A Journey in Other Worlds HTML version

The Priest's Sermon
It being the first day of the week, the morning air was filled with chimes from many
"Divine service always comforted in life," thought Ayrault, "perchance it may do so now,
when I have reached the state for which it tried to prepare me."
Accordingly, he moved on with the throng, and soon was ascending the heights of
Morningside Park, after which, he entered the cathedral. The priest whose voice had so
often thrilled him stood at his post in his surplice, and the choir had finished the
processional hymn. During the responses in the litany, and between the commandments,
while the congregation and the choir sang, he heard their natural voices as of old
ascending to the vaulted roof and arrested there. He now also heard their spiritual voices
resulting from the earnestness of their prayers. These were rung through the vaster vault
of space, arousing a spiritual echo beyond the constellations and the nebulae. The service,
which was that of the Protestant Episcopal Church, touched him as deeply as usual, after
which the rector ascended the steps to the pulpit.
"The text, this morning," he began, "is from the eighth chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the
Romans, at the eighteenth verse: 'For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are
not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us.' Let us suppose that
you or I, brethren, should become a free and disembodied spirit. A minute vein in the
brain bursts, or a clot forms in the heart. It may be a mere trifle, some unexpected thing,
yet the career in the flesh is ended, the eternal life of the liberated spirit begun. The soul
slips from earth's grasp, as air from our fingers, and finds itself in the frigid, boundless
void of space. Yet, through some longing this soul might rejoin us, and, though invisible,
might hear the church-bells ring, and long to recall some one of the many bright Sunday
mornings spent here on earth. Has a direful misfortune befallen this brother, or has a
slave been set free? Let us suppose for a moment that the first has occurred. 'Vanity of
vanities,' said the old preacher. 'Calamity of calamities,' says the new. That soul's
probationary period is ended; his record, on which he must go, is forever made. He has
been in the flesh, let us say, one, two, three or four score years; before him are the
countless aeons of eternity. He may have had a reasonably satisfactory life, from his point
of view, and been fairly successful in stilling conscience. That still, small voice doubtless
spoke pretty sharply at first, but after a while it rarely troubled him, and in the end it
spoke not at all. He may, in a way, have enjoyed life and the beauties of nature. He has
seen the fresh leaves come and go, but he forgot the moral, that be himself was but a leaf,
and that, as they all dropped to earth to make more soil, his ashes must also return to the
ground. But his soul, friends and brethren, what becomes of that? Ah! it is the study of
this question that moistens our eyes with tears. No evil man is really happy here, and
what must be his suffering in the cold, cold land of spirits? No slumber or forgetfulness
can ease his lot in hades, and after his condemnation at the last judgment he must forever
face the unsoftened realities of eternity. No evil thing or thought can find lodgment in
heaven. If it could, heaven would not be a happy place; neither can any man improve in