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THE ETERNAL HOME OF THE REDEEMED.
The church of God is from above. It is the holy Jerusalem which 'came down from God out of heaven.' Ages before it appeared upon earth, it was prepared in the plan of God, and hid in his infinite wisdom and knowledge. It cast its shadow upon earth in the form of the Jewish sanctuary. As there must be a substance to produce a shadow, the church already existed. But when the fulness of time came, it came down to earth. Its builder, head, door, foundation, and governor came from heaven. Its law, the truth, “came by Jesus Christ." Its garments of salvation are from God. Its members are all born “from above." It is animated with “the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.” The conversation of all its members “is in heaven.' Their names “are written in heaven.” Their affections are “fixed on things above, not on things on the earth.” This is the heavenly Jerusalem. Being a spiritual, divine, and heavenly church, denominated the kingdom of heaven, its affinities and attractions are all heavenward. "Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth."
The mind and heart of the Christian is naturally reaching out into the eternal world. Earth loses its
attraction. Its jewels and diamonds, its silver and gold, lose their luster and brilliancy, as the Christian, with an eye of faith, sees his riches in heaven. He beholds the sparkling diamonds, the unsearchable riches of Christ that await him over there. As he presses forward toward the joy set before him, earth's attractions fade away. None but the earthly minded desire to remain here. None but those who are void of spiritual life, desire to make this their eternal home. Man is born for a higher destiny than that of earth. There is a realm where the rainbow never fades; where the stars will be spread out before us like islands that slumber upon the ocean; and where the beautiful beings which here pass before us like visions, will stay in our presence forever.
The patriarchs and saints of old “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Heb. 11:13. They understood that this was not their final destiny, their final abode. David, who reigned over Israel, who inherited the promised land, says, "I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were." Psa. 39:12. A stranger in the earth, in the land which they received for an inheritance; only pilgrims sojourning here for a time. Paul says they were seeking a country, "a better country, that is, a heavenly.” Heb. 11:14, 16.
This was not only true of the Old Testament saints, but Peter denominates the New Testament church 'as strangers and pilgrims,” who are “sojourning here." 1 Pet. 2:11; 1:17. “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” Heb. 13: 14. “For he hath prepared for them a city.” Heb. 11:16. All these scriptures point us away from this earth to “another country”-yes, to a “better country, " "an heavenly." We are only sojourners here for a time. We are traveling to another clime, another sphere of existence, a brighter realm. Our short pilgrimage upon earth is compared to a handbreadth, an eagle hastening to his prey, a swift post, a dream, a shadow, a vapor.
Time with gigantic footsteps is bearing us to the future. Life is soon cut down; "and we fly away.” “Because man goeth to his long home.” Eccl. 12:5. “To his eternal home.'-LXX.
That "eternal home" is not this earth as the worldly minded vainly hope, but is “a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” 2 Cor. 5:1. Yes, in heaven, the place of God's throne and home of the angels. There is an eternal heaven above, which Paul terms the "third heaven.” 2 Cor. 12: 2-4.
First, the church is now raised up on the plane of Heaven's purity, and all its members are made to "sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Then again, the atmosphere which surrounds this earth is frequently in Scripture called “the heavens.' These will pass away with this earth. But there is a third heaven, a place where God now dwells. “ The Lord he is God in heaven above." Deut. 4:39. “The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord's throne is in heaven." Psa. 11:4.
Heaven is also the home of the angels. “For ia the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven." Mat. 22:30. “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God." Mark 16:19. “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.” 1 Pet. 3: 22. “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. Heb. 9: 24.
All these texts, with many others, clearly teach that there is a place called heaven. There can be no appeal from this fact. We shall now prove that the same will be the eternal home of the church.
“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen : for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:18. Paul here speaks of things which are “temporal” (proskaros), for a season or time only; and then he speaks of things “eternal” (aionios), without end, as the eternal Spirit. Heb. 9:14. Those things we see with our natural eyes are only temporal. They are things which have a short duration, and must have an end. “The things which are seen are temporal,” temporary, for a time only. That includes this earth and all that pertains to it. All nature teaches this fact. The green grass covers this earth with a beautiful and verdant carpet, but the time comes when it withereth and the lovely flowers fade away. The leaves which come forth and cheer our hearts in springtime turn to a golden hue when the autumn winds blow, and fall to mother earth, and decay away. The sturdy oak, in whose branches the fowls of the air lodge, soon decays and is no more. The lofty pyramids, and the monuments, in time crumble to dust.
The same lesson is taught in the animal kingdom. Our mortal bodies return to dust, to mother earth. All nature, and everything around us teaches us "the end of all things” pertaining to earth. The earth itself is one of the things which we see, and Paul positively declares that all we see is temporal, must have an end. This earth will pass away. Both the Old and New Testaments teach this fact.
“Of old thou hast laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure." Psa. 102: 25, 26. "Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment.' Isa. 51:6. “The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; it shall fall, and not rise again.” Isa. 24: 19, 20. In these texts is foretold the end of this world.” This planet called the earth shall “wax old” and “shall