brought out with you was—”

“Was—yes.” I gasped as he made a momentary pause.

“The child that stood on the greater pedestal in the prologue of your vision, whom you imagined to be the Christ child. ‘Ye did it unto Me!’”

The announcement filled me with speechless amazement, and the silence broke into a benediction of revelation.