Strangers and Pilgrims!
James Smith, 1842
"All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth!" Hebrews 11:13
Every believer is a pilgrim. He is traveling back to God, from whom Adam revolted. He is going to his Father's house, to meet His brethren and sisters in the Lord. He is presently a stranger in a strange land, surrounded by temptations, trials, and foes. His journey lies through a great and terrible wilderness — therefore he must not expect a very smooth path, or many comfortable accommodations. He will have much to grieve and distress him, and perhaps most from quarters where he least expected it. His heart will be often burdened with grief, and filled with sorrow — tears are common to the Christian. He feels the unsuitableness of the things of time, to his spirit, profession, and aim. And therefore he confesses, "I am a stranger and a pilgrim — as all my fathers were!" Psalm 39:12
Weariness and painfulness are his portion now — but a rest remains for him. It is a glorious rest. It embraces and includes all the believer has prayed for — or can desire!
It waits for him at the end of his journey,
it was prepared for him from the foundation of the world,
it is now promised to him in the faithful word, and
it will be bestowed upon him when he has fought the good fight, and finished his course.
Everything at present may appear gloomy and distressing; but before you, believer, everything is glorious, magnificent, and blessed! Press on then, toward the mark, for the prize of your high calling. Fight the good fight of faith. Travel on in the strength of Jesus. You are going home — and you have a glorious home to go to! Angels will hail you to rest, Jesus will invite you to glory, and your fellow-pilgrims will rejoice to see you come!
All Heaven will be in harmony to see you safely reach your home; and the minute after you have entered your rest — you will forget all the fatigue, all the dangers, and all the difficulties of the way! You will perhaps be filled with wonder, that you should ever have allowed such trifles to vex you, or such little trials to discourage you — with such a glorious end before you.
Fellow-pilgrim, expect trouble — but expect also mercy to help you in time of need! Expect to feel your circumstances to be trying — but expect also your Savior's strength to be perfected in your weakness! You will soon join the illustrious company of Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, and Martyrs, in the kingdom of God! You will soon end your tedious, tiresome journey — and enter into the joy of your Lord.
Never forget you are a pilgrim — a stranger — only a sojourner here in this poor world. Here you have no continuing city — but you seek one to come.
Nothing can make this poor world, your rest; if you had all you think you want — you would find it a wilderness still. Be content then, to wait until you get home! There you shall enjoy — and always enjoy all your desires! There will not be one want, one wish, or one unfulfilled desire there! All will be satisfied — all will be full. Yet a little while, and you will see the portal of your Father's house, and hear Him say, "Come in, blessed of the Lord, tarry no longer outside! Come, dwell forever with Me!"
Not all things else are half so dear,
As His delightful presence here;
What must it be in Heaven!
'Tis Heaven on earth to hear Him say,
As now I journey day by day,
'Poor sinner, cast your fears away,
Your sins are all forgiven!'
But how must His celestial voice
Make my enraptured heart rejoice,
When I, in glory, hear Him!
While I before His heavenly gate,
For everlasting entrance wait,
And Jesus on His throne of state,
Invites me to come near Him!
Come in, you blessed, sit by Me;
With my own life I ransomed thee;
Come, taste my perfect favor;
Come in, you happy, spirit, come;
You now shall dwell with Me at home;
You blissful mansions, make him room,
For he must stay forever!