To hear about my home above;
For there doth many a loved one dwell
In light and joy ineffable.
"O! tell me how they shine and sing,
"Tell me of that victorious palm,
The Christian home on earth is but a type of his better home in heaven. The pious members feel the force of this. Every thing within their earthly homes reminds them of that happy country which lies beyond the Jordan. Besides, they behold the impress of change upon every aspect of their home. All that is near and dear to them there is passing away. It is but the shadow of better things to come. And as the type bears some resemblance to that which it typifies, we may understand both by considering the relation they sustain to each other. We may gain a new view of the Christian home by looking at it in the light of its typical relation to heaven; and we have a transporting view of our heavenly home when we contemplate it as the antitype of our home on earth.
The Christian home on earth is a tent-home, a tabernacle adapted to the pilgrim-life of God's people, set up in a dreary wilderness, designed to subserve the purposes of a few years, as a preparation for a better home. The Christian, amid all his domestic enjoyments, does not realize that his home is his rest, but that it is only a probationary state, the foretaste and anticipation of the rest that remaineth for the people of God. It is but the emblem, -- the shadow of his eternal home; and it is, therefore, unsatisfying; it does not meet all the wants of our nature; there is a yearning after a better state; the purest happiness it affords proceeds from the hopes and longings it begets, and the interests it is transferring to eternity, laying up, as it were, treasures in a better home. Our home here, develops our wants, inflames our desires, excites our expectations, educates, and points us to the realities of which it is an emblem; but it does not fully satisfy our desires, it only increases their intensity. The pilgrim soul of the child of God pines and frets amid all
"Her sylvan scenes, and hill and dale
These afford him no satisfaction; they only develop in him the saving sense of earth's insufficiency; all the scenes of this wilderness state are but those of thorns, and desert heath, and barren sands; and he cries out in the midst of his happy home, -- "This is not your rest!" Our tent-home may include every earthly cup, and all the riches and honors of the world, yet it satisfies not, and the Christian turns from it all to rest and expatiate in a life to come. Every home here is baptized with tears and scarred with graves. Its poverty is a burden, its riches are snares, its friends are taken from us; broken hearts agonized there; restlessness is tossed to and fro there; and disappointment reigns in every member there. Hence in our wilderness-home we hunger and thirst, and pine for something more satisfying. We turn from the shadow to the reality; and realizing the insufficiency of home as a mere type, we turn with anxious hope to that which it typifies -- our heavenly home.
Heaven is the antitype of the Christian home. There the latter reaches its consummation, and reaps the rich harvest of its great reward. The Father; the Mother of us all; our Brethren; our inheritance; our all sufficiency are there. Yea, all that is included in the dear name of home, is treasured up there, for the child of God. In that better land he finds the reality of his home on earth; the latter is but the prophecy of the former: --
"There is my house and portion fair,
That better home is radiant with light and love. There you shall not see through a glass darkly, but shall behold all things face to face. You shall not merely know in part, but even as you are known. There you shall realize in all its fulness what you dimly taste here. We have a hunger here which is not fully satisfied till in heaven we pluck the fruits of the tree of life. We have a thirst here which is not fully quenched till in heaven we drink of the waters of the river of life which flows fast by the throne of God. In our tent-home here, we eat and drink, but hunger and thirst again; we are healed, but we sicken again; we live in the light of truth, but darkness and clouds intervene; we are comforted by the spirit and by friends; but we sorrow and weep again.
But in heaven "sighing grief shall weep no more;" and we "shall hunger no more, neither shall we thirst any more; and we shall not say I am sick; and there shall be no night, nor sorrow, nor tears, nor sighing, nor death; for the former things are passed away." Love will then be perfect; there will be no heart-burnings and disappointments there. There you shall enjoy the honey without the sting, and the rose without the thorn. "Earth hath no sorrows that heaven cannot heal." All care and toil, and tears, and orphanage, and widowhood, shall drop and disappear at the threshold of heaven. If our tent-home stirs up within us imperishable joys, by the power of anticipation and foretaste, what joy will not that better land afford? If the promise is so cheering, what must the fulfillment be! If the pursuit is so inspiring, what must the possession be! If our home on Tabor, where we have but a distant view of home-life, affords us so much happiness, what must our home on the eternal throne of God be? There your intercourse with the loved ones of earth will not be clogged by pain and infirmities. Your society there will be the most endearing, and with "a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindred, and people, and tongues, standing before the throne, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands." You shall there hold fellowship with the fathers of a thousand generations, with the patriarchs, and prophets, and apostles, and martyrs, and reformers, and the "innumerable company of angels." With these you shall engage in the most delightful avocation. There will be no indolence there, as we often find in earthly homes; but all will be continually engaged. "They serve Him day and night in His temple." There will be one unbroken worship, which will afford you rapturous delight. You shall be presented, before God's glory, with exceeding joy; for "in His presence is fullness of joy, and at His right hand are pleasures for evermore." These joys will be eternal, -- forever and ever. That better home will never be dissolved, cannot be shaken, and your crown of glory there is a crown which fadeth not away.
But this happiness and glory of heaven are not only eternal but progressive, -- ever increasing. There is nothing stationary there with the saints; but their powers will ever expand and their glory increase. New songs will be ever bursting in new strains from the celestial choir; new discoveries and fresh exclamations of praise and gratitude will he continually made. Here on earth they were "by nature the children of wrath, even as others;" they had their tribulations and often murmured at God's dealings with them. But there in that heavenly home they will understand the reason for all this. The deep mysteries of the Christian life are now revealed, and they see that a father's chastisements are the work of a father's love, and worketh out for them that are exercised thereby, an "exceeding and eternal weight of glory." They now see that while in their tent-home they lived in the center of a grand system of natural, providential and spiritual things, all of which were working in beautiful harmony together for "the good of them that loved God and were the called according to His purpose;" and with rapturous gratitude they cry out, "Marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are all thy ways, O thou King of Saints!"
Here, too, they will fully realize the wisdom of the Christian home and life; they will now see how wise it was for them as a family, to serve the Lord. In their earthly home, they "knew whom they believed, and were persuaded that he was able to keep that which they committed unto Him against that day." They did this in the midst of fiery trials. They were unknown. The world, hated and despised them as she did their divine Master. But they persevered unto the end; and now they "shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." We shall not there, as we do here, eat the bread of care and drink the waters of bitterness. Here thunders spend their echoes and lightnings gleam in fierce wrath around our homes. There such sounds and storms never come.
"No sickness there,
"No hidden grief,
"Care has no home
"The storm's black wing
Christ is the great center of heaven's glory and attraction. "Whom have I in heaven but thee?" It would not be heaven if He were absent. Its harps would become unstrung, and its voices would lose their tune. When eternity dawns upon our disembodied spirits, and the heavenly home appears in view, with its golden streets, and living temples, and crowns, and thrones, and joys, bursting on our sight; while seraphim and cherubim, and angels, and the sainted spirits of departed friends -- our parents and children, and kindred, bend over its threshold to hail our entrance with songs and shouts of everlasting joy, -- oh, what a glorious heritage will this be! But all this will fade into insignificance before the Lamb on the throne. He will absorb all interest; and will be all and in all to its unfading treasures. Oh, there is much in that celestial home to allure us there. Its "fields arrayed in living green, and rivers of delight." Its blood-washed throng, its crowns and peace, the angelic choir, our friends and relations, -- perhaps a father and a mother, perhaps a husband or wife, perhaps a brother or a sister, or a child, -- a lovely babe; -- all these make heaven dear, and draw us there. They beckon us to themselves; they are waiting for us now, and on the glowing pinions of love they come thronging as ministering spirits, to our hearts.
But what are all these attractions of that spirit-home, compared with Jesus there as the crowning glory of them all! other things are stars and streamlets. He is the central sun, -- the source of all. Take Him away, and all the brightness and the glory of that heavenly world would become shrouded in darkness and desolation.
There is a living union between the Christian's home on earth, and his home in heaven. Christ represents our nature and advocates our cause there. The saints on earth and the inhabitants of heaven "but one communion make." The latter minister to the former. "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister unto them who shall be the heirs of salvation?"
"Oh! a mother's spirit hung
"Gentle babe, I come for thee:
"Yes; while o'er thy mouldering dust
Every thing good in our earthly home has its echo in heaven, and sweeps like the breath of God over the harps of the blessed. When the pious mother kneels with her child in prayer to God, it sends a thrill of new ecstasy into the bosom of the redeemed around His throne. When the child gives its heart to Christ, each harp bursts forth with a new anthem of joy at the prospect of that accession to their happy band. And oh, what unspeakable joy must thrill the bosom of a sainted mother when the news of her child's conversion reaches her there! --
... "A new harp is strung, and a new song is given
And there, too, sainted relations continually warn the impenitent members of the tent-home. "Though dead they yet speak." "Turn ye, turn ye; for why will ye die?" "The spirit and the bride say, come!" Oh, regard those solemn admonitions which come to you from the spirit-world! With unearthly eloquence they urge you to "lay aside every weight and the sin that doth so easily beset you, and run the race set before you, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith." And oh, if you, in obedience to these angelic persuasives to piety, yield yourself unto the Lord, all the arches of that eternal home will reverberate with the sound of jubilee over your salvation, until its echo from harp to harp shall be borne up to the throne of God.
And as there is a living union of the Christian's home on earth and in heaven, so also will there be a conscious union and recognition of the members of the Christian home, when they enter that better land. When the tent-home is broken up, and its members take their place and enter upon their joys in the heavenly home, they will recognize each other, and exchange congratulations. The bonds of natural affection which bound them together here will bind them also there. They will possess the same home-feeling and sympathy; they will love each other as members of the same household; the parents will know and love their children as parents; and the children will feel towards their parents as children. Thus in the clear light of that blessed land we shall see and know our kindred, and shall be recognized, and known by them. All family ties will be re-knit; all home-relationships will be restored; all the links of affection will be renewed. The babe that withered in your arms like a frost-stricken flower in winter, will come forth clad in redemption robes, to embrace you there; and one of your joys will be a conscious reunion with him: --
"We shall go home to our Father's house:
And that sainted mother of yours shall greet you there. In your earth-home, you and she were united in faith and love and hope; and in the morning of the resurrection you shall ascend together from the family grave-yard; and together bow in grateful adoration before the throne of God.
And oh, what a glorious meeting in heaven that will be, when all the members of the Christian household shall unitedly surround the marriage supper of the Lamb! It will be joyful beyond conception. There they "shall meet at Jesus' feet, -- shall meet to part no more!" No one is absent. Bright faces will meet there; bounding hearts will meet there; and on the banks of the river of life they will walk hand in hand, as they did unitedly in this vale of tears. "There is hereafter to be no separation in that family. No one is to lie down on a bed of pain. No one to wander away into temptation. No one to sink into the arms of death. Never in heaven is that family to move along the slow procession, clad in the habiliments of woe, to consign one of its members to the tomb!" -- REV. A. BARNES.
If heaven is our better home, where the members of Christian families meet to part no more; if dreams cannot picture a world so fair; and if eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor human heart conceived, the felicity of its peaceful inhabitants, then we should greatly rejoice that our pious kindred have been taken there, and that we are blessed with the hope of reunion with them in that heavenly home: --
... "If to Christ, with faith sincere,
In our tent-home, we should cultivate spiritual longings after heaven, and live in the true hope and assurance of entering there. The soul of the Christian, conscious of the emptiness of all things here, rests and expatiates in a life to come. In proportion to his preparation for it, and his nearness to it, will be the depth of his aspirations and the assurance of his hope. The widowed mother, who feels that part of her household is in heaven and that soon she will join them there, yearns with all the pining of home-sickness, for departure to the promised land, which is far better.
"When shall my labors have an end,
Even these hopes and longings after reunion with the departed in heaven, afford her joy, and open in her panting spirit a foretaste of unearthly bliss. To her aspiring faith all things look heavenward. The stars of the sky, and the flowers of the field smile their blessings upon her; and she welcomes death to break off her chains, to draw the bolts and bars, and open the prison doors of her house of clay, that her home-sick spirit may go up to that happier land where her possessions lie: --
"Let me go! my heart is fainting
"Let me go! I fain would follow,
"Let me go! I hear them calling,
Gentle reader! seek that better land. Let your home be a preparation for, and a pilgrimage to, a home in heaven. You are now in the wilderness beset on every side by enemies. Go forward! You are now in the deep vale, -- in the low retreats of pilgrim life. "Friend, go up higher!" "Be thou faithful unto death, and you shall receive a crown of life." Be patient in tribulation. The storms that swell around your pilgrim home will soon subside, and a cloudless sky will burst upon you; the winter gloom and desolation will soon pass away; and "sweet fields arrayed in living green and rivers of delight," will spread out themselves before your enraptured vision. Remember that "the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us." In a few years at most the conflict shall end, and sighing grief shall weep no more; the wormwood and the gall will be exchanged for the cup of salvation; the armor and the battle-field will be exchanged for the white garment, the crown and the throne. Soon your typical homestead shall be exchanged for your antitypical home; and we shall unite in the home-song of everlasting joy, -- the song of, "unto Him that loved us and washed us in His own blood, to Him be praise and glory and dominion forever!"
Let the hope of soon entering that happy home, stimulate you to increased ardor in the cause of your Master. Methinks, some who will read these pages, have snow-white locks and wrinkled brows and faded cheeks; and these tell you that soon your pilgrim journey will be ended, your tent-home dissolved, and your staff laid aside; and oh, if you have made God the strength of your heart and your portion forever, you shall welcome death with joy; yea, you will now be anxious to lay aside these garments of toil and conflict, and soar away to that better country, where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest. With holy pantings after God you will say, "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!"
"Let me go! my feet are weary,
"Let me go! my soul is thirsting
We have now enumerated some of the elements of the Christian home -- its constitution, its ministry, its trials, its joys, and its relation to a better home in heaven. But we have not exhausted this interesting subject; we have given but a very general and imperfect sketch. If this our first effort will contribute to the salvation of one soul, we shall be compensated; and should our encouragement justify it, we may continue the effort, in the preparation of a work on the historical development of the Christian home.