These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them…
I. OUR PASSAGE THROUGH LIFE IS COMPARED IS HOLY SCRIPTURE TO VARIOUS THINGS — sometimes to an arrow flitting through the air — sometimes to a flower which is to-day in the field, tomorrow cut down and withered. But no figure, I think, more comprehensively describes it than that of a journey.
1. The first great resemblance may be found in the various stage of each. In the common journeys of this world some are long, and marked, of course, with a great variety of circumstances. Others, again, are short, quickly performed, and little varied with any particular occurrences. Exactly thus is our great journey through life. In our great journey through life we cannot make the stages as we please. They are laid out for us. We have only to prepare ourselves properly for them.
2. A second great resemblance which may be traced between a journey and our passage through life arises from the various roads which present themselves in both. Every one accustomed to travelling knows there are various roads commonly leading to the same place. Some are bad, others indirect, while there is generally but one which is the best, and which every prudent traveller would wish to pursue. Such too is our journey towards eternal life. Ask any who are not quite abandoned and they will tell you they hope to go to heaven — that this at least is their aim; but through what a variety of paths do they often pursue it! It may be hoped indeed that all these wanderers will in time see their error, and at length arrive safely at their heavenly home. But what toil, what distress might they have prevented if they had not suffered themselves to be led astray through all the bye-paths of pleasure or worldly allurements; but had from the first pursued the direct road!
3. As a journey thus resembles our passage through life in being a progress through various stages to a destined end, so does it resemble it in the many difficulties and inconveniences with which it is incommoded. No man can pass through life without meeting them. From our early youth they begin, and as we advance our difficulties increase. The cares and mischances of the world — or the knavery and malice of mankind — or sickness — or the ingratitude of friends — or the miscarriages, if not of ourselves, at least of our near connections, present us with a great variety of distress. Then again, they who are of a feeling nature have their compassion daily exercised by their fellow-travellers whom they see toiling under various burdens and cannot relieve. As we advance towards the end of life new distresses arise. The infirmities of age and the difficulty of mixing with a younger generation, all tend to lessen our relish for the world and teach us more and more to depend on happiness hereafter.
4. Another resemblance, nearly allied to the last, between a journey and our passage through life arises from the different manner in which its different stages affect us. At first, during the warmth and inexperience of youth, everything strikes us with pleasure. The world is new to us — our spirits are high — our passions are strong — the gaieties of life get hold of us — and it is happy, if we can enjoy them with moderation and innocence. Now and then we meet a rebuke from the world, but we lay it not to heart; youth is prone to forget untoward circumstances, and other objects catch our attention. But as years come on — as the inconveniences of life increase and the satisfactions arising from it diminish — we grow fatigued with so tiresome a march, and if we are those strangers and pilgrims upon earth of whom the text speaks we begin to think with pleasure of finishing our earthly toil.
5. From these inconveniences which meet us in every stage another resemblance arises, the last I shall suggest, which is, that we must never expect to find in a journey the comforts we look for at home. Many people have no idea of a heavenly home. Of them I speak not. They must, if they choose it, wander about in this world without any aim till they drop into their graves, and must take the consequence.
II. IF THEN LIFE IS A JOURNEY AND CAN BE COMPARED SO PROPERLY TO NOTHING ELSE, LET US CONSIDER IT AS SUCH.
1. In the first place, let us not set our hearts upon anything in it.
2. If, again, life is a journey, let us not loiter in it.
3. Lastly, if life be a journey, let us keep the great end continually in view. We are journeying to our great home — the eternal mansion of spirits. What is there here to detain us from such an end? Our valuables are not about us; they are at home, at the end of our journey. Where our treasure is, there then let our hearts be also.
(W. Gilpin, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.