STRANGERS AND PILGRIMS
"As strangers and pilgrims." 1 Peter 2:11
From the titles which mark our influence, we may proceed to some which mark our EXPECTATIONS as the people of God. These prospects are present and future--in the life that now is, and the life which is to come. The present title truly describes the whole present course of the Christian. He is a citizen of a better country. His present condition is temporary. Thus have all the servants of God confessed that they were strangers on the earth. Such was our Great Master and Leader. Far more a stranger than most of his disciples. He had not where to lay his head. His gracious providence permits us the enjoyment of multiplied earthly blessings. But he requires us not to be of the world--to remember that the time is short. The fashion of this world passes away. But am I one of Christ's strangers and pilgrims?
1. Then I have a home elsewhere, and I must seek it. No man on earth is without a home. No being in the universe without a place. The stranger in any land must be a citizen of some other country. I am a stranger on earth; but I have a home in heaven. My real self, is not my dying body, any more than my outward garments. It is my lasting, living nature. It is my imperishable soul. That is my real self. And where is the home for that, but the place and presence of the Savior who has redeemed it. This home I must seek. I have never seen it. I was born in a foreign land. But it is described to me. It is secured for me. I am invited to it. Many of my brethren and sisters in Christ have already gone to it. My Gracious Savior urges me to be ready for it. Thus do I desire to live always. In every duty, in every trial, in every joy, in every arrangement, remembering my home, and making all my calculations for that.
2. Then I am journeying homeward, and I must be ready for it. I am not only a stranger, but a pilgrim also. It indicates motion, not rest. An end and object in my journey, not a bargaining and gaining in the foreign land. My daily course is a traveling onward. I am a home-bound pilgrim, traveling to Zion, with my face pointed there. Every day brings me nearer. A pilgrimage is not a rapid journey; not a race. My life is also a race. But, as a pilgrimage, its characteristic is endurance and perseverance. The fare may be hard. Difficulties may be many. Dangers may encompass. But there is a glorious convoy, and a heavenly guide. The circumstances are all arranged for me. What I am to look after is the pilgrim's mind. How happy will be my home! How attractive the distant gleams I get of it! How beautiful it appears as I approach it! I must be ready. I am almost at the river's edge. Tomorrow I may cross. Oh, let me arise and wash my clothes, and trim my lamp, and bind up my treasures, and be ready to leave behind all that my pilgrimage has required, with gratitude, but without regret. Blessed prospect of my happy rest!
3. Then I must not delay or be entangled on the road. As a stranger and pilgrim, I have little to do with what I see, except to get instruction from it. There is nothing that I have ever seen, for which I would exchange my heavenly home. There is much that is pleasant; much that is worthy of notice; much for which I may well be grateful, on my journey. Food for thought, for reflection, for admonition, for improvement. But I must gather up these materials, and hasten on. This present world is not my rest. I am sometimes very wearied--often strongly solicited to evil--alas! too often strangely indolent and inclined to yield. But it will not do. I can give no slumber to my soul here. I must start afresh, and shake myself from the dust, and press on. I must have no unfinished works in the wilderness. As each day's journey is finished, I would have it completed really, and not feel that I have to go back over it again. Happy is such a pilgrimage! Dispensing benefits everywhere. Entangled with snares nowhere. Thus would I journey on.
4. Then perfect contentment should be my daily companion. My pilgrimage is all laid out for me. It has its dark and cloudy days; its miry and sandy roads; its mountains and rivers to cross. This is natural and reasonable. Why should it not be so? But it has also many bright and pleasant spots; many precious and happy scenes; many delightful and instructive companions. God has set the one over against the other. I have every reason to be contented. I do not lack--I cannot lack, provisions for my soul's welfare. If my body is sometimes worn and burdensome, this is a small hindrance. I desire to sing songs of praise in my pilgrimage. To go home with songs of joy and triumph. Alas! my difficulty is never so much that my pilgrimage is too trying and sorrowful, as that it is too attractive and entangling. Lusts of the flesh and of the mind ensnare me in the world, and make me too fond, and not too wearied of it. Let me never complain. Every difficulty is transitory. I shall soon be at home. A happy, cheerful temper becomes me. I will daily try to gain it and to exercise it.
5. Thus ought my Christian pilgrimage to pass. Remembering my heavenly home. Earnest and persevering in my journey towards it. Never entangled or dallying on my way. Always contented and thankful for every blessing. How happy is the pilgrim's lot! How gracious the guidance I receive! How bountiful the love which upholds me! How glorious the home which welcomes me!
As every day your mercy spares
Will bring its trials and its cares,
O Savior, until my life shall end,
O be my Counselor and Friend!
Teach me your precepts all divine,
And be your pure example mine.