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BISHOP MARTIN IN A DEADLOCK. RESCUE BY THE LONGED-FOR SHIP. MARTIN'S ADDRESS OF THANKS TO THE SKIPPER, WHO IS THE LORD HIMSELF.
12,1. After having waited for the boldly challenged deity, with some misgivings for quite a while, he begins another gloomy soliloquy:
12,2. (Bishop Martin): "Nothing, absolutely nothing! I could challenge and grossly abuse whomsoever I want to, but since there is nobody,'I cannot be heard. I seem to be here alone, as if I were the sole living being, conscious of itself, in the whole of infinity!
12,3. However, how could I possibly be alone? Where have the thousands of millions of people, who - like myself - were born, lived, and died on earth, got to? Have they ceased to exist or are they isolated from each other at different points of infinity, sharing my silly lot? This is probably the case, for my guide and the lovely sheep and lambs are surely proof that there must be other human beings in this endless world. But where can they be?
12,4. Beyond that vast sea, there is not likely to exist any life, but it might be at a great distance behind me. If I could only retrace my steps, I could try and find them. Unfortunately, I am surrounded by water to such an extent that to turn back seems practically impossible.
12,5. My feet are still on dry soil, even though it is very loosely packed. I wonder what would happen if I set a foot backward or forward? Most probably I would sink into an unfathomable abyss in this vast grave of water. So I'll have to remain here forever, which I shall find most entertaining.
12,6. Oh, if I only had a small, but safe, ship which I could board safely and steer on whatever course I wanted to. What bliss that would be for me, poor de- - -, oh, no - that name should never pass my lips! Probably Satan is quite as unreal as the deity, but the concept is so disgusting that it makes an honest man shudder.
12,7. What is it that I see on the surface quite close by? Is it a monster? Or could it perhaps be a ship? It is coming closer and closer! By God, it is really a ship, with sails and a rudder. If it comes to me, I shall have to believe in a God again, for it would be too striking a proof against all the things I have uttered. Yes, it is coming here! There might by somebody on board who might hear me if I called out.
12,8. (Shouting): "You there! Help! An unhappy bishop has been waiting here for ages - one who played a great man on earth but who, in this world of spirits, has sunk into utter wretchedness and cannot find his way out! Oh, God, my great, almighty God, if You do exist, help me - help me!"
12,9. Now look, the ship is fast approaching the spot where our man is standing. On board you see a skilled skipper who is I Myself, and behind the bishop, the angel Peter, who is quickly boarding the ship, together with him.
12,10. The bishop, however, can see only Me as the skipper, not the angel who is all the time keeping behind him. He now walks straight towards Me in the friendliest manner, and says:
12,11. "What God or other blessed spirit has made you steer your boat to this shore where I have been waiting for salvation for an endlessly long time? Are you, perhaps, a pilot in this spirit world, or some sort of rescuer? People like you must be extremely scarce here, for I haven't seen a trace of any man for an infinitely long time.
12,12. Oh, you wonderful and dearest friend! You seem to be a much better man than one who, a very long time ago, imposed himself upon me as a guide to lead me onto the right path. But that was a fine guide for you! May the Lord forgive him, for he guided me only for a short time and then only towards a lot of evil.
12,13. First, I had to discard my bishop's robe, which I had somehow brought with me from the world, and don this peasant's garb, which must be of very good material or it wouldn't have lasted for millions of earth years.
12,14. This wouldn't have been so bad since I was hoping for a better fate. But what did this heroic guide do then? He engaged me as a shepherd for his sheep and lambs, with lots of moral maxims.
12,15. I willingly entered his service - although on Lutheran territory - and walked outside with a thick volume containing the names of his flock, intending to do as he had told me. But then the flock turned into a crowd of lovely maidens, and there was then no trace of the sheep or the lambs.
12,16. I should have read their names from the book, but in the whole area there weren't any of the animals I had clearly seen from the house of this Lutheran guide.
12,17. But the beautiful maidens flocked around me without waiting to be called by name. They joked and even kissed me, and one - the loveliest of all - even embraced me with both arms, pressing me to her tender bosom to such an extent that I was overwhelmed by feelings as never before experienced by me in the world.
12,18. It wouldn't have been so bad, since I was new in this world and I couldn't have possibly known that instead of sheep and lambs, I was expected to tend such maidens.
12,19. But my guide suddenly appeared like a flash of lightning, giving me a sermon that would have done credit to Martin Luther. Then he gave me new instructions, accompanied by plenty of admonitions, which seemed even sillier than the previous ones and which I was to follow strictly, eventually driving all the sheep and lambs up a certain mountain.
12,20. Of course, I wasn't very happy with this unusual commission, but then, neither the guide nor the flock appeared, although I waited for millions of years - but all in vain. Eventually, I wanted to return the book to the house of my fine employer, but it disappeared - probably being some sort of spiritual automaton, and so did the whole landscape. So I also took my leave and came to this spot, where I couldn't proceed any further. I was very angry and abusive for a while and then despaired completely, as for such an infinitely long time there wasn't a trace of any rescue.
12,21. But at last you arrived, a true angel of salvation, and took me into your safe vessel. Accept my deepest gratitude for this! If I had anything with which I could repay you, it would be a pleasure to my eternally grateful heart! But as you can see, I am here the poorest imaginable creature and do not own anything except myself. Therefore, I can repay your friendship only with my gratitude and with myself, if I could serve you in any way.
12,22. O God, o God, how calmly, safely, and quickly your boat is riding the stormy waves of this endless sea, and what a pleasant sensation! You dear, divine friend, now my past conceited guide should be here! It would really be worth my while to introduce you to him and show him what a true guide and savior should be like. I myself was a guide, or leader, in the world once, but I'd rather be silent on that subject. Thank you, oh, thank you! How wonderfully smooth this little ship is sailing!"
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