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conversation is in heaven: from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” 1
The expression used by the Apostle in this last passage is remarkable.
"Our conversation is in heaven:” rather, “our community,” the society,
" that is, to which we belong, and to the privileges of which we are entitled, and aspire: or, as he expresses himself to the Hebrews, “ here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” ? According to his previous declaration in the same epistle concerning Abraham, and the patriarchs, and the holy men of old, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly.” 3
Heaven in fact is the home of the children of God. Earth is no dwelling place of theirs. It is only the passage, by which they must proceed on their way to their proper inheritance. And he,
· Phil. iii. 20, 21.
3 Heb. xiii. 14.
8 Heb. xi. 13-16.
who duly reflects on this, as every Christian ought
(As who would not, for who would fain refuse
Blessing and life, and death and evil choose ?) Look upward, eyes and heart, to yon bright fane On that sky-piercing mount, and tow'rd it strain
With loins well girt, and on thy feet the shoes
Of Gospel preparation! God endues With strength who seek his face, but spare not pain Meanwhile and toil to boot. Thou on the gate
Fix firm thy gaze, nor heed the lure that lies On right, on left, to tempt thee from the straight
And onward path. Mark well the profferd prize, Strive, win and wear it! Shame and sorrow wait
On feeble feet, faint heart, and wavering eyes.
THE CONTEMPLATION OF HEAVEN WEANS THE AFFECTION
Whilst the CONTEMPLATION of heaven induces us to “set our affection on things above," it may prompt us also to wean it from “things on earth," of which it will lead us to form a juster estimate.
For, compared with the enjoyments of the blessed, how insignificant is the happiness which this world can bestow? All the constituents of happiness in this life are imperfect, and mingled more or less with circumstances of painful compensation.
I would not wish to depreciate the rational pleasures of our earthly existence; nor to abate those feelings of content, and cheerfulness, and joyousness, and innocent delight, wherewith I believe it to be the will of God that we should partake in the temporal and earthly blessings, with which it hath pleased him to surround us. 6. He hath not left himself without witness” to his loving-kindness, as well as to his power, “in that he doeth good, and giveth us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." i And “ the creatures of God are good, if they be received with thanksgiving,” and with “trust in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.” 2
Of the things indeed, which constitute merely worldly enjoyment, “the good things” of the men of the world, as our Lord terms them in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, 3 many have but small pretensions to be accounted really good. But whatever be the pleasurable circumstances of the best sources of earthly enjoyment, they are accom70
1 Acts xiy. 17.
* 1 Tim. iv. 4; vi. 17.
8 Luke xvi. 25.
ATION OF HEAVEN, [CHAP. II.
mixture of different ingredients. from heaven to teach us, what all must notice, and the hearts of lat man is born to trouble as the vard ;” 1 that the fairest and brightest
existence is liable to be overclouded with the ares of this world; with perplexity, and anxiety, and fears, and sorrows, and disappointments, and mortifications, and distresses, and diseases, and the loss of his dearest kinsmen, and his dearest friends, and of all other things which make life enjoyable. But the happiness of the blessed is free from all these occasions of alloy. Of that state there is no evil to disturb the serenity and the delight. “God hath wiped away all tears from their eyes : and there shall be no more sorrow, crying, neither shall there be any more pain.” 2
Nor, again, do we need a heavenly revelation to teach us, that "man that is born of a woman,' he is “ full of trouble," so also is he “ short of days;"s that he “cometh forth like a flower and
3 is cut down; he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.” However pure from interruption, however complete in its enjoyment, we may suppose the fairest condition of earthly existence, it is brief and transitory withal. The most splendid crown which this world can bestow is after all “ corruptible :” 4 no better than the chaplet of wild olive or
Job v. 7.
3 Rev. xxi. 4.
parsley, which encircled the brows of the victorious champion at the Olympic or the Isthmian games; the transient prize and ornament of a day. But the Christian's crown is "a crown of life,'
“of glory : "2 incorruptible, unperishable, and that fadeth not away, incapable of decay, everflourishing, “ eternal in the heavens."' 3
How do all earthly endowments sink into comparative insignificance and worthlessness, when thus considered! Behold the noblest, the strongest, the most powerful, the most prosperous, the wealthiest, the loveliest, the most beloved and admired, hitherto the most exempt from suffering, the most abounding in enjoyment and delight, among the children of men; behold him, I say, bidding at length a farewell, an everlasting farewell, to all his earthly sources of enjoyment, “making his bed in darkness, and saying to corruption, “ Thou art my father ; and to the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister:"4 and then cast up your eyes above, and see heaven opened ; and contemplate those, whose
names are written in the Lamb's book of life,” clothed with incorruption and immortality; and remember how of them it has been said, that “they cannot die any more,
" 6 for “ there shall be no more death :"7 and what argument can succeed in persuading you, if this contemplation shall fail to
i Rev. ii. 10.
1 Pet. V. 4.