Sold: Everlasting Life / Eternal Damnation
“Representation of the different Ways to Everlasting Life or Eternal Damnation” religious broadside, Pennsylvania, c. 1830s-’40s. Vividly depicting paths to heaven and hell, this rare image was printed by G.S. Peters in Harrisburg, PA and presents a stark picture of religion in America. Libertines and lawyers, musical and legal instruments in hand, line up at the gates of hell. A black man ascends to heaven, speaking perhaps for all African slaves when he states “Our Fruits are on the Tree of Life” (which is to say, those God-given fruits in Heaven and not those enjoyed on Earth). Below, Satan is depicted as a monstrous beast ensconced in flames, with Death and the Whore of Babylon at his side, each shepherding sinners into the flames of eternal suffering. “But they are going thither,” a chid tugs at the sleeve of his mother, begging to join the happy procession of the damned. And above all, the towers and trumpets of the fantastical holy city of eternal life, New Jerusalem, which admits only a pious few.
In addition to the quotations placed throughout the image, a forboding description of the scene is printed in the lower portion:
“Here is the entrance great and wide, open to all from each side: Pass on ye with sack and pack, for unconcerned, be no exact; walk gently ahead, not a word will be said; If you seek honour and gain, hastily appear and record thy name; thousands with a similar design, have traveled this road in proper line; ye that lust after splendor, luxury and pride, pass one, the path is fully wide; the frolicksome in great numbers with music full of sound, are marching to the place to which they are bound; the rich, poor, the tall and small, in Abraham’s lap hope to be taken up, yea withal.”
The piece is in good condition with bright colors and detail, though the paper does show its history. It was apparently folded at some point (perhaps carried around by a Christian pilgrim requiring a map close at hand). It was later framed in the 1920s or ’30s as it is appears here. Creases from the folds are visible under the glass and the paper is yellowed, but the scene remains vivid. The frame itself shows some scratches and the backing has several tears, but nevertheless it adds to the broadside’s history in its presentation.
A rare early American broadside and powerful piece of history illustrating Christian orthodoxy and millenarian dogma in the early Republic.
15 inches wide
11.5 inches tall
Good condition, with visible creasemarks from folds and overall yellowing. The frame itself shows scratches and the backing has several tears. The piece would benefit from archival framing, though it has been framed as such for probably 80 or 90 years.
Free in the continental United States. If an international buyer, please contact me for a shipping estimate by clicking here.