Like all the other wonderful
works of God, this Book bears the sure stamp of its author. It is like
Him. Though man plants the seeds, God makes the flowers, and they are
perfect and beautiful like Himself. Men wrote what is in the Bible, but
the work is God's. The more refined, as a rule, people are, the fonder
they are of the flowers, and the better they are, as a rule, the more
they love the Bible.
The fondness for flowers refines
people, and the love of the Bible makes them better. All that is in the
Bible about God, about man, about redemption, and about a future state,
agrees with our own ideas of right, with our reasonable fears and with
our personal experiences. All the historical things are told in the way
that we know the world had of looking at them when they were written.
What the Bible tells about heaven is not half so strategic as what Professor
Proctor tells about the hosts of stars that are beyond the range of any
telescope - yet people very often think that science is all fact, and
that religion is only fancy. A great, many persons think that Jupiter
and many more of the stars around us are inhabited, who cannot bring themselves
to believe that there is a life beyond this earth for immortal souls.
The true Christian puts faith before reason, and believes that reason
always goes wrong when faith is set aside. If people would but read their
Bibles more, and study what there is to be found there about Heaven, they
would not be as worldly minded as they are. They would not have their
hearts set upon things down here, but would seek the imperishable things
EARTH THE HOME OF SIN
It seems perfectly reasonable
that God should have given us a glimpse of the future, for we are constantly
losing some of our friends by death, and the first thought that comes
to us is, "where have they gone?" When a loved one is taken away from
us, how that thought comes up before us! How we wonder if we will ever
see them again, and where and when it will be! Then it is that we turn
to this blessed Book, for there is no other book in all the world that
can give us the slightest comfort; no other book that can tell us where
the loved ones have gone.
Not long ago I met an old friend, and as I took him by the hand and asked
after his family, the tears came trickling down his cheeks as he said:
"I haven't any now."
"What," I said, is your wife dead? "
"And all your children, too?"
"Yes, all gone," he said, "and I am left here desolate and alone."
Would any one take from that
man the hope, that he will meet his dear ones again? Would any one persuade.
him that there. is not a future where the lost will be found? No, we need
not forget our dear loved ones; but we ,fly cling forever to the enduring
hope that there will be a time when we can meet unfettered, and be blest
in that land of everlasting suns, where the soul drinks from the living,
streams of love that roll by Gods high throne. In our inmost hearts there
are none of us but have questionings of the future.
"Tell me, my secret soul,
0, tell me, Hope and Faith,
Is there no resting place,
From sorrow, sin and death?
Is there no happy spot
Where mortals may be blest,
Where grief may find a balm,
And weariness a rest?
Faith, Hope and Love - best boons to mortals given -
Waved their bright wings, and whispered:
Yes, in heaven"
There are men who say that
there is no heaven. I was once talking with a man who said he thought
there was nothing to justify us in believing in any other heaven than
we know here on earth. If this is heaven, it is a very strange one - this
world of sickness, and sorrow, and sin. I pity from the depths of my heart
the man or woman who has that idea.
This world that so many think
is heaven, is the home of sin, a hospital of sorrow, a place that has
nothing in it to satisfy the soul. Men go all over it and then want to
get out of it. The more one sees of the world the less they think of it.
People soon grow tired of the best pleasures it has to offer. Some one
has said that the world is a stormy sea, whose every wave is strewed with
the wrecks of mortals that perish in it. Every time we breathe some one
is dying. We all know that we are going to stay here but a very little
while. Our life is but a vapor. It is just a mere shadow. We meet one
another, as some one has said, salute one another, and pass on and are
gone. And another has said, it is just inch of time, and then eternal
ages roll on; and it seems to me that it is perfectly reasonable that
we should study this book, to find out where we are going, and where our
friends are who have gone on before. The longest time man has to live,
has no more proportion to eternity than a drop of dew has to the ocean.
CITIES OF THE PAST
Look at the cities of the
past. There is Babylon. It was founded by a woman named Semiramis, who
had two millions of men at work for years building it. It is nothing but
dust now. Nearly a thousand years ago, some historian wrote that the ruins
of Nebuchadnezzar's palace were still standing, but men were afraid to
go near them because they were full of scorpions and snakes. That's the
Sort of ruin that greatness often comes to in our own day. Nineveh is
gone. Its towers and bastions have fallen. The traveler who tries to see
Carthage, can't see much of it. Corinth, once the seat of luxury and art,
is only a shapeless mass. Ephesus long the metropolis of Asia, the Paris
of that day, was crowded with buildings as large as the capitol at Washington.
I am told it looks more like a neglected graveyard now than anything else.
Granada is now the housing place of lions and jackals. It was once very
grand, with its twelve gates and towers. The Alhambra, the palace of the
Mohammedan kings, was situated there. Probably the animals play with the
monarchs' bones. Little pieces of the once grand and beautiful cities
of Herculanaeum and Pompeii are now being sold in the shops for relics.
Jerusalem, once one of the grandest cities of the universe, is but a shadow
of itself. Thebes - for thousands of years, up almost to the coming of
Christ, the largest and wealthiest city of the world - is now a mass of
decay. Very little of Athens and many more of the proud cities of olden
times, remain to tell the story of their downfall. God drives His plowshare
through cities, and they are upheaved like furrows in the field. "Behold,"
says Isaiah, "the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as
the small dust of the balance; behold, he taketh up the isles as a very
little thing. All nations before him are as nothing, and they are counted
to him less than nothing, and vanity."
See how Antioch has fallen! When Paul preached there it was a superb
metropolis. A wide street, over three miles long, stretching across the
entire city, was ornamented with rows of columns and covered galleries,
and at every corner stood carved statues to commemorate their great men,
whose names even we have never heard. These are never heard of now, but
the poor preaching tent-maker who came into its portals, stands out as
the grandest character in all history. The finest specimens of Grecian
art decorated the shrines of the temples, and the baths and the aqueducts
were such as are never approached in elegance now. Men then, as now, were
seeking honors and wealth and mighty names, and seeking to enshrine their
names and records in perishable clay. Within the walls, we are told, were
enclosed mountains over seven hundred feet high, and rocky precipices
and deep ravines gave wild and picturesque character to the, city of which
no modern city gives us an example, These heights were fortified in a
marvelous manner, which gave to them strange startling effects. The vast
population of this brilliant city, combining all the art and cultivation
of Greece with the levity, the luxury and the superstition of Asia, was
as intent on pleasure as the population of any of our great cities are
to-day. They had their shows, their games, their races and dances, their
sorcerers, puzzlers, buffoons and miracle-workers, and the whole people
sought constantly in the theatres and processions, for something to stimulate
and gratify the most corrupt desires of the soul.
This is pretty much what we find the masses of the people in our great
cities doing now. The place was even worse than Athens, for the so-called
worship they indulged in was not only idolatrous, but had mixed up with
it the grossest passions to which man descends. It was here that Paul
it came to preach the glad tidings of Christ; it was here that his converts
were first called Christians, as a nickname; the first time the name,
was ever used, all followers of Christ before time having been called
"saints " or "brethren." As has been well said, out of that spring at
Antioch, a mighty stream has flowed to water the world. Astarte, the "Queen
of Heaven," whom they worshipped; Diana, Apollo, the Pharisee and Sadusee,
are no more, but the despised Christians yet live. Yet that Heathen City,
which would not take Christianity to its heart and keep it, fell. Cities
that have not the refining and restraining influences of Christianity
well established in them, seldom do amount to much in the long ran. They
grow dim in the light of ages. Few of our great cities in this country
are a hundred years old as yet. For nearly a thousand years this city
prospered; yet it fell.
I do not think that it is wrong for us to think and talk about heaven.
I like to locate, heaven, and find out all I about it. I expect to live
there through all eternity If I was going to dwell in any place in this
country, if I was going to make it my home, I would want to inquire about
the place, about its climate, about the neighbors I would have, and about
everything in fact, that I could learn concerning it. If any of you were
going to emigrate, that would be the way you would feel. Well, we are
all going to emigrate in a very little while to a country that is very
far away. We are going to spend eternity in another world a grand and
glorious world where God reigns. Is it riot natural, then, that we should
look and listen and try to find out who is already there, and what is
the route to take? Soon after I was converted, an infidel asked me one
day why I looked up when I prayed. He said that heaven was no more above
as than below us; that heaven was everywhere. Well, I was greatly bewildered,
and the next time I prayed, it seemed almost as if I was praying into
the air. Since then I have become better acquainted with the Bible, and
I have come to see that heaven is above us; that it is upward and not
downward. The spirit of God is everywhere, but God is in heaven, and heaven
is above our heads. It does not matter what part of the globe we may stand
upon, heaven, is above us.
In 17th chapter of Genesis it says that God went up from Abraham; and
in the 3d chapter of John, that he came down from heaven. So, in the 1st
chapter of Acts we find that Christ went up into heaven (not down), and
a cloud received him out of sight, Thus we see heaven is up. The very
arrangement of the firmament about the earth declares the, seat of God's
glory to be above us. Job says, "Let not God regard it from above," and
we find the Psalmist declaring, "the Lord is high above nations, and His
glory above the heavens."
Again in Deuteronomy, we find, "who shall go up for us to heaven?" Thus,
all through scripture we find that we are given the location of heaven
as upward and beyond the firmament. This firmament, with its many bright
worlds scattered through, is so vast that heaven must be an extensive
realm. Yet this need not surpass us.
It is not for short-sighted man to inquire why God made heaven so extensive
that its lights along the way can be seen from any part or side of this
In the 51st chapter of the prophecy of Jeremiah we are told that: He
hath made the earth by his power; he hath established the world by his
wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding. Yet, how
little we really know of that power, or wisdom or understanding! As it
says in the 26th chapter of Job: Lo, these are parts of his ways: but
how little a portion is heard of him? But the thunder of his power, who
This is the word of God. As we find in the 42nd chapter of Isaiah: Thus
saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens and stretched them out;
he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that
giveth bread unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk within.
The discernment of God's power, the messages of heaven, do not always
come in great things. We read in the 19th chapter of the first book of
"And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the
mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord
was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was
not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was
not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice."
It is as a still small voice that God speaks to His children.
Some people are trying to find out just how far heaven is away. There
is one thing we know about it; that is, that it is not so far away but
that God can hear us when we pray. I do not believe there has ever been
a tear shed for sin since Adam's fall in Eden to the present time, but
God has witnessed that. He is not too far from this earth for us to go
to Him; and if there is a sigh that comes from a burdened heart to-day,
God will hear that sigh. If there is a cry coming up from a heart broken
on account of sin, God will hear that cry, He is not so far away, heaven
is not so far away, as to be inaccessible to the smallest child. In the
7th chapter and 14th verse of 2nd Chronicles, we read:
"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves,
and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will
I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins, and will heal, their
When I was in Dublin, they were telling me about a father who had lost
a little boy, and he had not thought about the future, he bad been so
entirely taken up with this world and its affairs; but when that little
boy his only child, died, that father's heart was broken, and every night
when he got home from work, they would find him with his tallow candle
and his Bible in his room, and he was hunting up all that he could find
there about heaven. And someone asked him what he was doing, and he said
he was trying to find out where his child had gone, and I think he was
a reasonable man. I suppose there is not a man or woman but has dear ones
that are gone. Shall we close this book to-day? Or shall we look into
it to try to find where the loved ones are? I was reading, some time ago,
and account of a father, a minister, who had lost a child. He had gone
to a great many funerals, offering comfort to others in sorrow, but now
the iron had entered his own soul, and a brother minister had come to
officiate and preach the funeral sermon; and after the minister got through
speaking, the father got up, and standing right at the head of the coffin,
looking at the face of that loved child that was gone, he said that a
few years ago, when he had first come into that parish, as he used to
look over the river he took no interest in the people over there, because
they were all strangers to him and there were none over there that belonged
to his parish. But, he said , a few years ago a young man came into his
home, and married his daughter, and she went over the river to live, and
when that child went over there, he became suddenly interested in the
inhabitants, and every morning as he would get up he would look out of
the window and look over there at her home. But now, said he, another
child has been taken. She has gone over another river, and heaven seems
dearer and nearer to me than it ever has before.
My friends, let us believe this good old Book, that heaven is not a myth,
and let us be prepared to follow the dear ones who have gone before. There,
and there alone, can we find the peace we seek for.
SEEKING A BETTER COUNTRY
What has been, and is now, one of the strongest feelings in the human heart?
Is it not to find some better place, some lovelier spot, than we have now?
It is for this that men are seeking everywhere; and yet, they can have it,
if they will; but instead of looking down, they must look up to find it.
As men grow in knowledge, they vie with each other more and more to make
their homes attractive, but the brightest home on earth is but an empty
barn, compared with the mansions that are in the skies.
What is it that we look for at the decline and close of life? Is it not
some sheltered place, some quiet spot, where if we cannot have constant
rest, we may at least have a foretaste of what it is to be. What was it
that led Columbus, not knowing what would be his fate, across the unsailed
western seas, if it was not the hope of finding a better country? This
is was that sustained the hearts of the Pilgrim Fathers, driven from their
native land by persecution, as they faced an iron-bound, savage coast,
with an unexplored territory beyond. They were cheered and upheld by the
hope of reaching a free and fruitful country, where they could be at rest
and worship God in peace.
Somewhat similar is the Christian's hope of heaven, only it is not an
undiscovered country, and in attractions cannot be compared with anything
we know on earth. Perhaps nothing but the shortness of our range of sight
keeps us from seeing the celestial gates all open to us, and nothing but
the deafness of our ears, prevents our hearing the joyful ringing of the
bells of heaven. There are constant sounds around us that we cannot hear,
and the sky is studded with bright worlds that our eyes have never seen.
Little as we know about this bright and radiant land, there are glimpses
of its beauty that come to us now and then.
"We may not know how sweet
its balmy air,
How bright and fair its flowers;
We may not hear the songs that echo there,
Through these enchanted bowers.
The city's shining towers
we may not see
With our dim earthly vision,
For death, the silent warder, keeps the key
That opes the gates elysian.
But sometimes when adown
the western sky
A fiery sunset lingers,
Its golden gate swings inward noiselessly,
Unlocked by unseen fingers.
And while they stand a
moment half ajar,
Gleams from the inner glory
Stream brightly through the azure vault afar,
And half reveal the story."
It is said by travelers, that
in climbing the Alps the houses of far distant villages can be seen with
great distinctness, so that sometimes the number of panes of glass in
a church window can be counted. The distance looks so short that the place
seems almost at hand, but after hours and hours of climbing, it looks
no nearer yet. This is because of the clearness of the atmosphere. By
perseverance, however, the place is reached at last, and the tired traveler
finds rest. So sometimes we dwell in high altitudes of grace; heaven seems
very near, and the hills of Beulah are in full view. At other times the
clouds and fogs that come through suffering and sin, cut off our sight.
We are just as near heaven in the one case as we are in the other, and
we are just as sure of gaining it if we only keep in the path that Christ
I have read that on the shores
of the Adriatic sea, the wives of fishermen, whose husbands have gone
far out upon the deep, are in the habit of going down to the seashore
at night and singing with their sweet voices the first verse of some beautiful
hymn, After they have sung it they listen until they hear brought on the
wind, across the sea, the second verse sung by their brave husbands as
they are tossed by the gale-and both are happy. Perhaps, if we would listen,
we too might hear on this sea-tossed world of ours, some sound, some.
whisper, borne from afar to tell us there is a heaven which is our home;
and when we sing our hymns upon the shores of earth, perhaps we may hear
their sweet echoes breaking in music upon the sands of time, and cheering
the hearts of those who are pilgrims and strangers along the way. Yet
we need to look up-out, beyond this low earth, and to build higher in
our thoughts and actions, even here.
You know, when a man is going
up in a balloon, he takes in sand as a ballast, and when he wants to mount
a little higher, he throws out a little of the ballast, and then he will
mount a little higher; he throws out a little more ballast, and he mounts
still higher; and the higher he gets the more he throws out-and so the
nearer we get to God the more we have to throw out of the things of this
world. Let go of them; do not let us first set our hearts and affections
on them, but do what the Master tells us_lay up for ourselves treasures
in heaven. In England I was told of a lady who bad been bedridden for
years. She was one of those saints that God polishes up for the kingdom;
for I believe that there are a good many saints in this world that we
never hear about; we never see their names heralded through the press;
they live very near the Master; they live very near heaven; and I think
it takes a great deal more grace to suffer God's will than it does to
do God's will; and if a person lies on a bed of sickness, and suffers
cheerfully, it is just as acceptable to God as if they went out and worked
in his vineyard.
Now, it was One of those saints,
and a lady, who said that for a long time she used to have a great deal
of pleasure in watching a bird that came to make its nest near her window.
One year it came to make its nest, and it began to make it so low she
was afraid something would happen to the young; and every day that she
saw that bird busy at work making its nest, she kept saying, "O bird,
build higher!" She could that the bird was going to come to grief and
disappointment. At last the bird got its nest done,, and laid its eggs
and hatched its young; and every morning the lady looked out to see if
the nest was there, and she saw the old bird bringing food for the little
ones, and she took a great deal of pleasure in looking at it. But one
morning she woke up and she looked out and she saw nothing but feathers
scattered all around, and she said, "Ah, the cat has got the old bird
and all its young." It would have been a mercy to have torn that nest
down. That is what God does for us very often just snatches things away
before it is to late. Now, I think that is what we want to say to church
people_that if you build for time you will be disappointed. God says:
Build up yonder. It is a good deal better to have life in Christ and God
than any where else. I would rather have my life hid with Christ in God
than be in Eden as Adam was. Adam might have remained in Paradise for
16,000 years, and then fallen, but if ours is hid in Christ, how safe!