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When dwelling upon those dceply interesting sub strike the very chords of the heart, and often jects, the necessity of repentance, the inestimable value wins a reception for doctrincs, which withof the soul, and the certainty of a future state of out such friendly aid would have been rerewards and punishments, what a variety of beautiful jected at the very entrance with aversion or illustration is employed by our Lord! Well aware
contempt. that these trutlis supply the most powerful motives to Receive the important truth, ye guardians spiritual diligence and moral obedience, he presents of youth, that wish for the conversion of their them under various forms and different aspects, that, souls to God; and receive it, ye youths, being thus forcibly impressed, they may be perma who would become children of the Father nently retained.
in heaven, that if a taste for learning hymns It has been well remarked, that parables were a sort of touchstone, by which the humble and earnest in
is once acquired, one of God's chosen engines
has begun to batter at the high walls of the quirer after truth might be distinguished from the obstinate and perverse hearers of the Gospel; to the one
rebellious heart; yea, one of the outworks, they were a cloud of darkness, to the other a pillar of formerly in the possession of vice, or palight. The justice of this observation is confirmed by ganism, or philosophy at best, is now in the our blessed Lord himself, who, in allusion to the in
way of being Christianised! Happy are the veterate obstinacy of the Jews, declares that “ seeing
sons and daughters whose youth is cheered they see not, and hearing they hear not.” And should by the melody of sacred sounds!—the melody not the melancholy truth, that these beautiful lessons
shall not diminish, but the sacred instruction were taught in vain to thousands by that divine Teacher shall increase as they advance in years. This whose “ lips were full of grace and truth," speak to
text especially appeals to minds of a poetical the hearts of those who are privileged to listen to them bias; but, methinks, there is that in it which in the present day? should it not act as a stimulus appeals to every soul among us; for who is and a warning ? The oracles of God are placed in our there that is not arrested with this Divine hands; but upon the spirit and temper in which they warning, “ Here we have no continuing city; are studied how much depends! A day may come,
in but we seek one to come ?” which the precepts, the threatenings, the invitations Brethren, may the blessing of the Lord be of these sacred oracles, may witness against us, in upon us while I endeavour to extract the true which they may serve only to aggravate our guilt and spirit of these words, by dwelling successively quicken our remorse, when they may be, indeed, as a
upon four points to which they seem to lead dark cloud augmenting our distress and desolation ;
our thoughts. but let us rather cherish the delightful hope, that to us I. The object yearned after by every soul, and to countless myriads of our fellow-pilgrims they a condition of security and settlement—"a will prove a pillar of light, guiding us through many continuing city." difficulties and perils to our Father's kingdom ; and
II. A picture of this world, which seems in opening the sacred volume let a mingled feeling
to be drawn at one stroke, as a place where of awe and gratitude be kindled in our hearts as we recall the solemn and reiterated assurance of our
no such blessing is to be found "here we
have no continuing city." beloved Lord, “ Heaven and earth shall pass away,
III. A declaration that there is such a thing but my words shall not pass away.”
elsewhere, revealed in the emphatic words,
one to come;" and TIIE ABIDING CITY OF GOD'S PEOPLE:
IV. The characteristic description of every
Christian, that he is a seeker of that future a Sermon,
state of security — " we seek one to come.” By The Rev. CHARLES HEBERT, M.A.
O may something of fire from on high enCurate of St. James's Chapel, Clapham.
kindle vur meditations, that the Christian HEB. xiii. 14.
may rejoice in the lot which he hath chosen, " Here have we no continuing city; but we seek one and the man who has never wept over sin be
brought to long for a better inheritance than The influence which religious poetry exer the things and pleasures of sense and time! cises upon mankind, is a subject well worthy 1. I shall trace in these words the object of the consideration of Christian parents and yearned after by every man's heart, viz. a teachers ; for unquestionably the truths that settled and secure condition. are embodied in good Christian hymns exert Brethren, do I err in saying that there is a great power over us, and sink into the inmost special charm to every heart in the words " a recesses of the mind. How few have not continuing city?" What is it that stirs men felt the touching and ennobling influence of up to undertake so many toils in the various that hymn which is founded on this text, and walks of society; which sends the mariner to teaches us to turn the thought to joy and buffel with unknown seas; and urges men to singing, that we have no abiding city below! | rise early and late take rest; and supports Sacred poetry of itself alone, or wedded to them in undergoing the severest mental and harmonies of a sacred character, seems to bodily fatigues day by day, and year by year?
It is not simply the thirst of distinction, the to my state that other comfort, and extricate feverish passion for fame; there is also a de- myself from the entanglement and pressure sire of providing a fixed and settled retire- of these incumbrances and difficulties; could ment under the coming infirmities of declining I once plant myself and family in that envied years. This is one chief spring of the young position, I should be at ease, I should have man's endeavours; and as time and accident attained to the object of my yearning heart, thicken, the desire increases, till that which and henceforth the stream of life would drift was in youth an elemental seed, almost ab- my little bark tranquilly onwards ?" I stay sorbs the mind in advancing age. Every dis not to remind you how objects of worldly deappointed hope renews its strength; every sire lose half their value when attained, and calamity that happens, and every infirmity | how hope's brilliant light flies forward to that grows upon us, augments the yearning of settle on some other object more in advance ; the heart after a place of permanent security, so that a successful man generally never is feelingly depicted here under the terms, blest, but always thinks himself on the point continuing city."
of being so: nor must I dwell long on the Fully to enter into the beauty and force of acknowledged truth, that where so many are this expression, it is necessary to imagine running in the race of advancenient, many will ourselves transported to a country exposed to be thrust aside, or so overthrown as to be the frequent devastation of war. The good trodden under foot and wounded in spirit, to hand of God over England, which has so long rise no more. All will not gain the prize. kept our soil from the tread of armed foes, or But since each man is allured by hope to the blacker horrors of civil bloodshed, makes think that he shall be the successful one, or at us scarce able to feel the significancy of the least one of the successful, let us suppose you term," a continuing city.” But imagine your some years hence, or it may be now, so feliselves in a land where the broken framework citous in your efforts, and so measured in of the law cannot restrain each castle and your wishes, as to be in possession of every town from pouring forth its band of maraud- object of desire; suppose that divine Proviing ruffians; or, suppose an enemy's host dence heaps upon you with a liberal hand all landed and spreading fire and ruin far and manner of blessings — riches, and houses, and wide,—you will then partly estimate the desir-lands, more than sufficient for your desires, ableness of dwelling in “a continuing city.” or, as you term them, your wants--a conThe solitary house is plundered and in flames; tented temper, without which all would be the father is slain, and his unprotected wife vain—a circle of friends of sufficient taste, and household carried into sad captivity: but and intellect, and affection, to make interto dwell in a city that hath bolts and bars, course lively and congenial,-suppose that the that is planted on a lofty rock, and fenced all vine on the walls of thine house beareth her around with battlements, and furnished with goodly clusters, and that health glisteneth in provision to sustain, and weapons of defence the myrtle-plants, and shineth on the polished to repel the enemy,- this is the figure under corners of an abounding family; nay, more which the text represents that settled security (though some omit it in their pictures of future which is the latent object of every man's happiness, I must add one feature necessary, heart. To be able to say to want, I fear thee not as a finish to the whole, but as its life and not; to be able either to sit at ease under the soul), imagine that your once vague hopes of shadow of our own roof, or actively to follow some day turning to God are realised, and the bent of our own minds by living like bees that you serve, and honour, and love him in in winter, without a care for the morrow, upon your daily walk-and that Divine grace daily the produce which industry has secured,--this sought makes your children and servants trees is the condition after which every man yearns; of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that and most men think that if they could obtain he may be glorified ; - suppose all this, and and enjoy it without fear of disturbance, they who will not say, how lovely a picture! what should have reached true happiness.
a place of rest! a sheltered garden! a haven II. Therefore, secondly, God condescends of peace! Yes; if God be not forgotten in to give man a warning respecting it, drawing his gifts, it is a little Eden on earth -as it at one stroke a picture of this world, by say were one glade of paradise restored. ing that no such permanent security is to be But hearken, Oye that possess these blessfound here—" here we have no continuing ings, and ye too that nourish your
hearts by city."
looking forward to such scenes, God's warnBut how is it? are not all men pursuing ing is, that you cannot so find continuing after a phantom of this sort ? Look into your city.”. Satan, that stole into Paradise and own minds, and mark the features of the Ait- brought in sin, often and often casts the seeds ting vision that allures you onward. Is it of misery unperceived into the heart of one not, “Could I but secure this object, and add of the members of such a household, and all
is disturbed and marred, as when Cain hated pilgrims on the earth ;" for by continual Abel and slew him. You look in vain here changes God had taught them what he hath for a city whose bolts and bars can shut out here expressed in plain and touching terms, temptation, and sin, and trouble.
" Here we have no continuing city." Are riches secure? Your city has no bolts III. But, thirdly, God assures us that there and bars to confine them. How often is it is such a state to be attained unto elsewhere verified that they take to themselves wings and there is “ one to come.” The original is fly away! Friends, the nearest and dearest - more explicit, for the existence of such a what risk of their becoming estranged and state is expressly affirmed. It is spoken of chilled by misunderstanding, arising, perhaps, not as a hope, an imagination, like those which from pride unsubdued on the part of both ! 0 man sets before his own eyes, but as a reality. beware of giving or taking offences; how soon The true force of the expressions, " the one is the bloom of voluntary friendship brushed to come,” is, “ the city that is to come.” Yes, away! But, suppose we all these averted, and revelation sets before us a place of security yet as to the continuance of this fabric of beyond the utmost dream of human hopehappiness which long years have reared, how "a continuing city," more complete than it frail and glassy are the first stones of its very hath entered into the heart of man to confoundation, the lives of its members! Who ceive, hath God prepared for them that love has not heard the piteous tale of the wither him. ing of many a lovely flower before it reached It is figured forth as a city (Heb. xi. 16): its prime? how art and tenderness in vain “God is not ashamed to be called their God, united their efforts !- a worm was at the root! for he hath prepared for them a city.” It Earthquake, and hurricane, and plague, and hath walls and gates: “ Thou shalt call thy war, are not necessary to brand instability on walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.” As it our comforts of this life. In the form of a is written, again, in Revelations : " It had a slight cold, death lays its imperceptible touch wall great and high ;” and again, Isaiah saith, upon the frame, and ere long comes to claim "We have a strong city: salvation shall God his own, and to testify by the chasm that is appoint for walls and bulwarks." It is set made, and the shadow on the countenances forth specially under the figure of the “ holy of them that are left behind, that here we have city,” the New Jerusalem : "the city had no no bliss that endureth, “ no continuing city!" need of the sun, nor of the moon.” No enemy How much more, if the fair and lovely vine can burst open its pearly gates, nor leap over herself, or the master-tree which bears her its jasper walls, nor pollute its golden streets: up, is stricken with a secret blow! Yet men "There shall in no wise enter into it any thing will seek for these things, as if they were to that defileth.” Sin, temptation, sorrow, sickendure, and will confide in their continuance to ness, tears, death, shall not be known there. the last hour. It is necessary, then, that ye Our breaches shall be repaired, never to be be warned by no less than the voice of God broken down again; our wounds shall be healed, himself, that "here ye have no continuing and infirmity removed altogether. The macity.” The saints and patriarchs of old time jesty of God is security for the peace and believed God in this ; and we doubt not they safety of that place. The Lord shall keep that enjoyed this life's blessings more in the enjoy- city, and his watchmen shall not wake in vain; ment, and were comforted when the loss of and there the universal yearning after a state them came, because they had learned to hold of safety, and freedom from mischance and them in uncertain tenure, as daily pensioners the shock of accident, shall be fully gratified. of God's free grace. For instance; Abraham Believe it, brethren, that it is to this that felt comforted by this when he stood before the general desire in the breast of all men is his dead, in the presence of the children of pointing; and you direct your aim too low, if Heth, saying, “I am a stranger and a so you bend it chiefly at things below the skies. journer” (Gen. xxiii. 4); Jacob meekly bare But mark, that if the city be such as I the full prosperity of declining years, while have described, it is eminently "a continuing he thought, as he spake to Pharaoh, of life as city." Methinks I now understand why this " a pilgrimage;" and when David was gather- gorgeous imagery is used. Walls of precious ing his nobles to the magnificent task of build- stone denote not only security, but continuance. ing a temple to the God of Israel (1 Chron. As the name of each tribe in Israel was not xxix. 15), he repeats to them all this salutary written in parchment on the fringe or phylactruth, “ We are all strangers before God, and teries of the high priest's dress; nor graven sojourners, as were all our forefathers : our on a tablet of stone, as the ten commandments, days are as a shadow, and there is none abid- which were to endure as long as the world; ing.” Thus did they confess, as St. Paul de- but wrought in precious stones, as a seal, on clares -how slow are we to confess the same his heart and arm, with the work of an enof ourselves that they were “strangers and graver in stone, as the engraving of a signet,
to denote that a believer's interest in Christ is things clash with heavenly, and you will see to outlive the law itself, and endure for ever; where his heart is, that he is earnestly seeking even so, notwithstanding the appearance of his native city, into whose privileges he was lavish expenditure, which makes it strange, the new born, though at a distance, precisely as walls of the New Jerusalem, and all its twelve Paul was born into the privileges of Rome, foundations, are significantly depicted as of though his native place was in Cilicia. The the most precious stones, to denote the per- earnestness of a Christian will shew itself in manence of a believer's place; that he will be all he does; and in proportion as he is earat last in “a continuing city.”
nest, is the development of his Christianity: If the city is such as this, and the inhabit Another remark to which this characteristic ants are to go no more out, and if in these description of a Christian gives rise, is an earthly things I am to see (whatever else may encouraging one to those Christians who, be deemed to be therein) a strong type of though earnest, are cast down. A Christian's heavenly things, then it follows certainly, as character is evidently that of an expectant, far as figures can establish it, that however not a possessor. Ye are not yet come into the frail and changeable the fabrics of earthly place which the Lord hath said he will give happiness, however instability is the very unto you. Be not therefore discouraged at condition of the tenure of our cities of rest on being only an expectant of coming blessings. earth,—the one to come is indeed "a continu. But the timorous may reply, “O, if I did exing city;" as it is written, “ Christ is gone to pect, if my heart were full of expectation, prepare mansions for his people.”
nay, if I had but a few rays of fixed hope IV. But, fourthly, the apostle lets fall by abiding in me, I should be at ease, and go on the way a short characteristic description of my way rejoicing." What! hast thou not? every true Christian, viz. that he is a “ seeker" | Well; perhaps at times thou hast none; all of that heavenly condition: “We seek one to hope of being saved may at times be taken come.”
away; yet whom doth the text describe as Recognise in this description, that ear. Christians?--not them that expect, but simply nestness is an implied characteristic of the them that seek, No Christian need shut himpeople of God. This remark, so near the self out from this consolation. He may, inend of this epistle, is evidently to bring to deed, do so, for he may cease to seek; and remembrance much more that had been said that is danger. But take up courage to be on this point in the 11th chapter, to which we found seeking, and if death itself so finds you have already made brief reference, but which still seeking heartily, though not yet assured, will now much more appropriately illustrate we should not fear for you. All that is said the earnestness with which true Christians here of Christians is, they “seek one to come.” seek the city of rest to come. In the 14th Go, then, seek steadfastly, and peace be unto verse of that chapter St. Paul argues, " they you. You will be laying hold on the promises that say such things" (viz. that they are made to them that seek; to them that wait strangers and pilgrims,) " declare plainly that on God; to them that look for the coming of they seek a country;" the original here is, Christ. Only strive towards the heavenly city. “their native country,” for heaven is termed When professors sink in the slough of desthe believer's native land, his father - land, pond, you may know which is the true pilgrim; his father's city. He then proceeds, " and for Pliable* will go nearer the world to get out truly, if they had been mindful of that from of his dejection of spirit, but the Christian, in which they came out” (Abraham's worldly the midst of the mire of unbelief, will struggle connexions were in Ur of the Chaldees), "they towards the heavenly city. It seems to be at might have had opportunity to have returned; once a comprehensive, comforting, and most but now they desire a better, that is an heaven accurate and safe delineation of a true Chrisly: God hath prepared for them a city." Learn, tian, that he seeks the continuing city to come. then, brethren, that as an exile seeks his I would now fain bind this subject yet father's land, or his native city, where the closer upon your individual hearts, by addressgreat majority of his kindred dwell, so the ing three classes of persons. First, those that Christian soul feels towards heaven--it is his have suffered much from the mutability of Father's dwelling; and as a pilgrim presses earthly things; secondly, those that have been onward hastily with his staff and scallop-shell prosperous hitherto; and, thirdly, those that to reach his native shores, so the true Chris are entering on the trials of life. tian is daily seeking his city of continuance in Let me then speak, first, to them that have heaven; and his conversation (i. e. his citizen- suffered much from the mutability of earthly ship) is in heaven. He need not affect stoic things. I speak feelingly unto such; a conindifference to the stations and duties on earth. viction of the transiency of my own earthly St. Paul said, “I am of Tarsus in Cilicia, a comforts makes me deal tenderly with you: citizen of no mean city.” But let earthly
• Sce Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.
it may be well, at times, to turn back the day flourishing, to-morrow cast into the fire; mind on the periods of actual bereavement nay, more, perhaps God may now be saying and the fear of being bereaved; on times of to the strongest and securest among us, sickness and trouble, and the fear of worse “Thou fool! this night thy soul shall be recalamities impending. All these strokes were quired;" “then whose shall those things be," but practical inculcations of this truth, “Here and where shall that respect of man be diswe have no continuing city." Why is it that sipated which thou hast acquired? Is this you have had so many? Have you been slow aught more than a divine comment, of a to receive them ; reluctant to confess to your rather startling character, upon the truth, own heart that your tenure is insecure? Had “ Here we have no continuing city ?” you set your best affections on earthly ob Ah! woe to him that useth life to lay up jects? or was it that God saw them insensibly treasure on earth, and considereth not how to unwinding from himself, and entwining them be rich before God. O let the truth, “ here selves more and more about them than about no continuing city," strike upon your inmost him? What could he then do, if he loved your ears, and shake your inmost heart, and awaken soul? He whetted his glittering sword, and se- you to seek the Lord Jesus before the comvered at one blow the ties that were periling mand goeth forth : “ Down with him and his your immortal salvation. It may be that the vain confidence at once; the Lord saith his sword was long hanging over you before the time shall be no longer." Oh! brethren, I blow was given; that God waited to see if he beseech you, if you are alarmed by the first might yet be gracious; that he endured your part of the text, “ here we have no continuidolatry with much long-suffering, till he saw ing city,” pause not, rest not, be not content; that nothing short of the sword could cure and before you give sleep to your eyes or slumber save. O, have you now learned the true to your eyelids, go to Christ in prayer, give lessons of affliction? Where is your heart ? | him your heart in a solemn vow, and ask him Has it found its rest in God, the true ante- to make a covenant with you, and put you past and foretaste of the continuing city above? among the number of those who are distrusting If so, rejoice; now ye desire a better lot than the city here, and seeking the one to come. this world, that is, an heavenly city. The But now, thirdly, I must say one word more, blows that wrought this effect, or that took in conclusion, to those before whom lifelies exaway that which hindered it, were gracious panded as a land unknown, a deep untried. You strokes; and ye sorrow not as they which are have heard its character. Is it a land ?—there are without hope; for them that are asleep in hurricanes that devastate it, and earthquakes Jesus shall God bring with him : they shall that rend it. Is it a great deep ?—the ocean's rise first, and you be restored to them. Where- calm itself is not less treacherous. At God's fore comfort one another with these words. word the stormy winds of perils arise, the But if it be otherwise, and your deceased waves of life are lifted up. This is its true relatives rest in the Lord, and your heart is description; therefore be warned. Enter upon not turned to seek the heavenly kingdom, it to use it, not to abuse it: weep as though separation for ever from them, as well as from ye wept not, rejoice as though ye rejoiced God, is at present before you. Turn, then, not, buy as though you possessed not: bold while life lasts, be it but a moment longer; for it lightly, sit loose to it: wear it not as a flowthen should be weeping indeed, if ye were to ing garment, but gird it and keep it in order, see them enter, with Abraham, Isaac, and as a steward that knoweth not when his lord Jacob, into the city of God, and ye yourselves will come and take account of his stewardshut out.
ship. But first you must begin aright: lay I would, secondly, speak to them that have down your first principles : balance this world hitherto known little but prosperity. What is against the world to come, and see which you your prosperity ? One hath the honour that will henceforth seek. Make up your minds man payeth to his refinement, his intellect, his to decide at once : to-morrow may be too late; rank, his connexions. Another clotheth him- and, if not, why may you not procrastinate self in purple and fine linen, and fareth sump to-morrow also, or many to-morrows? You tuously every day. Another saith to his soul, never will think death so near as to require “Soul, thou hast much merchandise laid up in instant decision. You may always, you will store; buy and sell, and get gain." O know think, postpone it one day more. Therefore ye not that ye are living on the sides of a vol- you really enlist yourself among those who cano that the earth beneath your feet is seek for rest here, where there is no secuunsound-tbat prosperity is like the smooth- rity, no city of continuance, unless you will ness that the torrent puts on the moment be- throw in your lot with the people of God. Be fore it shoots from that precipice into the willing to wait for your portion, and begin gulf below? Your life is even as a vapour; heartily to seek the continuing city which is your health is as the flower of the grass ; to to come.