November 19, 1916
Received by James Padgett
I am here, John.
I was with you tonight and heard the sermon on Hell and was so sorry that the preacher (Dr, Ratcliff) could not tell his people more of the truths as to what Hell is and the punishment of those who will be so unfortunate as to go to that place will be.
It is pitiable that these leaders of the people are so blinded and without knowledge as to what the truth is in regard to this subject - as well as to many others - that they so erroneously declare to their congregations. Of course, their knowledge is based upon what they consider to be the truths of the Bible, and in many respects what they say is justified by the teachings of the book; but in many cases, their teachings are erroneous because of the wrong construction that they place upon many of the declarations of the Bible. In either case they are teaching, for the truth, those things that are not true, and the harm accomplished is just as baneful as if their beliefs and teachings were the result of what they realized to be untrue.
Untruth is untruth, no matter whether it arises from honest conviction or known error, and the harm done is the same in each instance.
The preacher, I have no doubt, believes what he declared to be the truth, and some things he said were true, yet the fact that he believed these doctrines to be true will not palliate in any way his responsibility so far as the effect of these errors on his hearers are concerned. For their sufferings and darkness, which will certainly follow. Their beliefs in these erroneous teachings will be no less, because the preacher was honest in his declarations of what he supposed to be the truth. The source of error does not in any way modify or affect the results that flow from its acceptance and following, and the preacher, while not in such cases a willful deceiver, yet when he comes to the spirit world and learns the truth, he will have the regrets and the sufferings which always flow from the spreading of falsehood and deception.
Error works its own punishment, but it may be of some consolation and will be to those who preach and to those who accept falsehood as truth to know that such punishment will not be everlasting, and that God is not a God of wrath or of vindictiveness, and that His justice never demands more than is necessary for the removing of error and the establishment of His truths. Why? His justice would not be justice if He permitted error to continue and prevented recovery on the part of man or spirits of the truth, just for the purpose of having those who had been disobedient suffer and be separated from Him for all eternity.
I merely wanted to say this much on the sermon, and sometime I will come and write you a full explanation of what Hell is, its purpose and work, and how long it continues.
Let all of you continue to pray to the Father for this Love and have faith, and the time will soon come that faith will become as real and existing as the sun, which you so much enjoyed today. So my brother, with all my love and blessings I will say good night.
Your brother in Christ,