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“ The land of pure delight,
Where saints immortal reign ;
And pleasures banish pain.”
And now, dear fellow-traveller, suffer me urgently to inquire of you,
while on our great journey to the world of spirits, Whither are you going? Have you ever solemnly pondered the question for yourself, presented to the young man at the railway station, Whither are you travelling?-to heaven or to hell? Let no one evade the momentous question. For there is no third terminus. At the awful gates of one or other of these eternal abodes every human being will shortly arrive. Banishing, therefore, the subject from the mind can no more lessen the danger than a man under sentence of death can be delivered by forgetting (were it possible) his awful situation. For the world, like a swift chariot, is hurrying us onwards, whether we will or no, to the bar of God, where the seal of eternity will be affixed to our true character. There is not a rest nor a pause in its progress. Whether we sleep or wake, whether looking forward with earnest desire to the eternal future, or backward with increasing affection to "the things which are behind,” we are ever advancing; and in a little while, at furthest, we shall each one confront the God of our existence, and hear that sentence which never can be reversed.
Is your terminus, then, HEAVEN ? Do you know, on distinct scriptural evidence, that your face is Sionward ? Do the landmarks which describe the way to heaven arrest your daily attention in your rapid journey? Do you, for example, never lose sight of THE CROSS OF CHRIST? (Gal. vi. 14); MOUNT OF GOD'S ETERNAL Love? (Jude, 21);OF GRACE, HIGH AND LIFTED UP? (Isa. vi. 1.) And are you pressing to the eternal shore, rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God? (Rom. v. 2.)
Or (oh, dreadful alternative !) is your terminus-the end of your rapid life-journey--HELL -- the regions of despair? If you reply that "you cannot tell,” and would leave the settlement of the awful question to a future indefinite period, then surely you afford mournful evidence that you are every day walking in the darkness of unpardoned sin, and that ere long (if grace prevent not) your feet will “ stumble on the dark mountains." For the evidence that you are walking in this dreadful moral darkness is thus described by our Saviour:“ He that walketh in darkness, knoweth not whither he goeth," John xii. 35. Do not, I beseech you, conclude on slight grounds that
THE ENGLISH MONTHLY TRACT SOCIETY, 37, RED LION SQUARE, LONDON
you are travelling to heaven, lest you be found at last like those self-deceivers, who are described by our Lord as coming up boldly, so to speak, to the gate of heaven for admittance, saying, “ Lord, Lord, open to us. “ We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.” [“ We were ranked on earth as thy friends, and were accustomed to all religious ordinances.”] To whom he will at length reply, in accents which will reverberate in their souls like the loudest thunder, “I know not whence ye are: depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.” [“ Ye never travelled heavenward, but all your life have been perversely journeying to the abyss of perdition.”] If you
would not, then, be at the last hurled from the heights of vain confidence to the depths of everlasting, irretrievable ruin, consider earnestly whether you have, in heart, left all for Christ's sake, and, trusting alone to his blood and righteousness, are every day sincerely exclaiming, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?” It is easy, indeed, to say, when conscience is pressed by such appeals, “ We hope we are going to heaven !” But let it be demanded of those who thus “ hope, What is the response of your daily spirit-your spiritual life? What testimony do these present to the Searcher of hearts, the God who seeth in secret ? If we met a man hastening northward, and who yet told us he was posting to a city in the south, should we not reply, “ Your words say you are going southward, but your face is to the north.” So multitudes say by their christian profession, by their forms of religious worship, “they hope they are going to heaven;" while their habitual worldly spirit, their daily walk, their neglect of vital godliness, testify too plainly that their “end is destruction,” Phil. iii. 19.
But why do I thus seek to awaken the thoughtless or selfdeceived traveller? Is it to plunge him in gloom?-to lead him to travel onward like a man under sentence of death hastening to execution? Infinitely the reverse. It is, if possible, to secure his present peace, his everlasting blessedness ; it is, that he may even now obtain, through faith in the blood of atonement, and by an unconditional surrender to the Lord Jesus, the title-deeds to a blessed inheritance; that he may from this time forward travel onwards to glory, honour, and immortality.
But I turn to another class, and rejoice to remember that not a few may read these pages who are, through the mercy of God, already able to answer the all-important question, “ Whither are you going for eternity?" in the most delightful manner. They can, in some degree, respond to the beauteous language of inspiration, “ We know that when the earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved [when our journey is over], we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” I have “ finished my course (my journey to heaven]; I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but to all them also who love his appearing."
Oh, there is a grandeur and sublimity in thus continually looking forward beyond the confines of this world-in living for eternity—which might well startle the mind of infidelity itself
. To such the gates of eternity have been, so to speak, thrown widely open, and they have looked in with such a fixed and steadfast gaze, as has afterwards more or less tinged everything they looked at in the world with the light of eternity.
Before a man is led to behold the Lamb of God making a true satisfaction to law and justice for his sins, and thus laying a foundation for his immediate and everlasting blessedness, he averts his head as much as possible from all thoughts of death, and dares not, and cannot, look beyond it. The region beyond death is to such dark-impenetrably dark and foreboding. They shrink back from it as from the sudden view of a gulf which threatens to entomb them for ever; and rush into the trifles, follies, or business of the world, to drown, as it were, their recollection of eternity!
But no sooner are they led to visit Calvary, and see there the LOVE OF God in the gift of his beloved Son, and are thus inspired with confidence, through the perception of his blood shed for the remission of their sins, to draw near to God as an everlasting Friend and Father, than the dark haze clears away from the river of death. Then, by faith, their eyes pierce across the gulf, discovering life in all its nobler forms-eternal life, a glorious immortality, brought thus to light by the gospel. But not only do they perceive the blessing of eternal life as that which is to be enjoyed hereafter. They know in some degree, by happy experience, that it is begun now. They have received the dawning of it, and are blessedly conscious that it will sustain and feast their souls in the valley and shadow of death," and shine forth without a cloud in eternity. Thus death does not terminate or lessen the enjoyments of the true believer, but only opens the door to their fountain-head, where he shall for ever drink of the rivers of pleasure which are at God's right hand.
These blissful travellers to the land of eternal rest and peace know, and rejoice to know, that they are only kept travelling in this wilderness to be educated for the enterprises and glories of eternity, and through the Spirit of God to promote that cause and kingdom for which the Redeemer shed his precious blood. True, they have trials, and know that through “much tribulation" they must enter the city above; still in the midst of all these momentary sufferings, they have peace, the peace which “passeth all understanding," and can often sing
“ Then let our songs abound,
And every tear be dry;
To fairer worlds on high.”
To such happy readers we would offer the affectionate entreaty-Oh, fix your eye continually on the immortal prize; and as the racer in the full sweep of his course never allows anything to intercept his career or distract his attention; as he heeds not a cry, marks not a flower; neither looks to the right hand nor to the left, upwards nor downward, but onwards to the goal ;-50 do you forget the things which are behind; so do you press to the mark, the crown of glory which shall never fade away. Soon, soon, your race will be run, your journey finished; the shadows of time exchanged for the realities of eternity. Beware, then, of the allurements of sense, and the magnets offered to your affections in the world. They can never satisfy, they will soon fade. Now, the grand distinction between a child of God and a man of the world is this, that the one regards the earth as the chief place of his existence, and values it for its own sake, abstractedly considered. He has his portion here, his good things in this life. While the other, the true believer, habitually views it in immediate relation to God and eternity. His portion is Christ and eternal glory. “ As for me,” he exclaims, “I will behold thy face in right
I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.” And he values the world, not for its own sake, but in so far as he may, while in it, advance the glory of the Lord, build for eternity, through the grace of God, and become instrumental in saving many souls from death, and filling the golden censer with believing prayers on behalf of the church of Christ, of beloved relations, and for the rapid progress of the gospel in evangelizing the world.
Who, then, can calculate the infinite privileges which the love of God has connected with every passing minute on earth? Since even in that limited space the believer may, through the Spirit, at any time sow immortal seeds in his own soul or in the minds of others, which, through the atonement and inter
cession of Jesus, may bud, blossom, and bear glorious fruit for
In that brief period he may enter the immediate presence of God, and present a believing prayer, with the incense of the Redeemer's blood and righteousness, on behalf of some precious soul, which may be fully answered, long after he has entered the world of spirits. Surely, in this point of view, it is high time that we were awakened out of sleep. For it is only in the light of Calvary and the light of eternity that we can appreciate, in some degree, the value of time and our own momentous responsibility, or realize that every moment spent for God through love to Jesus, is a jewel laid up in the treasury of eternal glory.
Let us, then, begin this new stage in our rapid progress to eternity, so that it may be one to which, through grace, we shall look back from the realms above-the high 'vantage ground of eternity--with triumphant joy-with ceaseless gratitude. If such be our determination, let it be immediately registered and confirmed at the throne of grace--the fountainhead of strength. For our starting point, when we wish to quicken our heavenly journey, must be in spirit) from Cal. vary. It is in vain to attempt perseveringly to hasten to meet “ the Bridegroom," if we do not begin by a visit, of no ordinary kind, to the blood of sprinkling—the fountain "opened for sin and uncleanness.” For here alone do we obtain (in answer to fervent, believing prayer) new grace, life, vigour. ``And where a soul is thus pardoned and restored, borne onwards by the constraining love of Christ, how rapidly does he advance, like a vessel under press of sail passing through the breakers to the haven of everlasting rest. Such " rapid travellers” shall have an entrance ministered to them abundantly unto the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, AND
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON; AND W. INNES, BOOKSELLER, SOUTH HANOVER STREET, EDINBURGH.
London: J. & W. RIDER, Printers, 14, Bartholomew Close