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whether heaven is, or is not, in part, the reward of our own good works? Now it appears to me that there is one word in my text, whose voice authoritatively and summarily settles that matter; and would have always settled it, had not men's hearts been fired with angry passions, and their ears confused with the din of battle. That word is inheritance. What is inheritance? The pay of a soldier is not inheritance ; neither are the fees of a lawyer or of a physician ; nor the gains of trade; nor the wages of labor. Rewards of toil or skill, these are earned by the hands that receive them. What is inherited, on the other hand, may be the property of a new-born babe ; and so you may see the coronet, which was won by the stout arm of valor, and first blazoned on a battered shield, standing above the cradle of a wailing infant. True, the ample estate, the noble rank, the hereditary. honors
But they that won them are long dead ; “their swords are rust, their bodies dust ;” and underneath tattered banners, once borne before them in bloody fight, but now hung high in the house of God, the grim old barons sleep in their marble tombs. The rewards of their prowess and patriotism, have descended to their successors; who, holding these, enjoy honors and estates, which we do not grudge them, but which their wealth never bought, and their courage never won.
Thus the saints hold heaven. In the terms of a court of law, it is theirs, not by conquest, but by heritage. Won by another arm than theirs, it presents the strongest imaginable contrast to the spectacle seen in England's palace that day when the king demanded to know of his assembled nobles, by what title they held their lands?
“ What title ?” At the rash question a
hundred swords leapt from their scabbards. Advancing on the alarmed monarch—" By these,” they replied, "we won, and by these we will keep them.” How different the scene which heaven presents! All eyes are fixed on Jesus ; every look is love; gratitude glows in every bosom, and swells in every song ; now with golden harps they sound the Saviour's praise ; and now, descending from their thrones to do him homage, they cast their crowns in one glittering heap at the feet which were nailed on Calvary. Look there, and learn in whose name to seek salvation, and through whose merits to hope for it. For the faith of earth is just a reflection of the fervors of heaven : this the language of both—" Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory.”
II. Heaven is a heritage of free grace. We have no such legal claim to heavenly glory as may be established to some earthly inheritance. In consequence of a distant relationship, in those sudden turns of the wheel of fortune, which—displaying the providence of Him who abases the proud and exalts the humblethrow one family into the dust, and another into the possession of unexpected riches, the heir of noble titles and broad lands has started up from the deepest obscurity. And so I have seen a man come into a court of law, and, producing some old moth-eaten Bible, with its time-wurn record of births, and marriages, and deaths, all long ago forgotten, or some damp, musty parchment, or some inscription copied from a burialstone, which the dispute has redeemed from decay and rank church-yard weeds, lay a firm hand on estates and honors won long centuries ago. Such strange events have happened. Heirs have entered on the
by virtue of .
property of those between whom and them there existed no acquaintanceship, nor friendship, nor fellowship; for whom, in fact, they entertained no regard while they lived, and whose memory they neither cherish in warm hearts, nor preserve in cold brass or marble. But it is by no such obscure connection or remote relationship, that “the inheritance of the saints in light” becomes ours. We are constituted its heirs seed of the serpent, the children of the devil, the children of wrath even as others—becoming sons by that act of grace, which has led many to exclaim with John, "Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God."
Thus heaven, presenting itself to us in one of its most engaging aspects, is not only an inheritance, but a home. Oh! how sweet that word! What beautiful and tender associations cluster thick around it! Compared with it, house, mansion, palace, are cold heartless terms. But home! that word quickens the pulse, warms the heart, stirs the soul to its depths, makes age feel young again, rouses apathy into energy, sustains the sailor on his midnight watch, inspires the soldier with courage on the field of battle, and imparts patient endurance to the worn-down sons of toil! The thought of it has proved a sevenfold shield to virtue; the very name of it has been a spell to call back the. wanderer from the paths of vice; and, far away, where myrtles bloom and palm trees wave, and the ocean sleeps upon coral strands, to the exile's fond fancy it clothes the naked rock or stormy shore, or harren moor, or wild Highland mountain, with charms he weeps to think of, and longs once more to see. Grace sanctifies these lovely affections, and imparts a sacredness to the homes
of earth by making them types of heaven. As a home the believer delights to think of it. Thus when, lately bending over a dying saint, and expressing our sorrow to see him laid so low, with the radiant countenance rather of one who had just left heaven, than of one about to enter it, he raised and clasped his hands, and exclaimed in ecstasy, “ I am going home.”
am going home.” Happy the family of which God is the father, Jesus the elder brother, and all the “saints in light” are brethrenbrethren born of one Spirit; nursed at the full breast of the same promises ; trained in the same high school of heavenly discipline; seated at the same table; and gathered all where the innocent loves of earth are not quenched, but purified ; not destroyed, but refined ! To that family circle every accession forms a subject of gratitude and praise ; and every new-comer receives such welcome as a mother, while she falls on his manly breast, gives her son, or as sisters, locked in his arms, with theirs entwined around him, give the brother whom they have got safe back from wreck and storm, or the bloody fields of war. So when, on returning home after weary journeys and a tedious absence, we have found that the whole household was moved, and that all, down even to the tottering babe, with outstretched hands, and beaming faces, and joyful welcomes, were at the door to meet us, we have thought, it shall be thus at the gates of glory. What a meeting there of parents and children, brothers and sisters, and death-divided friends! What mutual gratulations! What overflowing joy! And, when they have led our spirit up through the long line of loving angels to the throne, what happiness to see Jesus, and get our warm. est welcome from the lips of him who redeemed us by his blood, and, in the agonies of his cross, suffered for
us more than a mother's pangs—“the travail of his soul."
Heir of grace! thy estate lies there. Child of God! thy Father, and Saviour, and brethren, and sisters, are there. Pilgrim to Sion, be ever pressing on and ever looking up! thy true home is there; a home above these blue skies, above sun and stars; a sweet, saintly, glorious home-whose rest shall be all the sweeter for the pelting of the storm, thy rugged path, the sorrows and the tears of earth—and whose light shall be all the brighter for that" valley of the shadow of death," from which thou shalt pass into the blaze of everlasting day. Believer! I congratulate thee on thy prospects. Lift up thy cast-down head ; let thy port, man, be worthy of thy coming fortunes. Bear thyself as one who shall wear a holy crown; as one who, however humble thy present lot, is training for the highest society. Cultivate the temper, and acquire the manners, and learn the language of heaven; nor let the wealth or poverty, the joys or sorrows, the shame or honors of thy earthly state, ever make thee forget "the inheritance which is incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.”
III. The heirs of heaven require to be made meet for the inheritance.
I knew a man who had amassed great wealth, but had no children to inherit it. He lost the opportunity, which one would think good men would more frequently embrace, of leaving Christ his heir, and bequeathing to the cause of religion what he could not carry away. Smitten, however, with the vain and strange propensity to found a house, or make a family, as it is called, he left his riches to a distant relative. His successor