#THE REDEEMER’S PRAYER
"Father, I will that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which You have given Me: for You loved Me before the foundations of the world."
- John 17:24
WHEN the high priest of old entered into the most holy place, he kindled the incense in his censer and waving it before him; he perfumed the air with its sweet fragrance and veiled the mercy seat with the denseness of its smoke. Thus was it written concerning him, "He shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small and bring it within the veil—and he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not." Even so our Lord Jesus Christ, when He would, once and for all, enter within the veil with His own blood to make an atonement for sin, did first offer strong crying and prayers in this 17th chapter of John. We have, as it were, the smoking of the Savior’s pontifical censer. He prayed for the people for whom He was about to die and before He sprinkled them with His blood, He did sanctify them with His supplications. This prayer, therefore, stands pre-eminent in Holy Writ as the Lord’s Prayer—the special and peculiar prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ! And "if," as an old divine has it, "it is lawful to prefer one Scripture above another, we may say, though all is gold, yet this is a pearl in the gold. Though all are like the heavens, this is as the sun and stars." Or if one part of Scripture is dearer to the believer than any other, it must be this which contains his Master’s last prayer before He entered through the rent veil of His own crucified body! How sweet it is to see that not He, but His people constituted the staple of His prayer! He did pray for Himself—He said, "Father, glorify Me!" But while He had one prayer for Himself, He had many for His people. Continually did He pray for them—"Father, sanctify them!" "Father, keep them!" "Father, make them one!" And then He concluded His supplication with, "Father, I will that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am." Melancthon well said there was never a more excellent, more holy, more fruitful, and more affectionate voice ever heard in heaven or on earth, than this prayer.
We shall first notice the style of the prayer; secondly, the persons interested in it; and thirdly, the _great petitions offered—_the last head constituting the main part of our discourse.
I. First, notice THE STYLE OF THE PRAYER—it is singular—it is, "Father, I will." I cannot but conceive that there is something more in the expression, "I will," than a mere wish. It seems to me that when Jesus said, "I will," although perhaps it might not be proper to say that He made a demand, yet we may say that He pleaded with authority! He was asking for that which He knew to be His own, and uttering an, "I will," as potent as any decree that ever sprang from the lips of the Almighty! "Father, I will." It is an unusual thing to find Jesus Christ saying to God, "I will." You know that before the mountains were brought forth, it was said of Christ, "In the volume of the book it is written of Me, I delight to do Your will, O God." And we find while He was on earth that He never mentioned His own will; that He expressly declared, "I came not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." It is true you do hear Him, when addressing men, saying, "I will," for He says, "I will, be you clean." But in His prayers to His Father He prayed with all humility—
"With sighs and groans He offered up,
His humble suit below."
"I will," therefore, seems to be an exception to the rule. But we must remember that Christ was now in an exceptional condition. He had never before been where He was now. He was now come to the end of His work. He could say, "I have finished the work which You gave Me to do," and, therefore, looking forward to the time when the sacrifice would be complete, and He should ascend on high, He sees that His work is done and takes His own will back again, and says, "Father, I will."
Now, mark that such a prayer as this would be totally unbecoming in our lips. We are never to say, "Father, I will." Our prayer is to be, "Not my will, but Yours be done." We are to mention our wishes, but our wills are to subside to the will of God. We are to feel that while it is ours to desire, it is God’s to will. But how pleasant, I repeat, it is to find the Savior pleading with such authority as this—for this puts the stamp of certainty upon His prayer. Whatever He has asked for in that chapter, He shall have beyond a doubt. At other times when He pleaded as a Mediator, in His humility, He was eminently successful in His intercessions. How much more shall His prayer prevail now that He takes to Himself His great power and with authority cries, "Father, I will." I love that opening to the prayer. It is a blessed guarantee of its fulfillment, rendering it so sure that we may now look upon Christ’s prayer as a promise which shall be assuredly fulfilled!
II. Thus much concerning the style of the prayer. And now, we NOTICE THE PERSONS FOR WHOM HE PRAYED. "Father, I will that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am." This was not a universal prayer! It was a prayer including within it a certain class and portion of mankind who are designated as "those whom the Father had given Him." Now we are taught to believe that God the Father did, from before the foundation of the world, give unto His Son Jesus Christ a number whom no man can number, who were to be the reward of His death, the purchase of the travail of His soul—who were to be infallibly brought unto everlasting glory by the merits of His passion and the power of His resurrection! These are the people here referred to. Sometimes in Scripture, they are called the elect, because when the Father gave them to Christ, He chose them out from among men. At other times, they are called the beloved, because God’s love was set upon them of old. They are called Israel, for like Israel of old, they are a chosen people, a royal generation. They are called God’s inheritance, for they are especially dear to God’s heart. And as a man cares for his inheritance and his portion, so the Lord cares especially for them.
Let me not be misunderstood. The people whom Christ here prays for are those whom God the Father, out of His own free love and sovereign good pleasure ordained unto eternal life and who, in order that His design might be accomplished, were given into the hands of Christ the Mediator—by Him to be redeemed, sanctified and perfected—and by Him to be everlastingly glorified! These people and none others are the object of our Savior’s prayer! It is not for me to defend the doctrine. It is Scriptural—that is my only defense. It is not for me to vindicate God from any profane charge of partiality or injustice. If there are any wicked enough to impute this to Him, let them settle the matter with their Maker! Let the thing formed, if it has arrogance enough; say to Him who formed it, "Why have You made me thus?" I am not God’s apologist—He needs no defender! "Who are you, O man, who replies against God? Has He not, like the potter, power over the clay to make one vessel to honor and another to dishonor?" Instead of disputing, let us inquire who are these people? Do we belong to them? Oh, let each heart now put the solemn query, "Am I included in that happy throng whom God the Father gave to Christ?" beloved, I cannot tell you by the mere hearing of your names. But if I know your character, I can tell you decisively—or rather, you will need no telling—for the Holy Spirit will bear witness in your hearts that you are among the number! Answer this question—Have you given yourselves to Christ? Have you been brought, by the compelling power of His own free love, to make a voluntary surrender of yourself to Him? Have you said, "O Lord, other lords have had dominion over me, but now I reject them, and I give myself up to You;—
‘Other refuge have I none;
Hangs my helpless soul on You’
And as I have no other refuge, so I have no other Lord. Little am I worth, but such as I am, I give all I have, and all I am to You. It is true, I was never worth Your purchasing, but since You have bought me, You shall have me. Lord, I make a full surrender of myself to You." Well, soul, if you have done this; if you have given yourself to Christ, it is but the result of that ancient grant made by Jehovah to His Son long before the worlds were made!
And, once again, can you feel today that you are Christ’s? If you cannot remember the time when He sought you and brought you to Himself, yet can you say with the spouse, "I am my beloved’s"? Can you now from your inmost soul say, "Whom have I in heaven but You and there is none upon earth that I desire beside You"? If so, trouble not your minds about election—there is nothing troublesome in election to you! He who believes is elect! He who is given to Christ now, was given to Christ from before the foundation of the world! You need not dispute divine decrees, but sit down and draw honey out of this rock and wine out of this flinty rock! Oh, it is a hard, hard doctrine to a man who has no interest in it, but when a man has once a title to it, then it is like the rock in the wilderness—it streams with refreshing water whereat myriads may drink and never thirst again! Well does the Church of England say of that doctrine, "It is full of sweet, pleasant and unspeakable comfort to godly persons." And though it is like the Tarpeian rock from where many a malefactor has been dashed to pieces in presumption, yet it is like Pisgah, from whose lofty summit the spires of heaven may be seen in the distance! Again, I say, be not cast down, neither let your hearts be disconsolate. If you are given to Christ now, you are among the happy number for whom He intercedes above and you shall be gathered among the glorious throng to be with Him where He is and to behold His glory!
III. I very briefly passed over these two points because I desire to dwell upon the third, which is THE PETITIONS WHICH THE SAVIOR OFFERS. Christ prayed, if I understand His prayer, for three things—things which constitute heaven’s greatest joy, heaven’s sweetest employment, and heaven’s highest privilege!
1. The first great thing He prayed for is that which is _heaven’s greatest joy_—"Father, I will that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am." If you notice, every word in the sentence is necessary to its fullness. He does not say—"I pray that those, whom You have given me, may be where I am"; but, "with Me where I am." And He does not only pray that they might be with Him, but that they might be with Him in the same place where He is. And mark, He did not say He wished His people to be in heaven, but with Him in heaven because that makes heaven, heaven! It is the very essence and marrow of heaven to be with Christ! Heaven without Christ would be but an empty place—it would lose its happiness; it would be a harp without strings—and where would be the music? It would be a sea without water—a very pool of Tantalus! He prayed, then, that we might be with Christ—that is our companionship—with Him where He is—that is our position. It seems as if He would tell us that heaven is both a condition and a state—in the company of Christ, and in the place where Christ is!
I might enlarge very much on these points, but I just throw out the raw material of a few thoughts that will furnish you with topics of meditation in the afternoon. Let us now pause and think how sweet this prayer is by contrasting it with our attainments on earth. "Father, I will that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am." Ah, brothers and sisters, we know a little of what it is to be with Christ. There are some happy moments, sweet pauses between the din of the continued battles of this wearied life. There are some soft times, like couches of rest, wherein we repose. There are hours when our Master comes to us and makes us, before we are aware, like the chariots of Aminadab! It is true, we have not been caught up to the third heaven, like Paul, to hear words which it is unlawful for us to utter, but we have sometimes thought that the third heavens have come down to us. Sometimes I have said within myself, "Well, if this is not heaven, it is next door to it!" And we have thought that we were dwelling in the suburbs of the celestial city. You were in that land which Bunyan calls the land Beulah. You were so near to heaven that the angels did flit across the stream and bring you sweet bunches of myrrh and bundles of frankincense which grow in the beds of spices on the hills and you pressed these to your heart and said with the spouse, "A bundle of myrrh, is my well beloved unto me. He shall lie all night between my breasts," for I am ravished with His love and filled with His delights. He has made Himself near to me. He has unveiled His countenance and manifested all His love. But, beloved, while this gives us a foretaste of heaven, we may nevertheless use our state on earth as a complete contrast to the state of the glorified above, for here, when we see our Master, it is but at a distance. We are sometimes, we think, in His company, but we cannot help feeling that there is a great gulf fixed between us, even when we come the nearest to Him. We talk, you know, about laying our head upon His bosom and sitting at His feet, but alas, we find it, after all, to be very metaphorical compared with the reality which we shall enjoy above! We have seen His face, we trust we have sometimes looked into His heart and tasted that He is gracious, but still long nights of darkness lay between us. We have cried again and again with the bride, "Oh, that You were as my brother who sucked the breasts of my mother! When I should find You without, I would kiss You; yes, I should not be despised. I would lead You and bring You into my mother’s house, who would instruct me—I would cause You to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate." We were with Him but still He was in an upper room of the house and we below—we were with Him but still we felt that we were absent from Him even when we were the nearest to Him!
Again—even the sweetest visits from Christ, how short they are! Christ comes and goes very much like an angel. His visits are few and far between with the most of us and oh, so short—alas, too short for bliss! One moment our eyes see Him and we rejoice with unspeakable joy and full of glory, but again a little time and we do not see Him! Our beloved withdraws Himself from us. Like a roe or a young hart, He leaps over the mountain of division. He is gone back to the land of spices and feeds no more among the lilies—
"If today He deigns to bless us
With a sense of pardoned sin,
He tomorrow may distress us,
Make us feel the plague within"
Oh, how sweet the prospect of the time when we shall not see Him at a distance, but face to face! There is a sermon in those words, "face to face." And then we shall not see Him for a little time, but—
"Millions of years our wondering eyes,
Shall over our Savior’s beauties rove—
And myriad ages we’ll adore,
The wonders of His love."
Oh, if it is sweet to see Him now and then, how sweet to gaze on that blessed face forever, and never have a cloud rolling between, and never have to turn one’s eyes away to look on a world of weariness and woe! Blest days when Christ shall come; when our companionship with Him shall be close and uninterrupted!
And let us remark, again, that when we get a glimpse of Christ, many step in to interfere. We have our hours of contemplation when we draw near to Jesus, but alas, how the world steps in and interrupts even our most quiet moments—the shop, the field, the child, the wife, the head, perhaps the very heart— all these are interlopers between ourselves and Jesus! Christ loves quiet. He will not talk to our souls in the busy market place, but He says, "Come, My love, into the vineyard; get you away into the villages, there will I show you My love." But when we go to the villages, behold the Philistine is there, the Canaanite has invaded the land! When we would be free from all thought except thoughts of Jesus, the wandering band of Bedouin thoughts come upon us and they take away our treasures and spoil our tents! We are like Abraham with his sacrifice. We lay out the pieces ready for the burning but foul birds come to feast on the sacrifice which we desire to keep for our God and for Him alone. We have to do as Abraham did—"When the birds came down upon the sacrifice, Abraham drove them away." But in heaven there shall be no interruption! No weeping eyes shall make us for a moment pause in our vision; no earthly joys, no sensual delights shall create a discord in our melody. There shall we have no fields to till, no garments to spin, no wearied limbs, no dark distresses, no burning thirsts, no pangs of hunger, no Righteousness with eyes that cannot be blinded, and with a heart that can never be weary! To lie in those arms forever—throughout a whole eternity to be pressed to His bosom; to feel the beatings of His ever faithful heart; to drink His love; to be satisfied forever with His favor and full with the goodness of the Lord! Oh, if we have only to die to get to such delights as these—death is gain, it is swallowed up in victory!
Nor must we turn away from the sweet thought that we are to be with Christ where He is, until we have remembered that though we often draw near to Jesus on earth, yet the most we ever have of Him is but a sip of the well. We sometimes come to the wells of Elim and the 70 palm trees, but when sitting beneath the palm trees we feel that it is just like an oasis—tomorrow we shall have to be treading the burning sands with the scorching sky above us. One day we sit down and we drink from the sweet soft spring. Tomorrow we know that we have to be standing with parched lips over Marah’s fount and crying, "Alas, alas! It is bitter! I cannot drink it!" But oh, in heaven we shall do what holy Rutherford says—we shall put the wellhead to our lips and drink right on from that well that never can be drained! We shall drink to our soul’s utmost fullest! Yes, as much of Jesus as the finite can hold of Infinity shall the believer receive. We shall not then see Him for the twinkling of an eye and then lose Him, but we shall see Him forever! We shall not eat of manna that shall be like a small round thing, a coriander seed, but the manna whereof we feed shall be mountains—the broad hills of food—there we shall have rivers of delight and oceans of ecstatic joy! Oh, it is very hard for us to tell, with all that we can guess of heaven—how large, how deep, how high—how broad it is! When Israel ate of that one fair branch which came from Eshcol, they guessed what the clusters of Canaan must be. And when they tasted the honey, they guessed the sweetness. But I guarantee no man in all that host had any idea of how full that land was of fertility and sweetness—how the very brooks ran with honey and the very rocks did teem with fatness! Nor can any of us who have lived the nearest to our Master form more than the faintest guess of what it is to be with Jesus where He is!
Now, all that is needed to help my feeble description of what being with Jesus is—if you have faith in Christ, just think over this fact that in a few more months you will know more about it than the wisest mortal can tell! A few more rolling suns, and you and I shall be in heaven! Go on, O Time—with your swiftest pinions fly! A few more years and I shall see His face. O can you say, my hearer, "I shall see His face"? Come, you gray-headed ones nearing the goal of life, can you with confidence say, "I know that my Redeemer lives"? If you can say that, it will fill your soul with joy! I can never think of it without being moved to tears. To think that this head shall wear a crown—that these poor fingers shall strike the harp-strings of everlasting song—that these poor lips, which now faintly tells the wonders of redeeming grace, shall join with cherubim and seraphim and rival them in melody! Is it not too good to be true? Does it not seem sometimes as if the very greatness of the thought overwhelmed our faith? But true it is and though too great for us to receive it, it is not too great for God to give! We shall be with Him where He is. Yes, John—you lay your head upon your Savior’s bosom once and I have often envied you. But I shall have your place, by-and-by. Yes, Mary. It was your sweet delight to sit at your Master’s feet while Martha was cumbered with her much serving. I, too, am too much cumbered with this world. But I shall leave my Martha’s cares in the tomb and sit to hear your Master’s voice! Yes, O spouse, you did ask to be kissed with the kisses of His lips and what you asked for, poor humanity shall yet see! And the poorest, mean and most illiterate of you who have trusted in Jesus, shall yet put your lips to the lips of your Savior, not as Judas did, but with a true, "Hail, Master!" you shall kiss Him! And then, wrapped in the beams of His love, as a dim star is eclipsed in the sunlight, so shall you sink into the sweet forgetfulness of ecstasy which is the best description we can give of the joys of the redeemed. "Father, I will that they whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am." That is heaven’s sweetest joy—to be with Christ!
2. And now the next prayer is, "that they may behold My glory which You have given Me." This is heaven’s sweetest employment. I doubt not there are many joys in heaven which will amplify the grand joy with which we have just started. I feel confident that the meeting of departed friends, the society of apostles, prophets, priests and martyrs will amplify the joy of the redeemed. But still the sun that will give them the greatest light to their joy will be the fact that they are with Jesus Christ and behold His face! And now there may be other employments in heaven but that mentioned in the text is the chief one, "That they may behold My glory." O for the tongue of angels! O for the lips of Cherubim! For one moment to depict the mighty scenes which the Christian shall behold when he sees the glory of his Master, Jesus Christ! Let us pass as in a panorama before your eyes the great scenes of glory which you shall behold after death. The moment the soul departs from this body it will behold the glory of Christ! The glory of His person will be the first thing that will arrest our attention. There will He sit in the midst of the throne and our eyes will first be caught with the glory of His appearance. Perhaps we shall be struck with astonishment! Is this the visage that was more marred than that of any man? Are these the hands that once rude iron tore? Is that the head that once was crowned with thorns? Oh, how shall our admiration rise and rise and rise to the very highest pitch when we shall see Him who was—
"The weary man and full of woes
The humble man before His foes,"
now King of kings and Lord of lords! What? Are those fire-darting eyes the very eyes that once wept over Jerusalem? Are those feet shod with sandals of light the feet that once were torn by the flinty acres of the Holy Land? Is that the man who scarred and bruised was carried to His tomb? Yes, ‘tis He! And that shall absorb our thoughts—the Godhead and the manhood of Christ! The wondrous fact that He is God over all, blessed forever, and yet man, bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh. And when for an instant we have noted this, I doubt not the next glory we shall see will be the glory of His enthronement. Oh, how will the Christian stop at the foot of His Master’s throne, and look upward, and if there could be tears in heaven, tears of rich delight will roll down his cheeks when he looks and sees the man enthroned! "Oh," he says "I used to often sing on earth, ‘Crown Him! Crown Him! Crown Him, King of kings and Lord of lords!’ And now I see Him! Up those hills of glorious light my soul does not dare to climb. There, there He sits! Dark with insufferable light His garments appear. Millions of angels bow themselves around Him. The redeemed before His throne prostrate themselves with rapture!" Ah, we shall not deliberate many moments, but taking our crowns in our hands we shall help to swell that solemn pomp—and casting our crowns at His feet, we shall join the everlasting song, "Unto Him who has loved us and washed us from our sins in His blood, unto Him be glory forever and ever!" Can you imagine the magnificence of the Savior? Can you conceive how thrones and princes, principalities and powers—all wait at His beck and command? You cannot tell how well the tiara of the universe does fit His brow, or how the regal purple of all worlds does gird His shoulders, but certain it is, from the highest heaven to the deepest hell, He is Lord of lords—from the furthest east to the remotest west, He is Master of all! The songs of all creatures find a focus in Him. He is the grand reservoir of praise! All the rivers run into the sea, and all the hallelujahs come to Him, for He is Lord of all! Oh, this is heaven—it is all the heaven I wish—to see my Master exalted—for this has often braced my loins when I have been weary, and often steeled my courage when I have been faint—"The Lord also has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, both of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth."
And then the believer will have to wait a little while, and then he shall see more glorious things yet! After a few years, he will see the glories of the latter day. We are told in prophecy that this world is to become the dominion of Christ. At present, idolatry and bloodshed, and cruelty and lusts reign. But the hour is coming when this Augean stable shall be cleansed once and forever; when these huge shambles of Aceldama shall yet become the temple of the living God! We believe that in those times Christ, with solemn pomp, will descend from heaven to reign upon this earth. We cannot read our Bibles and believe them literally without believing that there are bright days coming—when Christ shall sit upon the throne of His father David; when He shall hold His court on earth, and gloriously reign among His ancients! But oh, if it is so, you and I shall see it if we belong to the happy number who have put their trust in Christ! These eyes shall see that pompous appearance when He shall stand in the latter day upon the earth! "My eyes shall see Him and not another’s." I could almost weep to think that I have lost the opportunity of seeing Christ on earth as crucified. I think the 12 apostles were very highly favored, but when we shall see our Savior here, and shall be like our Head, we shall think that all deficiencies are made up in the eternal weight of glory! When from the center to the poles, the harmony of this world shall all be given to His praise, these ears shall hear it, and when all nations shall join the shout, this tongue shall also join the shout! Happy men and happy women who have such a hope, so as to behold the Savior’s glory.
And then after that a little pause; a thousand years shall run their golden cycle, and then shall come the judgment. Christ, with sound of trumpet, in terrific pomp, shall descend from heaven—angels shall form His bodyguard surrounding Him on either hand. The chariots of the Lord are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels! The whole sky shall be clad with wonders. Prodigies and miracles shall be as rife and as plentiful as the leaves upon the trees. The earth shall totter at the tramp of the Omnipotent! The pillars of the heavens shall stagger like drunken men beneath the weight of the eternal splendor— heaven shall display itself in the sky—while on earth all men shall be assembled. The sea shall give up its dead. The graves shall yield their tenants from the cemetery, and the graveyard and the battlefield. Men shall start in their thousands! And every eye shall see Him, and they who have crucified Him. And while the unbelieving world shall weep and wail because of Him, seeking to hide themselves from the face of Him that sits upon the throne; believers shall come forward, and with songs and choral symphonies, shall meet their Lord! Then shall they be caught up together with the Lord in the air, and after He has said, "Come, you blessed" they shall sit upon His throne, judging the 12 tribes of Israel; they shall take their seats as assessors upon that awful Judgment bench; and when at the last He shall say, "Depart, you cursed," and His left hand shall open the door of thunder, and let loose the flames of fire, they shall cry, "Amen!" And when the earth shall vanish, and men shall sink into their appointed doom, they, gladly seeing the triumph of their Master, shall shout again, again, again the shout of victory—"Hallelujah, for the Lord God has triumphed over all."
And to complete the scene, when the Savior shall ascend on high for the last time, His victories all completed, and death himself being slain, He, like a mighty conqueror about to ride through heaven’s bright streets, shall drag at His chariot wheel hell and death. You and I, attendants at His side, shall shout the victor to His throne, and while the angels clap their bright wings and cry, "the Mediator’s work is done," you and I—
"Louder than they all, shall sing
While heaven’s resounding mansions ring,
With shouts of sovereign grace."
We shall behold His glory! Picture whatever splendor and magnificence you please—if you do but conceive it rightly, you shall behold it.
You see people in this world running through the streets when a king or a queen ride through them. How they climb to their housetops to see some warrior return from battle! Ah, what a trifle! What is it to see a piece of flesh and blood though it is crowned with gold? But oh, what is it to see the Son of God with heaven’s highest honors to attend Him, entering within the pearly gates while the vast universe resounds with, "Hallelujah! for the Lord God Omnipotent reigns."
3. I must close by noticing the last point, which is this in our Savior’s prayer—heaven’s greatest privilege is also included. Mark, we are not only to be with Christ and to behold His glory, but we are to be like Christ, and to be glorified with Him! Is He bright? So shall you be! Is He enthroned? So shall you be! Does He wear a crown? So shall you! Is He a priest? So shall you be a priest and a king to offer acceptable sacrifices forever! Mark, that in all Christ has, a believer has a share! This seems to me to be the sum total and the crowning of it all—to reign with Christ—to ride in His triumphal chariot, and have a portion of His joy; to be honored with Him, to be accepted in Him, to be glorified with Him! This is heaven, this is heaven, indeed!
And now, how many of you are there here who have any hope that this shall be your lot? "Well," said Chrysostom, "the pains of hell are not the greatest part of hell. The loss of heaven is the weightiest woe of hell." To lose the sight of Christ, the company of Christ—to lose the beholding of His glory— this must be the greatest part of the damnation of the lost!
Oh, you who have not this bright hope, how is it that you can live? You are going through a dark world to a darker eternity! I beseech you stop and pause. Consider for a moment whether it is worthwhile to lose heaven for this poor earth. What? Pawn eternal glories for the pitiful pence of a few moments of the world’s enjoyments? No, stop, I beseech you! Weigh the bargain before you accept it. What shall it profit you to gain the whole world, and lose your soul, and lose such a heaven as this?
But as for you who have a hope, I beseech you hold it fast, live on it, rejoice in it—
"A hope so much divine,
May trials well endure—
May purge your soul from sense and sin,
As Christ the Lord is pure."
Live near your Master now, and so shall your evidences be bright! And when you come to cross the flood, you shall see Him face to face, and what that is, only they can tell who enjoy it every hour!