By John MacDuff, 1861.
When they came to what is now known as the valley of Eshcol, they cut
down a cluster of grapes so large that it took two of them to carry
it on a pole between them! They also took samples of the pomegranates and
figs. At that time the Israelites renamed the valley Eshcol- "cluster"-
because of the cluster of grapes they had cut there.
After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses, Aaron,
and the people of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported
to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had
taken from the land. This was their report to Moses: "We arrived in the land
you sent us to see, and it is indeed a magnificent country—a land flowing
with milk and honey. Here is some of its fruit as proof."
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has
imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him." 1 Cor. 2:9
Speculative discussion, attractive illustration, or the
systematic treatment of a great theme, will not be found in these pages.
They consist mainly of simple meditations on the glories of a Future
World—fragmentary thoughts and reflections, written with special
reference to the chamber of sickness, the couch of suffering,
and the home of bereavement.
Nothing surely can so cheer the fainting believer, bowed
down with sin and sorrow, as the prospect of Heavenly bliss. It is the
thought of the joy in the morning of immortality which dries earth's
bitterest tears. The heart of the child leaps at the sight of his Father's
house. The lights in the distant windows cannot fail to revive his spirit
and quicken his footsteps.
The following are a few such distant rays from "the
Excellent Glory"—a few GRAPES gathered by Faith and Hope, the
two spies from the true Canaan—a few Pisgah-glimpses of its Vineyards and
Oliveyards. Glimpses, indeed, only they are—at best fitful and transient;
for even the mount of faith is oftentimes wreathed with clouds and vapors,
dimming to the brightest vision its views of the future. But shadowy and
indistinct as at best they must be, they may help us the better to descend
the Valley, complete our warfare, and, finally, with our pilgrim-staff, "to
pass over this Jordan," (Gen. 32:10) By revealing a distant view of the
crown, we may be enabled the more cheerfully to bear the cross.
"The very hope we have of Heaven, works wonderful joy in
the heart of a Christian. David did not live to see the glory of Solomon's
temple, but he made provision for it, and cast the model of it, and he took
much delight in the contemplation of what it would be. Here are some sparks,
some beginnings of the Glory of Heaven, and of that great joy which we shall
have hereafter." (Usher, 1638.)
The night-watch, with some whose eyes may trace these
pages, cannot now be long. Already the gray streaks of morning may be
telling that they are "nearing sunrise." New strains of celestial music may
be wafted from the half-opened portal—new voices from the spirit-land heard
saying, "Come up here." "Strangers and pilgrims" on the earth! let your
thoughts be in Heaven. Let the gaps and cracks which trial, in its varied
forms, may have made in the walls of your frail earthly tabernacle, only
serve to let the rays of the ineffable glory steal more brightly through.
May these feeble foretastes quicken your longings for the full and gladsome
It will be seen that the Meditations have been numbered,
so as to extend over a month, in case any should desire to use them as Daily
Readings. There has been no attempt to link the chapters together by any
train of consecutive thought. Each, purposely short, is independent of what
precedes or follows. The reader may, moreover, find similar ideas or
reflections more than once reappearing. But as the grand leading
characteristics of Heavenly happiness, revealed in Scripture, are
comparatively few, such repetition (in the case of a devotional series)
was, to a certain extent, unavoidable; and by those who read for profit,
not for criticism, will be readily understood and forgiven.
"Thus take your heart into the 'Land of Promise.' Show it
the pleasant hills and fruitful valleys: Show it THE CLUSTERS OF GRAPES
which you have gathered; to convince it that it is a Blessed Land, flowing
with better than milk and Honey." —Richard Baxter, (1615)
"The milk and the honey is beyond this wilderness. God be
merciful to you; and grant, that you be not slothful to go in to possess the
"They had the City itself in view; and they thought they heard all the bells
therein to ring, to welcome them Thereunto." —John Bunyan, (1628)