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HEAVEN THE CHRISTIAN'S HAPPY HOME.
* My knowledge of that state is small,
“The eye of faith is dim;
“ And I shall be with him."
Cheering prospect! The Christian may say, I would not wander on earth a weary pilgrim through eternal days; nor would I find my endless home in some remote province of my heavenly Father's kingdom. This would be banishment to me. The heaven I seek, must be the heaven where my Redeemer reigns. Not all his glowing works can bound the Aight of my aspiring soul. It presses beyond them all, and seeks a rest more glorious than their brilliant fires, more lasting than their short duration. When my freed spirit takes its last farewell of earth, those golden lamps that glitter in the firmament, shall not stop its rising flight. They are mean compared with the mansions to which I aspire, those mansions where I may dwell with God. They are not my Redeemer's home, but to the world that is would I ascend. There, Llessed Jesus! would my aspiring spirit fix, and there alone. There it can rest for ever. There it can love for ever. There it can praise for ever.—My fellowpilgrim, is not this your hope? do you not join in saying, “ My Saviour, the soul thou hast redeemed presses on to thee; O receive it to thine home, when its wandering pilgrimage on earth concludes ?" It is a gladdening thought that he has promised to do this, and has, doubtless, to millions that once trod our earth, fulfilled the gracious promise, “ Where I am, there shall also my servant be," and he will fulfil it to myriads more. Happy they! while we mourn, they rejoice; they rest while we labour; praise when we sigh; are secure when dangers threaten us. They hear no complaints ; shed no tears; utter no groans. They are in the dwelling of their Lord. Blessed change! from the gloomy chamber of pain ; from the cottage of poverty; from the society of feeble friends; or the labours of the shop, or the field, or the mill. There absent from the body they are present with the Lord.
$ 23. Perhaps you mourn the loss of some, once the belove ed associates of your days, and fellow-pilgrims in the course to heaven. Come then, let us meditate on those few sweet words, “ Absent from the body and present with the Lord." These few sweet words describe their happiness; and if we
MEDITATIONS ON follow the holy Jesus, tell us what shall soon be ours. When meditating on these words, we may confess that the weakness of our faith is in no way more apparent than by our languid desires after heavenly blessedness, and by our sorrow for those who leave time for eternity. We mourn when the blessed rejoice; and shed tears for those who will never shed them more. We lament a change, with which those on whom it has passed are infinitely satisfied. We mourn over their beloved remains, as if all we loved in them were there. But the better part has fled--the dark coffin does not receive itthe solemn grave will never confine it. The beloved spirit, which gave animation to the lifeless body, will never become an inhabitant of the tomb. “It is absent from the body, and present with the Lord.” Blessed, thrice blessed, change! more worthy for ourselves to be welcomed with eagerness than beheld with dislike! more worthy for those most dear to us to be reviewed with tears of joy and gratitude than remembered with regret.
“ Absent from the body:" the feeble, languishing, disor. dered body. Ah, happy friends, beloved fugitives from these vain scenes, mourn for us; we need not mourn for you. The gloomy scenes, which strike our imaginations with regret, disturb not yours. The dismal hearse, the narrow coffin, the gloomy grave, affect you not. Absent from the body, you are far from these. However bitterly we mourn at your funerals, you mourn not at your own. These sad scenes call from us increasing grief; from you not a single tear. By you they are not seen. Absent from the body, you are absent from them. As whatever passes in dwellings where we once abode now affects us not, so all the dark insignia of death, and all that passes round your beloved remains, disturbs not your tranquillity, nor lessens your delight.
“ Absent from the body." Oh! blessed conquerors ! then are you absent from its pains, and absent from its cares. Sickness and languors shall no more afflict you; for that feeble dwelling of languors and of pains lies far beneath you in the unconscious dust. Care and grief will no more intrude upon you. These are all forgotten, unless remembered to heighten your heavenly bliss.
“ Absent from the body.” In vain then, ye once dear, still dear, objects, do we sorrow over you. You are not here
“ ABSENT FROM THE BODY.”
369 you are departed. You are not in the dust. There rests the forsaken dwelling; but you are not there. You are gone. The tomb then does not contain our treasures. Ye are now saints on high, whom we lament below.
“ Forgive, ye blest, the tributary tear
“ And trace your progress to the realms of day.” Let faith then follow you now, and we will follow you ere long. Let faith trace your course to brighter worlds. It is true, you are “ absent from the body;" but, O you are “ present with the Lord." Though absent, you are not lost. Though removed from us, you are removed to better society and fairer scenes.
“ Present with the Lord.” Oh, happy conquerors! why then do we mourn your removal from such society as oursinfinitely better society is yours. It is true, you are severed for a time from all the tender names of earth; but “dearer, better friends” exist beyond the grave, and those dearer, better friends are yours.
“Present with the Lord.” It is this that must complete our happiness, and this is yours. The heavenly mansions would not be so blest were not our God and yours, your Redeemer and ours, there. You see them without the thick veil of flesh between. You are not in a remote province of the heavenly empire. You dwell in the palace itself; for you are “ present with the Lord.” Happy they who sojourned with the Lord of heaven when he dwelt on earth! but, O more happy, far more happy you, who see him in his heavenly temple, and see him as he is! Now can you sound his praise in strains to mortal ears unknown; and now enjoy the infinite riches of his love.
“Present with the Lord." Ye dear departed friends, what blest employments, what delights, are yours! Eye hath not seen them, ear hath not heard them, heart hath not conceived them. Our imaginations trace you through the scenes of mortal converse. We see you as we saw you once, and regret the pleasing hours which you and we once enjoyed—but, oh! why regret them ? far better employments engage you
than those of earth; far better delights are yours than you ever found in wandering, in conversing, in resting with us.
“ Worlds would not bribe you back to tread
“ Again life's dreary waste,
“ With all the gloomy past." “ Present with the Lord.” Ye dear departed, destined to outlive a falling world! ye are not lost! Fain would we have had you continue longer here; but why continue? What is taken from your time is added to your eternity. Our memories tell us of prospects you indulged in for earth and timeand these views are blasted. Yes, blessed disappointment ! earth is changed for heaven, and hopes of transient comfort for the fruition of unfailing joy. You formed plans for the voyage, but God took you to the harbour. You sought tranquillity through a few declining days on earth; but he has called you to “ rapture and bliss" in the skies. You expected to pass a few more days with beloved friends below; but he has snatched you hence to join with nobler friends above. You bless that friendly wave of time, which, while you thought it was bearing you to some earthly attainment, landed you in heaven.
“ Present with the Lord.” Blessed conquerors, then are you safe! Had you continued longer here, temptation might have seduced you, Satan might have overcome you, or pernicious error have led you astray; but no temptations now seduce you, no enemies assault you, no errors now mislead you.
« Present with the Lord.” Ye dear departed, why do we mourn your happiness ? What was it that you prayed for? To be present with the Lord.” What was it that you sought? To be « present with the Lord.” Your prayers are answered, your desires fulfilled. And shall we regret this? The children of this world lament not when the labours of their friends are concluded, when the voyages and the battles of those they love are over. But, alas ! the children of this world are wiser than the children of light! What is it that we seek ? to what most earnestly aspire ? for what most anxiously hope ? To be “ present with the Lord.” Beloved, lamented friends, is this the summit of our own desires ? and was this the summit of yours ? and yet shall we regret your de
“ PRESENT WITH THE LORD." . 370 sires gratified ? Rather should we congratulate your departure, while our faith pursues you to your heavenly dwellings.
« Present with the Lord," but not with us; yet may we ere long be so with you. You cannot come again to us, but we may shortly go to you. Our loss is the loss of your beloved society for a little span; but soon will that little span be past. Then we too will leave our feeble, clay-built tabernacles, we too be “ absent from the body and present with the Lord."*
$ 24. Admitted to that happy home, and blessed with " the crown, not of merit but of grace," the Christian will find all his toils and labours amply recompensed. Where but one talent has been possessed, and well improved, the gracious Saviour will manifest as much approbation, as he will to those, who may have had many, but not have made more improvement of them. Perhaps, if your abilities are small, and your opportunities of doing good very limited, you may be disposed to anticipate a less share of the Saviour's favour, than you imagine will be the happiness of those who have many more talents than you. But it is not the number of talents you possess, but the improvement of them, which the eternal Master notices. To him who had five talents intrusted to him, and who could say, “ Behold, I have gained beside them five talents more;" his Lord said, “ Well done, thou good and faithful servant ; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things : enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” But to him who had made an equal improvement of two talents, his Lord said, “ Well done, good and faithful servant ; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” The number of talents possessed was different, but the improvement was equal, and their lord's expressions of approbation equal. Though all that the blest in heaven will enjoy is undeserved, and all flows from heavenly
* Perhaps there may be a propriety in the writer observing, that most of this section appeared in a periodical publication. It was written on the evening previous to the funeral of a dear and affectionate, a kind and valuable, father, John Baxter Pike; a father, to whose care and kindness he is unspeakably indebted-a father, who, to promote the welfare of his family, struggled hard through a chequered and stormy life; and who, after manifesting much peace in the prospect of eternity, exchanged this mortal for an immortal state on December 11, 1811.
(c) Matt, xxv. 20.-23.