Bishop Martin - The Progress of a Soul in the Beyond

- Chapter 52 -

fter these words, I visibly leave Bishop Martin quite suddenly and another angelic spirit is already standing in My place. It is the bookseller, whom we already know, and who has made great progress at the side of Peter, towards which the inspired writings of Swedenborg have helped him quite considerably.
On recognizing the bookseller in My place, Bishop Martin is very surprised and says: "What is this? Are you, by any chance, my future guide? I would rather have believed in death in heaven than have you become my guide! Ah, ah, this is really too much! First the Lord Himself, and now you! That would be like the sun, compared to a backside!
Ha, ha, this is ridiculous! You, a bookseller, my guide! A wretched bookseller to make a guide through all the heavens for a fomer bishop, a learned theologian! No, that is quite out of the question! Go back to whence you came, my friend, for I shall not follow you anywhere!
If the Lord had sent me the first best guttersnipe as a companion and guide, I would not have minded, but you, you in particular, who are familiar with all my dirty tricks! No, I will not tolerate it! Either you go or I - it does not matter which! I leave this house of ideas to you! It may not last anyway, as I find its whole setup suspicious.
What this hall contains, you see - that is, if you can see at all what I see, for that much I have already learned in this fantastic world, that two people next to each other see one and the same thing quite differently. Where one sees an ass, his companion sees either an ox or even a philosopher! Or where one sees a light, the other sees but darkness!
But a clever chap like me must draw the conclusion from all this that this celestial world, as I now know it, is a very silly and senseless world. It is simply a dreamlike illusion of the senses, absolutely inconsistent!
Therefore, I shall just move along, and you, wise bookdust-swallower, may take my place in studying higher astronomy through these twelve doors and, perhaps, fall in love with a beautiful Mercuri-an, or an even more beautiful sun-dweller, provided that you can see with your eyes what I have seen there. Farewell, and please yourself, while I go looking for a place with more consistency than this astronomical hall."
After these words, the bishop turns to leave, but the bookseller prevents him from doing this by the following clever words: "Brother, friend, how foolish you are! Weren't we intimate and close friends on earth? And wasn't I then already quite aware of all your tricks, without ever giving you away? If I didn't do so there, why should I do it here in heaven, where the Lord anway knows you a million times better than I do, and ever will? Why then are you so annoyed as if the Master of Eternity had made me your guide?
There you are quite wrong, for I came to you to keep you company and to serve you in everything. I just want to learn from you, who must have gained so much experience at the side of the Lord, and not that you should learn from me. In view of these facts, why did you flare up like that on seeing me beside you?
Just stay here in your property, which is surely more consistent than you think, and take me for what I really am, not what you imagine, which is extremely ungrateful to the Lord. Then we shall, I hope, get on better with each other."
Bishop Martin is now silent and at a loss what to reply to the bookseller. He walks over to the door of Mercury to gain time to compose himself.
When he arrives at the door, he notices a crowd of Mercurians of both sexes. In the crowd he also sees the beautiful woman who, on the occasion of his first visit to the planet, had already much impressed his eyes as well as his heart. At the sight of her, his companion, whom we now shall call "Borem," is already forgotten, and he walks through the door to meet her.
(As he enters her sphere, the fair Mercurian sees him and says): "I know and love you as we all love you as our master. But there is something in you that neither I nor any of us like: it is the fleshly desire in you! Unless you rid yourself of this, you will never be allowed to approach us.
I am telling you this because I love you and because I believe that you love me too, and all of us who are hoping to gain beatitude through you when you become as you should be. However, if you do not, we shall be taken away from you and given to a worthier spirit.
Therefore, do not let yourself be deluded by my attractiveness, but stay in the order of the Supreme Spirit of God, Whose infinite wisdom has made you and me so beautiful.
For you, too, are inconceivably beautiful to me. The true majesty of the supreme Spirit of God is shining from you. But I have to contain myself and avoid you the moment I notice that my image begins to ignite within you.
You should do the same until you possess the full divine strength. And when you have achieved this, you will possess me and all of us in divine, celestial delight.
But remember this: Whatever you desire here you must flee and you will obtain it. But flee it out of love, not aversion! That is also the reason why I flee you, for I love you very much.
Go now and do as suggested, and this heart which is beating for you will express its gratitude in a way the sweetness of which is still quite unknown to you!"
After these words, the fair Mercurian steps back, displaying her celestial beauty even more visibly, causing Bishop Martin to collapse from emotion.
For a long time he crouches on the ground unable to speak or even think. He stands up again only when Borem bends down to him, taps him on the shoulder, and says:
(Borem): "But brother Martin, what has happened to you? Has that beautiful Mercurian cast a spell on you by any chance, and made you weak and faint? Or has something else struck you?"
(Bishop Martin, quite vexed): "D--- you, did I call you? If you are my servant and I your master, why do you approach me without being called? Be sure in future only to come when I call you, or you may go back to whence you came!"
(Borem): "Listen, friend, this is not the way to talk to me, or the Lord, Whose patience with you has been indescribable, might show you how the one fares who disregards His clemency, as you are doing at this moment. Therefore, follow me in the name of the Lord as well as in the name of that celestial maiden, who has just given you a very wise admonition, or you might soon be very sorry.
Think of the boundless mercy the Lord showed you during your last hour on earth, of all the wise precepts you have been taught from all sides! How little effect they have had on you so far! It is now high time for you to change or, as already mentioned, you will have to taste the sharp measures the Lord uses for the very obstinate who trample upon His clemency. For know this: The Lord is not to be trifled with for too long! So, better follow me back to the hall!"
(Bishop Martin straightens himself out and says, extremely annoyed): "There, you see, what a fine companion and servant you are! I thank you for such a one! You have been given me as a taskmaster, and I will not have it! You may stay here and please yourself but I shall be on my way and see whether I can do good also without your help.
This is really too much! I, a bishop, consequently an Apostle of Jesus Christ, am to be pushed around and guided by a lousy bookseller! No, that is unbearable! Get out of my sight or you'll force me to lay hands on you! Unfortunately, I saved you from the flames and was good to you, but now I am sorry to have ever done you good! You are a thorn in my side, being already better than I and having been appointed my taskmaster!
There is a lot of talk here about spiritual freedom. That is a fine freedom for me if you aren't even allowed to look through the door of your house without having a taskmaster at your side! You'd better go and make sure you do not lose your heavenly freedom! And threats on top of it all! How charming that you can be disciplined even in heaven!
Maybe you have already hidden a cudgel under your celestial toga and are going to start thrashing me in a moment! Go on - try it! You'll soon find out how much you can thrash into a bishop or even out of him!
Do you celestial ass really think that I am afraid of any kind of punishment? Just try it, and you will soon see how little I fear it! If the Lord wants to better me through punishment, He may please Himself. But as long as I am allowed my free will, I shall be the way I want to be! I know what it means to defy the Lord, and I know His might. But I deeply admire the greatness of a spirit who has the courage to defy the Lord!"
(Borem): "Friend, I came to you on behalf of the Lord, meek as a lamb. I never hurt you in any way, neither in the world, nor here. But you received me as even in the world the lowest slave would not be received by a ruler. Is this attitude wise or loving, as it is supposed to be in heaven? And if the Lord decided to send me to you, are you better and wiser than He Whose order I carried out?
The Lord sees the fleshly desire in you, and at the back of it extreme arrogance to anyone who might oppose you in your loathsome lust. Therefore, He sent me to you so that your arrogance should at last reveal itself and with it your ever-growing desire for the flesh of women. However, you receive me like an inmate of hell, apparently not bothering about the Lord Who wants only your beatitude. If you continue like this, the kindness of the Lord will become a judgment for you, the more severe the more you defy Him.
I am leaving you now, for I can see that you hate me, although I have not given you any grounds for it. May the Lord do unto you in accordance with His love, mercy, and justice!"
As Borem turns to leave, Bishop Martin holds him back in a friendly manner and asks him to stay as he wishes to make his peace with him and discuss great things. So Borem stays.
Borem waits for a while, expecting the bishop to say something. But the latter is trying hard to figure out how he could win Borem for himself concerning the things he intended to discuss.
(Borem, however, sees through him, and says): "Friend Martin, I tell you, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ Who is the sole Lord of Heaven and all creation in infinity, do not go to all this trouble, for I see through you quite clearly.
What is in your mind at this moment is in the minds of all purely hellish spirits whom we call 'devils.' Do not dare to come to me with your great things - which to me are disgustingly small - for this plan of yours could be your downfall!
Tell me, how long do you intend to defy the Lord in your heart? Tell me this quite openly, so that I can act accordingly. Believe me, although the nature of all that you see here around you is eternal, you could quite suddenly find yourself in a place much less to your liking than this one. For the Lord has instructed me from now on to show you no more indulgence, since the fire of lechery and lust for power has begun to burn in you.
Now speak openly and without treachery what you intend to do. But do speak the truth, for I tell you in the name of the Lord: Every deceitful thought in you will be known to me, and your punishment will be that I leave you, and all that is now yours will be taken from you suddenly. Keep this in mind and tell me now, truthfully, what you intend to do - whether you will follow me or not."