"They stand, those walls of Zion,
All jubilant with song;
And bright with many an angel,
And many a martyr throng.

"The Prince is ever near them;
The light is so serene;
The pastures of the blessed
Are decked in glorious sheen.

"And they, beneath their Leader,
Who conquered in the fight,
Forever, and forever,
Are clad in robes of light."—Bernard

"Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who turn many to righteousness will shine like stars forever and ever."—Dan. 12:3.

Here is another Grape from the Eschol clusters—another glimpse of coming glory. Though suggestive of truths on which we have already dwelt, these may well bear repetition, presenting us, under a different aspect, with fresh motives and encouragements for pursuing with ardor our heavenly way.

We are here reminded that there will be different gradations of bliss in a coming Heaven. The "wise" are to have one reward; "those who turn many to righteousness" will have a higher and greater.

This system of gradation obtains throughout all the other diverse works of the Creator, and it may in this respect be taken as a shadow of heavenly things. In the material world, we ascend from the grain of dust and invisible atom, by giant strides, to satellites, planets, suns. In our own globe, we have the pleasing diversity and undulation of surface, from the little mound on the bosom of the plain, to the stupendous Alp and Andes. In the vegetable kingdom, we have a graduating scale, from the tiny moss and lichen and blade of grass, through the ascending series of plants and shrubs to the monarch oak and cedar. In the animal kingdom, we ascend from the animalcule and mollusc to the lordly lion. A still higher step brings us to the region of human intellect and intelligence; while this, again, in its diversities of ranks, affords fresh evidence of the law of which we speak.

It will be the same in glory. There will be varying eminences in the Heavenly landscape—diversified grades in the Heavenly family. It will have its "thrones and dominions," its "principalities and powers"—the "first" and the "least in the kingdom."

God, in a striking passage in the prophecies of Isaiah, represents "the fir, the pine, and the cypress together," as "beautifying the place of His sanctuary," (Isa. 60:13.) It is a picture of the heavenly courts—the celestial gardens. An assemblage of diverse trees, each perfect in their kind, from the lowly cypress to the stately pine. But they are "together"—in the same place—a glorious group—each branch and each leaf combining to "beautify" the holy place—glorifying the "house of His glory!" (Isa. 60:7.)

The verse further tells us, that all in Heaven will be happy.
The "wise
"—that is, they who have sought on earth the true "wisdom which comes from above"—they who have reposed with undivided and unwavering trust in Christ, the "Wisdom of God;"—who have been diligent in the cultivation of personal piety—they shall shine "as the brightness of the skies." They may have been little known on earth; their graces may have shone dimly and in obscurity; their faith may have even been comparatively weak, and their love languid and fitful; yet, being "the children of the kingdom," they will be invested with a happiness beyond the power of heart to conceive, or tongue to tell.

Let each ask, "Am I among the number of these 'wise'?" Let me see to it that mine is not the mere lamp of profession, destitute of the oil of grace, leaving me at last among the foolish "dreamers" and loiterers upon whom "the door is shut!" Let me make religion a matter of earnest, downright, personal concernment. Let me prove in my happy experience even now, that wisdom's ways are "ways of pleasantness," and wisdom's paths "paths of peace." So that at last, in the day when He "makes up His jewels," I may be "a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of my God!" (Isa. 62:3.)

This verse further reminds us, that there will be pre-eminent rewards and blessedness in store for those who have been energetic in the cause and service of God on earth.

I must seek to be "wise" first—to have my own soul deeply imbued with Divine things—to have a personal and saving interest in the great salvation. But if I be aspiring after Heaven's loftiest recompense, I must "add" to my faith "fortitude," and the other exalted graces of the Christian character, (2 Pet. 1:5.) The privilege of shining as the fixed stars "forever and ever," is reserved for "those who turn many unto righteousness."

There is a Christianity—a true and sincere life of faith—which, though we cannot call it selfish, is more negative, and less influential and expansive, than it ought to be. Like the quiet lake into which a stone has fallen, the center of the heart has been touched by a sanctified power; but we see at best only dim indications of the widening circles of beneficence and charity, self-denying love and holy deed. The nobler phase which true religion assumes, is that which manifests a diffusive influence: when the believer becomes an "epistle of Christ, known and read of all men;"—a living tree, not only deeply rooted in faith and love, but waving with the fruits of holy living and holy acting—love towards God expanding into a sanctified love towards all mankind. Following the footsteps of the Great Exemplar, he delights in doing good, and in attracting sinners to that glorious righteousness which is "unto all, and upon all those who believe," (Rom. 3:22.)

While the faithful ambassador of Christ, the honored and self-denying missionary, are those who are pre-eminently referred to in this ennobling promise, it dare not be limited or restricted to these. Those in humbler and less prominent spheres in the Church and the world, have an equal warrant to appropriate it. It is a bold and beautiful figure, intended to express the recompense in store for earnest individual effort—whether by station, money, influence, or character—in the cause of God. The pious parent, the faithful teacher, the district visitor, the devout philanthropist, the generous giver for the sake of Christ; and, more than all, those who exhibit the hallowed power of a devout, unselfish, Christ-like demeanor, the every-day and perpetual lesson of a holy walk and a holy life; these are hereafter to shine as the brightest constellations in the celestial skies. There are many stars invisible to us, which are exerting an important influence among the heavenly bodies. So there are many lowly believers whose influence now is unknown—invisible—secret—who are yet telling upon others, often most powerfully, when least conscious of it themselves. The calm eloquence of a Christian's life and a Christian's death has impressed and convinced, when the most labored pulpit oratory has been of no avail. Remember the Bible picture of the judgment-day. "What! I saw You hungry, or naked, or thirsty!—I, who occupied no prominent part in Your Church on earth!—I, a lowly believer who lived and died in obscurity!" It is enough! "You did it to the least of these my brethren," and in doing so, "you did it unto ME!" (Matt. 25:40.)

Be it mine to aspire after higher and higher manifestations of Christian excellence. Let me take the lofty motto of the apostle: "Not as though I had already attained;"—"always abounding in the work of the Lord," (Phil. 3:12; 1 Cor. 15:58.) The more of practical holiness now, the more of transcendent blessedness hereafter. The original one pound deposit may, by diligent trading, gain me ten pounds, (Luke 19:16.) As "the sleep of the laboring man" is said to be "sweet," so, sweeter will be the rest of glory to those who have toiled bravely, and worked earnestly. Not one trifling seed of all I sow can be lost. It will spring up at last, and yield an hundredfold of recompense, to the praise, and honor, and glory of God.

Is there nothing I can do in the way of turning some of my fellow-sinners to righteousness? What a transcendent honor to hear through eternity from the lips of some glorified saint, "You were the means of leading me first to think of my soul! You were the first to unfold to me the beauty and glory of the Savior's character, and His infinite adaptation to all the needs and necessities of my tried and suffering and tempted nature!" How blessed the thought, that as "jewels" set in Immanuel's crown, we shall, (like the gems of earth when placed in the same diadem) enhance by mutual reflection each other's brightness—all redounding to the glory of Jesus, at whose feet each gem and each crown will be cast.

Reader! let not the poor engrossments of earth eclipse the brightness of this glorious heritage. Seek to be able to say, with one who had heaven ever in his eye, "We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are NOT seen!" (2 Cor. 4:18.) He seems to say, So glorious and out-dazzling are the prospects of coming glory, that they are like the sun extinguishing the candle. The things of earth are not worth looking at—they pale into nothing, when brought side by side with the grandeur of the future.

Hear your Lord's voice saying, "Occupy until I come," (Luke 19:13.) Make the most of fleeting opportunities. The night of earth is "far spent," the day of eternity is close "at hand." Do not forget, it is now or never. In most other earthly things, there are new chances—new experiments; in familiar language, "we can try again." But, once across yonder boundary of time, and an irrevocable seal is stamped on the transactions of the past. The star takes its immutable place in the spiritual skies: "Where the tree falls there it shall be."