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TO THE READER.
THIS work was designed by the Author as a manuscript tale for a young friend; but, as "stories somehow lengthen as they run," and being pleased with the labor, the work grew under his hands, and took its present shape.
All our ideas of the future must be formed out of the present life; nor can we reach outside of a physical theory. The vehicles of thought and representations of The World to Come, found in this volume, are the same which have been adopted by the inspired writers of the Holy Bible, and by Dante and Milton.
Jeremy Taylor, speaking of a poor widow who labored hard to procure the means of subsistence, says, "her ideas of heaven were few and simple. She rejected the doctrine that it was a place of constant activity, and not of repose; and believed that when she at length reached it, she would work no more, but sit in a clean white apron and sing psalms."
In like manner we all have our own ideas of heaven, which have been forming from the day-dawn of existence, and result from a combination of all the varied influences that have ever been brought to bear upon our physical as well as our spiritual
The Author, after the book was written, in order to meet objections as best he could, sought for passages from Dante and Milton to countenance his imaginings, assured that under the shelter of their great names he would be safe from misconception and censure. The eminent English essayist, JOHN FOSTER, has thus given his judgment of such an effort as this: "I am very far from disliking philosophical speculation, or daring flights of fancy on this high subject. On the contrary, it appears to me strange that any one firmly holding the belief of a life to come should not have both the intellectual faculty and the imagination excited to the utmost in the trial, however unavailing, to give some outlines of definite form to the unseen realities." And SOCRATES, addressing those by whom he had been condemned, spoke of his death as a departure to the society of the good in another world, and asked: "If this be true, O my judges, what greater good can there be than this? At what price would not either of you purchase a conference
with Orpheus or Musæus, with Hesiod and Homer? What would not any one of you give for an interview with him who led that mighty army against Troy; or with Ulysses, or ten thousand of others, both male and female, that might be mentioned? For to converse and associate with them would be an inestimable felicity. Truly I should be willing to die often, if these things be true."
In a work of the Imagination, which, so far as his knowledge extends, is the first to portray after this manner the possible scenes of a future life, the Author may not hope to satisfy his readers; yet, if its perusal shall be suggestive, and if, by antagonism even, thoughts in their souls before dormant, or undefined and shadowy, shall become operative ideas, his wishes will have been so far attained.
Heaven is the true happiness of the human soul; presenting the attractions of every excellence and the fruition of every desire. The Author's aim has been to awaken in his readers new aspirations of hope for "the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."