Hebrews 11:15
If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.
Sermons
Go Back? Never!Charles Haddon Spurgeon Hebrews 11:15
The Pilgrim's LongingsCharles Haddon Spurgeon Hebrews 11:15
The Two FatherlandsD. Young Hebrews 11:13-16
A Bright ChangeNew Cyclopaedia of IllustrationsHebrews 11:15-16
Desiring HeavenJ. Cumming, D. D.Hebrews 11:15-16
Detaching -- AttachingF. R. Havergal.Hebrews 11:15-16
Enlarged Abilities in HeavenLectures on Metaphysics.Hebrews 11:15-16
For Whom Heaven is PreparedNew Cyclopaedia of IllustrationsHebrews 11:15-16
God not Ashamed to be Called His People's GodT. Boston, D. D.Hebrews 11:15-16
Heaven a Better CountryJ. Burns,D. D.Hebrews 11:15-16
Heaven Better than EarthJ. Quarles.Hebrews 11:15-16
Heaven DesirableH. W. Beecher.Hebrews 11:15-16
Heaven Prepared for the RighteousA. Bonar.Hebrews 11:15-16
Heaven PurchasedCawdray.Hebrews 11:15-16
Heaven the Country of the Christian's DesireJ. Burns, D. D.Hebrews 11:15-16
Heaven to be DesiredHebrews 11:15-16
Heaven, What it IsBaxendale's AnecdotesHebrews 11:15-16
Heavenly-MindednessR. Price, D. D.Hebrews 11:15-16
Longing for HeavenB. D. Johns.Hebrews 11:15-16
Man's True NobilityDean Vaughan.Hebrews 11:15-16
New Senses May be Developed in HeavenC. Stanford, D. D.Hebrews 11:15-16
On the Hope of HeavenJohn Drysdale, D. D.Hebrews 11:15-16
Ready for DeathGotthold.Hebrews 11:15-16
Scripture Better Understood in HeavenR. Baxter.Hebrews 11:15-16
The Better CountryW. M. Taylor, D. D.Hebrews 11:15-16
The Better CountryN. W. Taylor, D. D.Hebrews 11:15-16
The Better CountryHomilistHebrews 11:15-16
The Better CountryJohn Kelly.Hebrews 11:15-16
The Better CountryJohn Doggins.Hebrews 11:15-16
The Christian's Attitude in This WorldW. Jones Hebrews 11:15, 16
The Christian's Right to HeavenJ. Idrisyn Jones.Hebrews 11:15-16
The City of God, the True Object of Faith Always and EverywhereD. J. Vaughan, M. A.Hebrews 11:15-16
The City of the SaintsC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 11:15-16
The Desire for a Better CountryR. S. Storrs, D. D.Hebrews 11:15-16
The Joy of the Better CountryMiss Marsh.Hebrews 11:15-16
The Law of Righteousness in God Governs His WillD. D. Sheldon, . D. D.Hebrews 11:15-16
The Past and the FutureH. Bonar, D. D.Hebrews 11:15-16
What is HeavenJ. Clifford, D. D.Hebrews 11:15-16
And truly if they had been mindful of that country, etc. These words, telling us how the patriarchs regarded the country which they had left and the country for which they looked, suggest to us that the Christian's attitude in this world is that of -

I. RESOLUTE RENUNCIATION OF THE THINGS WHICH ARE BEHIND. And truly if the patriarchs "had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to return." Though having no possession in Canaan, they did not wish to go back to Ur of the Chaldees. Though strangers in Canaan, they did not desire to return to their old home to seek for friendships there; for had they wished to do so, opportunities were not lacking for the realization of such a wish. There are at least two senses in which the Christian has renounced the things which are behind.

1. He has no desire to return to a life of worldliness or of sin. He could do so if he wished, but he is not disposed to do so. He has no relish for those pursuits and pleasures of this world, which are followed without any thought of the life and the world which lie beyond. And a life of sin is abhorrent to him. To go back to the old life would be to pass from light into darkness, from liberty into bondage, from noble unrest to seek for ignoble satisfactions, and the true Christian will not entertain such an idea.

2. He has no desire to return to the past season,'s and experiences of life. There may be times when he has a brief and unhealthy longing for the lost innocence of childhood, or for the too-fleeting enjoyments of youth, or for the recurrence of past opportunities which were neglected or only partially improved. There are, we conceive, few persons but at times have painfully felt such longings. But the calm, considerate desire of the Christian is not to go back to any of these things. His judgment assures him that if he could return to the past, or recall departed seasons and opportunities, he would probably make no better use of them than he has already done. Hence, like St. Paul, he endeavors to "forget those things which are behind."

II. EAGER DESIRE FOR THE THINGS WHICH ARE BEFORE. "But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city."

1. The object of their desire. "They desire a better country, that is, a heavenly." Heaven is better than the best of earthly countries or homes. It is better:

(1) In its society. The Christian will not feel himself a stranger there; for he will be with kindred spirits. Good people here are not always agreeable; but in heaven the society is always genial and refreshing.

(2) In its services. The service of God is delightful at present, though that which we render is very imperfect in its character, and often interrupted in its exercise, and very contracted in its sphere. But hereafter we shall consecrate our perfected powers to him, and "serve him day and night in his temple," without weariness and with joy unspeakable.

(3) In its enjoyments. "In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." The heavenly enjoyments are distinguished for their purity, their plenitude, and their perpetuity.

(4) In its security. Sickness, sorrow, death, and sin, the prolific parent of suffering, cannot enter heaven. Verily, the heavenly is a better country.

2. The propriety of their desire. They who have received the Divine call, as the patriarchs had and the sincere Christian has, should aim at the end of their calling; they should seek to realize it, and endeavor to act up to it. In seeking the better country Christians are doing so; "wherefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God." It is fitting that the children should long for their Father's house; "wherefore God is not ashamed of them," etc.

3. The blessedness of their desire. It will end in full fruition. The longing which is never satisfied is only a protracted pain. The longing for what is worthy, and which is lost in its fulfillment, issues in blessedness. Such is the desire of the Christian. "God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city." If God by his promises had kindled their hopes only to disappoint them, he might be "ashamed to be called their God." If he was their God and Father, yet provided no home for his children, he might be "ashamed to be called their God." But he has provided for the satisfaction of the hopes which he has awakened; and the home for which they long he has established. "He hath prepared for them a city." Since we are journeying homeward:

1. Let us not be much concerned for either the pleasures or the possessions of this world.

2. Let us not count it a strange thing if we have some discomforts on the way.

3. Let us yet dread death, for it is the gate of admission into the city which God hath prepared for his people. - W.J.







If they had been mindful of that country.
I. THE FEELINGS OF A SAINT IN REFERENCE TO THE PAST. "And truly if they be mindful of that country, from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned." That is to say, the believing man has not forgotten the past; the past has not become a blank to him — his home, his country, his kindred, his honours, his comforts — all these are remembered. Moses remembered Egypt, Abraham remembered Chaldea; but though remembered, these things were not regretted — they were no longer coveted. It is not with us as with Lot's wife, casting a longing look behind. There is no looking back for the purpose of return; our face is steadfastly set to go up to Jerusalem. We are often tempted to -think of returning, and to repent our departure, but we yield not for a moment. We rejoice in the separation, we would not have it otherwise.

II. THE FEELINGS OF A SAINT IN REFERENCE TO THE FUTURE. "Now they desire a better kingdom, that is, an heavenly" (ver. 16). The believing man desires a better country; he says, 1 must have something better, higher, heavenlier, than anything which I have hitherto possessed. Nothing else can content me, or fill this soul of mine. His .faith has taken hold of the premises — it is to him the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. And with his faith his heart has gone up, to fix itself upon the things above; he cannot stay below. It is not that there is a continued compulsion forcing upon him the consideration of things to come; it is the necessity of his new nature which thus brings him irresistibly into connection with the things of God.

III. THE RECOMPENSE OF FAITH. "Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city." God might "well have been ashamed of them, for what was there in them that deserved His notice, far less such a recompense as this? Little indeed, yet that little He delights in. The special thing, because of which He is not ashamed, is their walk of faith, for the connection of this statement with the previous verse manifestly is intended "to bring out this. They trusted His bare promise just as Abraham did when he forsook Chaldea for an unknown inheritance. And this trusting the bare promise, without a sign or token given, so honours God that because of it He rejoices to be called their God. Such is the reward of faith that throws itself entirely upon God, and takes His promise as its all. And now let us learn these three things in reference to what faith does.

1. It turns our back upon the world, and draws us out of Egypt, nor does it allow us to think of returning. Remember what that world is that you profess to have left, and remember that in leaving it you severed links between you and it never to be replaced.

2. Faith keeps our face towards the kingdom. Our desires go upward to the better, even the heavenly, country.

3. Faith realises the kind of recompense and lives upon it. It not merely receives the truth that there is a recompense, but it realises that recompense, and sees that it is just such a recompense as meets our case, and makes up for the very things that we were called upon to relinquish when we left Egypt. We are strangers here, dwelling in tents; faith realises a city, as our abode hereafter, and such a city as earth has not seen — the New Jerusalem, a city provided for us by God.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

They desire a better country.
I. THE CONDITION OF THE CHRISTIAN IN THIS WORLD IS GOOD. Implied in the word "better."

1. His sufferings are good.

(1)They make us resemble Christ.

(2)They teach us to depend upon God.

(3)They serve to develop character. The unweeded garden — no flowers. The unpruned tree — little fruit.

2. His privileges are good.

(1)A good God.

(2)A good book.

(3)A good house.

(4)Good companionship.

(5)Good work.

II. THE CONDITION OF THE CHRISTIAN IN THE NEXT WORLD WILL BE SUPERIOR TO THIS.

1. The Christian is to live in the future.

(1)His nature is compound — body and spirit. Death is only a change in the mode of being.

(2)Life here is incomplete.

(3)The affections imply a future state. Love is of God, and God is eternal.

(4)The resurrection of Jesus Christ. "The First-Begotten from the dead."The life of the Christian in the future will be glorious.

(1)No sorrows.

(2)Better privileges.

(a)Fellowship with Christ without an intervening medium.

(b)Uninterrupted companionship with the perfect good.

(c)Engagement in perfect service. More strength. A pure soul in a perfect body. Boundless sphere of activity.

III. THE SUPERIORITY OF THE FUTURE TO THE PRESENT CREATES IN THE CHRISTIAN A WISH TO ENTER UPON IT.

1. The nature of the desire. A wish for something not in possession. This feeling is quite consistent with consecration to work here, and yet so much stronger as ever to be rising above it and triumphing over it. No ordinary attainment.

2. The influence of the desire.(1) In relation to the world.

(a)There should be no needless accumulation of temporal things.

(b)There should be no complaint if we do not possess much of them.

(c)Our chief enjoyment should not be found in using them.

(d)We should be prepared to leave them.(2) In relation to afflictions. Christians expect trials — prepares for them — hopes for better times.

(3)In relation to bereavement and death. Only a change. On Albert Durer's tombstone is engraved — "Emigrated: To be with Christ." When Christmas Evans was dying, he saw the chariot of God come to take him home, and cried out, "Drive on!"

(B. D. Johns.)

I. THE STATE OF SOUL HERE SPECIFIED. "They desire. That word denotes an ardent longing for the possession of something which we have not now, but which we may come ultimately to call our own, and when used as here to designate the attitude of a believing soul toward heaven, it is to be noted that it is a positive thing. It is not to be confounded With that dislike of the evils of the present life which is frequently mistaken for it. It is something altogether different from the mere absence of the desire to live, which many foolishly take to be a virtue. One may be repelled from earth without being attracted to heaven, and, indeed, the feelings of many more than himself were described by Voltaire when he said: "I hate life, but I dread death"; yet in neither of these emotions have we anything of that element of positive longing in which desire consists. Similarly we must not suppose that we can use that term to designate that submission to the inevitable which makes a man say, that if he must leave this world, though he would greatly prefer to stay in it, he would rather go to heaven than hell. Even true Christian resignation is not desire. We may bow to the will of God out of reverence to Him, and in the faith that it will somehow be ultimately for the best, and yet there may be no desire that, irrespective of its issue, the thing submitted to should come upon us. Unlike Paul (Philippians 1:23), we have a desire to remain with our friends and our work, but if God so wills we are resigned to depart. Here, there is submission without desire, h. feeling quite compatible with great enjoyment, and activity in the present life, and yet so much stronger than these as to be evermore rising above them and triumphing over them.

II. THE OBJECT TOWARDS WHICH" THIS STATE OF HEART IS DIRECTED. "The better land, that is, the heavenly." I waive altogether such curious questions as those which relate to the locality of heaven. The language of the apostle does not imply that this world is not a goodly land. True, it is sometimes likened to a wilderness, but then it is a wilderness in which God has made streams to flow for us from the rock, and manna to fall for us from the heavens, and through which He is guiding us by the pillar-cloud of His providence and His Spirit. The Christian is happy in this world. What then, to him, are the best things in this world? 'They are those in which he has the most of Christ, and they may be summed up under these three classes: Christian ordinances, Christian fellowship, and Christian work. In heaven we shall have all these in a higher degree than we have them here, and without the alloy with which they are here mingled, or the drawbacks to which they are here subjected.

III. THE INFLUENCE OF THIS DESIRE ON THOSE WHO CHERISH IT. "They confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." That confession has a threefold influence.

1. It keeps those who make it from regarding the things of this life as supreme. They do not build themselves into the world, or bound all their aims by the horizon of time.

2. It sustains the Christian under present afflictions. He is willing to put up with privation now, because he knows there is something better in store for him.

3. It gives consolation in bereavement, and joy in death.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

It may be said that all men have this desire for a better country. How is it, then, that it is the peculiar desire of those who are described to be heroic of faith? We shall find our answer by considering the nature of the true desire.

1. The true Christian's desire is for that which is sovereign in the better country, and that is character. This is the motto over the gate of that heavenly city: Within enters nothing "that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie." It is the pure desire for a better country that should be the supreme motive in the Christian's heart. It is a desire to be like our God. The Buddhist has a desire for the extinction of his personal consciousness so that he may be for ever at rest in Nirvana. The Mahammedan desires to reach his ideal paradise. The business man desires success in his business enterprises. But the Christian's desire is for character; and he who desires that desires truly the better country.

2. Then this must be a strong desire, not a mean, lazy, languid wish. The intensity of our desire is measured by an earnest striving, by vigorous working. The Christian shows the true desire to be like God by a living faith in His Son, and by thorough consecration to His service; by fervent prayer to God and by confidence in Christian friends. By these means we are to fit ourselves for the better country. Do you desire to cross the ocean? You enter the steamship and commit yourself to the care of the captain. Do men desire wealth? How they work for it, giving the best years of their life to its accumulation! Or fame? How they strive to attain it! Now, are you willing to work to enter that better country where character is the supreme good? Have you a great and strong desire, a steady and energetic reaching forward of the soul for a character that is ever true and pure?

3. Again, this must 'be an unselfish desire; a desire which seeks to benefit others as well as self. If a man simply wishes to go himself to this better country, he has not the true desire. He must seek to help others there. Right here is the origin of all missionary work. It is in a desire that the world may enter the heavenly country and have a right to the tree of life. This is the desire for a better country that God approves. This is the desire that Christ had, who tried to lift men to the highest and best life. A .desire for this true character will always be accompanied by a desire that all others may rejoice in the same noble character. This is the desire that discriminates character. It is first pure, then mighty, then unselfish. This is like the character of God, seeking to enrich and ennoble man. With this desire comes fortitude, whereby the Christian can stand strong against all foes. Nothing can trouble him then. Fear of death itself is swallowed up; for what is death to one who has this better country in view I It is this desire that builds up character. Show men lad with a strong purpose ever before him, and I will show you a life that will be crowned with success. It is here that the world has its strongest power over us for evil, in holding us back from the supreme desire for holiness. Out of this desire springs that earnest entreaty that will not let the Spirit go except it bless us. God chooses many ways to keep this motive supreme in our hearts. How often the disappointments and trials of life are used to lead us up to this desire! So the world itself, with all its sadness, its heartbreakings, its open graves, may lead us upward toward the sky.

(R. S. Storrs, D. D.)

I. The desire of this better country TENDS TO ANIMATE US TO MAINTAIN A STRICT AND WATCHFUL ATTENTION TO OURSELVES, that we may not be misled or ensnared by any of the temptations which surround us.

II. The real desire of the better country in heaven TENDS TO INSPIRE US WITH UNAFFECTED LOVE AND MERCY TO THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE, and to dispose us to the habitual exercise of these good affections.

III. The desire of future happiness TENDS TO COMPOSE OUR MINDS TO A GENEROUS INDIFFERENCE TOWARDS ALL THE DECEITFUL PLEASURES AND SATISFACTIONS OF THE PRESENT STATE. It disposes us to regard them in no higher a view than as the means of lightening the heaviness of our journey through this world.

IV. The earnest desire of heaven WILL DISPOSE OUR MINDS TO A READY COMPLIANCE WITH THE WILL OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE, and to a becoming resignation under all the calamities of the present state.

V. The hope of future happiness TENDS MOST EFFECTUALLY TO ARM OUR MINDS AGAINST THE APPROACH OF DEATH, and to extinguish all its terrors.

(John Drysdale, D. D.)

I. THE CHRISTIAN IN THE EXERCISE OF LIVELY FAITH PRACTICALLY REGARDS HEAVEN AS A REALITY. AS faith in man's testimony can make us act as if there was such a place as London, so faith in God's testimony can make us think, and feel, and act, as if there was such a place as heaven. The mind can bring itself under the same conviction that there is a God as that there are such beings as men; the same conviction that God has testified of the invisible realities of another world, as we have that men tell us of things we have never seen; and the same conviction that what God says is reality as we have that what men say is real. When we give up the mind. to God's testimony, as we give it up to man's testimony, then we have faith in God — the faith that gives reality to what He testifies. Faith, then, brings heaven to view, opens its gates, and looks in upon its glories. It sees the order, the harmony, the purity, and the joys of blessed spirits made perfect; it sees the Redeemer of men in exaltation there, and God in that fulness of His glory which imparts to heaven its raptures. Earth with heaven thus realised to the mind retires into the background of contemplation, and sinks away into comparative obscurity.

II. FAITH LEADS THE CHRISTIAN TO REGARD HEAVEN AS A SATISFYING PORTION. The man of the world looks not beyond this life for happiness. Exclusively devoted to schemes, s of earthly enjoyment, his cares and desires and efforts centre in their accomplishment. Not so with the Christian. By faith he is led to see by contrast with heaven how vain this world is, and to abandon it as his portion. True, he does not refuse — he gratefully receives — the blessings which Divine goodness provides for him. But then he does not regard them as essential to his happiness. He habitually looks beyond these, and regards his treasure as laid up in another world. The same principle leads him to form a just estimate of the trials of life. Shocks severe to nature may be received; and though not without emotion, yet not with despair, not with repining. He does not feel under the sorest bereavement that all is lost. His sufferings are but the chastisement of a paternal hand, and anything that promotes his fitness for the world of his hopes can be welcomed as a blessing. He seeks a better country. There will be no disappointment. Heaven will afford all the happiness his soul desires. "Already he kens its hills of salvation, where reigns eternal day, and where everlasting spring abides." Gird thyself, then, O my soul! and hold on thy course. Heaven will make ample amends for all the toils and sufferings of the way to it.

III. FAITH LEADS TO ARDENT DESIRES AND CHEERFUL EXPECTATIONS OF HEAVENLY HAPPINESS. Amid all the hopes of heavenly happiness cherished in this world, there is but little just conception of the nature of that happiness. All hope to go to heaven when they die, and to be happy there. But few inquire what heaven is, in what its happiness consists, and what qualifies for its enjoyment. Their hope is a vague, undefined hope of deliverance from dreaded evil. It has no warrant but their own wishes — wishes fixed, to say the least, with equal strength on continuance in sin as on exemption from its punishment. Not so with the Christian. Between his taste and the nature of heavenly happiness there is a holy correspondence. Heaven is just such a heaven as he desires and loves to think of. His soul in its affections and tastes accords with the pure and holy joys of that world, and his meditations of them are sweet. The Christian desires heaven as a place of perfect freedom from sin and of perfection in holiness. He looks to it as the place where the rays of the Deity will be softened to his inspection, where, surrounded with His glory, every desire will expire in the bosom of his God, and where, in the triumphs of perfect holiness, God's own blessedness will become the portion of his soul. Inseparable from all this are the desires of the Christian for the society and the employments of heaven with its more particular sources of happiness. The society of that world will be made up of an innumerable company of angels, and of redeemed men from "all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues." Of this bright host of happy spirits he hopes to be one. There, too, he expects to meet all the pious, redeemed from among men — those with whom he has prayed, and suffered, and taken sweet counsel in this vale of tears. There he hopes to be re-united to those pious friends, if such he had — a husband, wife, parent, child — who have gone before or shall come after him; all those who, as labourers together with God, are accomplishing His designs of mercy in this guilty world — all these he hopes to meet as friends and companions for ever. Not less delightful to him is the anticipation of the employments of heaven. These consist in active beneficence and in the pure and perfect worship of God. Remarks"

1. What support under the trials of life has the Christian in the exercise of lively faith? What if the world deceives and disappoints his hopes, heaven is a reality. What if poverty with its evils afflicts and depresses, a rich and a heavenly inheritance is his portion. What if the world afflicts in any shape, how light must appear all its trials with the prospect of eternal glory ever dawning on the soul!

2. We may see why Christians derive so little present consolation from the prospect of future happiness which the Bible reveals. It is not that the reality of such a world is not sufficiently evinced to their understandings — it is not that there is not enough in it as an anticipated possession to gladden every step of their earthly pilgrimage. It is that their affections are still so strongly fixed on the world that their conceptions of happiness are in such a degree confined to the enjoyments which earth can give. With such a state of mind it is impossible that they should see heaven in that aspect of reality, and of course with those desires and expectations which elevate the soul above this world.

3. The Christian desires heaven as the world in which God's glory — His capacity to bless His moral creation — will be fully displayed. There all that is comprehensive in the wisdom of God shall be revealed, without a cloud to obscure it, in the view of the happy beings assembled to behold it. There the glory of His power is seen in removing every evil — in creating every good — in enlarging the capacity of creatures for purer and higher joys — in lavishing to bless, the wonders of Omnipotence upon them. There the glories of His justice shall shine as the pledge and security of the everlasting perfection of the holy. There the holiness of God in all its lustre will beam forth to illuminate every mind and transform it into His own image from glory to glory. There will be seen the glory of His goodness, telling all in the ecstasies of heaven that " God is love." In a word, there all the attributes of the Deity are fully expressed; the glory scattered throughout the universe will be collected as in a sun, making that world the scene of His glories. And there, with an emphasis which the reality only can give to the inspired thought, it will be seen and felt by all in heaven that "God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city."

(N. W. Taylor, D. D.)

I. THE COUNTRY REFERRED TO. "A better country, that is an heavenly." Sometimes heaven is described as a city — a kingdom — a temple — an inheritance. In the text it is called a country, doubtless in allusion to the country of Canaan, which was a striking type of the heavenly rest.

1. It is a more exalted country. The most glorious part of the Creation.

2. It is a more holy country. No sin within its happy territories.

3. It is a more healthful country. No bodily, no mental, no spiritual afflictions there.

4. It is a more happy country. Sources of disquietude, grief, and pain, unfeared and unknown.

5. A more abiding country. Not to be pilgrims, but residents.

6. It is a better country, as it is the region of perfection and of consummate glory. Perfect capacities — perfect enjoyments-perfect security — perfect employments. Bliss unchanging and unchangeable.

II. BELIEVERS DESIRE THIS BETTER COUNTRY.

1. They have secured a title to it. By faith in Christ Jesus they are accepted of God, are His children, and if children, then heirs, &c.

2. They are labouring for a meetness to enjoy it.

3. They labour and pray for it.

4. They converse of it, and live in the hope of its eternal enjoyment.Application:

1. Encourage believers to go forward, diligently, with cheerfulness, until an abundant entrance is administered unto them through the gates into the city.

2. Endeavour to persuade the thoughtless children of this vain world to become interested in matters relative to their immortal welfare, and to seek this better country.

(J. Burns,D. D.)

Homilist.
I. ITS NAME (Revelation 2:7).

II. ITS LOCALITY (Psalm 140:13).

III. ITS CLIMATE (Isaiah 33:24).

IV. ITS PRODUCTIONS (Revelation 22:2).

V. ITS EXTENT (Luke 14:27).

VI. ITS SECURITY (Deuteronomy 33:28).

(Homilist.)

I. THE REVELATION CONCERNING HEAVEN.

1. A heavenly place. Habitation of God.

2. A state.

II. IN WHAT RESPECTS IS IT A BETTER COUNTRY THAN THIS?

1. It is a sinless country.

2. It is a healthful country.

3. It is a country inhabited by perfect beings.

4. It is a country of better enjoyments.

III. THE DESIRE WHICH ALL TRUE BELIEVERS HAVE FOR ITS POSSESSION. Others may wish, but the true Christian really desires it. This desire —

1. Is formed in regeneration, Born for and from above. New nature tends upwards.

2. Is cultivated by sanctifying grace. Growing in grace is growing in meetness, &c.

3. Is heightened by spiritual visits to it. He ascends in prayer, in faith, in hope.

4. Is exhibited in holy diligence to obtain it. He labours to enter; he gives all diligence.Application:

1. This better country is offered to all who will set out on the heavenly pilgrimage.

2. How truly blest are all the children of the heavenly Zion.

3. There is a worse country, the world of woe, of darkness, of despair, of endless death. Flee from it now.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

I. A LAND OF LIFE. The glorious company of the redeemed who inhabit that country shall never be broken up. The fear of death shall never cast a shade upon their happiness to all eternity. The life that is the portion of all who dwell there is pure, perfect, unmingled with a single taint of evil.

II. A LAND OF REST. What your fireside is to you after a long and busy day, when every bone is aching; what home is to a soldier, soiled, and worn out after a long campaign; or to a sailor, after a long, a perilous voyage — all this, and infinitely more, is " the rest that remaineth " to the child of God at the close of his pilgrimage. The better country, where this rest will be enjoyed, is not, however, a land of idleness. It will be, I believe, a land of manifold and ceaseless activity. Every power will find full scope and constant employment, but, without any hindrance, opposition, or drawback from within or without, without any weakness or imperfection, will find rest in activity.

III. A LAND OF PLENTY. How much of our time and strength here is consumed in procuring the means to buy food and raiment! Most men need the stimulus of want to make them work; and this stimulus it is which swells the ceaseless tide of emigrants from our own to distant climes. Is it not a blessed thought, that in the better country we shall be freed from these earthly cares?

IV. THE LAND OF EVERLASTING REUNIONS.

(John Kelly.)

1. I shall first desire you to consider the nature and the magnitude of that bliss which is reserved for good men in that better country towards which they are tending. It is to consist in seeing and knowing God, in being made better acquainted with His ways and works and the wonders of the Creation in the highest intellectual and moral improvements — in better opportunities of being extensively useful — in living and reigning with Christ, and sharing in that glory to which He is raised as our Redeemer. But what most deserves our attention with respect to this happiness is, that it will be eternal in its duration. This makes the value of it properly infinite. Through boundless ages we are to be improving and rising under the eye and care of the Almighty. I must add that we have reason to depend on this happiness as certain to be enjoyed. God, who cannot lie, has promised it to us, and His Sen came into the world to acquire the power of recovering us from death and of introducing us to it. Think now what a happiness this is. Need I ask you whether if does not invite or demand your warmest ambition and wishes?

2. In order to render ourselves more sensible of this, let us compare with it the happiness we enjoy in this world, and the circumstances of imperfection that attend the present state. It is an infant and probationary state. Our faculties being net yet fully opened, and our situation not admitting of our looking far into the Creation, we understand nothing fully. Difficulties obstruct us in our inquiries, and distressing doubts often perplex us. The present state is also a state in which we are subject to much trouble; and dangers surround us in it, against which we are obliged to be perpetually on our guard. But what is worst of all is, that the present world is a wicked world. It exhibits to us a sad scene of guilt and degeneracy. Again, this life is of short duration. Were our happiness in it ever so great, the time for enjoying it is short. Such is the present state. What then is it when viewed in competition with that which I have before described? Can we prefer darkness to light, tumult to quietness, and slavery to liberty?

3. I am lad from hence to observe that an earthly-minded temper is low and sordid, but that the contrary temper confirms the highest dignity and honour. Not to aim at the perfection we are made for — to suffer ourselves to creep on the earth, though capable of aspiring to heaven — what can be more base? Heaven is your home, there let your affections be. Heaven is your country, there let your desires tend. Be not so cruel to yourselves as to suffer any temptation to turn off your attention from your best and highest good. Be not so ungrateful to God, as, notwithstanding His goodness in designing you for a glorious immortality, to declare by your actions that you care not for it.

4. I would point out to you the advantages, with respect to our present interest, which will attend such a temper as I am recommending. The worst that can happen to us here will appear trifling to one who considers with a lively faith that our present afflictions, which are for a moment, work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Heavenly-mindedness, therefore, will give the best support under afflictions. Amidst the storms of this world it places us in the situation of a person elevated to the upper regions of the air, who there sees the clouds spread at his feet, and hears the thunder roar below him.

5. In the next place it should be considered that heavenly-mindedness will be one of the best proofs of our fitness for heaven and title to it. If you would know where your treasure is, you must inquire where your hearts are.

6. Lastly, let me set before you the particular obligations we are under, as Christ's disciples, to cultivate heavenly-mindedness. The design of the gospel is to draw off our affections from. things temporal. It teaches us that we are strangers and pilgrims, and therefore commands us to abstain from fleshly lusts.

(R. Price, D. D.)

I. HEAVEN IS A PLACE OF FREEDOM FROM ALL EVIL. NO sin, and therefore no suffering. What a "better" world this would be if both were at an end, and God's will done as it is done in heaven. Wars would cease; national and individual animosities; tyranny and anarchy; intemperance and every form of vice; heathenism and superstition, with their manifold horrors — all would disappear, and Divine love and peace would rule in every heart.

II. HEAVEN IS THE CHRISTIAN'S HOME AND FATHERLAND.

III. HEAVEN IS THE CHRISTIAN'S PROMISED INHERITANCE. God's people have an heritage (Psalm 61:5); they enjoy an earnest of it here, but wait for full possession till they enter on their majority.

1. Its nature, "Incorruptible."

2. Its splendour. It is a "mansion" — which indicates its stability as well as its grandeur.

3. Its extent may be inferred from many passages of Scripture.

IV. HEAVEN WILL BE THE:FULFILMENT OF MAN'S DESIRE FOR PERFECTED LIFE AND IMMORTALITY.

(John Doggins.)

No one cries when children, long absent from their parents, go home. Vacation morning is a jubilee. But death is the Christian's vacation morning. School is out. It is time to go home. It is surprising that one should wish life here, who may have life in heaven.

(H. W. Beecher.)

The Christian, at his death, should not be like the child, who is forced by the rod to quit his play, but like one who is wearied of it, and willing to go to bed. Neither ought he to be like the mariner, whose vessel is drifted by the violence of the tempest from the shore, tossed to and fro upon the ocean, and at last suffers wreck and destruction; but like one who is ready for the voyage, and, the moment the wind is favourable, cheerfully weighs anchor, and, full of hope and joy, launches forth into the deep.

(Gotthold.)

Are you not very conscious of the detaching power of sorrow? Ah! but it is attaching too — only the attaching to things not seen.

(F. R. Havergal.)

It is said of Tully, when he was banished from Italy, and of Demosthenes, when he was banished from Athens, that they wept every time they looked towards their own country; and is it strange that a poor deserted believer should mourn every time he looks heavenward? The hope of heaven: — What has been the great, and what is now one of the strongest and most influential powers or motives in the human heart? A desire to find some better place, some lovelier spot, than we now have. For what does the tradesman toil? For what does the physician practise? For what does man hope at the decline and the close of life? Some sheltered nook, some quiet spot, where, if he cannot have a rest that will never be moved, he may have, at least, a foretaste and foreshadow of it. What was it that carried Columbus across the western wave, amid insubordination within his ship, and the unexpectedly wild waves that roared and curled around and without? What sustained him on the unsound sea, amid the untraversed waste of waters? The hope of a better country. What was it that sustained the hearts of the Pilgrim Fathers, when, driven forth from this land by stern ecclesiastical persecution, they went to the far distance, and across the western wave, and feared not the ironbound coast or the rugged and unknown territory on which they set foot? It was the hope and prospect of a better, even a free and peaceful country.

(J. Cumming, D. D.)

There is light without darkness, joy without grief, desire without punishment, love without sadness, satiety without loathing, safety without fear, health without disease, and life without death.

(J. Quarles.)

Heaven is the more desirable, because there I shall better understand the Scriptures than here I can ever hope to do. To leave my Bible, and go to the God and heaven which the Bible reveals, will be no otherwise my loss than to leave the picture for the presence of my friend.

(R. Baxter.)

He (Rev. W. Marsh, D.D.) told us of Mr. Simeon's mode of describing a Christian's death. "Who are you?" (looking back). "Sorrow." "And who are you?" "Sighing." Then stretching his hands upward — "And who are you? Joy." "And who are you? Gladness." "Then, farewell, Sorrow, farewell, Sighing; Joy and Gladness, I will go with you!"

(Miss Marsh.)

Four elements enter into the Christian conception of the blessed life.

1. That of rest from the anxiety and care, the strife and pain of our present existence; but, as Baxter says, not "the rest of a stone," or as a later theologian, Dr. Strong, writes, "A rest consistent with service, an activity without weariness, a service which is perfect freedom." This is one of the earliest and is also one of the most current modes of representing heaven.

2. Next comes the idea of fellowship with and conformity to Christ, and all that is Christly; the actualising of the ideal of life and character, involving a progress in knowledge, in goodness, in gentleness, in purity, and in love. Paul and Bernard, Luther and Wesley were gladdened and sustained in heroic and self-sacrificing service by the anticipation of such an eternal life.

3. Emerson tells the story of a woman coming from a midland town to the sea, and exclaiming, "Thank God, at last I have seen something of which there is enough." A similar gratitude seems to have been inspired by the visions of the endless life given to men. At its best our earthly life is partial, fragmentary, broken and splintered; but that is a perfect whole, a complete unity, a joy-giving harmony. The apostles John and Paul, and the Puritan, John Howe, represent hosts of yearning spirits that have felt the spell of the complete life of the heavenly world.

4. But no statement of Christian opinion concerning heaven would be true that left out the expectation of service, "His servants do Him service." Pascal did not hesitate to assert that the want of occupation for our moral energies in the future would turn heaven into hell. Maurice, on being told his lifework was ended, said, "If I may not preach here I may preach in other worlds." On Mr. Dobney's tombstone is the affirmation, "He hath obtained a better ministry." One phase of that manifold service is illustrated in the history of the doctrine of Christ's descent into Hades. Christian interpreters of the second and nineteenth centuries have clung to the idea that the activities of Christians in the eternal state will be directed to the revelation of Christ to those who have passed out of this life without enjoying the privilege of attaining to that highest knowledge. Peter, Irenaeus, Martensen, Delitzsch, Luckock, and many others might be cited in support of this position. I only mention this as one item in the evidence, showing that the dominant conception of eternity amongst enlightened Christians is not that of " idleness and uselessness."

(J. Clifford, D. D.)

New Cyclopaedia of Illustrations.
An aged Christian, living in the poorhouse, while conversing with a minister, showed signs of much joy. As a reason for it, she said, "Oh, sir! I was just thinking what a change it will be from the poorhouse to heaven!"

(New Cyclopaedia of Illustrations.)

It does not seem unphilosophical to anticipate that with the new mode of existence, new organs of sense will be developed, in nature and numbers beyond conjecture, opening to our knowledge glorious phases and phenomena of the material universe, which we, now endowed with only five senses, are at present unable to perceive.

(C. Stanford, D. D.)

Sir William Hamilton makes the following quotation from one of Voltaire's Philosophical Romances: "Tell me, says Micromegas, an inhabitant of one of the planets of the Dog Star, to the secretary of the Academy of Sciences, in the planet Saturn, at which he had recently arrived in a journey through the heavens, "Tell me how many senses have the men on your globe? .... We have seventy-two senses," answered the academician, "and we are every day complaining of the smallness of the number. Our imagination goes far beyond our wants. What are seventy-two senses? And how pitiful a boundary, even for beings of such limited perceptions, to be cooped up within our ring and our five moons. In spite of our curiosity, and in spite of as many passions as can result from six dozen senses, we find our hours hang very heavily on our hands, and can always find time enough for yawning." "I can very well believe it," says Micromegas, "for in our globe we have very near one thousand senses; and yet, with all these, we feel continually a sort of listless inquietude and vague desire, which are for ever telling us that we are nothing, and that there are beings infinitely nearer perfection."

(Lectures on Metaphysics.)

In the reign of Queen Mary a man named Palmer was condemned to die. He was earnestly persuaded to recant, and among other things, a friend said to him, "Take pity on thy golden years and pleasant flowers of youth before it is too late." His beautiful reply was, "Sir, I long for those springing flowers which shall never fade away."

Not ashamed to be called their God.
We perceive here a reference to these two ideas. First, that there belongs to God the perfection of moral character — the character which we denote when we say that He loves righteousness and hates wickedness. And secondly, that He exhibits this character, by acting in a public capacity, in the view of the moral universe, who will be constituted, if I may so speak, the judges of His acts. As thus lying open to the knowledge and the judgment of all moral beings, He is not ashamed to be called the Rewarder of the men of faith and of righteousness.

I. THERE IS IN GOD THE BASIS OF A TRULY RIGHTEOUS CHARACTER. There belongs to Him the reality of righteousness in its highest perfection. In order to mean anything by this language, we must understand it to assert that He possesses in the highest measure the character which we denote by the word righteousness, when we apply it to men. There is in God the same rule of moral judgment which we find in ourselves. The law of righteousness in God is no more the creation of His will than the law of righteousness in man is the creation of man's will. The law of righteousness in God as much governs the acts of His will as the law of righteousness in man is required to govern the acts of man's will. We thus make the foundations of moral truth the great law of righteousness, independent of any will whatever. We lodge them in the eternal Divine nature; in the necessary being and perfection of God; that perfection which belongs to Him as the Possessor, independently of His will, of all moral ideas. This is the only way in which we can think of God with a becoming reverence. Thus alone can we give significance to the question of Abraham: "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"

II. LET US NEXT CONTEMPLATE GOD AS ACTING IN A PUBLIC CAPACITY, IN THE VIEW OF HIS CREATURES, AND EXHIBITING TO THEM HIS MORAL PERFECTION. In this way He constitutes His creatures, in some sort, the judges of His acts. Of course, I cannot mean that He renders Himself amenable to any partial and prejudiced judgments of His creatures, or that He encourages in any way a presumptuous and self-confident spirit on the part of men. But I mean, that in proportion as we and other mortal beings will judge broadly and wisely, according to the best light we can get, and the best opportunities which our growing experience and observation may supply, both we and they shall see the ever-accumulating proofs of His perfect moral character. We have, then, in the text a two-fold argument to show that God, in His public capacity as moral Governor and Judge, will deal righteously with all His creatures. The argument is drawn conjointly from the law of righteousness in God, and from the relation in which He has placed Himself to the moral universe. As a moral Governor, He stands pledged to all other moral beings to administer His government over each and all of them according to the rules of perfect wisdom and righteousness. In the word righteousness we include also every consistent manifestation of goodness. We will illustrate this double security for the perfection of the Divine administration, by referring to some of t, he ways in which God acts publicly, in the view of His creatures, and thus gives them an opportunity of judging His acts. Everything in His treatment of moral agents belongs here. But we will now confine ourselves to the view of Him, first, as rewarding the righteous, and secondly, as punishing the wicked; for we shall thus embrace somewhat of His previous conduct towards both classes. God, we are told, will render to every man according to His deeds. There is included in the idea of rewards and of punishments a reference to the particular character and conduct of each one, and a like reference to the means and opportunities enjoyed by each for ascertaining his duty and forming his character aright. Now, in relation to those whom He will accept as His children, and admit to His fellowship and favour, the language and spirit of our text justify us in saying that He will make an open exhibition of His perfect righteousness, mingled suitably with His goodness and mercy. We may be confident that He will reward nothing but virtue, and we can further tell in what the reward will consist. It will be no mere arbitrary exaltation, nothing which is not in due proportion and correspondence to the righteous character itself. All this we may conclude from the fact that the righteous Rewarder of men will make a public illustration of His own character in assigning the rewards. He will do nothing in the way of favouritism; everything will be determined by the rules of moral fitness. So also with the retributions which may overtake the wicked. All these will be determined by the rules of moral fitness. There will be nothing in their nature and severity, and nothing in their duration, which the Scriptures speak of as eternal, to which the enlightened conscience of the moral universe will not respond.

(D. D. Sheldon, . D. D.)

Doctrine

I. THAT HOWEVER MEAN AND LOW THOSE RE WHO HAVE FORSAKEN THIS WORLD FOR GOD, LOOKING FOR A BETTER, GOD IS NOT ASHAMED OF THEM, OR ON THEIR PART, TO BE CALLED THEIR GOD.

1. To explain the import of this their privilege. It imports —(1) That He is their God, how mean soever their lot be. Whatever they want they have Him for their God (Hebrews 8:10). But what can persons make of this in the want of earthly enjoyments? We answer, They may make all of it that is necessary to full contentment of heart (Habakkuk 3:17, 18). Full protection, full provision, for time and eternity, there is nothing more can be needed (Psalm 142:5).(2) That He takes such a pleasure in them, and puts such an honour on them, that though the world should cast out their name as evil, He surnames Himself by them, and brings their name into His (Matthew 17:32).(3) That He allows them to call Him their own God(John 20:28).(4) That He allows them to depend on Him as their God, and to improve their relation to Him for all which they need; whoever casts them off, or refuses to help them, God will never put off His people with names, without the things signified by these names. If He is called their God, He will own His name in effect and reality; and indeed be a God to them, to all the intents and purposes of the covenant (Genesis 17:7).(5) That He will own Himself to be their God before the world, whoever disown them.(6) That He reckons it His honour to be their God, even though men should be ashamed to rub shoulders with them (Isaiah 46:13; 2 Corinthians 8:23).

2. To give the reasons of the point. Among other reasons, there are the following:(1) Because they have embraced Him in the covenant, for their all, in opposition to the world, and all that is therein; which shows a nobleness of spirit in them, the certain product of His own Spirit.(2) Because they quit the world's certainty for Divine hope, and trust Him for an unseen portion to themselves, as preferable to all that the world can afford, believing He will glorify His all-sufficiency and His faithfulness in the promise, laying all their weight upon them (Romans 4:20, 21).(3) Because they can take up with nothing less than a God for their portion, by which they discover a peculiar elevation of spirit, the effect of Divine grace (Philippians 3:8).(4) Because, in their way and walk, they are of a character distinguished from the men of the world (Philippians 3:18-21). They dare not take the way of the world, their souls hate it, as being opposite to the manners of the country to which they are going.

3. Improve this point. Hence, see —(1) That carnal worldlings are none of those whose God the Lord is (Matthew 6:24).(2) That such as having weighed all things, have forsaken the world for God, and fixed their desires on Him and the better world, intent to be there whatever their lot in this world be; and to enjoy God in Christ as their God and portion, however small their portion be of this world's good things; they may be sure God is their God, and He will own it, though, by reason of the weakness of their faith, they have much ado to plead it.(3) That God is worthy to be chosen for our God in covenant; and therefore I exhort you to make choice of Him for your all, and give up with the world henceforth, that ye may be pilgrims and strangers in it. Doctrine

II. THAT WHATEVER HARDSHIPS HIS PEOPLE MAY SUFFER FOR HIS SAKE, HE IS NOT ASHAMED ON HIS PART TO BE CALLED THEIR GOD, HAVING PREPARED FOR THEM THE HEAVENLY CITY, WHICH WILL MAKE UP ALL LOSSES.

1. To show in what respects the heavenly city is prepared for the pilgrims who have forsaken this world for God, looking for a better.(1) In respect of eternal destination in the decree of election before the world was made (Matthew 25:34).(2) In respect of purchase, by the sufferings and death of Christ. It is therefore called the purchased possession (Ephesians 1:13).(3) In respect of possession taken of it already in their name, by our Lord Jesus entering into it, as a public person, at His ascension (Hebrews 6:20).(4) In respect of readiness to receive them in their own persons.

2. To give the reasons of the point —(I) Because the happiness of the city, if they were once come there, will more than balance all the hardships in their pilgrimage that they had to undergo for His sake. Why should He be ashamed to be called their God, be their lot in the world as bad as it can be? The glory of the city will more than balance all the contempt, reproach, &c.(2) Because they are not far from the city. They will soon be there (Psalm 90:10).(3) Because in the meantime there is a communication betwixt them and this city, so that the whole of what they need may come from it.(4) Because the very faith and hope, which they entertain as to this city, is sufficient to support them under all their hardships (2 Corinthians 4:17, 18).

3. To improve this point. It serves —(1) To pour shame on the wisdom and way of the world. And this —(a) In that they reckon it wisdom not to quit a seen advantage for an unseen one, certainty (as they call it) for hope (Psalm 4:6).(b) In that they are ready to be ashamed of God's people, because of the hardships they are laid under in their pilgrimage through the world. This their way is their folly; for whatever their lot be God is not their God and portion.(2) Serves to instruct in several duties, those who profess to be pilgrims in the world, and to have taken God for their God, looking for a better world. Such as —(a) Be not ashamed of Him, to be called His people (Mark 8:38).(b) Be not ye a shame and dishonour to Him, by your cleaving to the world, and the way of the world (Romans 2:24).(c) Do not decline the hardest piece of the doing-work of religion for Him. Engage in the whole without exception. Have respect to all His commandments (Psalm 119:6).(d) Shift not the Cross of Christ, but be ready to suffer for Him as He may call you (2 Timothy 2:12).(e) Walk like the expectants of heaven, citizens of the city above prepared for you by your God. This city will far more than compensate for your sufferings, for all the difficult and hard steps ye may have in your way thither.(f) Spend the time of your sojourning in making ready, and preparing for that city which the Lord has prepared for His people.

(T. Boston, D. D.)

This stretching forth of the soul's hand after a heavenly country is man's patent of nobility. God might be ashamed of the poor grovelling thing which, having intellect, having reason, having a heart and a soul, can rest in things seen. God might be ashamed of the creature that is satisfied with the created, and finds in human honour and human love the fulfilment of capacities capable of the everlasting. But God is not, cannot be, ashamed of the creature that feels itself on earth an exile and a sojourner; feels that it hath here neither citizenship nor yet abiding-place; feels that nothing can satisfy but the Spring and Source of Being; feels that "with Him is the fountain of life, and that in His light alone it can ever see light." He is "not ashamed" of these, "to be surnamed" — to add to His other titles of glory and Deity, the appellation, self-chosen, "God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob." "Not ashamed," and He proved it — "for He prepared for them" — there is no "hath" in the Greek — "prepared" for them, that is, in the eternity that is behind — prepared for them when the "foundations" of the everlasting "city" were laid before the world was — "He prepared for them" in that invisible past a "city." Not a "country " alone, which they might recognise as their natal and ante-natal home; but a state and a polity too, which is more than a place, more than a dwelling — having laws also, and institutions, and citizens — even that "kingdom" of God Himself, which is the revelation of Christ in the gospel.

(Dean Vaughan.)

He hath prepared for them a city.
I. GOD HAS PREPARED FOR HIS PEOPLE A FUTURE AND HEAVENLY HABITATION.

1. Divine revelation brings immortality to light.

2. That the God of our salvation has prepared a city of habitation for the saints beyond the grave, appears evidently from the design of our Saviour's sufferings, and the infinite merit of His atoning sacrifice. His blood was the price paid for their heavenly inheritance, and by dying He obtained their eternal redemption.

3. As our Lord Jesus Christ, by the shedding of His own blood, has purchased the heavenly inheritance for His people, so His resurrection from the dead is a sure pledge of their eternal triumphs over death and the grave.

4. That there remains a city of habitation prepared for the righteous in Christ, may be proved from many plain promises of Scripture, given by Him who cannot lie, and yielding strong consolation to those who have fled to the Saviour.

II. CONTEMPLATE THAT FUTURE ABODE OF THE SAINTS AS A BETTER AND AN HEAVENLY CITY.

1. This comparison of heaven to a city prepared for the righteous, includes rest from all the fatigues of their journey.

2. A city also implies society and fellowship, and leads forward our contemplations to the happy intercourse of the glorified above.

3. This comparison of heaven to a city implies safety and privilege.

4. Finally, heaven is styled a city, to distinguish it from the tents in which travellers lodge for a night, and to denote the perpetuity of future happiness.

III. How important it is for all those who expect heaven, TO LIVE EVERY DAY UNDER THE LIVELY IMPRESSIONS AND PROSPECTS OF THE FUTURE AND BETTER WORLD.

1. The first advantage is increasing sanctification. They are excited to holiness by the powerful consideration, that without it no man can see the Lord.

2. The expectation of heaven promotes the Christian's patience and tranquillity of spirit.

3. The believing expectation of heaven promotes the Christian's triumph and joy, amidst the depressing events of life.

(A. Bonar.)

The first outline of that future city of God was suggested to Abraham's mind by the words of promise: "I will bless thee,... and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." The hope held out to him was a hope, in which not he only, nor his descendants only, but all the families of the earth, were interested. The prospect was vague, but large. Its largeness was its glory. Its power to elevate grew out of this. The city of God, you will readily see, is another name for the kingdom of God; or, more exactly, both are names for the same eternal reality. Only the two names present the same thing to us under two somewhat different aspects. The phrase, "The Kingdom of God," suggests at once the thought of the king and his royal rule, its righteousness, its wholesome severity, its abounding all-embracing love. The phrase, "The city of God," suggests not so much this, as the thought of organisation, that which is described in the twelfth chapter of the Epistle, as the "General assembly and Church of the first-born enrolled in heaven"; each citizen, and each group of citizens, having an appointed place in the vast organism, a work to do, a function to discharge. It is not difficult to see with what ennobling power this thought must have come to the soul of Abraham: I, then — even I — insignificant atom of humanity that I am; I, and my descendants have a place in this great city, whose Constructor is the great God Himself. We are links in the vast chain, which reaches from the hoar past to the boundless future. It is for us to receive and transmit the Divine blessing. But if I have estimated Abraham's vision of the city of God with any correctness whatever, we can hardly fail to confess how lamentably imperfect our own vision of that eternal city too often is: especially in that we think of our own relation to that city, as possible citizens of it, in the future after death; but do not think of it, as that to which we belong now, as truly as we shall belong to it hereafter; and as that, in which all men have the liveliest interest along with ourselves. Thus we are ever in danger of losing out of our field of view the very elements of life and power, which wrought so mightily for good upon the soul of Abraham. And, in so far as this is the case, we miss the regenerating influences which came to him through his faith in that city. It will be a blessed thing for our religion, when we learn to substitute for our own vague natural notions about heaven and about going to heaven when we die, the true Scriptural conceptions of the city and the kingdom of God. It is no easy matter to do this. The magnitude and grandeur of the Scriptural ideas overpower and awe us. We shrink from them into something slighter, nearer, more trivial and commonplace. But the Bible will never have justice done to it — will never exercise its full native power upon us to elevate and heal; until, instead of reading our own notions into it, as we are so apt to do, we learn to receive by steady, docile contemplation the thoughts which it was designed to impress upon us. Meanwhile, we can at least be sensible of our ignorance, and open our hearts humbly to further light. There is no reason why, from this moment forwards, we should not recognise and bow before the vastness and the mystery of that kingdom and city and heavenly country, to which by our spirits we even now belong, and in which we may, even now and here, become loyal and obedient citizens. Then will that city of God begin to exercise its natural attraction upon us. It will draw us upwards out of our selfish, sinful nature; just as it drew Abraham, and Jacob, and Joseph, and the long line of saints, and heroes, commemorated in this muster-roll of the great and good. It will be true of us, as of them: "God is not ashamed to be called their God."

(D. J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Like as if a man were assured that there were made for him a great purchase in Spain or Turkey, so that, if he would but come thither, he might enjoy it, he would adventure the dangers of the sea, and of enemies also, if need were, that he might come to his own; even so, seeing that Christ Jesus hath made a purchase for us in heaven, and there is nothing required of us but that we will come and enjoy it, we ought to refuse no pains or fear in the way, but carefully strive to get it.

(Cawdray.)

Baxendale's Anecdotes.
A scoffing infidel of considerable talents, being once in the company of a person of slender intellect, but of genuine piety, and supposing, no doubt, that he should obtain an easy triumph in the display of his ungodly wit, put the following question to him: "I understand, sir, that you expect to go to heaven when you die; can you tell me what sort of a place heaven is?" "Yes, sir," replied the Christian; "heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people; and if your soul is not prepared for it, with all your boasted wisdom, you will never enter there."

(Baxendale's Anecdotes.)

New Cyclopaedia of Illustrations.
A man dreamed that he stood beside the guarded gate of heaven, when the spirit of a rich man came and sought admittance on the ground of his wealth and local fame. He was reminded that those things belong to time only, and turned away in despair. Another sought entrance on the ground of his integrity, but was repulsed by the angel, saying, "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified." A third pleaded his denominational zeal, fervent prayers, and deep feeling, but was refused with the remark, "There is no name given under heaven, or among men, whereby we must be saved, but the name of Jesus." At length, a spirit was seen winging its way through the air, all the while crying, "The blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin." To it the gates of heaven flew wide open; and the angel said, "An abundant entrance is ministered to you into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."

(New Cyclopaedia of Illustrations.)

The late Rev. Robert Thomas, of Hanover, was once asked if he felt sure of going to heaven when he died. We heard him reply, "Where else can I go?"

(J. Idrisyn Jones.)

A city is a place of genial associations. In a lonely hamlet one has little company. In a city, especially where all the inhabitants shall be united in one glorious brotherhood, the true communism of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity may be realised in the purest sense and highest possible degree. In a city such as this there are plentiful occasions for intercourse, where mutual interests shall enhance mutual joy. "He hath prepared a city." It is a city too possessing immunities, and conferring dignity upon its residents. To be a burgess of the city of London is thought to be a great honour, and upon princes is it sometimes conferred; but, we shall have the highest honour that can be given, when we shall be citizens of the city which God has prepared.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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