I was talking with a friend today about proto-Universalist George De Benneville and asking him if he knew about his mystical experience. He had, but hadn’t read the account. I had it on my websites for years, but also realized my copy had errors it it. I quickly compared it to a 1882 reprint and I corrected my old file against it. In the two places where the versions diverse, I put my old version in brackets. There’s also a long section in the 1882 version that’s duplicated, presumbly a mistake, which I’ve silently removed.
I’ve also made an EPUB version of the document.
I’m not ready to fix my old sites, so I’m putting it here in the meantime.
Life and Trance of George deBenneville
An account of what he saw and heard during a trance of forty-two hours, both in the regions of happiness and misery; together with a short account of his cruel persecutions in France for preaching the Gospel. Translated from the French of his own manuscript.
I, George De Benneville, was born in London, July 26th, 1703. My father George De Benneville was a French refugee, persecuted for his religion. He retired with his family and connections into England upon the invitation of his majesty King William, who took a tender care of them, and employed them at his court.
My mother was of the Granville family. She had nine children in five years after marriage, having twins four years successively, and I being the last, she died as soon as I was born. She knew that she should die at that time, and therefore she was very often drawn whilst she was pregnant, to pray for me, and it appears that the Lord heard her prayers and granted her requests.
I was also very young when my father died, and was brought up by one of my uncles. After the death of my mother, Queen Anne herself provided me a nurse, and she had the care of my first years.
When arrived at the age of twelve years, I was very wild, believing myself to be of a different mass from mankind in general, and by this fond imagination I was self-exalted, and believed myself to be more than other men. But God soon convinced me to the contrary.
As it was designed that I should learn navigation, I was sent to sea in a vessel of war belonging to a little fleet bound to the coast of Barbary with presents, and to renew the peace with Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. Being arrived at Algiers, as I walked upon deck I saw some Moors who brought some refreshments to sell. One of them slipped down and tore a piece out of one of his legs. Two of his companions, having lain him on the deck, each of them kissed the wound, shedding tears upon it, then turned towards the rising of the sun, they cried in such a manner that I was much moved with anger at their making such a noise and ordered my waiter to bring them before me. Upon demanding the reason of their noise, they perceived that I was angry, asked my pardon, and told me the cause was owing to one of their brothers having hurt his leg by a fall and that they kissed the wound in order to sympathize with him, and likewise shed tears upon it and took part with him; and as tears were saltish, they were a good remedy to heal the same; and the reason of their turning towards the sun’s rising was to invoke Him who created the sun to have compassion upon their poor brother, and prayed he would please to heal him. Upon that I was so convinced, and moved within, that I thought my heart would break, and that my life was about to leave me. My eyes were filled with tears, and I felt such an internal condemnation, that I was obliged to cry out and say, "Are these Heathens? No; I confess before God they are Christians, and I myself am a Heathen!" Behold the first conviction that the grace of our Sovereign Good employed: he was pleased to convince a white person by blacks, one who carried the name of a Christian by a pagan, and who was obliged to confess himself but a heathen. But that was soon overcome and forgot. But God who always seeks to convince and save his poor creatures, did not leave his poor wandering sheep. For some time after my return home, being present by invitation at a ball, and having over-heated myself, I ordered my servant to prepare linen for me to change. And as I was putting it on, I fell into a fainting fit, and had a vision of myself burning as a firebrand in hell. And coming to myself again I cried out, "I am damned!" Prayers were desired in the French churches for one who had lost his senses and was melancholy. The ministers often visited me, and would fain have made me believe that I had not committed any very great sins, and that I had behaved according to my rank and station. Then I was obliged to answer them that if they had no other things than those to tell me, they could answer no purpose but as fig leaves to cover my shame, and my damnable estate; that it was in vain to come and visit me with such comfort, for that I felt myself condemned. Then they answered me in another manner than before, saying, since I would not receive their remonstrances it might be looked upon as a mark that peradventure I was destined from the beginning to condemnation.
Then they gave me up and came no more to visit me. After that, I continued in the state of condemnation during the space of fifteen months, believing that all the world but myself might be saved, and that I never could be saved because my sins, as I thought, were too many and too great to be forgiven. At length, after the fifteen months were expired, after having passed through many temptations, it happened to me one day, having laid myself down to repose, that I was awakened out of my sleep, and heard a voice within me, which pronounced the sentence of my condemnation, and left me no room to hope. I then discovered the root of all my sins and iniquities within my heart. That discovery brought me into an extreme agony, and despair entered into my soul which was now pressed on all sides with misery, caused especially by such great unbelief and hardness of heart, which was the most insupportable of all my troubles. I could discover no remedy for my disease but thought that my sentence of damnation was going to be executed. The sorrow of my soul was even to death. I desired to die but death fled from me. I could have no remedy but to leave myself to the justice of my judge for a condemned criminal as I was. I knew that his judgments were just and that I had merited much more than I felt.
Thus abandoning myself to justice, and waiting for its accomplishment in me, I discovered between justice and me the criminal, one of a most majestic appearance, whose beauty, brightness and grandeur, can never be described. He cast such a look of grace and mercy upon me, and such a look of love as penetrated through me, the fire of which so embraced my soul that I loved him again with the same love. He persuaded me in my heart that he was my savior, mediator and reconciliator. And while I thought thereon, he began to intercede for me in this manner, saying, "My father, behold me with thy paternal regard. I have made expiation for this sinner, who has received in himself the sentence of condemnation. I have taken human nature for him. I have suffered all kind of ignominy for him. I have shed my blood even to the last drop for him. I have suffered the shameful death of the cross for him. I have descended into the abyss of hell for him, that I might deliver him. I have been put to death for his offences, and raised again for his justification, and where his sins abound, our grace abounds much more. O my heavenly father, pardon this poor sinner, and cause thy mercy to come to him." The judge or justice had nothing more to say. The sentence disappeared. Then I heard his eternal universal voice, which penetrated through me with divine power, saying, "Take courage, my son, thy sins are forgiven thee." Immediately all the burden of my sins and inquities was gone, all the stings and reproaches ceased in a moment; a living faith came in their stead, and the tears of sorrow were all wiped from my eyes. I cast myself at the feet of my mediator, reconciler, savior and intercessor, and embraced him with an enlivening faith, melting into tears of love, humility and nothingness.
O my Lord and my God, thou hast saved me through pure grace. What shall I render to thee for all thy benefits? O my divine love, whom I honor and adore, give me a pure and holy heart, filled with thy virtue and thy love, even such as thou wouldst that I should have; and renew a right spirit within my heart. Now I know that thy marvelous mercy hath given me a savior before I knew my danger and slavery; a physician who had the care of my disease before that I felt or knew the same; a redeemer who undertook to pay the debt that I was neither willing nor able to pay. Oh, my benefactor, guide me by the efficacy of thy spirit to walk in the way of thy truth and universal love. Teach me thy eternal and universal word; speak my Lord and my God, for thy servant heareth. Give me thy grace, O my divine love, that I may have the eyes of my faith fixed constantly upon thee, and that I may follow thee whithersoever thou mayest please to lead me, that thy holy will may be accomplished in time and eternity, to the praise of thy glory, and my complete salvation.
O my dear soul, sink thyself down into nothingness and the deepest humiliation, and adore in spirit and in truth; honor the ocean of love, and the great wonders of the wisdom and power of thy God who hath employed all these boundless incomprehensible miracles to restore and to save thee, and not thee only, but all the human species, through Jesus Christ our Lord. "O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and power of God. How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out. For of him and through him and for him are all things." To him be glory eternal.
In the present case his goodness shines, for God hath loved me before that I was born. O what grace! God himself hath loved me in my fallen estate whence I was wholly lost. O what mercy! God hath even loved me when I was altogether unworthy, and that freely too. O what love
He hath given me his well-beloved son. And in giving his beloved son, he hath given me his paternal heart; and at the time that he took human nature he became my parent that by his parentage he might oblige himself to have a right to love and to have the care of me. I feel him, the just, for my offences and wickedness which he had taken to bear as his own, brought before the most righteous judgment seat, where he himself alone paid the last penny of the dreadful debt of all the world. I beheld him upon the cross deface and destroy the obligation that was against me, and after that he entered once for all into the holy place by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption for me. Approach then now, O my soul, to the throne of grace, and adore this unspeakable love which hath loved the first. Love him eternally, with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might, who has made thee to know by experience the great mysteries of his holy love, respecting all his creatures. Hallelujah! Amen.
O what an alteration from being a child of darkness to a child of light. Now I know in whom I have believed, and desire to consecrate myself to my Lord, my Sovereign Good, the remainder of my days.
My conversion made a great noise among the people, for they saw me praising and adoring my divine savior on all occasions, and before all company where I came without exception, calling and exhorting each one to submit to the love of God, just as they found themselves; and although their sins were many and great, his grace was greater to receive and pardon, but that we must come as we are, for he is the beginning and the end of the conversion of all the human species, and whosoever is not converted by Him and to Him is not converted at all.
The French ministers were very uneasy at what they heard concerning me, doubting that I was a true Protestant, and therefore they demanded a written confession of my faith. I told them paper would suffer anything to be written upon it, truth or falsehood, but that I was not ashamed to confess with my mouth what I believed in my heart, and that if they would let me know when they would meet together, I would be ready to appear before them to give them an account of my faith and the wonders which the most Holy Trinity had wrought within me.
The time was fixed and I appeared before them. They asked me many questions, but we could not agree, for they held predestination, and I held the restoration of all souls; because having myself been the chief of sinners, and that God, through Jesus Christ, by the efficacy of his Holy Spirit, had granted me mercy and the pardon of all my sins, and had plucked me as a brand out of hell, I could not have a doubt but the whole world would be saved by the same power. They answered me that I must not take it ill that they could not own me as a member of their church. I replied that I was very well content to be cast out and that my consolation was that they were not able to blot my name out of the book of life.
Soon after, I got acquainted with some persons who led a very retired life, having received a deep knowledge of themselves through grace. We sometimes met together, but we soon were persecuted with reproach.
After that, I received a voice of grace inwardly to go and preach the gospel in France. I resisted it more than once or twice, fearing persecution. But I was struck with a sickness and had pain like the agony of death, was ready to die; and knowing it was because I had not harkened to that voice that had called me to bear witness to the truth in France, I humbled myself before my God through Jesus Christ my Lord, asked pardon for my offences, and promising to submit myself to follow his voice, upon which I was immediately healed; and grew more robust than I had even been before. Then I heard his voice once more, calling me to go to France to preach the gospel, and I found myself obliged in my soul to follow the voice, though with fear and trembling.
I took passage at Dover for Calais, and immediately upon my arrival I began to preach and proclaim the good news in the market, even the eternal salvation by Jesus Christ within us; and that each one of us might be saved by pure grace, and that whosoever knowing himself, feeling the burden of his iniquities, having recourse to Jesus Christ, resigning himself without reserve, with all his sins, even had he found himself in his damnable estate, should be delivered and obtain the pardon of all his sins.
As soon as I had done, I was taken before a magistrate, who made me to know that my conduct was contrary to the statute of the king. I was then conducted to prison where I was no sooner arrived than all the fear of persecution vanished. My soul was strengthened in the Lord Jesus. I felt the love of my divine savior very near, accompanied with his divine light. After some days had past, I was brought before the justice, and examined by what order I preached. I told him who I was, and that I was drawn by the special grace of my God in Jesus Christ, by the power of his Holy Spirit, to teach the nations, and that for refusing to obey the voice of my God I was taken very sick. While they were examining me, there came in an old man with a white beard. All the justices saluted him. He said to them: "Have nothing to do with this person, for I have suffered much this night past on his account," and retired immediately.
I was then condemned to eight days imprisonment, as it was the first time, and to be conducted by the servant of the magistrate out of the bounds of the city, letting me know that if I was found employed in the same manner a second time my life would be in danger.
I was about 17 years of age when I began to preach in France. In this manner I employed two years in that kingdom, preaching the gospel in high and low Normandy, the country of my father, for he was born in the city of Rouen.
There were many ministers of us together: Messieurs Durant, de la Chevrette, Dumoulin, L’Achar, etc. We met together in mountains and woods, to the number of 300, where God very often wrought great wonders by the power of the gospel, among men and women, even boys and girls of the age of twelve or fifteen years, that did not even know how to read or write. They were convinced by the power of grace and began to proclaim the gospel with a most marvelous strength of spirit, without any fear, being embraced by love divine.
We were many times taken prisoners during the two years, sometimes by means of our own brothers, who would go and inform the soldiers in the marshalsey where we were met together.
Many of us were hanged, others whipped by the hands of the hangman and branded with a hot iron; all their goods confiscated, and they sent on board the galleys. But all that did not weaken us, but on the contrary, the grace of our divine love strengthened us in a wonderful manner.
At last we were surrounded by a party of soldiers one day when we were assembled by the side of Dieppe, where many of us were taken prisoners, among whom was myself, and a M. Durant, a young man about 24 years of age, of Geneva.
After a month imprisonment we were condemned to die — he to be hanged, and I to have my head cut off. We were conducted together to the place of execution; he sang the 116th [126th] Psalm when on the ladder, and died joyfully.
I was then conducted to the scaffold. My eyes were ordered to be bound to prevent my seeing, but on my earnest request that was omitted.
I then fell upon my knees, and praying the Lord that he would not require my blood at their hands, as they knew not what they did, my soul was filled with exceeding joy. The executioner bound my hands, and while he was employed in so doing, a courier arrived from the King, which was Louis XV, with a reprieve for the criminal. Immediately the joy of my heart was gone and darkness entered into my soul. I was then reconducted to prison at Paris where I was confined some time before I was liberated through the intercession of the Queen.
Many things happened to me during my exile in France and the time of my confinement. One may easily discover here that the grace of our God never leaves those who trust in him and are faithful until death.
After my releasement, I retired into Germany where I began to learn the language with great difficulty. I found many souls who were convinced by grace and who led a very retired life among the French refugees at Bulin, Magdeburg, Brandenburg, Brunswick in the Palatinate, Hamburg, Altona, Stade, Gluckstadt, Bremen, the country of Hannover, in Flanders, Brabant, the low land of Holland, the country of Waldenses and many other places.
I found work all round — souls who desired to be saved. I had also a large acquaintance among the nobility in Germany and Holland. We had a large communion of brethren and sisters in Jesus Christ our Lord.
I was wholly employed in traveling from place to place, in visiting the brethren and preaching to the nations in the German, French and Dutch languages. There were many assemblies of brethren all around. In some places we had liberty, and where that could not be had publicly, we met secretly in particular families. But nevertheless, grace wrought wonders in convincing souls and leading them to a real deep knowledge of themselves and of the damnable estate into which all men are plunged by nature; for none can obtain salvation without being first condemned in themselves.
I was much concerned about the salvation of souls and their estate deeply affected me. I had also an acquaintance with a company of gentry who dwelt together near Seigen. Some of them were married but only dwelt together as brethren and sisters — among them the baron of Peuchink, the lords of Fleishbein, and the Count of Marsey, who was employed in writing books which are printed in French and German. They led a very retired life, filled with love and friendship to all the world without bounds, and were very charitable both to friends and enemies.
Our acquaintance with each other happened in a wonderful manner. One day brother Marsey had a vision concerning me, when I had arrived in the Palatinate, being about twenty leagues from him. I was drawn by grace, being engaged in prostrating myself in spirit before the presence of the most Holy Trinity. And having a vision, I discovered a marvelous throne with seven footstools. Upon each footstool were two candlesticks of gold and upon the throne I saw a great table with seven candlesticks of gold placed in a round figure upon it. Then I saw many with robes whiter than snow who stood up near the candlesticks of gold on each side of the foot-stools and around the table. Immediately the candlesticks were lighted and chairs were brought that each one might sit down. Then they began to honor the most high, so that my soul was lost in admiration. Then altogether bending their knees, the whole company adored the most Holy Trinity. The vision vanished in an instant, and I came to myself.
Some little time after, my brother Marsey sent a letter to me, written after this manner:
My well beloved and dear brother in Jesus Christ our Lord, the most Holy Trinity discovers many wonders to his children who are rooted upon the rock of deliverance, and have their eyes of faith fixed upon their Sovereign Good. He honors them with his universal presence and embraces them with the fire of heavenly love; as I have been favored with the consolation of seeing you in his holy presence, I hope you will not deny that communion in the body that we have had together in spirit to the praise of the glory of our God through Jesus Christ our Lord by the efficacy of His Holy Spirit. Thus wishes and dwells for ever, Marsey your Brother, united by the grace of God, Amen."
After I had passed about 18 years in Germany and Holland, I became sickly of a consumptive disorder occasioned by being greatly concerned for the salvation of souls and much disquieted because the greatest part by far walked in the ways of perverseness and neglected their conversion, which caused me great trouble. And I took it so to heart that I believed my happiness would be incomplete while one creature remained miserable. Sometimes I was a little comforted within by grace in some manner, but that did not last long.
I dwelt at that time in the country with the brethren near the city of Mons an [in] Haguiauth, near the borders of France, in the Emperor’s dominions.
My fever increased in such a manner as reduced me almost to a skeleton so that they were obliged to feed me as an infant.
While I lay in this weak situation, I was favored through grace with many visions. In one it appeared to me that I was conducted into a fine plain, filled with all kinds of fruit trees agreeable both to the sight and smell, loaded with all kinds of the most delicious fruits which came to my mouth and satisfied me as with a river of pleasure: same time I beheld the inhabitants, they were beautiful beyond expression, clothed in garments as white as snow. They were filled with humility, and their friendship and love was towards all beings. They saluted me with the most profound reverence and most lovely air, saying to me with the voice of love which penetrated through me: "Dear soul, take courage, be comforted, for in a little time you shall see the wonders of God in the restoration of all the human species without exception."
The weakness of my body so increased that I was certain of dying. I exhorted my brethren to be faithful unto death, to be steadfast, immovable, and to be always turning inward with an enlivening faith to behold with a fixed attention the Lamb of God, with believing eyes, and to harken to his eternal word within them, and that they should receive of the fullness of Christ’s grace upon grace, by which they should be strengthened to abide steadfast unto the end.
As I had communion with many assemblies of brethren, but in particular with that connected with my dear brother Marsey, the brethren there had a vision of my death and sent brother Marsey to see me.
When he arrived he found me in the agonies of death. He embraced me with a kiss of peace and love and saluted me in the name of the brethren, who recommended themselves to me, and desired that I would remember them before the throne of God and the Lamb.
He then took leave of me and I felt myself die by degrees, and exactly at midnight I was separated from my body and saw the people occupied in watching it according to the custom of the country. I had a great desire to be freed from the sight of my body, and immediately I was drawn up as in a cloud and beheld great wonders where I passed, impossible to be written or expressed. I quickly came to a place which appeared to my eyes as a level plain, so extensive that my sight was not able to reach its limits, filled with all sorts of delightful fruit trees, agreeable to behold, and which sent forth such fragrant odors that all the air was filled as with incense. In this place I found that I had two guardians, one at my right hand and the other at my left, exceeding beautiful beyond expression, whose boundless friendship and love seemed to penetrate through all my inward parts. They had wings and resembled angels, having shining bodies and white garments.
He that was at my right hand came before me and said, "My dear soul and my dear brother, take courage. The most Holy Trinity hath favored you to be comforted with an everlasting and universal consolation, by discovering to you how, and in what manner, he will restore all his creatures without exception, to the praise of his glory, and their eternal salvation. And you shall be witness of this and shall rejoice in singing and triumphing with all the children of God, therefore as a reward for the friendship and love that you have borne for your neighbors, on whose account you had many extreme griefs, and shed many tears, which God himself, who shall turn all your griefs to exceeding great gladness." Then he took his place at my right hand. After that, the second guardian who was at my left hand appeared before me, and spoke thus: "My dear soul, my dear brother, be of good cheer, thou shalt be strengthened and comforted after your griefs with an universal and eternal consolation. You must be prepared to pass through the seven habitations of the damned — be of good courage, and prepare yourself to feel something of their sufferings, but be turned inward deeply during the time and you shall thereby be preserved." Then he took his place at my left hand. Immediately we were lifted up in the air, and sometimes after we arrived in a dark obscure place, where nothing but weeping, lamentation and gnashing of teeth, could be understood. A dreadful place, as being the repository of all sorts of damned souls under condemnation with the torments, pains, griefs and sufferings which their sins had merited, for each one had his works to follow him in death. All iniquities and sins were reduced to seven classes or habitations. There was an eternal confusion. That which one made, the other destroyed.
The duellist, in his fire of anger, burns against his enemy, and they pass as a firebrand of hell, one through the other.
You might see fornicators, idolators, adulterers, thieves, the covetous, drunkards, slanderers, ravishers, &c., each laboring and being employed with his sins and iniquities. One might also see all kind of conditions of men: divines, deputies, controvertors, advocates, judges, lawyers, and, in a word, one might discover whatsoever any of them had done upon earth. In each habitation I discovered that those who were abased and that appeared sorrowful for their sins were separated from the others of their sort that were not yet so. I was then conducted into each of the seven habitations of the damned where I knew one I had been acquainted with upon earth. I discovered also that he had an habitation among the damned and that they were able to see the elect from thathabitation where he was, but were not able to pass through because there was a great gulf between them so that all are obliged to dwell where they are.
It is impossible to describe my condition, as I had great compassion towards the sufferers, inasmuch as I had part of their sufferings.
After we had passed through, we were lifted up some distance from the place, where we reposed ourselves; and a messenger was sent to us, who watered or refreshed us as with a river of pleasure, saying, "Eat, my beloved, and drink, my friends, to refresh yourselves after all your toils and pains. My dear soul, and my dear brother (addressing himself to me), the most Holy Trinity always works wonders in all times within his poor creatures without exception, and he will order for a time and half a time that you shall return into your earthly tabernacle to publish and proclaim to the people of the world an universal gospel that shall restore in its time all the human species without exception to its honor and to the glory of its most Holy Trinity. Hallelujah."
Beholding the messenger attentively, I discovered that he had a most glorious body, dressed in a robe whiter than snow, filled with the most exalted love and friendship, joined with the deepest humility, which penetrated me through and through. And suddenly there was heard a great multitude of the heavenly host, and the messenger said, as he flew to join the same, with a sweet voice — "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and who is to come."
The multitude were innumerable, and there was one who surpassed in grandeur, beauty, brightness, majesty, magnificence and excellence, all the others; even the Son of the living God, being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power — when he had by himself purged our sins ― sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high.
As the multitude approached, the glory caused us to fall down and to adore in spirit and in truth the son of the living God who marched in the midst of the multitude.
After they had passed us, we were lifted up and caused to follow them, for the air carried us the way they went, in a different manner than before. O the wonders of our God! When we arrived in the place of the seven habitations of the damned, we could perceive no more darkness, obscurity, pains, torments, lamentations, afflictions, nor gnashing of teeth. All were still and quiet and an agreeable sweetness appeared through the whole. Then all the heavenly host shouted with one voice and said, "An eternal and everlasting deliverance, an eternal and everlasting restoration, universal and everlasting restitution of all things." Then all the multitude adored the most Holy Trinity, and sang the song of the Lamb, even the song of the triumph for the victory gained by him, in the most harmonious manner. And at the end, all the multitude being upon their knees, said with a loud voice, "Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord, God Almighty, just and true are thy ways. O King of Saints." Presently they passed through the seven habitations of the damned and a multitude were delivered from each. And being clothed in white robes, they followed the heavenly host, praising and glorifying the most high for their deliverance. One might know them amongst the others: they all retired by a different way than that which they came. The messenger then came and conducted us into a most wonderful place and ordered my two guardians to conduct me into five celestial mansions where the Lord’s elect abide; and then to reconduct me to dwell yet a time and half a time in my earthly habitation, and to preach to the lower world the universal everlasting gospel and that the most Holy Trinity has a pure universal love towards all the human race, without exception, and to each one in particular. Then turning himself towards me he said, "My dear soul, thou shalt be favored of the most Holy Trinity to be conducted by thy guardians who shall never leave thee when thou shall have need of their counsel. Thou needest but to call them and they shall be day and night present at thy service. They shall conduct thee into five of the heavenly mansions at this time, where thou shalt partake in a certain degree of the celestial glory as much as thy spirit shall be able to receive, as not being yet sanctified and purified sufficiently. And then thou shalt be reconducted into thine earthly tabernacle for a time and half a time and shall preach to the lower world the universal gospel and that the most Holy Trinity hath a pure universal love towards all the human race without exception, and towards each one in particular. The fountain of grace bless and preserve thee, and cause his face to shine upon and in thee, and enlighten thine understanding both in time and eternity. Amen." Our knees bending of their own accord, he laid his hand upon my head and blessed me, and immediately took wing and swiftly fled away.
After that, my guardian conducted me into five celestial habitations where I discovered many wonders. Some had greater brightness, glory, and majesty than others. And, as the places were, so were the inhabitants: some were clothed in garments whiter then snow, others had transparent bodies, and others again had white bodies resembling crystal. It is impossible to express these things. They were moved by boundless burning love, rising up and then plunging themselves into the deepest humility; all their motions were penetrating, being filled with love and friendship. Their actions and manners are strengthened and animated with brightness, filled with light as with the rays of the sun. It was the fire of heavenly love, which by inflaming all their hearts, causes them all to burn in the same lire and to be animated by the same spirit. They have no need of any way of speaking there but the language and motions of eternal and universal love without words; for all their actions, their motions, speak more than all words. I was then conducted into five habitations of the elect. At the first, a great multitude came before us with songs to the honor and glory of the most high and of the victory gained over the damned. They received us with triumph, great zeal, love and friendship, saluting us with profound humility, and conducting us into a large room; there was a great table covered and furnished with all sorts of fruit, not only pleasant to behold but also exceedingly delicious to the taste.
In the meantime, while we were taking our repast, the celestial multitudes formed songs and sang psalms of praise and thanksgiving to the most Holy Trinity. After that, we were conducted into all the five celestial habitations (that I was to see) where I saw many wonders impossible to describe. First, many thrones lifted up of inexpressible beauty and magnificence and desired that I would remember them before the throne of God and the Lamb.
Upon one of these thrones I beheld the Royal High priest, surrounded with exceeding great brightness and clothed in most excellent majesty, being employed in kind intercession before his father for all human species, pleading the sufficiency of his blood-shedding to deliver and sanctify a thousand such worlds as ours. All the elect, with the heavenly spirits, joined their intercession with that of their Royal High Priest, the only chief king, being reconcilers, saviors, and restorers in the same spirit. This mutual intercession appeared like incense ascending on high into the sanctuary of the Lord. Over against the throne I discovered Adam with Eve rejoicing in the only mediator between God and men and adoring together the most Holy Trinity for the deliverance of their children out of the great miseries and eternal condemnation into which their sin and fall had brought them, and upon their bended knees adoring the only mediator for the intercession he makes in behalf of mankind. Also I beheld a multitude of spirits flying and enflamed with the fire of heavenly love, while we adored, humbled in nothingness, rendering our religious homage to the most high for his intercession and the deliverance of all mankind. Then my guardian, who was at my right hand, coming before me, said thus: "Dear soul, my dear brother, do you see these spirits flying, who are vanished in the spirit of love and gratitude, humbled and self-annihilated as it were, adoring before the throne of grace, and praying the savior for the intercessions he made for them? These are lately delivered from the infernal prisons. It is for them that the tincture of the blood of Jesus Christ hath been shed even to the last drop, notwithstanding they had dwelt a long time shut up in the place of the damned under the power of the second death, and have passed through many agonies, pains and tribulations." Upon that, I perceived that Adam and Eve approached. And Adam spoke to me after his manner: "My dear brother, rejoice with universal and eternal joy, as you are favored with the heavenly visions. It is in this manner that our adorable Royal High Priest, mediator, and intercessor, shall restore all my descendants to the glory of our God. And their eternal and universal salvation for the kingdom of eternal love hath power sufficient to draw all mankind out of their bondage, and to exclaim and say: ‘O death, where is thy sting, &c.’ But my dear brother, this love of our God in Jesus Christ, by the power of his holy spirit, shall not only gain the victory over all the human species, but also surmount or overflow the kingdom of Satan entirely, with all the principalities of the fallen angels, and shall bring them back in their first glory, which they have had in the beginning. I will make all things new," said the Lord of hosts, and the end shall return into its beginning. O my Lord and my God, what great wonders hast thou caused to pass before mine eyes! Who am I, O my God, dust and ashes, an ungrateful and rebellious creature. I should not dare to lift mine eyes towards the heavens if the blood of Jesus Christ thy son did not plead for me. My soul rejoices and is glad, she shouts for joy. O my God, whom I adore, love, and respect; before whom I desire to be without ceasing, self-annihilated at thy feet. O my God and my love, the seraphims and cherubims, burning with the fire of thy heavenly love, adore and honor thee. Give me thy grace also, O my God, that I may be consumed before thee, while I sing the majesty, glory, and the memory of God, who hath created and redeemed me. I would praise him incessantly, not in shadow or figure, but in reality and truth. I would continue devoted to thee, and always be swallowed up in the ocean of love without a wish to leave it.
Being in this manner conducted into five celestial habitations, I discovered many mysteries, saw many miracles, and beheld the wonders of the most Holy Trinity among the children, the elect, and heavenly inhabitants, and perceiving how some surpassed others in brightness, light, splendor, and majesty, in friendship, love, humiliation, and self-abasement, concerning of which things my tongue is too feeble to speak, and my pen to write. I adore the marvelous ways of my God, with all the happy spirits.
Many thrones, palaces, edifices, temples, and buildings were erected in all parts, with fruit trees intermixed, rivers of pleasure gliding along through the celestial land, which appeared like a garden of heaven, even the paradise of God. It is the court of the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, which the eye has not seen nor the ear heard, and which the hearts of men have not conceived. It is the celestial globe where the New Jerusalem, or Mount Sion, is placed, where the bosom of Abraham is: where the sufferers who came out of their purifications are made to rejoice in Sion. O magnificent globe! O thou city of the Great God! Stately city of this place! Where shall a mortal find convenient phrases to lift out a little of thy glory and splendor? It is the glory and magnificence of the most Holy Trinity, where God is pleased to manifest himself in his pomp and beauty. The blessed angels have their employment in serving God — they compose the court of the Great King. O my God, I am not able to express that which penetrates me, of the grandeur, magnificence, splendor, pomp and majesty of thy dwellings or of the inhabitants in those transparent places. Hallelujah and victory for ever. Amen.
Then my guardian took me up and reconducted me to the house from whence I came, where I perceived the people assembled. And discoveriny my body in the coffin, I was re-united with the same and found myself lodged within my earthly tabernacle. And coming to myself, I knew my dear brother Marsey and many others who gave me an account of my being twenty-five hours in the coffin, and seventeen hours before they put me in the coffin, which altogether made forty-two hours. To me they seemed as many years. Beginning then to preach the universal gospel, I was presently put in prison but soon set at liberty again. I visited all my brethren, preaching the gospel and taking leave of them all, because that my God and Sovereign Good called me to go into America and preach the gospel there. I took my departure for the same in the 38th year of my age, and it is 41 years since I first arrived here. The 28th of July next, 1782, I shall be 79 years of age. Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.