"And there shall be no more curse."--Rev. 20:3

The last song of Moses, the servant of God, on earth, was one of blended judgment and mercy. That he was not permitted by God to bring the Church in the wilderness into the Promised Land, to whose border he had so skillfully and faithfully conducted it, was a signal mark of the Divine displeasure of the sin of not honoring God--and this constituted the song of JUDGMENT. Leaving the plains of Moab, God gently led His servant up the highest mountain, from whose summit He directed him to survey the land of Canaan--its fertile valleys, and watered plains, and vine-clad hills, and sun-gilded peaks, unveiling their richness, beauty, and grandeur to his eye--and this constituted the song of MERCY. With this last look of earth--God thus confirming His servant's faith, and vindicating His own faithfulness--opened upon his astonished vision his first view of heaven! The distant and dim shadows of the earthly Canaan dissolved into the near and splendid realities of the Heavenly--the type lost in the antitype--when on Pisgah's height God 'kissed his soul away,' as a mother's caress fondly and softly lulls her infant to sleep.

"Sweet was the journey to the skies
The wondrous prophet tried;
'Climb up the mount,' says God, 'and die'--
The prophet climbed, and died.

"Softly his fainting head he lay
Upon his Savior's breast:
The Savior kissed his soul away,
And laid his flesh to rest."

Earth has still its "Nebos" and the Church of God its "Pisgahs," sacred and sunlit heights, scaling which, in faith, the believing soul often sees "the King in His beauty, and the land which is very far off." The experience of the Church still is, "He makes my feet like hinds' feet, and sets me upon my high places." Faith being a divine principle, its eye is spiritual and its sight far-reaching. The 'substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen,' it bounds beyond the narrow present, pierces the invisible future, and expatiating amid the wonders and wealth of the unseen world, returns, like the spies of Canaan, bearing the rich clusters it gathered from Heaven's vintage--the evidences and the pledges of the great and precious things God has laid up for those who love Him.

While yet upon the threshold of our subject, it may be instructive to note the starting-point of faith in its Pisgah ascents. The base of Mount Pisgah lay low in the plains of Moab, and from that base Moses ascended to the summit. Divine grace, which is glory begun on earth, finds us in the low estate of nature, 'dead in trespasses and sins'--at enmity against God--living after the flesh--'without God, and without Christ, and without hope in this world.' It is very useful, beloved, to recall to memory the days of our unregeneracy, when Christ went after us, found and brought us home to Himself. The apostle never forgot that, before divine mercy and free grace called him, he was a "blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious," yes, that of sinners he was the 'chief.' Oh! how these retrospects confirm the electing love, and exalt the free and sovereign grace of God, in the conversion of the soul! How they lay in the dust all man's glory, rearing upon its ruins the "kingdom of God which is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit."

Now, it is from this low valley that we begin our heavenly ascent. None ever reach the summit of Pisgah who make not this their starting-point. What numbers set out upon a religious course without any real or thorough sight and conviction of their sinfulness! They make some eminence of their own uprearing the starting-point, rather than the valley of sin-acquaintance and self-abasement. Reversing God's order, they work from the summit, to the base, rather than from the base to the summit of the mount--from the circumference to the center, rather than from the center to the circumference of the circle. But at the cross of Jesus, beneath whose shadow sin is seen, confessed, and renounced, the soul commences its spiritual life, its heavenly ascent. There glory begins in the smallest amount and in the lowliest form of grace. The seed may be insignificant, but the tree will be great; the bud unpromising, but the flower lovely; the pulse infantile, but the growth gigantic.

The instant that the soul becomes a subject of grace, it becomes an heir of glory; and all its future course of sunshine and cloud, of tempest and calm, stable and chequered, is a gradual and certain progress towards the highest state of perfection in heaven. What the acorn is to the oak, and the child to the man, is present grace to future glory. In this present state, grace, though real and precious, must necessarily be limited and defective. Just as sweet spices, imported from southern climates, come to us not in their original purity and fragrance, so the graces of the Spirit, divine and heavenly though they are, are shorn of much of their beauty, and exhausted of much of their sweetness; but when we reach the land in which they grew, they will unfold a splendor, and breathe a fragrance, inspiring every soul with admiration and filling every mouth with praise.

And should the chill, agonizing question cross your mind touching a departed one with whose spirit your heart traveled as it passed within the veil--"Is the soul happy?" recall to remembrance the least measure of divine grace, the smallest degree of precious faith, the faintest spark of divine love, the feeblest throb of spiritual life in that soul--I would even take the lowest evidence of grace--love to the brethren--and the question of its safety is settled. Thus we may be assured of the glorified state of our friends by their having but "tasted that the Lord is gracious." Grace is glory militant; glory is grace triumphant; grace is glory begun; glory is grace perfected. Grace is the first degree of glory; glory is the highest degree of grace. Grace is glory in the bud; glory is grace in the full-blown flower. "The Lord God is a sun and shield--the Lord will give GRACE and GLORY."

The view of Canaan which God presented to His servant Moses was a negative one. It was Canaan robed in twilight shadows, rather than bathed in meridian sunlight. It would appear to his believing eye more what it was not, than what it really was. Now, it is with the negative views of the true, the heavenly Canaan that these pages especially deal. And in thus studying it in its negative aspects, faith reverses her glass, and learning what heaven is not, obtains a more vivid revelation of what heaven is.

God, for the most part, adopts the negative mode in His dealings with His people, rather than the positive. We see but negative views of His own personal majesty and glory. Thus He dealt with Moses. "And the Lord said, It shall come to pass, while my glory passes by, that I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand while I pass by. And I will take away mine hand, and you shall see any BACK PARTS; but my face shall not be seen." God has a method and an end in all His works in creation. It may be but a lowly violet protected from the sun's heat by the diamond dewdrop--nevertheless there is a divine plan and purpose there. How much more conspicuous this principle in His kingdom of grace, in His dealings with the saints! He moves in the "thick darkness" but to appear all the more glorious as "clothed with light." He speaks from the "secret place of thunder," the "cloudy pillar," the "whirlwind," and the "storm," that, when they are past, the sky may appear all the serener, and in its brighter mirror may reflect more clearly the precious truth that, all things were working together for our good.

When the angel announced to the shepherds the best news earth ever heard, "they were very afraid;" and yet how soon their trembling fears gave place to the most ecstatic joy! And has it not been often so with us? The cloud has looked dark, the thunder has pealed, the lightning has flashed, but presently the beauteous rainbow has appeared sparkling upon its bosom, and all is sweet peace! Thus we are taught that, so to speak, God's dealings, for the most part, come to us mysteriously--His glory in its "back parts"--we see not face to face--and so we learn the lessons and revelations of His law as Hebrew students read their Bible backward, from the left to the right, traveling as from the end to the beginning. But oh! how blessed when, from some dark and crushing event of God's providence, we presently find ourselves reposing within the paternal arms of His love! In expatiating upon the NEGATIVE ATTRACTIONS OF HEAVEN, let us begin with the absence of the CURSE--"And there shall be no more CURSE."

A greater contrast can scarcely be found--a negative of heaven more expressive of its real and positive blessing. Sweep from the globe the mildew of this curse, hurl the evil spirit from humanity, and you have restored earth and man to their original beauty and stateliness. But our subject has a gospel and a spiritual teaching, and to this let us first direct our thoughts. In the present history and condition of God's saints, the original curse, as a penal and condemning law, is already and virtually repealed. There is an evangelical sense in which it may be said, "There is no more curse." This Christ has done. Thus we read--"Christ has redeemed us from the CURSE of the law, being made A CURSE for us; for it is written, CURSED is every one that hangs on a tree." This great evangelical passage sets the entire question at rest concerning the present relation of the curse in the history of God's saints. As Deity alone could pronounce the curse, so Deity alone could cancel it. As God alone could enact the law, so He alone could repeal it. Christ has cancelled the law of the curse on behalf of His Church, and Christ is GOD.

The gospel statement of this great and precious truth is simple and clear. The Son of God consented to be born of a woman, and thus to be made under the law as violated and broken by man. As such, He became answerable to the law, came under its precepts, assumed its curse, and endured its condemnation; and all this He did for the love He bore His Church. He honored every precept of the law, exhausted every atom of its curse, and endured to the utmost its condemnation, thus "magnifying the law, and making it honorable." And now, by this substitutionary offering, the curse is transferred from the Church to Christ, and righteousness is transferred from Christ to the Church--an exchange of place involving an exchange of condition--and, as a blessed result, all who believe in Jesus are in this present life delivered from the curse and condemnation of the law. "There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to those who are in Christ Jesus."

But Christ has not only repealed the curse as a condemnatory law, but He transforms even its effects into blessings. There are infirmity and toil, sorrow, suffering and death--all the fruit and effects of the curse--nevertheless, in the deepest sorrow, in the acutest suffering, in the most agonizing death of the saints of God, there is nothing of the bitterness and the sting and the condemnation of the curse; since Jesus, being made a curse for us, has by His marvelous grace transformed all these terrible effects of the curse into the costliest blessings. "Howbeit, our God turned the CURSE into a BLESSING."

O beloved! accept the discipline of trial and suffering, however dark its shadow or bitter its cup, as among the all things of the covenant of grace on which there rests not an atom of the curse, in which there glows not one spark of hell, but in which are embosomed some of the costliest, holiest blessings of your life. Pause, and silently adore, and faithfully follow, that loving, gracious Savior who for us was cast out as an accursed thing, that we might dwell forever in that blessed world of which it is said--"And there shall be no more CURSE." "Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach."

Now of the New Jerusalem state of the Church--in the new heavens and the new earth–every element of the curse will be entirely absent. That the final and eternal abode of the risen and glorified saints will be material, and not spiritual, a place, and not a condition merely, admits, I think, of not a doubt. The Apostle Peter writes--"We, according to His promise, look for NEW HEAVENS and a NEW EARTH, wherein dwells righteousness." Such too was the glorious vision of the exiled Evangelist--"And I saw a NEW HEAVEN and a NEW EARTH, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away." "I go to prepare a PLACE for you," said Jesus.

Now it will be an essential and distinctive element of the abode of the saints that, there shall be no more CURSE. There shall be no more divine--no more human--no more ecclesiastical curse. What a glorious world will that be, where the landscape will not be blighted, nor the inhabitants crushed beneath the oppression of the curse! The earth will no more bring forth thorns and thistles--man will no more gain his sustenance by the sweat of his brow--no Shimei shall curse God's anointed ones--no Vatican fulminate its decrees against God's Word--and no Pope shall thunder his anathemas against Christ's Church. "There shall be no more CURSE,"--man no more a curse to himself--no more a curse to others.

Thus let us ascend by faith Pisgah's height, and behold the good land which is afar off, and delight ourselves in the prospect of this glorious negative. Survey that promised country which gently woos you to its holy, peaceful coasts, where the flowers ever bloom, and the fruit ever grows, and the spring ever abides, and the landscape ever smiles, and man is ever blest--where every vestige of the curse is annihilated, and all is divine, perfect, and immortal. The dividing stream of Jordan is but narrow, and it is quickly passed. A step--a tear--a sigh, and the spirit is on the other side, realizing, as there it only can, the depth of meaning and the unutterable preciousness of those wondrous words--"AND THERE SHALL BE NO MORE CURSE."


"We dwell this side of Jordan stream,
Yet often there comes a shining beam
Across from yonder shore;
While visions of a holy throng,
And sound of harp and seraph song
Seem gently wafted over.

"The other side! ah, there's the place
Where saints in joy past times retrace,
And think of trials gone.
The veil withdrawn--they clearly see
That all on earth had need to be
To bring them safely home.

"The other side! NO CURSE is there
So bright the robes those blest ones wear,
Made white in Jesus' blood;
No cry of grief, no voice of woe,
To mar the peace their spirits know--
Their constant peace with God.

"The other side! its shore so bright
Is radiant with the golden light
Of Zion's city fair;
And many dear ones gone before
Already tread the happy shore--
We seem to see them there.

"The other side! oh, cheering sight--
In cloudless, everlasting light,
For me a loved One waits;
O'er the stream He calls to me--
'Fear not, I your Guide to be,
Up to the pearly gates.'

"The other side! the other side!
Who would not brave the swelling tide
Of earthly toil and care,
To wake one day, when life is past,
Over the stream, at home at last,
With all the BLEST ones there?"

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