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Heaven is our Fatherland

Johann Gerhard

(Translated by Rev. C. W. Heisler, A.M.)

“IN My Father’s house are many mansions,” are our Saviour’s words (John xiv. 1). Oh! how I long to see that place, O Lord, where Thou hast prepared an eternal mansion for me? “For I am a stranger with Thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were” (Ps. xxxix. 12). “Few and evil have the years of my pilgrimage been” (Gen. xlvii. 9); and in my life of exile here I long for my heavenly home; “for our citzenship is in heaven” (Phil. iii. 20). I long to see “the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Ps. xxvii. 13). Our life here is as a vain show, “my days are as an handbreadth, and mine age is as nothing before Thee” (Ps. xxxix. 5, 6). “And now, Lord, what wait I for” (Ps. xxxix. vii)? Is it not for Thee? O Lord Jesus, “when shall I come and appear before Thee?” “As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God” (Ps. xlii. 1). O true and perfect and boundless joy! O Joy upon joy! O joy surpassing all joy, without which there is no joy! Oh, when shall I enter that blessed place of joy, and there behold my God! “As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness” (Ps. xvii. 15); “at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. xvi. 11); “I shall be satisfied with the fatness of Thy house; and Thou shalt make me drink of the river of Thy pleasures; with Thee is the fountain of life” (Ps. xxxvi. 8, 9).

O longed-for life! O the unspeakable blessedness of that time, when the Adorable Trinity shall be the completion of all our desires, whom we shall forevermore behold, whom we shall never cease to love, and whom we shall unweariedly praise through endless ages. To see God –- ah! that will surpass all the joys of earth. To gaze on the face of Christ, to live with Christ, to hear the voice of Christ, will far exceed the most ardent desires of our hearts. O Lord Jesus, Thou most blessed Spouse of my soul, when wilt Thou bring my soul into Thy royal palace as Thine honored bride? What can I want there that Thou wilt not supply? What more can we desire or look for when God Himself shall be all in all (1 Cor. xv. 28)? Oh, that will be as beauty to my sight, honey to my taste, music to my ear, balm to my nostrils, and a flower to my touch. God will then be all in all, and will distribute the blessings of His kingdom to each one according to his heart’s desire. If thou desirest life, health, peace, honor, there God will be all and in all to thy soul! What is here dark and mysterious, even to the most learned in the Church, will then be plain and clear, even to the smallest children. Christ in His blessed and glorified humanity shall there be present with us, and with sweetest voice shall disclose the hidden mysteries of our salvation. Sweet shall be His voice, and comely His countenance (Song ii. 14); grace is poured into His lips (Ps. xlv. 2); and He is crowned with glory and honor (Ps. viii. 5).

And if God shall be all in all, then surely He will grant us fullness of knowledge, the perfection of peace, and the continuing powers of memory through all eternity. God the Son will satisfy our intellects with the fullest knowledge; God the Holy Ghost will satisfy our wills with the holiest love; and God the Father will charge our memories with the unfailing remembrance of both. Thou, O God, art the Light; “in Thy light shall we see light” (Ps. xxxvi. 10), see Thee, that is, in Thyself, in the glory of Thy countenance, when we see Thee face to face. Nor shall we see thee only, but we shall also live with Thee; and not only that, but we shall praise Thee; and not only so, but we shall be partakers of Thy joy; and more than that, we shall be as the angels of God (Matt. xxii. 30), aye, like God Himself, who is blessed forevermore (1 John iii. 2).

O faithful soul, in wonder and amazement adore the marvelous compassion of thy Saviour. Not only does He receive us who were His enemies into His grace, but He also forgives our sins, freely justifies us, brings us into possession of our heavenly inheritance, makes us like the holy angels, yes, even like unto Himself. O the blessed citizenship of the saints! O thou heavenly Jerusalem! O thou holy abode of the most holy Trinity, when shall I enter the sacred courts of Thy temple? The temple of that heavenly Jerusalem is the Lamb (Rev. xxi. 22), aye the “Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world” (John i. 29), the Lamb slain for them from the foundation of the world (Rev. xiii. 8). Oh, when shall I worship my God in that holy temple, that is, God in God? When shall that heavenly sun (Rev. xxi. 23) arise for me which illumines all those holy courts? An exile still I am from my heavenly fatherland, but a goodly heritage is laid up for me (Ps. xvi. 6). To them that believe on His name power is given to become the sons of God (John i. 12). And if sons “then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom. viii. 17).

Be comforted, then, O my soul, and let thine aspirations go up more and more after thy heavenly inheritance” (Ps. xvi. 5), “and my exceeding great reward” (Gen. xv. 1). What more than this can the compassionate love of God bestow? He gives us life; He gives us His only Son; He gives us His very self. And had He known of anything greater in heaven, or in earth, He would have given that too. In God we live (Acts xvii. 28), we are the temple of God (1 Cor. iii. 16), we possess God here indeed in spirit and in mystery, but there in deed and in truth. There our hopes will become blissful reality. There we shall not simply sojourn, but we shall dwell in a secure abode forever and ever!

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