"You have not yet reached the resting place and the inheritance the Lord your God is giving you." Deut. 12:9

And is it so, that at the close of this lonely and weary pilgrimage there is rest above? And that after this earthly fleeting existence there is an inheritance reserved? May I unhesitatingly believe this assurance, and hopefully clasp it to my heart? Then with what a firm tread, and with what a buoyant spirit may I press my foot upon the mysterious threshold of the year now opening upon me--even as the morning's sun peers above the horizon, and as the early flower expands to the warm influence of its genial beams. Whether, like that sun, this new born year shall in its course be wreathed with storm-clouds--or whether, like that opening floweret, its earthly loves and joys and hopes shall pale and droop and die, I cannot tell nor wish to know. Enough that God is my Father, my Sun, and Shield; that He will give grace and glory, and will withhold no good and needed thing. Enough that Christ is my Portion, my Advocate, my Friend, and that whatever else may pass away, his sympathy will not cease, his sufficiency will not fail, nor his love die. Enough that the everlasting covenant is mine, and that that covenant, made with me, is ordered in all things and sure. Enough that heaven is my rest, that towards it I am journeying, and that I am one year nearer its blessed and endless enjoyment.

Thus may each Christian pilgrim commune with his own heart while standing beneath the shadowy portal of another cycle of time. Before yet we meet its new and sacred claims, its duties, its responsibilities, and its trials--it may be our wisdom to remember, that we are "not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance which the Lord our God gives us." Our path, pointing homewards, lies across a long and dreary desert. We have, as yet, many a milestone to pass--many a stage to travel--many a foe to confront--many a battle to win. We cannot exult as those who put off the armor and wave the palm. And yet we are going home. Going home! what a soothing reflection! what an ecstatic prospect! The heart throbs quicker--the eye beams brighter--the spirit grows elastic--the whole soul uplifts its soaring pinion, eager for its flight, at the very thought of heaven. "I go to prepare a place for you," was one of the last and sweetest assurances that breathed from the lips of the departing Savior; and though uttered eighteen hundred years ago, those words come stealing upon the memory like the echoes of by-gone music, thrilling the heart with holy and indescribable transport. Yes! He has passed within the veil as our forerunner; He has prepared heaven for us, and by His gentle, wise, and loving discipline, he is preparing us for heaven.

Amid the perpetually changing scenes of earth, it is refreshing to think of heaven as our CERTAIN hope. "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began." This is no quicksand basis for faith--no mirage of hope. Heaven is a promised "rest"--exquisitely expressive image!--and that promise is the word of Him who cannot lie. Nothing can surpass, nothing can compare with this! Human confidences--the strong and beautiful--have bent and broken beneath us. Hopes--bright and favorable--we too fondly fed, have, like evening clouds of summer, faded away, draping the landscape they had painted with a thousand variegated hues, in the somber pall of night. But heaven is true! God has promised it--Christ has secured it--the Holy Spirit is its pledge--and the joys we now feel are its pledges and "first-fruits." Christian, consider this new epoch of time; unfold a new page of your yet unwritten history with the full, unwavering conviction that God is faithful--that in all the negotiations, transactions, and events of the unknown future--in all the diversified and fluctuating phases of experience through which you may pass, it will be your mercy to do with Him of whom it is said, "It is impossible for God to lie." Oh, take this precious truth into your heart, and it will shed a warm sunlight over all the landscape of your yet shadowy existence. "He abides faithful, He cannot deny Himself." Receive the promise, and confide in the veracity of the Promiser, and He will make good to its utmost the word upon which He has caused you to hope. Standing yet within the solemn vestibule of this new and exciting year, could our fluttering hearts find repose in a more appropriate or sweeter truth than the Divine faithfulness of Him "with whom there is no variableness, neither the shadow of a turning?"

The Home to which we aspire, and for which we pant, is not only a promised, it is also a PERFECT and a PERMANENT Home. The mixed character of those seasons we now call repose, and the shifting places and changing dwellings we here call home, should perpetually remind us that we are not, as yet, come to the perfect rest and the permanent home of heaven. Most true, indeed, God is the believer's present home, and Jesus his present rest. Beneath the shadow of the cross, by the side of the mercy-seat, within the pavilion of a Father's love there is true mental repose, a real heart's ease, a peace that passes all understanding, found even here, where all things else are fleeting as a cloud, and unsubstantial as a dream. "Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

But it is to heaven we look for the soul's perfect and changeless happiness. With what imagery shall I portray it? How shall I describe it? Think of all the ills of your present condition--not one exists in heaven! Bereaved one!--death enters not, slays not, sunders not there. Sick one!--disease pales not, enfeebles not, wastes not there. Afflicted one!--sorrow chafes not, saddens not, shades not there. Oppressed one!--cruelty injures not, wounds not, crushes not there. Forsaken one!--inconstancy disappoints not, chills not, mocks not there. Penitent one!--sin exists not, burdens not, embitters not there. Weeping one!--tears spring not, scald not, dim not there. "The former things are passed away." There rests not upon that smooth brow, there lingers not upon those serene features a furrow, or line, or shade of former sadness, languor, or suffering--not a trace of wishes unfulfilled, of fond hopes blighted. The desert is passed, the ocean is crossed, the home is reached, and the soul finds itself in heaven, where all is the perfection of purity and the plenitude of bliss. Ages move on in endless succession, and still all is bright, new, and eternal. Oh, who would not live to win and enjoy a heaven so fair, so holy, and so changeless as this? He who has Christ in his heart enshrines there the inextinguishable, deathless hope of glory.

It is a richly instructive and deeply sanctifying thought--the FUTURITY of the heavenly rest. When told that we are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance which the Lord our God gives us, we are gently reminded that we have each one a niche in life to occupy, a sphere to fill, a mission to perform. The idea of personal responsibility, of individual influence, and of untiring action instantly starts up before the mind, "Not yet in heaven--then for what am I here? Surely it is for an object in harmony with my intellectual and spiritual being, and worthy of Him who still detains me on earth. It must be that I have something to do, or something to endure for Christ--an active or a passive part to fill. Lord, what will you have me to do or suffer for You?" Oh, there is a fathomless depth of Divine wisdom in the arrangement that keeps us so long out of heaven. The world needs us, and we need the world. It needs us to illumine and sanctify it; we need it as the field of our conflict, and as the school of our graces. We need the world, not as a hermit's cell, but as a vast theater where before angels and men our Christianity is developed in the achievements of prayer, in the triumphs of faith, in the labors of love, and in the endurance of suffering.

Not yet at home--then we would remember that it is "through much tribulation we are to enter the kingdom." As a new period of time slowly rises from the depths of the unknown and mysterious future, its form, half-shadowy, half-brightness, seeming to say,
"Cold is my greeting: but when we part
You shall find I have crept around your heart.
Ah! vainly then would'st you bid me stay,
And sigh to recall me when I am away."

Shrink we from its stern and solemn duties, its bosomed sorrows, its deep and impenetrable decrees? Why shrink we? Infinite resources unveil their treasures upon its threshold. Christ's atoning merits confront our vast demerit. Christ's boundless grace confronts our deep necessities. Christ's promised presence confronts our sad and gloomy loneliness. Jesus thus filled with grace so overflowing, with love so tender, with sympathy so exquisite, with power so illimitable, with resources so boundless, with a nature so changeless, stands before us and says to each trembling heart, "Fear not!" We commence a new march under His convoy. We prepare for a new conflict with His armor. We renew our pilgrimage with fresh supplies of "angels' food," affording nourishment for the present and pledges for the future. For that future, be not heedlessly, unbelievingly anxious. It is all in God's hands. He desires that you should live each day upon Him as a little child--simple in your faith, unshaken in your confidence, clinging in your love. Let each morning's petition be--ever linking it with the precious name of Jesus, that name which is above every name--"My Father! give me this day my daily bread." Then, Oh, yes, then shall the promise be fulfilled, and its fulfillment shall be the immediate answer to your prayer--"As your days, so shall your strength be."

Inspired by the prospect of going home, we shall be watchful that nothing hides it from our view, or hinders our growing fitness for its enjoyment. "Arise, and depart, this is not your rest," is the yet impressive voice uttered by each drooping flower, and dying spring, and fading beam of earth-born good. Each moment we leave the desert behind us. We lose nothing, but we gain much; each night we pitch our tent "a day's march nearer home." The hope of the man whose portion is in this life is continually darkening and deteriorating. Each revolving year brings him nearer to the end and the loss of all his treasures. Unconverted reader, ponder this! But the hope of a believer in Jesus is rendered all the more lively, more precious, and more bright as time approaches eternity. Growing more intense, it becomes more sanctifying. Like the highland stream, dashing from the rock, and purifying itself as it courses its way to the ocean, Christian hope purifies the heart in which it dwells. Gently disentwining its thoughts, affections, and desires from a too clinging attachment to terrestrial objects, it bears them onward to the sea of glory towards which it flows.

Forward, then, with firmer tread, and with swifter wing to the hope laid up for us in heaven. Animated by such a hope, with a home before us so alluring and so near, shall we linger on our way to pluck the blighted flower, to admire the receding landscape, or even to build our tabernacle upon the mount all glowing with the Savior's presence? We are leaving behind us all present scenes of sadness and of joy. An Arabian prince, on approaching the city of Damascus, was so overwhelmed by the splendor of the city, that he paused at its entrance and said, "I expect to enter one paradise; but if I enter this city I shall be so caught by its blandishments, as to lose sight of the paradise in which I hope to enter."

We are journeying to a heaven infinitely surpassing a Mohammedan paradise--a heaven of perfect knowledge, of perfect holiness, of perfect love--shall we allow the dazzle of earthly blandishments to blind our eye to the glory so soon to be revealed? "Here we have no continuing city, we seek one to come."

Not yet come to the heavenly rest, we still are approaching it, and oh, ecstatic thought! we shall reach it at last! Everything in our present course reminds us that we are nearing home, as the seaweed washed from the rocks, and as the land-birds venturing from their bowers and floating by the vessel, are indices to the voyager that he is nearing his port. Are you bereaved?--weep not! earth has one tie less, and heaven has one tie more. Are you impoverished of earthly substance?--grieve not! your imperishable treasure is in heaven. Are you sailing over dark and stormy waters?--fear not! the rising flood but lifts your ark the higher and nearer the mount of perfect safety and endless rest. Are you battling with disease, conscious that life is ebbing and eternity is nearing?--tremble not! there is light and music in your lonely and shaded chamber--the dawn and the chimings of your heavenly home. "I am going home! Transporting thought!--true, I leave an earthly one, all so sweet and attractive, but I exchange it for a heavenly one infinitely brighter, more sacred and precious. I am going to Jesus--to the Church Triumphant--to Apostles, Prophets, and Martyrs--to the dear ones who line the shore on the other side, prepared to welcome me there. Death, from which I have so often recoiled, is but the triumphal arch--oh, how bright a risen Christ has made it!--through which I pass into my Father's house."

"I'm fading, slowly, slowly as the day
Fades into even, and the quiet night;
But with the body's sinking and decay,
The spirit gathers new and holy light.
A brief, brief time, and I shall be at rest,
Forever sheltered on the Savior's breast."

Let us, on this birthday of the year, renew each his personal and solemn dedication to God; supplicating forgiveness for the past, and invoking grace to help in every time of need for the future. The atoning blood of Jesus! how solemn and how precious is it at this moment! Bathed in it afresh, we will more supremely, unreservedly, and submissively yield ourselves unto God as those who are alive from the dead. It is only as we commence with the atoning blood that we commence aright. It is this that purifies the conscience, allays legal fears, dissolves the heart, embitters sin, and gives a loftier elevation to motives, principles, and actions. We begin, then, with the Cross. To it, poor and vile, worthless and faithless though we are, we are yet welcome. Oh! let us not carry the burden of the Old Year's sins and backslidings, failures and shortcomings, into the New. We will travel to the open fountain, wash, and be clean. Christ loves us to come as we are. We may approach all clothed with shame for the past, but not a reproving look will dart from His eye, nor an upbraiding word will breathe from His lips. The very fact of our coming penitent, humble, and trusting will, so to speak, wake every feeling of love in His heart, and move Him to the tenderest and most forgiving compassion. Nor shall abuse and ill-requited mercies past, seal our lips from supplicating blessings for the future. "Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it," is still the Divine promise. And He who gave it has added a supplementary one, if possible, yet ampler and richer, "Call unto me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you know not." For what, then, shall we supplicate of Him, who is thus prepared to bestow more than we are able to ask or think? Lord! hearken to my petition--
I ask for a power to plead with men,
With a might like that of an angel's pen;
To bid them turn to their only rest,
And in their blessing to make me blest!
The plaudits I want are a silent voice,
Which shall bid my inner soul rejoice!
I ask in my bosom a wealth to secure
That shall make the whole world's riches poor.
I ask for a wisdom that brings to naught
The hoarded years of experience and thought.
I ask for a love which with rapture and light
Shall fill up my being's infinite;
Which cannot change with a changing lot;
Which endures, and oh! disappointeth not!--
Loveliest and brightest, when all earth can borrow
Is dark, and touched by the gloom of sorrow;
Which soothes with unfailing sympathy
When all human founts of feeling are dry;
Which wipes a tear in secret shed;
And cradles the sick and weary head;
True, where all else is but shadow and dream--
Perfect, immortal, celestial, supreme.

And now, beloved, let us arise and depart. "You have dwelt long enough in this place." "Let us pass over unto the other side." The cloud moves! 'Tis the heavenly signal for our advance. A greater than Moses is our Leader; a mightier than Joshua is our Savior. A fairer, sunnier, richer land than an earthly Canaan invites and woos us to its serene and peaceful coast. Trooping around and bending over us is a great cloud of witnesses, sister spirits, who seem to say, "Imitate our example, and yours will be our reward. Will you linger where we hastened? flee where we fought? fall where we stood? surrender where we conquered? Oh! be not slothful, but followers of us, who through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises." Blessed Savior! you shall guide me with your counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory.


A poor and aged Christian, who had passed upwards of seventy years on earth, seeing her friends weeping around her death-bed, exclaimed, "Mourn not, I'm going home."

I'm going home--prepare the bridal wreath!
My Savior bids my happy spirit come:
Damp not with tears the Christian's bed of death,
Rejoice!--I'm going home!
Earth has its cares; for threescore years and ten
My lot has been 'midst thorny paths to roam;
I would not track those desert scenes again;
'Tis past--I'm going home!
The dove has found her nest, the storm-tossed found
A place of rest beyond the dashing foam
Of griefs wild billows--there am I bound.
Joy, joy!--I'm going home.
Earth's flowers all fade--there fadeless roses blow:
Earth's sunniest light is shaded by the tomb;
Earth's loves all slumber in the vault below--
Death dwells not in that home.
I see the city of the blest on high,
With the freed spirit's range. I come! I come!
You calling voices! catch my heart's reply;
Home! home!--I'm going home.

Oh! to be ready, when death shall come!
Oh! to be ready to hasten home!
No earthward clinging, no lingering gaze,
No strife at parting, no sore amaze;
No chains to sever what earth has twined;
No spell to loosen what love would bind;
No flitting shadows to dim the light
Of the angel pinions winged for flight;
No cloud-like phantom to fling a gloom
'Twixt heaven's bright portals and earth's dark tomb.
But sweetly, gently to pass away
From the world's dim twilight into day.
To list the music of angels' lyres;
To catch the rapture of seraph fires;
To lean in trust on the Risen One;
Until borne away to a fadeless throne.
Oh! to be ready, when death shall come!
Oh! to be ready to hasten home!

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