Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Our citizenship in in Heaven

As a Bedouin wandering across the desert, so is a Christian - a bird of passage; a voyager seeking the haven. This is not our rest: it is polluted.

The wisdom of the Christian is to disentangle himself as much as possible of the things of this life. He will act kindly towards the citizens of the country where he is called to dwell, and he will seek their good: still he will remember that he is not as they are. He is an alien among them. He may have to buy and sell in this world, but that is merely as a matter of transient convenience. He neither buys nor sells for eternity; for he has “bought the truth,” and he “sells it not.” He has received God to be his treasure, and his heart and his treasure too he has sent on ahead. On the other side of the river all his joys and all his treasures are to be found. Here he looks upon his earthly joys as things that are lent him - borrowed comforts. If his children die, he does not wonder: he knew that they were not immortal. If his friends are taken away, he is not astonished: he understood that they were born of women, and therefore would die like the rest.

If his wealth takes to itself wings, he does not marvel: he knew that it was a bird of passage, and he is not astonished when, like the swallows, it flies elsewhere. He had long ago learned that the world is founded on the floods and therefore, when it moves beneath him, he understands that this is the normal state of things, and he is not at all amazed, but rather wonders that the world is not all panic and confusion, since it is so unsubstantial. As Samson shook the Philistine temple, so shall the word of the Lord in the hour of final doom lay all nature prone in one common ruin; and vain is he who boasts of his possessions where all is waiting to be overturned.

Brethren, are you doing so?... Ah! well, may this worldliness be cast out of you, and may you be seized with homesickness, that sweet disease which every true patriot ought to have, an insatiable longing for his dear fatherland.... Are there no sweet songs of Zion which remind you of that blessed land where our best friends, our kindred dwell, where God our Savior reigns? If we are true citizens of the New Jerusalem, we shall long for that fair country, the home of the elect.

From a sermon entitled "our Life, Our Work, Our Change," delivered August 4, 1867.

Photo by freshheadfilms, some rights reserved

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