I dreamed that I was in hell. A red firelight illuminated uncannily the frightful face of Satan, who was sitting on a kind of platform. Around him I saw depraved spirits who had come from all countries of the earth.
I saw a spirit moving toward the platform, and I felt that it was the one who had special orders to watch over me and follow me while on earth. He was filled with fear. Satan began to speak: “Usually you bring good reports. What have you to tell me now?”
“Loss, master, loss,” murmured the spirit, hiding his face in his hands. “It is not my fault. He whom I had to look after went to the meetings of the worshipers of Jesus, in His city, and got converted.”
“If you could not prevent his going to the meeting, it was your duty to lull him to sleep, so that he would be content with religious forms.”
“That I know,” replied the spirit, “I did all I could. I caused difficulties in his business, so as to prevent him leaving his shop in time. I made him feel sick so that he would remain at home. I told him that estimable people would not go to such meetings and that it would damage his trade. But his little daughter who is attending Sunday school urged him to go.”
“Why didn’t you go with him?” interrupted Satan.
“I did, but the place was filled with praying people, many of us demons, your zealous servants, have been there, but we have been powerless; for the preacher is filled with the Holy Spirit.”
“Is your man now beyond our power?” asked the Prince of Darkness.
“At present I cannot do anything with him. During the day, he speaks of the joy he has in God, and at night he dreams about it. I whispered blasphemies to him and gave him, while dreaming, voluptuous thoughts, but during the day as well as when sleeping, he turned away and whispered ‘O Jesus.’ But worst of all he draws many people to the meetings and has begun to hold meetings himself where several persons have been converted.”
I heard Satan utter a terrible curse, saying, “It is enough that this man be lost to us. He must not be permitted to rob us of other people.”
“Give me time, master, give me time,” said the spirit.
“Twelve months,” cried Satan, “After twelve months I will wait here for you, and I shall expect that he will then belong to us again. If not then…”
Horror seized me, and I awoke. I am not nervous, but I was trembling all over. An hour later, after praying to God, I fell asleep once more. Again I was translated into the realms of darkness, among the wicked spirits. Twelve months seemed to have passed away. The spirit who was to have led me to destruction stood, and Satan asked, “What have you done? Has he, whom you watch over, been brought back to my realm? Is he an apostate?”
“No, but he has left his first love.”
“Very well,” replied Satan, “tell us how it happened.”
“At first,” said the demon, “I had no way of reaching him, and I was almost ready to leave in despair; for he was full of joy and love in the Holy Spirit. I tried many temptations, but it was all in vain. One day I whispered into his ear something about his brethren—and he listened. I began to arouse in his heart certain displeasure against the brethren. He began to see the faults of other people. Though he reads his Bible as often as formerly, he has lost his joy and strength, his heartiness in prayer, and his words have lost their power.”
“Very good,” said Satan, “what cannot be done quickly, we achieve slowly. Once more I give you twelve months.”
I awoke. Was this really my own condition just reported by the demon? My room seemed to be filled with wicked spirits. I called upon the name of the Lord. After some minutes of prayer, I fell asleep again and was brought to witness the third scene in hell. The same demon stood before the throne of Satan, and this time I saw a dreadful malicious smile of joy on his face. “All in order, master, all in order! He belongs to us again. A year ago I told you that he had left his first love. His heart grew restrained and less kind to his brethren. He was easily offended and dissatisfied if a meeting was not conducted as he thought it ought to be. He neglected his private prayer life, and therefore in temptations, he was weak. God could not reveal to him his condition; for he had no time to listen to God’s voice. Often he was absent from meetings, and at last he left his assembly entirely. His zeal to save souls disappeared, and in its place I have him a new interest in a work of charity. There he reaps more glory and now he is really ‘an apostate!’” howled thousands of voices.
“That’s right, my servants,” said Satan. “God needs time for His work, and we need time, too.”
“Yes,” all repeated, “we will go out and work in the same way. If people are converted, we will cause them to backslide.”
“Only, don’t let them know it,” said Satan. “If you aren’t able to separate them from God, separate them from their brethren. Cause them to look to their own efforts and tell the zealous Christians they must distinguish themselves so as to have more influence. Afterwards, if they have grieved the Holy Spirit and separated from their brethren, it is an easy matter for you. They will never think they are apostate until they are here in hell, never to escape.”
I awoke for the third time. I was terribly frightened because of the plan of hell against me. I recognized that many things the demon mentioned were true. I had left my first love, left also the meetings of the worshipers of Jesus, and had in my heart a certain bitterness against a lot of people. I was positive and ambitious. I cried, “O Lord Jesus, help me; for I perish.”
The Lord heard my prayer and saw my tears. He forgave anew all my sins. I found peace in the precious blood of the Lamb. I gave up all my own ideas and doings, and went back the same day to again have fellowship with my brethren. All bitterness disappeared; for the love of Jesus conquered. Now I ask the Lord to keep me faithful until we meet before His throne in humility to see His face, to be forever and ever in His presence.
[This article is an old tract, which was published by Pilgrim Tract Society, Inc., Randleman, North Carolina. The author was Gustav Statweld.]
From Messenger of Truth, 2011, No. 22; originally published in No. 9, 1975