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OF THE FAMILY OF HEAVEN.
127 bly walk or commune with you: it is true the gladness, that is mingled with no alloy, does not yet overflow your soul; nor have your eyes yet seen the King, the Lord of hosts.All this and much more, respecting your state, is true; but, all this cannot prove, that the Christian is no citizen of heaven. An Englishman, wandering in China or New Zealand, is still an Englishman. He claims England's protection, and has an undisputed title to all the rights and privileges that England's children enjoy. Though his absence be long, though his distance be far, England, that “ pearl of the ocean, that gem of the carth,” is still his country, England is his home. Let him roam where he will, if it be where England's power extends, that power still spreads over him a protecting shield. Let him return to England, he finds it still his country: no alien act drives him as a stranger from its shores. He lands with confidence; he settles with no apprehension of orders to depart; for England is his home.—Thus, when tossed upon the sea of life, or wandering in the wilderness of time, the Christian may exult, that heaven is his country, that heaven is his home. Wherever he roam, he is a citizen of heaven. The broad shield of the King of heaven and the heaven of heavens is extended over his otherwise unprotected head. And when he has ended all his journeys, all his voyages, all his days, and weeks, and years, of distance and absence; and when the last billow of life has driven his vessel into its final harbour; then will he land upon the heavenly shore, and not be deemed an alien or an intruder there. A citizen of heaven long before; as such he will land, and find heaven indeed his
$ 9. The Scriptures rise in their description of the Christian's privileges, when they add the “ whole family in heaven and earth;” and represent the followers of Jesus on earth and in glory, as forming but one family. How pleasing, how ennobling, is this view! The disciples of Jesus, who have passed the stream of death, rest from every labour. They shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Jesus, their Shepherd, who was “their boast through time, is their bliss through eternity.”—Happy conquerors ! Yet, they have brethren below. The disciples of Jesus below belong to the same family. One part is not dearer to God than the other. The whole family in heaven and earth has the same parent, and is loved
128 PROTECTED BY HEAVEN'S GREAT KING. with the same love. The whole family has but one Shepherd, and the same interest in his overflowing kindness and tender care. The same hand protects them all. The same blood redeemed them all. The same love has crowned, or is about to crown, them all. The whole family has but one Father, one Saviour, one Sanctifier, and one heaven. The same privileges belong to all; the same eternal love is fixed on all. The same Spirit inhabits all, and the same heaven is the home of all. Part are landed on the heavenly shore; the gales of death are driving others into the harbour; and to it all the rest, urged on by wind and tide, hasten apace. The whole family in heaven and earth will soon be the family in heaven; a family for ever unbroken there.
The father of a numerous family has some of his beloved offspring resident under his roof; but, one son is gone to America, and another to India, and a third to Turkey, and a fourth to Russia. The father loves them all with equal love; cares for them all with equal kindness; prays for them all with equal fervour, and expects them all at home ere long, to form one family again; and even now, though scattered, they are but one. Death must tear asunder the ties that join this family ; but, there is a family, whose union death cannot dissolve, whose union death itself cements. It is the whole family of God, in heaven and earth. Happy family! that boasts one Father's love, and feels one Father's care; that loves one Saviour ; inherits one heaven ; and soon, all separations over, will meet in one eternal home. Will you be there?
$ 10. Such is the Christian's state - My dear brother or sister, is it yours? It is, if you belong to Jesus Christ; in spirit and in truth. O, think of it again ; how ennobling a connexion ! And, O! remember how you were brought into it when only death eternal was your desert. Then Jesus pitied you. Then “ God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved you, even when you were dead in sins, quickened you together with Christ; (by grace are you saved ;) and raised you up together, and made you sit together in hea. venly places in Christ Jesus; that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards you through Christ Jesus.” h
(h) Eph. ii. 4—7.
CONNEXION WITH HEAVEN, &c. · This view of the Christian state should,
$11. Lighten trouble, and make the heaviest earthly trials appear to you as they did to St. Paul- light afflictions, which are but for a moment. If this world were your all, well in. deed might you make much account of its trials and griefs ; but, should a citizen of heaven, a member of God's immortal family, deeply feel the trials of a rough but short voyage? or of an unpleasant but hasty journey ? Could one of the family, who has reached his rest, return to this world to spend a few more days below, how light would he esteem those trials which are the trials of a moment! how little would ne regard those afflictions, that, as in the twinkling of an eye, will vanish for ever! In the day of trial think, This is not my country: there is no trouble in that happy land. This is not my home; but I shall reach it soon, and then shall bid a last farewell to sorrow and to care.
$ 12. Let this subject urge upon you, how momentous is the pursuit of holiness, how infinitely inconsistent with your character is the indulgence of sin ! Could an angel of light, or one of the spirits of the just, visit this world, and spend a few years here, how inexpressibly shocking would it be thought for such a being to indulge in iniquity! Would it not be said to him, How dreadfully inconsistent is this with your character and your connexions! Do you not belong to heaven ? are you not a member of the family of God? and will you plunge from that height of privilege, and disgrace that sacred character? If you are a Christian, you belong to the same family, and should pant after the lovely likeness of Jesus, which glorified spirits bear. Like theirs should be your love and hatred, your aversion and delight. The dispositions that dwell in their breasts, are those you should cherish in yours. The spirit that glows in their souls, is the spirit that should animate yours. If viewed aright, wilful sin would appear almost as shocking in you, as it would in them; for the whole family in heaven and earth is one in Christ Jesus. One in privileges, one in blessings, one in friends, one in obligations ; and, therefore, bound by every holy tie, to be one in principle, one in disposition, one in practice. Revere yourself. Respect your high and holy calling, and pray to live and act as a member of Jesus's family, as a traveller to the skies. Love 130 THE CHRISTIAN TO WAIT FOR HIS LORD. not the world, neither the things of the world; for you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. Love to the world is a sin peculiarly below the character of an heir of immortal glory. If such a thing could be, how debasing would it be thought, for an angel or saint to descend from heaven, to amuse himself with an infant's toys! In the light of eternity, the world and all its concerns are childish trifles, compared with the Christian's immortal hopes and grand concerns, If you neglect them, through attachment to a dying world, you act almost as unworthy of your character, as an angel would act of his, were he to leave the glorious employments of heaven, and come to earth for the sake of an infant's playthings. Crowns and kingdoms, riches and honours, the most extensive or the most exalted, are mean as a baby's toys, compared with the crown to which you aspire, and with the ho. nour of belonging to the family of God.
$ 13. Learn from this important view of your condition one lesson more. It should teach you to live waiting for your Lord. The blessed Jesus has taught us to live waiting for his coming. “ Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord, when he cometh, shall find watching."i " I say unto all, Watch.”k The followers of Christ are described as those who have turned from idols to serve the living God, and to WAIT for his Son from heaven. Important representation! may you feel it aright. A waiting frame of mind is that the Christian should ever cherish.—But, what is it to wait? Let a familiar illustration furnish a reply.
The father of a numerous family leaves his children, intending to go and settle in a foreign land. Before he departs he says, “ My dear children, I am going to leave you for a while, but not for ever. I am going to prepare for you, in a country where we shall be happier than we can be here. As soon as I have made the needful preparations, I shall return to fetch you; therefore, wait and be ready." The father de. parts; his children continue in their old abode, but with new feelings. It is hardly like their abode now; for they are expecting to go. They pursue their needful duties, attend as (i) Luke xii. 35-38, 40.
(k) Mark xiii. 33–37.
WRETCHEDNESS OF THE WORLDLY-MINDED. 131 before to necessary concerns, but still their hearts are gone after their father. They are looking for their new abode. They are waiting for their father's coming.
Such are the feelings and views which you should cherish. Not feelings that will prevent your discharging the duties of life; that will drive you into a desert, or turn you to a hermit; but, that will lead you to act and live as not at home, but looking for your Lord; waiting as those children would wait. Not building on long years below. Not expecting great things here, but with a heart untied from the world, ready to go be the warning ever so short, and to welcome your Lord let him come ever so soon.
Blessed are they who indulge this watching, waiting spirit: the King of heaven and earth has pronounced them
§ 14. But, perhaps, I am addressing one of a character very opposite to that described in these pages. Perhaps you who read these lines are no member of the family of God ;-no fellow-citizen with the saints ;—no heir of heaven and immortality. If it be so, O! let me for a moment affectionately speak to you. How pitiable is your condition! Your transi. ent morning might be the dawn of an immortal day! Your vain, half-painful, half-pleasing life on earth, might be the
forerunner of an'endless life of unmixed bliss above! But, E", you slight the Saviour who would conduct you to that abode.
You, who might, through the grace of Jesus, ascend to the kingdom of God, and range that blessed world for ever, are satisfied, alas! with the low scenes of earth. You might rival angels, as an inhabitant of heaven; but, by taking up your portion here, become the rival of the brutes that perish. Here you bury all your hopes. Here you renounce that great salvation, which once finally lost can never be regained. O, sinful and unhappy choice! When we see swine wallowing sinful in the mire, we see them gratifying themselves, and losing bothing, by their filthy pleasure; but, when we see immortal creatures wallowing on earth in the mire of sin and sensuality, we see them losing more than any tongue can express. Were we, every where around us, to see persons, once the amiable and intelligent ornaments of society, renouncing all the delights of life, and seeking no higher happiness than to roll with swine in the mud, or to grovel in a dunghill; could we