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who can thus “rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” and who, having received the earnest of the Spirit,” are not only “ looking for," but also, by a holy life and conversation, “hasting to," the coming of the Lord.
Reader, wbat say you? You are verging every moment to that world where your state shall be fixed for ever, either to bow your head in heaven, or gnash your teeth in hell. To which of those regions is your course tending ? Nay ! do not give a general answer, do not put off your soul with what you hope to be at some future time. But the question is: Were you now, even now, introduced into eternity, where, where, according to the word of God, you would spend it? If you are walking in the light of God's countenance, having your heart sprinkled from an evil conscience by the blood of Jesus, you will indeed be able, with some degree of well-grounded confidence, to look forward to the “King in his beauty," and to the land of glory, yet afar off. But if you are walking in darkness, your answer will most probably be, "I do not know," for our Saviour saith, “ He that walketh in darkness, knoweth not whither he goeth."
Every man feels that there is in him a principle of immortality, a something which mocks every attempt to fix down the mind exclusively to present things, a something which bounds away from creation, or rather from present possession, and stretches forward to an endless futurity. By the law of his existence, he must think of the future; though that future to very many is bounded by this uncertain fleeting world ; which, like a high wall, prevents the eye from penetrating beyond its limits. But, when by the forcible statement of revealed truth, the death of a friend, or otber means, the unrenewed mind is compelled to think of what is beyond the grave; and to perceive, that, sooner or later, it must cross the boundaries of both worlds, and take its place somewhere in the regions of eternity; then it is, that the principle of hope too frequently comes forward to its aid, not as a friend, but as a deceiver. False hope arrays heaven, as the heathens do their gods, in colours to please the predominant passion. False hope levels all difficulties to the mind, and sweeps away all those barriers, which the word of God has placed between the finally unconverted soul, and the enjoyment of glory. In a word, false hope throws open the gates of her heaven, and presents there a paradise of imaginary pleasure, a series of enjoyments, in which " fellowship with God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ” are as effectually excluded as if they had no existence. We speak of Mohammedans, and of their delusions in regard to heaven, and how these suit the depraved desires of the natural mind; but in the very centre of christian privileges, what numbers are there whose views and expectations of heaven are essentially the same as those of the deluded followers of the false prophet! Heaven ! oh, calumniated place ! How misunderstood ! This, this is written above thy gates by the pen of thy almighty Builder, “ EXCEPT A MAN BE BORN AGAIN, HE CANNOT SEE, HE CANNOT ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN!" But, ah ! how few so believe it, as to let go their grasp of this world, and flee to the Lord Jesus Christ, as the only way, the only door into its endless blessedness ! How many speak of going there, while that God who is the glory of heaven, and that Saviour whose praise is the very music of heaven, are fearfully neglected! They have no enjoyment in spiritual exercises, no earnest longings after holiness of heart and life, and no pleasure in the company of those who delight in fellowship with God; and yet they speak of “ going to heaven !” Oh, vain delusion ! The heaven they dream of exists nowhere but in their own corrupt and deceived imaginations. It is but a phantom, created by the wicked one to keep their minds at rest, while they are neglecting the great salvation ; and are remaining still “unreconciled” to that God, whose smile is heaven, and in whose presence is indeed “fulness of joy,” and “pleasures for evermore.”
Believe it, reader, that if you could visit the mansions in glory, without first having been taught by the Spirit of Christ to find your happiness in intercourse with him, you would find yourself there, a solitary being, far removed from your native element, and from those earthly gratifications and selfish delights, which alone could afford pleasure to the craving desires of your unrenewed mind. The love of money, of honour, of sinful pleasure, would find there nothing congenial to it. Forgetfulness of the true God, so essential in this world to your delusive ease and comfort, would day and night, without ceasing, be disturbed by the praises of one to whom you had been a stranger; and by the company of those, whose happiness and pursuits, while on earth, were either altogether despised, or which had only called forth in you a feeble outward imitation.
Why, then, will you speak of “ going to heaven,” without instantly seeking, with all your heart and soul, that change which must be effected in all who enter that holy abode ? Reader, while you may be framing your excuse, and vainly looking forward to a future season for conversion, life is fleeting away, and every hour is hurrying you down to the grave, as on the surface of a mighty river. And, oh! if you
THE ENGLISH MONTHLY TRACT SOCIETY, 27, RED LION SQUARE, LONDON.
without union to Jesus, where will you find a refuge ? In this world there can be none : it will soon be burned up. Heaven, too, will be found shut to all who have not the image of the Lamb of God. Where can you then go in such fearful circumstances ? There is but one place left, and that without choice, even the region of everlasting darkness, blackness, and despair. There you must go, unless you are converted to God. And would you but retire for a little from the bustle of life, even now, and listen to the still small voice of heaven, of conscience, and of experience, you would come to your right mind, you would go to the Father of the Lord Jesus ; and would speedily find in Christ a blessed haven of eternal rest. But no! it may be, sin still hurries you on, while the voice from Calvary is yet proclaiming in your ears, “ Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die?” Reader, all sensual conceptions of heaven in your mind, must now or in eternity flee away. Heaven must be begun below in all those who shall enjoy its perfection above. Heaven is a place of character, the full development of those principles and dispositions which are received and cherished on earth, by the knowledge of Jesus and the teaching of his Spirit. No child, on its first introduction to a school, is placed in the highest class, but in one or other of the lowest ; where the first elements of the future education are imparted, and the necessary groundwork is laid for the more matured instructions which successively follow; the one must precede the other. And so of the preparation for heaven. The lowest school of Christ is in this world ; where, like Mary of old, his disciples sit at his feet, and commence, through his Spirit, the attainment of that knowledge which shall be expanded and matured in the realms above. But whatever is the distance between the lower and the upper - sanctuary, between Mary's place in Bethany, and those high walks in glory where the redeemed shall follow the Lamb, and listen with enraptured delight to his instructions, let it never be forgotten that there is an unalterable connexion between them : as much so, and as absolutely essential, as between the bud and blossom of a tree, and the fruit which is to follow; or between the state of infancy and that of fullgrown manhood ; the first, of necessity, going before the other. As well, therefore, might we look for the state of manhood, without the previous stages of infancy, childhood, and youth; as well might we expect to reap the fruit from any tree where no buds and blossoms were previously to be found, as to expect admission into heaven without being first “created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works,” and made to possess the tempers, learn the principles, and imbibe the dispositions of its blessed inhabitants ; while, like them, we seek our happiness from that “river of joy” which "waters the city of our God."
So far it can be declared to you what heaven is. But, oh! who can describe, who can tell the glory of that bright world? It is a subject entirely beyond the power of words. An apostle, skilled in every form of expression, accustomed to subjects and themes of the loftiest kind, was caught up to the third heaven, to obtain from his vantage-ground a glimpse of its realities ; and when he descended, what was the amount of the information communicated to his brethren below ? even this, that no language was adequate to tell what he had seen : yea, in the very spirit of inspiration, he declared it “ unutterable !” Then surely no language can describe the madness of those who regard not the promised inheritance: and for what do they disregard it ? they cannot tell; a passing show, a momentary excitement; where all is vanity and vexation of spirit. For what are all the concerns below, but like the scenes acted on a stage, which quickly pass away, and the fashion of them perishes.
When men are in full and successful pursuit of this world's enjoyments, or of that which is created, and suddenly get a sight of death and of the grave in the midst of their career, what a sad feeling comes across their minds! They then see these things, if they do not perversely shut their eyes, as but “whited sepulchres," where the outward mockery of beauty only adds to the bitterness of the discovery, that away from God, they are full of corruption, and cannot become truly happy. For that misnamed happiness which the world pants to enjoy, is no reality ; it leaves no strength and peace behind it, but the reverse. It is not like the waters of the Nile which overflow the land of Egypt, and leave, when they are gone, the germs of beauty and fertility to bud and blossom, and cheer the heart of man ; but, on the contrary, it produces a miserable sinking of the spirit, as if it had been grasping a shadow ; while Satan contrives to keep the mind from discovering the true sources of the disappointment, by diverting the attention from subject to subject, from anxiety to anxiety; so that many, very many, pause not to think of their folly and delusion, till they see the grave opening wide to receive them.
Awake, then, O reader ! if you are yet a stranger to the peace of God through Jesus Christ, and to that holiness of heart and life which characterizes every one who has fled to the Redeemer. Arise ! shake yourself from the dust ; set your face Zionward; and, as you advance in your way through the
wilderness of this world, lean upon the arm of Jesus, and trust to his finished righteousness alone: so shall the light of heaven shine brighter and brighter into your soul “ till the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your heart," and the shadows of this transitory world shall have for ever fled away,
Behold some of Zion's travellers near the close of their journey. They have long felt themselves “pilgrims and strangers,” looking on every place below, however attractive, as far from home; and bearing patiently the trials of the way, for it is the way to glory. Now they are entering heaven with this exclamation, “ We have waited for thy salvation, O God."* Who can tell the scenes of created and uncreated beauty which now meet their view! or conceive of the welcome which simultaneously bursts on them from every quarter in that happy land !
But while we own the impossibility of this, let it never be forgotten, that it is the presence of Jesus which consummates their every wish, and crowns their every enjoy. ment. They knew him, and delighted to acknowledge him as their Friend, in the world below; and he now delights to acknowledge them to be his friends before the presence of his Father and his holy angels.
And now, reader, would you enter Emmanuel's land, and everlastingly partake of his blessedness, oh! “acquaint yourself with him.” Visit his cross as a perishing, helpless sinner: inquire into the love which brought him there to
for a passage into glory; till freed from the burden of your guilt through his precious blood, and filled with a peace which passeth all understanding, you are “ changed into his image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
But if you are of that unhappy number who “neglect the great salvation,” and put it off to a more convenient season,' remember and tremble, that ere another warning or invitation is given, your
be hurried unprepared into the presence of God; and be cast “into the fire which never shall be quenched.” Oh! be not like that infatuated monarch of old, against whom a conspiracy was formed, and who being warned by a friend, in the midst of a banquet, that the letter he gave
him contained “serious things,” replied, in the madness of his folly, “Serious things to-morrow;" and, rejecting the warning, perished the same night by the hands of the conspirators. the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon," Isa. lv. 6.
• Seek ye