"All our earthly journey past,
Every tear and pain gone by,
Here together met at last,
In the mansions of the sky,
Each the welcome 'Come' awaits,
Conqueror over death and sin;
Lift your heads, O golden gates,
Let the ransomed travelers in!"
"In my Father's house there are many mansions." —John
"Mansions"—"many mansions"—"a house"—"my Father's house."
How many reflections are crowded into this one brief utterance of our
gracious Redeemer! With what a homelike aspect do they invest our every
thought of Heaven! They were among His last words; He Himself was on His way
to that peaceful "homestead" of which He speaks. Let us gather around Him,
with the house of His Father in sight, and taste this Eschol grape which He
Himself plucks from the borders of the Heavenly Canaan.
The verse speaks of MULTIPLICITY—"many
Had He been addressing His own disciples alone, the assurance would have
been sufficient, "There will be a home for each of you." But He is
discoursing for all time. His omniscient eye discerned at that moment the
unborn myriads whom this chapter and this verse were to console and cheer.
He would, therefore, certify that there is abundant provision made for
all—patriarchs, prophets, saints, martyrs—from the time that righteous Abel
bent alone, a righteous, redeemed saint, before the throne—the first sheaf
of a mighty harvest—until the garners be filled, and the song of the
ransomed become "as the voice of many people, and as the voice of many
waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings," (Rev. 19:6.) He is to bring
"many sons unto glory."
There is grace for all—crowns for all—mansions for all!
Heaven has been filling for six thousand years, and still there is room. How
different its "recompense of reward" from worldly crowns and worldly honors!
In the earthly race "many run, but one (only) receives
the prize," (1 Cor. 9:24.) In the heavenly the competition is open to
"whoever will." There is no jarring of interests in this loftier arena.
The glorification of one is not attained there at the expense of
another's downfall or exclusion. The mansions are many. The candidates are a
mighty multitude which no man can number. Believer! "so run that you may
The verse speaks of PERMANENCY—they are
The word in the original is not a tent or temporary tabernacle, but a
durable residence, never to be altered or demolished. Eothen, the most
graphic of Eastern travelers thus gives a description of tent-life, which,
by contrast, affords the best illustration of the mansion-life of heaven:
"When the cold, sullen morning dawned, and my people began to load the
camels, I always felt loth to give back to the waste this little spot of
ground, that had glowed for a while with the cheerfulness of a human
dwelling. My tent was spared to the last, but when all else was ready for
the start, then came its fall. The pegs were drawn, the canvas shivered, and
in less than a minute there was nothing that remained of my genial home, but
only a pole and a bundle."
"The tents of the East," says Professor Hackett, "seldom
remain long in the same place. The traveler erects his temporary abode for
the night, takes it down in the morning, and journeys onward. The shepherds
of the country are also always moving from one place to another. The brook
fails on which they relied for water, or the grass required for the support
of their flocks is consumed, and they wander on to a new station."
How strikingly illustrative is this of the Bible figure,
"the house of our earthly tabernacle" being "dissolved" (or taken down), (2
Cor. 5:1.) The framework of mortality, like the Arab tent, is upreared for a
time, but, after subserving its temporary purpose, it is, pin by pin,
demolished, and the place that once knew it knows it no more.
Not so the ever-enduring mansions of our Father's house.
They are "incorruptible" and "eternal in the heavens." No failing of brooks
there! No joys withered and smitten there, like the grass of the wilderness.
"The Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and lead them
to living fountains of waters," (Rev. 7:17.) Ah! it is the saddest, the most
humiliating feature of the joys of earth, that, however pure, noble,
elevating they may be at the moment, there is no calculating on their
permanency. The mind will, in spite of itself, be haunted with the dark
possibility of the ruthless invader of all happiness coming and dashing
the full cup in a thousand fragments on the ground. In Heaven no
shadow of vicissitude or change can ever enter to dim an ever-brightening
future. Once within that heavenly fold, we are in the fold forever. On the
lintels of the eternal mansion are inscribed the words, "You shall go no
more out." Our happiness and joy will be as immutable and stable as
everlasting love and power and faithfulness can make them.
The verse speaks of DIVERSITY—there are "many
mansions;"—not only many in number, but manifold in their degrees of glory.
All will be happy. A halo of unutterable bliss and glory
will encircle each separate dwelling, beyond what eye has seen, or ear
heard, or heart conceived. But as "one star differs from another star in
glory," so, also, we have reason to believe, there will be gradations in the
scale of future blessedness.
The allusion here is evidently to the different courts of
the Jewish temple. These were diverse in name and character. The outer and
inner courts, the court of the Gentiles, the courts of the priests, the Holy
of Holies. All these were consecrated as portions of the same "House of the
Lord." The lowliest Israelite was within sight of the altar, and within
hearing of the High Priest's benediction. But there were some courts more
hallowed and glorious than others—their sacredness increasing the nearer the
worshiper approached the place where dwelt the mystic Shekinah. It will be
the same with the "many mansions" of the Heavenly Temple. All the vast
multitude in the new Jerusalem will be within range of the benediction of
the Great High Priest; and as such they must be blessed.
But there will be "inner courts" and enclosures of
greater honor and glory. The more intense and exalted his love and
devotedness on earth, the nearer will the believer be permitted to approach
the Holiest of all—the nearer admission will he have to the Father's
presence, and receive the more distinguishing badges of the Father's love.
There will be one mansion for him whose pound has "gained five pounds," and
another mansion for him whose pound has "gained ten pounds." Each, too, will
be apportioned according to some earthly antecedents. There will be the
special mansion of the martyr, who was borne from his earthly tent in
the chariot of fire. There will be the special mansion of the missionary,
who surrendered home, ease, worldly honor, in his noble embassy, and
stood alone and unbefriended on Pagan shores, witnessing for a despised
Savior. There will be the mansion for the minister of Christ, who boldly
proclaimed the message of life and death. There will be the mansion for the
Sabbath-school teacher, who toiled to bring youthful trophies to the foot of
the cross. There will be the mansion for the pining sufferer, who glorified
God by patience and unmurmuring resignation—for the child, that fell on
earth a withered blossom, whose tent was taken down "while it was yet day,"
but reconstructed into a building of God eternal in the heavens. There will
be a mansion for the old veteran of the cross, the champion in a hundred
battles of the faith; and for the youthful soldier, who was only buckling on
his armor when summoned from the earthly struggle.
The least in the kingdom, I repeat, will have blessedness
to the full—a glory and a joy which leaves no void or vacuum. As in
the terrestrial, so in the celestial skies. Though every planet circling
round the Sun of Deity will shine with a borrowed splendor, yet the larger
the planet, and the nearer its orbit is to its grand center, the greater
will be its radiance and glory. Though every flower will in itself be
perfect, reflecting the lovely hues and tints of heaven, yet they will be of
diverse form and color. Some will diffuse a sweeter fragrance, or cluster in
larger and richer groups than others. But all, large and small, the saint a
hundred years old and the child translated in infancy, will (notwithstanding
this diversity) have the same quality of bliss. The planet at the
outskirts of the heavenly sphere and that nearest the center will be bathed
in one and the same rays of ineffable glory.
But while the verse speaks of Diversity, it speaks
also of UNITY.
There will be diversity in unity, and unity in diversity. The Church
triumphant is one house. The Church on earth, alas! is a house
divided against itself—church divided against church—Christian against
Christian. Nominally the children of one Father, but dwelling in separate
tabernacles. One saying, "I am of Paul," and another, "I of Apollos."
Nominally pilgrims on one road, traversing the same wilderness, but each
keeping his own peculiar and separate pathway, journeying on often with no
look of kindly recognition exchanged, as if they were aliens and foreigners,
instead of brethren and sisters in a common Lord.
But in yonder bright and happy home, discord, division,
separation will be known no more. Once within that sacred portal, the
exclamation will pass from tongue to tongue—"What! so long together on the
pilgrimage, and maintaining a cold and chilling reserve and alienation!
Alas! is it only now we are to begin to know what we should have known ages
ago, 'how good and how pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together
You who are mourning over these sad estrangements in the
Church of God, rejoice at this glorious prospect. All shall be one then! One
house—one home—one Father—one Elder Brother—one motive for praise—one theme
for eternal song—a united Church under its one glorious and glorified Head!
"At Home with Jesus! He who went before,
For His own people Mansions to prepare;
The soul's deep longings stilled, its conflicts o'er,
All rest and blessedness with Jesus there.
What Home like this can the wide earth afford?
So shall we be forever with the Lord.'"