"O sweet home-echo on the pilgrim's way,
Thrice-welcome message from a land of light;
As through a clouded sky the moonbeams stray,
So on eternity's deep-shrouded night
Streams a mild radiance from that cheering word,
'So shall we be forever with the Lord.'"
"I will dwell in the house of the Lord FOREVER."
So mused a saint of God six thousand years ago, who is
now a safe "Dweller" in "the House" of which he so sweetly sung. Can I also
pluck for myself this last Eschol Grape—and go on through the wilderness,
joyously treading whatever path my God may see fit to allot me, looking
beyond the path and beyond the wilderness to the glorious termination? Can I
close this little volume, endorsing every page with Paul's happy
superscription, which made him rise superior to all trials, and exult in all
tribulations: "And so shall we EVER be with the Lord?" (1 Thess.
4:17.) Let us gather up a few closing thoughts of coming bliss which our
(1.) "I will dwell." The expression speaks of
The great haven is reached; the raging waters are all past; nothing can
ever disturb the deep rapture of Heavenly repose. Shall we repeat once more
the often-reiterated assertion in these pages, that on earth all is
mutation, change, insecurity, and that when the sea of life is least
ruffled, there is often the too truthful foreboding of the gathering
Even our spiritual frames, and feelings, and experiences,
how fitful and uncertain. Today, the entry in the soul-diary is, "You are
my portion, O God," (Ps. 119:57.) Tomorrow, it is, "My soul is cast
down within me," (Ps. 42:6.) No sooner do we get a glimpse at the third
heavens than a "messenger of Satan" is waiting to "buffet" us, and the
soaring eagle falls with disabled wing to the earth. But not one shadow of
change or temptation will ever flit across these heavenly skies. Stars may
be quenched, suns annihilated, the world pass away; but the Believer in
Glory stands secure—the crown must be plucked from the Redeemer's
brow, before his can be touched! This is the guarantee of His bliss—"Because
I live you shall live also." "The unregenerate," says an old writer,
"will be past hope, and the saints past fear, forever." Yes! "I will DWELL."
It will be an unchangeable happiness; or, if changing,
changing only "from glory to glory!"
(2.) "I will dwell in the House of the Lord." This
tells of Happiness and Rest.
It is a Home word—it invests Heaven with a home-aspect—it is a
household sanctuary. "Absent," says Paul, "from the body"—"at
home" "with the Lord." Here, we are out-door servants, exposed to the
"windy storm and tempest." There, we shall be taken and welcomed
within the royal palace; clothed, fed, honored, inside the halls of our
"Father's dwelling." "Did He love you, an enemy—you, a sinner—you, who even
loathes yourself; and received you when you disclaimed yourself? and will He
not now immeasurably love you a son—you a perfect saint? When perfect
created love and most perfect uncreated love meet together, it will not be
like Joseph and his brethren who lay upon one another's necks weeping; it
will be loving and rejoicing, not loving and sorrowing," (Baxter.) "You now
begin," said Chrysostom to a friend during his exile—"you now begin
to lament my banishment, but I have done so for a long time; for since I
knew that Heaven is my home, I have esteemed the whole world a place of
exile." With that "Home" ever in view, seek to be able to say, when "the
Master has come and calls for you"—
"Reach forth Your hand with pitying care,
And guide me through the latest snare;
Methinks ev'n now, in bursting beams,
The radiance from Your casement beams;
No more I shed the pilgrim's tear,
I hear Your voice, my Home is near."—Sigourney
(3.) "I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever."
This speaks of perpetuity.
"The last jewel of our crown," says Baxter, "is that it will be an
everlasting rest. While we were servants we held by lease, and that but
for the term of a transitory life, but 'the son abides in the house
FOREVER.' Our earthly paradise in Eden had a way out, but no entrance that
we could ever find in again; but this eternal paradise has a way in,
but no way out again."
Blessed assurance, amid so much that is transitory! All
the most enduring things of earth are passing and have passed
away. The palaces of Babylon, the towers of Zion, the bulwarks of Tyre, they
have had their proud magnificence written, but it was written on the sands
of time! Where are they now? The tide of ages has washed nearly every
vestige away! Every little home, too, is a world in miniature. Its
joys, they are passing; its friendships, they are perishable; its props and
shelters, in one night the storm sweeps them down! "But," says Jesus
of His redeemed saint, "I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God,
and he shall go no more out," (Rev. 3:12.)
The true Ark will bring its crowded millions to the
summit of the heavenly Ararat, not to go forth again amid storm and tempest,
to battle with sin and sorrow, but to repose amid the unbroken sunshine of
the everlasting hills. On earth "there is a time to be born, and a time to
die," (Eccles. 3:2.) In Heaven, "they neither marry nor are given in
marriage," (Matt. 22:30.) There are neither births nor deaths as here;
no wearing out of successive generations—"neither shall they die any
more," (Luke 20:36.)
What a volume is contained in these two words, "FOREVER!"
To think that after millions on millions of years and ages shall have rolled
by, still I shall be but on the threshold of immortal being, on the confines
and outskirts of limitless life. My lifetime commensurate with that of God
Himself. His throne the center of my bliss, eternity the
circumference. "O Eternity! Eternity!" says one, who has now entered on the
reality, "it is yours to crown the joys above. You are the knot which binds
the bundle of life together. Without the thought of you, dim sadness would
not spare the faces of the blessed; their songs would be marred with
dreadful discordance, and all the blissful bowers would lose their charms."
Is this "House of the Lord" to be my everlasting
dwelling-place? Let me seek to regard it with a home-feeling; to have my
affections more centered on it. Let the intervention of no lower object dim
or obscure its glories. It is said of good Philip Henry, that when his
children visited him, he used to pray "that their next meeting might be
either in Heaven or further on in their way towards it."
Soon the morning hour shall strike. The canopy of night
is now glittering with stars of promise—pledges of the day of glory. Already
gleams of light steal through the distant casement—"The Beloved" is "looking
through the lattice," (Song of Sol. 2:9,) and saying that the "little while"
of earth will soon be over, and "He who shall come, will
come." The precise day of His coming is unknown, that we may attend upon
every day, and that we may not have our roll to search for, when the sound
of His chariot-wheels is heard!
We have been traversing in thought the glories of a
coming Heaven—plucking a few Eschol-clusters from the celestial vineyard;
yet, after all, how poor, how inadequate our conception of future bliss! Two
inspired penmen have written on the same theme. John never saw
Heaven—he attempts to describe it. He paints its walls of jasper, and
gates of crystal, and streets of gold. Paul did see Heaven. He was
caught up to its gates. He gazed where mortal eye had never gazed before. He
saw glory rising on glory. He obtained a sight of "the invisible." When he
returns to earth to commit the wondrous apocalypse to writing, he is
silent—the pen drops from his hand; he gives, as the noblest description
of it he can give, that it is indescribable. "I saw,"
he says, "what it is not possible for a man to utter," (2 Cor. 12:4.)
O God! do grant, by the aids of that Holy Spirit whose
office and work it is "to show us things to come," (John 16:13,) that these
feeble thoughts and musings on coming glory, may tend to wean me from earth,
and train me for Heaven; leading me to live more habitually under the power
of things unseen—to have more of the girded loins and the burning lamps, and
"so much the more" as I see "the day approaching," (Heb. 10:25.)
"Time passes on," says the saintly Baxter—who always
seems to stand as if one foot had already crossed the heavenly
threshold—"yet a few days and we shall be here no more. Many diseases are
ready to assault us. We who are now preaching, and hearing, and talking, and
walking, must very shortly be carried and laid in the dust. We are almost
there already. We know not whether we shall have another sermon, or Sabbath,
or hour! How active should they be who know they have so short a space for
so great a work."
Reader, may these "sips of the heavenly fountain" refresh
you for your onward journey. May these vintage-gleanings in the desert lead
you to long more ardently for the fullness and fruition of the true Canaan.
Press forward, "uphill and downhill, to the city which has foundations;" so
that when death comes, you may have nothing to do but to die—to leave
the pilgrim-staff, and take up the pilgrim-crown—to step ashore from the
vessel of life, and make your final "leap into the arms of Infinite Love."
"Already," said Edward Bickersteth, when in sight of
Glory, "already I see the distant shore! I behold the Holy City having the
glory of God, where are gone many dear friends. There I hope to meet many of
those now so justly dear to me. What more do I need? God is there, my
portion, my joy, my happiness, and in His presence is 'fullness of
joy.' Animated with these hopes, what is the painted pageant of this world?"
"Here kindred hearts are severed far and wide
By many a weary mile of land and sea,
Or life's all varied cares, and paths divide;
But yet a joyful gathering shall be—
The broken links repaired—the lost restored—
'So shall we be FOREVER with the Lord!'
"O precious promise, mercifully given,
Well may it hush the wail of earthly woe;
Over the dark passage to the gates of heaven,
The light of hope and resurrection throw!
Thanks for the blessed life-inspiring word—
'So shall we be FOREVER with the Lord!'"
"Amen! Even So! Come, Lord Jesus!"
"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
"And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these
things to happen, make every effort to live a pure and blameless life. And
be at peace with God." 2 Peter 3:14