Hebrews 11:13
All these people died in faith, without having received the things they were promised. However, they saw them and welcomed them from afar. And they acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
An Exile on EarthHebrews 11:13-14
An Inscription for the Mausoleum of the SaintsC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 11:13-14
Christian PilgrimsN. Emmons, D. D.Hebrews 11:13-14
Dying GladlyJ. Hambleton.Hebrews 11:13-14
Dying in FaithJohn Owen, D. D.Hebrews 11:13-14
Dying in FaithHebrews 11:13-14
Dying in FaithTinling's IllustrationsHebrews 11:13-14
Dying in FaithC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 11:13-14
Faith Constraining to a Pilgrim LifeC. New.Hebrews 11:13-14
Faith Eying the Promises in Life and DeathJohn Hill.Hebrews 11:13-14
Faith in DeathH. O. Mackey.Hebrews 11:13-14
Faith Sees Eternal LifeCawdray.Hebrews 11:13-14
Faith TriumphantR. Sibbes, D. D.Hebrews 11:13-14
Faith's PilgrimagesJ. Jowett, M. A.Hebrews 11:13-14
God's People are StrangersW. Jones, D. D.Hebrews 11:13-14
Heaven a Country and a CityW. Arthur, M. A.Hebrews 11:13-14
Home Yet DistantH. W. Beecher.Hebrews 11:13-14
Interest in HeavenG. F. Pentecost, D. D.Hebrews 11:13-14
Living and Dying in FaithThe Weekly PulpitHebrews 11:13-14
Longings for the Heavenly CityT. D. Woolsey.Hebrews 11:13-14
Of Dying in FaithD. Clarkson, . B. D.Hebrews 11:13-14
Of Living as StrangersD. Clarkson, B. D.Hebrews 11:13-14
Saints Pilgrims on the EarthJ. Burns, D. D.Hebrews 11:13-14
Seeking HeavenT. Adams.Hebrews 11:13-14
Soul-PilgrimageHomilistHebrews 11:13-14
Strangers and PilgrimsD. Moore, M. A.Hebrews 11:13-14
Strangers and PilgrimsHomilistHebrews 11:13-14
Strangers and PilgrimsR. Lee.Hebrews 11:13-14
Strangers and PilgrimsR. S. Latimer.Hebrews 11:13-14
Strangers and PilgrimsR, S. Candlish, D. D.Hebrews 11:13-14
Strangers and Pilgrims on the EarthS. Robins, M. A.Hebrews 11:13-14
The Attachments and Detachments of FaithA. Maclaren, D. D.Hebrews 11:13-14
The Christian's Condition in This WorldW. Jones Hebrews 11:13, 14
The Faith of the PatriarchsT. Chalmers, D. D.Hebrews 11:13-14
The Feelings of the Ancient SaintsExpository SermonsHebrews 11:13-14
The Forecasting of FaithT. Guthrie.Hebrews 11:13-14
The Journey of LifeW. Gilpin, M. A.Hebrews 11:13-14
The PilgrimE. Griffin, D. D.Hebrews 11:13-14
The Pilgrim not a HermitW. Arthur, M. A.Hebrews 11:13-14
The Power of the Future Upon the PresentHomilistHebrews 11:13-14
The Soul Committed to Christ in DeathT. Guthrie.Hebrews 11:13-14
The Two FatherlandsD. Young Hebrews 11:13-16

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, etc. By "these all" we understand Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Jacob. They died in faith. Their faith, though at times it was sorely tried, continued unto death. And their death was according to or consistent with their faith. They departed this life still believing in the promises, and anticipating their fulfillment in the life beyond. We take what is said of the patriarchs in these two verses as descriptive of the Christian's condition in this world.

I. THE CHRISTIAN DOES NOT REALIZE HIS GREAT HOPES HERE, BUT ANTICIPATES THEIR REALIZATION HEREAFTER. The patriarchs "all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and greeted them from afar." They did not inherit Canaan. The promises of God to them were not fulfilled in this life. The hopes which those promises awakened were not realized when they died. But our text teaches:

1. That they firmly believed in the blessings promised to them. By faith they saw them from afar.

2. They anticipated the possession of these blessings. They "greeted them." "From afar," says Delitzsch, "they saw the promises in the reality of their fulfillment; from afar they greeted them as the wanderer greets his longed-for home, even when he only comes in sight of it at a distance, drawing to himself as it were magnetically and embracing with inward love that which is yet afar off. The exclamation, 'I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord (Genesis 49:18), is such a greeting of salvation from afar." "The image is that of sailors who, catching a glimpse of the shores they wish to reach, salute them from a distance." Cowper expresses the idea. He speaks of

"The savage rock,...
That hides the seamen in his hollow clefts
Above the reach of man. His hoary head,
Conspicuous many a league, the mariner,
Bound homeward, and in hope already there,
Greets with three cheers exulting." Such was the attitude of the patriarchs to the blessings promised unto them by the Lord. And in this respect Christians to some extent resemble them. The highest and brightest hopes of the Christian are not attained here. This world is the scene of the pursuit rather than the attainment of the divinest satisfactions. Is there any one whose brightest and best hopes have been realized in this world? Is our life as good and glad and great a thing as we pictured it in our early days? Are we as true and pure, as brave and noble, as we hoped and expected to be? Verily, we have not attained; we are not satisfied; we have not received the promised blessings. But these blessings still beckon us onward. We long and hope for the realization of them. Dr. Martineau profoundly and truly says, "So far as we are religious, we are in a state of aspiration and unsatisfied desire In disappointment ever renewed, in thoughts and affections ever transcending all our possibilities, consist all the noble unrest, the progressive goodness, the immortal capacities of our nature, rendering it the creator of poetry and the moral creature of God." We anticipate the fruition of our hopes hereafter. "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness."

II. THE CHRISTIAN IS NOT A RESIDENT HERE, BUT A SOJOURNER - A PILGRIM. "Confessed that they were pilgrims on the earth" (cf. Genesis 23:4; Genesis 47:9), All men are pilgrims in this world. David, in the height of his power, confessed this (1 Chronicles 29:15). Whether they will or not, every man is moving ever onward from the seen to the unseen, from the temporal to the eternal. Some are unwilling pilgrims. If they could they would be citizens here, not sojourners. But if they attempt to settle down, some sharp shock soon reminds them that their condition here is not stationary, but itinerant and changeable. The Christian cheerfully recognizes the fact that he has no continuing city here; he confesses that he is a pilgrim on the earth. Mark some of the features of this pilgrimage.

1. It is irretraceable. There is no opportunity of going back to past scenes and experiences. The movement is invariably onward.

2. It is continuous. There are no stoppages on this journey. Life never pauses in its motion.

3. It is rapid. Compared with the work to be done in it, and with the boundless and solemn future to which it leads, how brief is life!

III. THE CHRISTIAN IS NOT AT HOME HERE, BUT A STRANGER SEEKING HIS HOME ELSEWHERE. "Confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek after a country of their own." They seek a fatherland, a home. There is much in this world which is uncongenial to the true Christian. He has desires which this world cannot satisfy. He does not want to stay here permanently, He does not feel at home here. But he is seeking his home in heaven; he is pressing onward to his Father's house. There many of his best and dearest friends have already entered; there many of his spiritual kinsfolk dwell; there the elder Brother and the heavenly Father are at home; and as he journeys thither he sings-

"There is my house and portion fair,
My treasure and my heart are there,
And my abiding home." While on the journey let the Christian pilgrim rejoice:

1. In the excellence of the way on which he travels. "A highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness," etc.

2. In the attractiveness of the prospects which beckon him forward.

3. In the delightfulness of the companionships of the journey. "He himself shall be with them, walking in the way the redeemed shall walk in it."

4. In the blessedness of the destination to which He travels. They "shall come to Zion with songs," etc. (Isaiah 35:10)

These all died in faith.
I. How FAITH FILLS EYE AND HEART WITH THE FUTURE. AS some traveller topping the water-shed may see far off the white porch of his home, and wave a greeting to it, though it be distant, while his heart goes out over all the intervening, weary leagues; or as some homeward-bound crew catch, away yonder on the horizon, the tremulous low line that is home, and welcome it with a shout of joy, though many a billow dash and break between them and it, these men looked across the weary waste, and saw far away; and as they saw their hearts went out towards the things that were promised, because they "judged Him faithful that had promised." And that is the attitude and the act which all true faith in God ought to operate in us. So, then, here are two things to think about. One, faith's vision; the other, faith's greeting. People say, "Seeing is believing." I should be disposed to turn the aphorism right round, and to say, "Believing is seeing." The sight that faith gives is solid, clear, certain. If I might so say, the true exercise of faith is to stereoscope the dim ghost-like realities of the future, and to make them stand out solid in relief there before us. Well, then, still further, there is suggested that this vision of faith, with all its blessed clearness and certitude, is not a direct perception of the things promised, but only a sight of them in the promise. And does that make it less blessed? Does the astronomer, that sits in his chamber and when he would most carefully observe the heavens looks downwards on to the mirror of the reflecting telescope that he uses, feel that he sees the starry lights less really than when he gazes up into the abyss itself and sees them there? Is not the reflection a better and a more accurate source of knowledge for him than even the observation direct of the sky would be? And so, if we look down into the promise, we shall see, glittering there, the starry points which are the true images adapted to our present sense of reception of the great invisible lights above. And then, still further, let me remind you that this vision of faith varies in the measure of our faith. It is not always the same. Refraction brings up sometimes, above the surface of the sea, a spectral likeness of the opposite shore, and men stand now and then upon our southern coasts, and for an hour or two, in some conditions of the atmosphere, they see the low sand-hills of the French or the Belgian coast, as if they were in arm's length. So faith, refracting the rays of light that strike from the throne of God, brings up the image, and when it is strong the image is clear, and when it flags the image "fades away into the light of common day"; and where there glowed the fair outlines of the far-off land, there is nothing but a weary wash of waters and a solitary stretch of sea. My brother! do you see to it that this vision of faith be cultivated by you. Do you choose whether you shall, like John Bunyan's man with the muckrake, have your eyes fixed upon the straws and filth at your feet, or whether you will look upwards and see the crown that is glittering there just above your head, and ready to drop upon it. "These all in faith saw the promises." Yes! And when they saw them they greeted them. Their hands and their hearts went out, and a glad shout came to their lips as they beheld the fair vision of all the wonder that should be. And so faith has in it, in proportion to its depth and reality, this going out of the soul towards the things discerned. They draw us when we see them.

IX. How FAITH PRODUCES A SENSE OF DETACHMENT FROM THE PRESENT. "They confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." A "stranger " is a man who, in a given constitution of things — in some country with a settled government, owes allegiance to another king, and belongs to another polity. A "pilgrim" or a "sojourner is a man who is only in the place where he now is for a little while. So the one of the two words expresses the idea of belonging to another state of things, and the other expresses the idea of transiency in the present condition. But the true Christian consciousness of being "a stranger and a sojourner" comes, not from any thought that life is fleeting, but from the better and more blessed operation of the faith which reveals the things promised, and knits me so closely to them that I cannot but feel separated from the things that are round about me. Men that live in mountainous countries, when they come down into the plains, be it Switzerland, or the Highlands, or anywhere else, pine and fade away, sometimes with the intensity of the "Heinweh," the homesickness which seizes them. And we, if we are Christians, and belong to the other order of things, shall feel that this is not the native soft, nor here the home in which we would dwell.

III. HOW THIS SAME FAITH TRIUMPHS IN THE ARTICLE OF DEATH. "These all died in faith." That is a very grand thought as applied to those old patriarchs, that just because all their lives long God had done nothing for them of what He had promised, therefore they died believing He was going to do it. So for us the end of life may have a faith nurtured by disappointments, made more sure of everything because it has nothing; certain that he calls into existence another world to redress the balance of the old, because here there has been so much of bitterness and woe. And our end like theirs may be an end beatified by a clear vision of the things that " no man hath seen, nor can see"; and into the darkness there may come for us, as there came of old to another, an open heaven and a beam of God's glory smiting us on the face and changing it into the face of an angel.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

"These all died in faith." Believers constitute a class by themselves — "These." They are the people that dwell alone, and shall not be numbered among the nations. Believers are a class by themselves, even when they die. It is idle to think that we can mark out a spot in the cemetery where none but saints shall sleep; but yet there is a truth at the bottom of that folly. There is a separation even in death between the righteous and the wicked. As for those who died without faith, they died indeed; but as for His people, a glorious resurrection awaits them.

I. DYING IS FAITH. What does it mean?

1. Does it not mean that when they came to die, they had not faith to seek, but having had faith in life, they had faith in death? I will pronounce no opinion upon death-bed repentance. I would not like to lie upon a sick-bed, much less upon a dyingbed, and have a Saviour to seek there. The pains and dying strife are usually enough to occupy a man's thoughts.

2. They did die, however, although they had faith, for faith is not given to us that we should escape death, but that we may die in faith.

3. These all persevered to the end.

4. Does it not mean, also, that they never got beyond faith?

5. But then, while they did not get beyond faith, the mercy is that they never got below it.


1. They had received a great deal, but they had not received the fulness of the promises.

2. Yet they saw them. Faith touched their eyes with eye-salve.

3. They were persuaded of them.

4. They embraced them. The Greek word signifies "salutes," as when we see a friend at a distance, In the clear atmosphere of Mentone, I have sometimes stood on quite a lofty mountain, and seen a friend down in the valley, and I have spoken his name; and at first it was greatly to my astonishment when he replied, "Where are you?" I held a conversation with him readily. I could not have actually reached him for a long time, but I saluted him from afar. At times we can see God's promises afar off, and we salute them. We are within hail of the glory-land, and we send up rockets in the dark; or, if it be daylight, we signal to the shore.

III. THE FAITH TO LIVE WITH — the life of faith.

1. We are strangers by nature. Born from above, our life differs from those about us. "The world knoweth us not." We are in it, but not of it.

2. We are strangers as to citizenship. Here we are aliens and foreigners, whose privileges are connected with another city, and not with earth.

3. We are strangers as to pursuits. We are wayfaring men hurrying through this Vanity Fair. The men of the fair cry, "Buy! buy I " but they have no wares that we care to purchase. We buy the truth, and they do not trade in that commodity.

4. We are pilgrims in object. We have not come hither for a pleasure excursion; we are journeying to the temple to behold the face of our Lord. Our cry is, "Onward! Hinder me not. I must away to the glory-land, where my home is, where my God is!"

5. We are pilgrims as to continuance. We do not expect to be here long. Do not wonder if you are found to be strangers as to usage, for the world uses foreigners roughly; and they that are really of Christ must expect to be misunderstood and misrepresented.

IV. And what is THE FAITH BY WHICH WE ARE ABLE TO ENDURE SUCH A LIFE AS THIS? Why, it is this faith: "Theythat say such things declare plainly that they seek a country." Our faith is one which we dare to avow. We declare plainly that we seek a country. We are not ashamed to say that this is not our rest, that we do not expect to find pleasure here. We are speeding over this stormy sea to the Fair Havens, where we shall cast anchor for ever. We are not ashamed to say this, however others may ridicule our hope. And we say it because we believe it.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. It is the glory of true faith, that it will not leave them in whom it is, THAT IT WILL NOT CEASE ITS ACTINGS FOR THEIR SUPPORT AND COMFORT IN THEIR DYING; when the hope of the hypocrite doth perish.




V. The due understanding of the whole Old Testament, with the nature of the faith and obedience of all the saints under it, depends on this one truth, THAT THEY BELIEVED THINGS THAT WERE NOT YET ACTUALLY EXHIBITED NOR ENJOYED. This is the line of life and truth that runs through all their profession and duties; the whole exercise of their faith and love, without which it was but a dead carcase. It was Christ in the promise, even before His coming, that was the life of the Church in all ages.

VI. GOD WOULD HAVE THE CHURCH FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD TO LIVE ON PROMISES NOT ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISHED. For although we do enjoy the accomplishment of the great promise of the incarnation of the Son of God, yet the Church continues still to live on promises which, in this world, cannot be perfectly fulfilled.



IX. No DISTANCE OF TIME OR PLACE CAN WEAKEN FAITH AS UNTO THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF DIVINE PROMISES. There are promises still left unto us upon record that are, it may be, afar off; such as those which concern the destruction of antichrist, and the glory of the kingdom of Christ in the latter days. The rule of faith concerning them is given us (Habakkuk 2:3, 4).

X. QUIET WAITING FOR THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF PROMISES AT A GREAT DISTANCE, and which most probably will not be in our days, IS AN EMINENT FRUIT OF FAITH. He that believeth will not make haste.

XI. This firm persuasion of the truth of God in the accomplishment of His promises unto us, upon a discovery of their worth and excellency, is the SECOND ACT OF FAITH, WHEREIN THE LIFE OF IT DOTH PRINCIPALLY CONSIST.

(John Owen, D. D.)

This chapter is a little book of martyrs. It discovers the life and death of the holy patriarchs, and by what means God's children are brought into possession of that that they have an interest and right unto upon earth. It is by faith. There is one faith from the beginning of the world. As there is one Christ, one salvation, so there is one uniform faith for the saving of our souls. We hope to be saved by Jesus Christ as they were. Then again, here is implied a continuance and perseverance in faith. Faith first makes a Christian, and then after, he lives by faith. It quickens the life of grace, and then he leads his life by that faith. He continues in it till he come to death, which is the period of all, and then he dies by that faith. "They died in faith." In the faith of the Messiah, in faith of Canaan, in faith of heaven. When death closed up the eyes of their bodies, then with the eye of faith they looked upon Christ, upon God in Christ reconciled to them.

I. THE GRACE OF FAITH, IT IS SUCH A GRACE THAT IT CARRIES A CHRISTIAN THROUGH ALL THE PASSAGES OF THIS LIFE. It enableth him to hold out to the end, to suffer those things that he is to suffer, and in the end by it he dies. And when all things else leave him in death, when riches, friends, honour, and great places leave him, when his life and senses leave him, yet faith will never leave him till it have put him in full possession of heaven, and then it ceaseth when it hath done the work it hath to do, which is to bring us to heaven. What is it to die in faith? To die in faith is to die in the Lord by faith; and it looks to the time past, present, to come.

1. To the time past. To die in faith is to die in assurance of the forgiveness of sins, when by faith and repentance we have pulled out the sting of sins past. For faith looks upon Christ, and Christ hath taken the sting of death in His own, and death ever since hath been stingless and harmless to His members.

2. For the present. In the present instant of death, to die in faith is to see God reconciled to us in Christ, and with the eye of Stephen, to see Christ ready to receive our souls (Acts 7:59). This is to die in faith; to see ourselves there with our Head, where we shall be ere long. Therefore our flesh rests in hope till the resurrection; because God did not suffer His Holy One to see corruption. This is to die in faith.

3. And for the time to come. To die in faith is by faith to overcome all the horror of death. Faith seeth the faithfulness of God, that God in Christ hath taken these bodies of ours in trust. "I know whom I have believed, and He is able to keep that I have committed to Him" (2 Timothy 1:12). And then for the pangs of death, which nature trembles at, faith considers of them as the pangs of child-birth. Now, what is death but the birth to immortality, the birth of glory? It is a little dark passage to an eternal glorious light. Then for the parting of two friends, soul and body, faith sees that it is but for a while, and then that that parting is a bringing in a better joining; for it brings the soul immediately to her beloved, our Saviour Christ Jesus. And then for friends. Faith sees, indeed, that we shall part with many sweet friends; but faith saith we shall have better friends. We go to God, we go to the souls of perfect men, we go to [an] innumerable company of angels (Hebrews 12:22), we go to a better company a great deal. And for all the employments we have here, that we have below, faith sees that there will be exercise in heaven. We shall praise God with angels and all the blessed and glorious company of heaven. So consider what you will that is bitter and terrible in death, faith conquers it. It sees an end of it, and opposeth to it better things; because, notwithstanding death cuts off many comforts, yet it brings better. And it is the beginning of happiness that shall never end. So, indeed, faith sees that the day of death is better than the day of birth. When we come into misery, it is not so good as when we go out of misery, and enter into happiness. This is to die in faith. This should stir us up, if this be so, to get this grace of faith; above all graces, to get assurance that we are in Christ Jesus, that so we may live with comfort, and end our days with comfort and live for ever happy in the Lord. It is only faith that will master this king of fears — this giant that subdues all the kings of the earth to him. Oh, let us labour, therefore, to get it while we live, and to exercise it while we live, that we may live every day by faith. It is not any faith that we can die by. It must be a faith that we have exercised and tried before. It is a tried, a proved faith, that we must end our days by. For, alas! when death comes, if we have not learned to live by faith before, how can we end our days in faith? Let us all labour for this faith; for though it cannot be said of us that we die rich, or that we die great in the world, perhaps we may die a violent death, as there be divers diseases that lead the body into distempers. It is no matter how we die distempered, and in any estate, so it may be said of us we die in a blessed faith. It is said here, they "all died in faith." He saith not they all died in feeling. A man may die in faith, and yet not die in feeling; and sometimes the strongest faith is with the least feeling of God's love. "These all died in faith, not having received the promises." For God promised them Canaan, and they died many hundred years before. Their posterity came into Canaan. He promised them Christ, and they died long before Christ came. He promised them heaven, and they entered not into heaven till death. So they received not the promises, that is, they received not the things promised; for else they received the promise, but not that that was promised. They received not the type, Canaan, nor the things typified — Christ and heaven. This is added as a commendation of their faith, that though they received not the things that they looked for, yet notwithstanding they had such a strong faith, that they continued to live by faith and died in faith. The promises here are taken for the blessed things promised. This should teach us this lesson, that God's promises are not empty shells; they are real things. And then, whatsoever God promiseth it is not barely propounded to the soul, but in a promise. It is wrapped up in a promise. He gives us not empty promises nor naked things; but He gives us promises of things which we must exercise our faith in, in depending upon Him for the performance of them till we be put in possession. "They received not the promises." He speaks in the plural number, though he mean but one main promise, that is, the Messiah, for all other were types of Him. Believers are called " children of the promise" (Galatians 4:28). Here they are called promises, for the repeating of them. The promise of the same thing it was made oft: there was no new promise. The promise of the same thing it was seven times repeated and renewed to Abraham presently one after another. So they are called promises, to show that the promise can never be too much thought on, though it be the same promise of life everlasting; the same promise of grace and of comfort; the same promise of the resurrection, etc. All the promises of good things to come we cannot think of too oft, nor receive the sacrament, the seal of the promise, too oft. "They received not the promises." They were comforted notwithstanding, that their posterity should receive them. Canaan was a type of Christ and of heaven. I observe this by the way that God doth not reveal all things at all times. God doth leave diverse things to be revealed in diverse ages of the Church. God doth not reveal everything in every time, to comfort all ages of the Church. We see not everything in our times; we must be content. "They saw them afar off, and were persuaded of them and embraced them," etc. This is the order of God's Spirit; first to open the eye to see, and by sight to persuade, and upon persuasion to stir up the heart and affections to embrace; for good things are brought into the soul through the understanding, by the spiritual sight of the understanding, and from that into the will and affections by embracing the things we know. This is God's course daily. Therefore he saith they first saw them, and then were persuaded of them, and then embraced them. "They saw them afar off." By what eye? By the eye of faith. Faith makes things present, though in themselves they be far off. It is the nature of faith to make things that are absent to be present to the believing soul; and it affects the soul somewhat as if it were present. It sees things far off in place. Faith sees things in heaven; it sees Christ there; it sees our place provided for us there; it sees God reconciled there; by it we see ourselves there, because we shall be there ere long. Faith sees all this; it breaks through and looks through all; it hath most piercing beams, the eye of faith. And it works in an instant; it goes to heaven in a moment and sees Christ. And for distance of time, the eye of faith it sees things past and things to come. It sees things past. It sees the creation of the world; it sees the redemption of us by Jesus Christ; it sees our sins there punished in Christ our surety; it sees us crucified with Christ Jesus; it sees all discharged by Him. When we believe Christ was crucified for us and died for us, faith makes it present. And so for the time to come, faith hath an eye that looks afar off. It sees the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Faith sees the general judgment. If sees eternal happiness in heaven; it sees things afar off. It is the evidence of things not seen. What is the reason of it? It makes things not otherwise seen to be seen, and presently seen; it gives a being to things. It is a strange power that faith hath. The Spirit works an eye of faith in the soul, and then it discovers to it the things of God. "They saw them afar off." God created a new eye in the soul, a new sight which they had not by nature; for even as the natural eye cannot see things that are invisible, so the natural man cannot see the things of God, which are seen not by a natural but by a supernatural eye (1 Corinthians 2:10, 11). The eye therefore that must see things afar off, it must be a supernatural eye; and the light that must discover them must be the light of God's truth. For reason cannot see the resurrection of the body, and the life to come, and such glorious things as the Word of God reveals to us. If you ask why this sight of faith is so necessary, this supernatural sight, I answer, nothing can be done in religion without the supernatural eye of the soul; for a man may see heavenly things with a natural eye and be never a whit the better. A man may see the joys of heaven, and think, Oh, these are good things; but yet notwithstanding he doth not see these things with a supernatural eye; he doth not see these things to be holy and gracious, and to be fit for him; he wisheth them with conditions, but not with the altering of his disposition. Our duty, then, is to labour to have our faith clear, to have this eye of faith, to have a strong faith, a strong sight. When is the sight of faith strong? When it is as the faith of these patriarchs was. There are three things that make a strong sight, that make us conceive that the sight of faith is a strong sight.(1) When the things are far off that we see, then if the eyes see them, it is a strong sight. A weak eye cannot see afar off.(2) When there are clouds between, though the things be near. Yet when there are clouds between, to break and pierce through them there must be a strong sight.(3) When there is but a little light. When there are many obstacles in the midst, and to break through all by a little light to see things remote, here is a strong eye; and this was the sight of these blessed men. They had a strong eye.Now to help our sight to heaven, this sight of faith, that we may every day ascend with the eye of our souls with this blessed sight —

1. Let us take heed of the god of this world, Satan, that he do not with the dust of the world dim our sight.

2. And withal desire God to open our eyes every day, to take the scales from the eye of our souls, that we may see the promises, that we may see Christ, that we may see God shining on us in Christ; that He would take away the veil from the things by exposition, that He would open the truth to us by His ministers.

3. Then, again, to help our sight of Christ and happiness, let us get a fresh sight of our corruption and sin every day; let us every day look on the terrifying object of our corruption of nature, hang it in the eye of our souls as an odious object, to humble us. "They were persuaded of them." It was such a sight of the things as was with convincing, with persuasion. And indeed this follows well upon sight, for sight of all other senses persuades best. All the men in the world cannot persuade the weakest man in the world when it is day or night, when the sun shines or it is dark, that it is not so. When he sees it, he will believe his own eyes more than all the world besides. And as it is in sensible things we believe our own eyes, so much more in spiritual things we believe our eyes. When there is a spiritual light of revelation in the word discovering such things, and also to spiritual light a spiritual eye, when the Spirit puts an eye into the soul to see supernatural things that reason cannot attain to, then there is persuasion.Persuasion comes divers ways. There be divers degrees tending to persuasion.

1. The poorest degree of the apprehension of things is conjecture, a guessing that such a thing may be so or otherwise, but I guess it rather to be so.

2. Beyond conjecture there is opinion, when a man thinks it is so, upon more reasons swaying him one way; and yet in opinion there is fear on the contrary, that it may be otherwise.

3. And the third degree beyond opinion is certain knowledge. That is science and knowledge when the mind is persuaded by arguments. But that is not so much here meant, the persuasion by argument.

4. There is another degree then of knowledge, which is by the authority of the speaker, a persuasion from thence. When I know not the thing by the light of the thing so much, because I see the reason of the thing, but because I know such a one saith it, that is the persuasion of faith; when one is persuaded of a thing not so much out of his own knowledge, out of the principles of the thing, setting out the causes of the thing, as out of the credit of the person that speaks. Now, this persuasion riseth out of faith in the authority of the person. We conceive that he is wise, and holy, and able withal; one that we trust. If together with this knowledge and persuasion from the authority, and truth, and goodness, and wisdom of the speaker, there be joined sense and experience, we see it proved; and when there is experience, there is reason why we should believe that he saith, because we have found the thing to be so. Now, both are here meant in some degrees, "they saw the things afar off," both by the authority of the promise, as likewise by their own sight, and some taste they had. For God reserves not all for heaven. God gives His children some taste and feeling, some little joy and comfort, the " first-fruits of the Spirit " here (Romans 8:23). So they were persuaded from the authority of the speaker, and some sense and feeling of the thing in some measure. "And embraced them." They embraced the promises, the good things promised: Christ's coming in the flesh, and Canaan, the type of heaven, and heaven itself. Though they had not these things, yet they embraced what they had, they embraced the promises. That is the nature of faith. If it have not that it looks for, as it hath not till it come to heaven, yet it makes much of that it hath; it embraceth the promises, and in the promises the thing itself promised. Now these things follow one another in a most natural order; for sight brings persuasion, sight and conviction bring strong persuasion, and persuasion breeds embracing. For we embrace that in our affections that we are persuaded of to be good. According to the strength of conviction and persuasion is the strength of the affections. Let us try the truth of our estate by our affections, by our embracing of good things, by opening our hearts to the best things, by our joy and delight in them. Is there a holy wonderment at them? "O how I love Thy law!" (Psalm 119:97); and "One day in Thy courts is better than ten thousand elsewhere" (Psalm 84:10); and "O the depth of His mercies!" (Romans 11:33); and " One thing have I desired of the Lord; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life" (Psalm 27:4). When the soul stands in admiration of God and good things, when it is ready to welcome Christ and heavenly things and the state of religion: now away all former vanities! away all lusts of youth! away all confidence in beauty, and strength, and riches! The soul had seen better things. There is a discovery of better things; and now the respect of all other things falls down in the soul when there is a discovery of better things. Let us therefore labour more and more to have our affections wrought upon. As we are in our affections, we are in religion. It is impossible that a Christian should be spiritually convinced that there are such excellent things belonging to religion, and that he hath his part and portion in them, and not be transformed to a spiritual state and frame of soul, to love and delight in holy things, and to despise that which is contrary. What be the affections whereby the soul embraceth these good things it is persuaded of? The soul embraceth these things in the affections of faith and hope in the first place; for faith is an empty grace in itself; it is carried to somewhat out of itself that it embraceth and layeth hold on; and hope is with faith alway. Together with the work of faith and hope there is a sanctified affection of the embracing soul; there is a love of the things promised, which is embracing, and a love of the means, and likewise joy and delight in them expressed by thankfulness. How shall this be wrought upon the soul? This embracing we see it follows upon persuasion, and persuasion follows seeing: "They saw them far off, and were persuaded of them, and thereupon they embraced them." Therefore let us labour for a clear understanding of Divine things. That which the eye sees, the heart grieves for in ill, and that that the eye sees the heart embraceth in good. And in what measure our eyesight of heavenly things is clearer, and our persuasion stronger, in that measure our embracing is lovely and full of joy and delight. Therefore let us labour to grow in knowledge, that our persuasion may be stronger every day, that our affections will grow, and will be carried to the things discovered. And there is nothing more effectual to commend knowledge to us than this, that it is a means to work a holy and heavenly disposition and temper in us, especially if it be spiritual. And let us meditate upon what we seem to know and are persuaded of. "They confessed they were strangers and pilgrims on earth." These words contain what they were in regard of earthly things; their disposition and carriage to all things besides the promises, to the things below. They were strangers and pilgrims in regard of their condition below. It sets down how they apprehend themselves to be, and how they discovered themselves to the world to be. They were in regard of heaven indeed, heirs of happiness, heirs of a kingdom; in regard of the world and earthly things they were " strangers and pilgrims." And as they were, so they made themselves to be no better than they were. They confessed it. They apprehended themselves to be as they were, and they carried themselves answerable. Their life and course spake as much as their tongues. They confessed both in word and in deed that they were "strangers and pilgrims."

II. IT IS THE DISPOSITION OF HIM THAT HATH TRULY INTEREST IN BETTER THINGS TO BE A STRANGER AND A PILGRIM IN REGARD OF ALL THINGS HERE BELOW. If a man were on the top of a great mountain, he would see the things below to be very little, and the things above would appear greater to him; so when the soul is raised up to see great things, though they be afar off, as these did with the eye of faith, at the same time, his soul looking to things below must needs apprehend them to be little in quantity, as indeed they are. If a man were in body lifted up to heaven, and should look upon the earth, what were the earth but a poor silly point, the whole earth itself, much more a man's own possession; so when the soul is lifted up to heaven by faith — which sets a man in heaven before his time — when it looks from thence to the earth and earthly things, it must of necessity consider them, as they are, to be poor mean things. Therefore this follows, that being persuaded of the promises, that is, of the good things promised in religion in the Word of God, to earthly things they were "strangers and pilgrims."

1. First of all, a stranger is travelling to another country — to join both in one; for the one follows the other. He that is a stranger, that apprehends what he is, and apprehends that he hath a country to go to, he travels towards it.

2. A stranger that is travelling homeward, he is content with his present condition, for he knows he shall have better at home.

3. So he will be patient if he meet with unkind usage: he will not stand quarrelling by the way, and so hinder himself in his journey; he will be patient in the injuries and wrongs in this life. If a prince be misused in another country, he is contented, and thinks with himself, I have a country where I shall be more respected; and therefore he bears it the more willingly. So a Christian is a king, he is an heir; and being a stranger, he shall meet with dogs in this world; as, who do dogs bark at but at strangers?

4. Likewise the knowledge of this that we are strangers and pilgrims, it will make a man not only content and patient, but thankful for any kindness he finds in this world; that God sweetens his pilgrimage on earth somewhat: what a mercy is this! He is thankful for any contentment; he is thankful to the world, to those that do anything for him, that afford him any courtesy here that may help him in his pilgrimage, and make it less troublesome.

5. He that is a stranger, he is glad of any good company. Oh, if he meet with a man of his own country, he is a man alone for him; so it is with a Christian that walks in the way to heaven with him, he is comforted much in it.

6. A stranger, he hath his prime intention home to his country, and what he doth in the way, it is in virtue of his prime intention, though he doth not, in every particular action that he doth, think of it. A traveller when he rides on the way he doth not think of home in every step. Ay, but he doth that that he doth in virtue of his prime intention when he first set out, and calls to remembrance ofttimes as he goes home; he thinks of his journeys.

7. And hence it is that there is another property of a stranger that is going to a place, perhaps he may step out of the way, yet notwithstanding, by virtue of his first intention, he gathers himself homeward again. If he take other matters in hand, he gathers home still, though he go out of his way, in he comes; he considers, this is not my way. So a child of God, sometimes he diverts and turns aside, yet notwithstanding he considers, doth this way lead to Godward, to heavenward? Be these actions Christian actions? Are they the way to heaven? If he see they be not, though he have stepped awry, he comes in again, and is gathering homeward.

8. A- traveller and stranger provides beforehand for all encumbrances. He knows though he meet not with troubles, yet he may, therefore he will be sure to go with weapons, and he will go with that that may sustain him by the way. Religion teacheth a man to gather out of the Word of God comforts beforehand, and munition beforehand, to carry with him. When we travel, and are going on in our journey towards heaven, it is good to consider higher things, it is a good meditation. Therefore to go on a little further.

9. A traveller and stranger is inquisitive of the way, whether he be in the way or out of the way. He asks not at random. That doth not content him, whether he go west, or north, or south, or east: it doth not content him to ask where lies my country, eastward? &c. No; but he will ask the particular towns, and particular turnings, how he may avoid going out of his way, and which is the right way, and he will ask upon every occasion, because he knows if he go but a little out of his way it will be a long time ere he shall recover it, and he will be ashamed to come back again; and the more he goes out of the way, the more trouble it is to come back again. So it is with a Christian, he doth not only desire to know in general, but he desires to have daily direction, what shall I do in such a case of conscience, and in such a case? How shall I overcome such a temptation if I meet with it? And so he is willing to have daily direction how to walk with God day by day, that he go not out of his way in anything.

10. And even as a traveller considers of things by the way as they make to his end, to further his journey or hinder his journey, he looks to heaven as his country that he hopes for, and therefore he doth not tangle himself with any more than may help him home. If they hinder him once, away they go; if they may help him, he takes them. If I find that things, though they be indifferent in themselves, if they trouble me in my way to heaven (it may be they are not so to another, but they are to me), though another can do it, yet I must consider whether I can do it, and find myself enlarged to heaven as at other times. If not, away with it. It is not indifferent to me, because it hinders my journey to heaven.

11. Again, he that accounts himself a stranger here, he doth not value himself by outward things. Faith teacheth a man, when he is an heir of heaven, not to value himself by earthly things. He thinks himself a stranger in his own house, as David did, though he were a king, as I said. Every Christian is a stranger at home. He values not himself by his honours, nor dignity, nor by the things that he hath here; nor he doth not disvalue himself by poverty or disgrace. He knows he is a stranger; he is going home; therefore he values himself by that he hath at home.

12. A traveller in his way must of necessity have refreshings by the way, or else he will fail; therefore sometimes he sings, and sometimes useth other refreshings. Now, what said David? "Thy statutes have been my song in the house of my pilgrimage" (Psalm 114:54); that is, when I want other comforts, they are my song, my joy, my delight. A traveller must needs have comforts that may revive him in his fainting; he must have some pleasant walks for meditation. Let us therefore, when we grow weary, refresh ourselves in walking, in holy meditation.

(R. Sibbes, D. D.)

I. WHAT IS IT TO DIE IN FAITH? It is a great question, a man's all depends upon it. To die mistaken in this is to die mistaken for ever.

1. It is not to die barely in a profession of faith. To die owning Christ and His cause, bearing witness to the truth, exhorting our Christian friends " that with purpose of heart they would cleave to the Lord ",. this is sweet dying. It is not what a man believes of Christ that saves, but his believing in Him, yielding up himself only and wholly to Him. To die in an outward barren profession of faith, is not to die in faith.

2. Nor is it necessary always that there be a transporting joy arising from a sense of interest in Christ in order to a believer's dying in faith. A man may die in faith when he doth not die in feeling. There may be no assuring sense of God's love, and yet a strong and firm dependence on His promise. The strength of faith is most where there is least of sight; every believer finds the path of life (Psalm 16:11), but every one does not see it as he walks through Jordan.

3. To "die in faith," is to die trusting Christ, and commending our souls to him by faith. All faith includes trust, though it is not necessarily connected with joy.

II. WHAT IS THE GREAT SUPPORT OF A BELIEVER, CONSIDER HIM EITHER AS LIVING OR DYING? The text says, the promises are so, though the blessings contained in them are not received. Two things faith sees in the promises which support and comfort the soul though the promised blessings are not received.

1. Faith sees God's Christ and salvation in the promise, therefore in the absence of promised good it supports the soul.

2. Faith sees God's heart in the promise. What is a promise but an expression of the love of God's heart in word (2 Samuel 7:21). That is the secret in all God's promises, and none but a believer can spell it out.


1. Faith sees the promises afar off. It does not require the presence of the thing, but only the promise of it. Christ was not manifest in the flesh till many hundred years after; but faith beheld these things as present in God's counsel, His covenant, His word of promise, and fixed and centred in them. Is anything too hard for God? Did His promise ever fall to the ground? Is He not truth itself? Are not all His paths judgment? This is the reasoning of faith.

2. It is persuaded of these things. They are realities, though invisible to every one but the man who has the eyes of his understanding enlightened.(1) This persuasion relates to the things themselves. Gospel-principles, gospel-doctrines, privileges, duties, they are inlaid in the soul as well as gospel-promises.(2) This persuasion refers to the sense which a believer may have of his interest in them: This is not common to saints as such; it is but at special times and seasons, given and taken away by God, for wise and gracious ends.

3. "It embraces them"; the word signifies "to salute," a metaphor taken from the manner of parting between two intimate friends. Two things are implied in it.(1) Intimate acquaintance. The saints of old were very chary of God's promises, they were searching into them to know " what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ, which was in them, did signify" (1 Peter 1:11).(2) But principally is meant endearing affection. The will chooses them, cleaves to them, and if any delight a believer has it is in them.

Use 1. Did all these "die in faith"? Have you this faith? It is sad to have faith to seek when you need it to use. If thou art a stranger to Christ, thou art a stranger to faith. Hath thou given up thy soul to Him now? Then thou mayest trust Him with body and soul both another day.

Use 2. How little just ground is there for a believer in Christ to fear death? The love of God, the covenant of grace, the care of Christ, the being and stability of the promise, the life and faith, all last till death.

Use 3. What a slight character do most of this world leave behind them; though thou diest rich, honourable, esteemed, easy, what is this to dying in faith!

Use 4. What need have believers of the help of the blessed Spirit in life and at death? The spiritual eye is His gift, and all spiritual persuasion is His work: Scripture arguments will be of no avail if the Spirit of God does not make the application.

Use 5. Think more of home, and live more above life: if you profess to be heirs of God's promise, live above the crosses and comforts of life too.

(John Hill.)

1. In the profession of the faith. They held fast the truths of God to the death. They denied not, they made not shipwreck of faith; they suffered not Satan or his instruments to cheat them of it; exchanged it not for fancies, delusions; made not their opinions subservient to carnal interests; did not tack about, not carried about with every wind. Judgments firmly anchored in truth could ride out foul weather, bear up against storms.

2. In the state of faith. As they lived, so they died, believers. Having begun in the Spirit, they did not end in the flesh. They lost not the habit of faith, but bore on towards perfection; that when their outward man decayed, faith increased, and was strongest in the greatest weakness, in death.

3. In the expression of faith.

4. In the exercise faith. As they acted faith in their life, so in their death. Their life was the life of faith, as Paul (Galatians 2:20). Faith had an influence into every act of their life. Abel sacririced by faith (ver. 4); ordinary acts: Abraham's travel (ver. 8); extraordinary: Noah's building an ark (ver. 7). What they did, they did by faith, i.e., depending upon Christ for strength, believing the promise for assistance and success. Thus they lived, and thus they died in faith, with confidence that God would perform what He had promised, even after their death, to them or theirs.Directions:

1. What you may live and die in the faith of Christ, take this golden rule: "Receive the truth in the love of it" (2 Thessalonians 2:10). If you would continue in the truth, and have the Lord establish you in it, love the truth for itself, and love it above all inferior respects whatsoever.

2. That you may live and die in the state of faith, get into that happy state. Get faith rooted and grounded in your hearts, and then you are sure: "Kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation."

3. That .Son may live and die in the expression of faith; i.e., that you may not deal unfaithfully in the covenant; consider how horribly wretched such unfaithfulness is. Whose that use to deal unfaithfully with men, lie, or forswear, to get some advantage, there may be some temptation to this; but he that deals unfaithfully with God deals unfaithfully with God to ruin himself.

4. That ye may die in the exercise of faith,(1) Learn to live in the exercise of it. The more faith is acted, the easier it will be to exercise.(2) Treasure up the promises in your memories. No such treasure as this. You will find riches a vain thing in that hour, they cannot deliver from death; but faith acted on the promises both support in it, and deliver from it.(3) Clear up your evidences for heaven. While your title is dark, faith will be weak. How can ye be confident of the eternal blessings of the covenant, while ye have no assurance that you are in covenant? How can ye with confidence go out to meet the bridegroom when ye know not whether ye have oil in your lamps? When you have cleared this evidence, endeavour to keep it clear. Sin blots it, guilt is a blur in the evidence. If you avoid not these in your lives, you will scarce read your evidence at death, and then faith may be nonplussed and to seek, when most needed. Endeavour to keep a good conscience always, in all things, towards God and man, that so you may have the testimony of God and of your conscience on your deathbeds (2 Corinthians 1:12).(4) Lay up experiences. The remembrance of experiments of God's mercy and faithfulness in your lives will be a sweet support to faith in death. God's people have made good use of experiences to this purpose (2 Timothy 4:18).

(D. Clarkson, . B. D.)



1. Faith assured them that the city was their fatherland.

2. Faith recognises the promised blessings in the city.

3. Faith reaches forth with eager desire towards these promised blessings.

III. THE REARING OF THIS FAITH ON OUR PRESENT LIFE. It makes "strangers and pilgrims" of us. A pilgrim life includes —

1. A pressing on through the present to the future. The great concern of the pilgrim is concerning the home to which he is going. The road and the present accommodation are something, but not chief.

2. An endurance of privation by the prospect of the coming satisfaction. The discomforts of the way are a small matter when we are. going home. A lively faith goes far to break the power from time-sorrows.

3. A growing happiness in the consciously advancing journey. Men do not naturally like to get old. That, in the Christian's case, must arise from limiting the view of life by what is seen. Let faith go beyond the seen, and make real to our hearts the glory there, and we shall pass on with joy and hope and quickened step.

(C. New.)


(1)A tendency and

(2)A necessity of our nature.


1. God's plans are independent of our efforts.

2. Success is not the rule of duty.


1. The description of their faith in these promises.

2. The influence of this faith.


Expository Sermons.
I. THEIR FEELINGS GODWARD. They believed in Him, and that with a strong faith, whereby they gave glory to His name. Their faith and patience were severely tried; but they knew that it was "a good thing both, to hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord."

II. THEIR FEELINGS EARTHWARD. "And confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."

1. Their affections were not set on earthly things.

2. Their happiness was not derived from earthly objects.

3. They were not conformed to earthly habits.

III. THEIR FEELINGS HEAVENWARD. "For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country," &c. Their knowledge of a future state is here clearly involved. But to know that there is a state of blessedness beyond the grave is one thing, and for that knowledge practically to influence the whole of our present course and conduct is another thing. These worthies declared in the most unmistakable manner that their great concern was to reach it. It is said of Cicero and Demosthenes, that when the one was banished from Rome and the other from Athens, they wept whenever they thought of their own country. Alas! that the spirit of patriotism should be so much stronger in them than the spirit of the gospel is in us.

(Expository Sermons.)

The Weekly Pulpit.
I. GOD'S PROMISES SEEM, AT FIRST, TO ASSURE EARTHLY GOOD. I would not discourage you from seeking the cheer of such promises, for "godliness has the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." But I may say this, Let the years pass on, and you will surely find that God is dealing with you so as to purify all your hopes. Your Canaan will come to be a "better country, that is a heavenly." Your Jerusalem will be the "holy city, new Jerusalem, which comes down from God out of heaven," into which " there shall in no wise enter any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie."


1. Life seldom is, even in its outward circumstances, what we picture to ourselves that it will be. F.W. Robertson, with some intensity of expression says, "Herein lies a principle, which, rightly expounded, can help us to interpret this life of ours. God's promises never are fulfilled in the sense in which they seem to have been given. Life is a deception; its anticipations, which are God's promises to the imagination, are never realised; they who know life best, and have trusted God most to fill it with blessings, are ever the first to say that life is a series of disappointments."

2. Life seldom permits any great work to be accomplished right through by the man who begins it. Moses must climb Nebo to die before his lifework was completed in the possession of Canaan. Joshua died before the whole country was cleared of the idolatrous inhabitants. David died before the Temple could be built. There is even a sense in which our Lord's life was "cut off," and He left an unfinished work to be completed by His apostles. Indeed, to do any entire work from beginning to end seems to be too great an honour, too high a trust, for any one man.

III. GOD, BY THE SEEMING FAILURE, GRACIOUSLY LIFTS US UP TO THE HIGHER VIEW OF THE PROMISES. How failure can open men's eyes! How disappointment with life as we find it, tends to lift our eyes away from earth, and make us feel that this is not our rest! As one thing after another disappoints, we begin to see that the time and place for God's fulfilment of His promises is — yonder and there; not here and now. We begin to repeat after the storm-tossed Psalmist and say, "I shall be satisfied when I awake with Thy likeness." We even begin to find out that the, seeming, earthly look of the promises in reality only veiled the heavenly meaning for us; veiled it until we had grown strong enough to bear the light. Is not this just the sanctifying work that advancing life does for us all under God.

(The Weekly Pulpit.)

Behold here the secret of dying! "These all died in faith." Bad men die reluctantly; life is extorted from them as if by main force. The believer dies willingly; his will is sweetly submitted to his Father's will; he makes it a religious act to die. Just as Jesus Himself commended His human soul to His Father, saying, "Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit (Luke 23:46): so His believing disciple commends his soul to Jesus, and through Him to the Father. Here, I repeat, is the secret how to die happily. To those who know not that secret, it is a fearful thing to die. It is a serious matter for any. But to the worldly-minded and ungodly, if not past feeling, to die must be, as one of the heathen philosophers () confessed it, "of all formidable things the most formidable." Only mention a neighbour's death in a gay circle; lo, you have thrown a gloom over the whole assembly — all are evidently sorry that the topic was introduced. The ancient Romans would not mention death in plain words, if they could avoid it, but only by circumlocution and implication. Even serious Christians are often in bondage through fear of death. It is such a venture; a mistake may be so fatal; to go before God is so awful; judgment will bring to light such secrets, that many think, How can I die? Yet you all must. Be persuaded, give your soul to Jesus now; do it again from day to day: and then, when your dying day is come, again approach the Saviour, and say, "Lord, I hear Thee calling for my spirit; I see the waggons sent to fetch me home to Thee; in the hand of death I recognise Thy hand of love; Thou askest for my soul; take it, for it is Thine. Do with it what Thou wilt, I have given it to Thee to be washed in Thy blood, and sanctified by Thy Spirit; I am sure Thou wilt do it no harm!"

(J. Hambleton.)

The friends of Archbishop Whately said, with unbecoming praise, when they visited him as he lay on his death-bed: "You are dying as you lived — great to the last." He replied, "I am dying as I lived — in the faith of Jesus." At another time it was said: "The great fortitude of your character supports you." "No," was his reply, "it is not my fortitude that supports me, but my faith in Christ."

The emigrant who sees the blue hills of his native land sink beneath the wave, and goes away to the land of gold, has seen and handled the gold dug from the mines or washed from the waters of that distant land. He has seen those who have been there; he has seen them go out poor and come back rich; he has seen them go out empty and come back full. These have taught him to believe in a land beyond the waters; but I believe in a land, not beyond the seas, but beyond the grave, to which I have seen hundreds go, but none come back to unveil its secrets. I believe in a Saviour I never saw, and never saw the man that saw; and commit to His keeping, not my money, but what is more precious than all the gold of the Bank of England — I commit to Him my precious soul.

(T. Guthrie.)

The discovery of the New World, as the continent of America and its islands are called, was not, like many discoveries, an accident; it was the reward of faith — the reward of Christopher Columbus's faith. He found fruits on the shores of Western Europe, cast up by the Atlantic waves, and brought there, as we now know, by the Gulf Stream, perfectly diverse from any that the temperate, fiery, or frozen zones of the Old World produced. So one day, let me say, strolling by the sea-shore, he saw a nut. He takes it in his hand and looks at it; he takes it into his capacious mind, and out of that little seed springs his faith in another world beyond that watery horizon, where, as he believed, and events proved, the sea had pearls, and the veins of the earth were filled with silver, and the rivers that flowed through spicy groves ran over sands of gold.

(T. Guthrie.)

Tinling's Illustrations.
"My father's death," says the son and biographer of Caesar Malan, "will remain for those who witnessed it the most astonishing of all his actions. The doctor, on quitting him, said to me one day: 'I have just seen what I had heard spoken of, but what I had not seen before. Now I have seen it, as I see this stick which I hold in my hand." 'And what, then, have you seen?' I asked him. 'I have seen faith. I say the faith, not of the theologian, but of the Christian. I have seen it with my eyes,' he replied."

(Tinling's Illustrations.)

As he that is to pass over some broad and deep river must not look downward to the current of the stream, but must set his foot sure, and keep his eye on the bank, on the farther shore; so he that draws near death must look over the waves of death, and fix his eye of faith on eternal life.


A monk near his end was heard to exclaim, "I care little for earthly things now; soon I shall travel among the stars."

(H. O. Mackey.)

It has often been my privilege to test the power of religion when I have been sitting by the bedside of the dying. There is a young girl in heaven now, once a member of this our church. I went with one of my beloved deacons to see her when she was very near her departure. She was in the last stage of consumption. Fair and sweetly beautiful she looked; and I think I never heard such syllables as those which fell from that girl's lips. She had had disappointments and trials; but all these she had not a word to say about, except that she blessed God for them: they had brought her nearer to the Saviour. And when we asked her whether she was not afraid of dying, "No," she said, "the only thing I fear is this, I am afraid of living, lest my patience should wear out. I have not said an impatient word yet, sir: I hope I shall not. It is sad to be so very weak; but I think, if I had my choice, I would rather be here than be in health, for it is very precious to me. I know that my Redeemer liveth; and I am waiting for the moment when He shall send His chariot of fire to take me up to Him." I put the question, "Have you not any doubts?" "No, none, sir; why should I? I clasp my arms around the neck of Christ." "And have you not any fear about your sins? "No, sir," they are all forgiven; I trust the Saviour's precious blood." "And do you think that you will be as brave as this when you come actually to die?" "Not if He leaves me, sir; but He will never leave me, for He has said, 'I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.'"

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims.
You have here, in few words, the "Pilgrim's Progress" from the wilderness of this world to an everlasting "city of habitation." You learn what it is which induces him to commence the journey; in what manner he complies with that inducement; what sustains his hope as he proceeds; and in what state of mind he finishes his course. True faith includes five things:

I. A SIGHT OF DISTANT, PROMISED BLESSINGS. Not that the believer is left destitute of comforts and privileges connected with the present life. Nevertheless, his greatest prize is yet to come: he "sees" it indeed, but he has not yet received it — it is "afar off."

II. A PERSUASION OF THEIR REALITY. God is able to keep His word; and therefore, after all the mockery of an ungodly world, I come to the deliberate conviction that "Verily there is a reward for the righteous; verily He is a God that judgeth in the earth."

III. AN ACTUAL EMBRACING OF THEM. "Oh yes! " says the worldly man, "to be sure I believe the Bible — I have no doubt that good people will go to heaven!" And perhaps you might not find it easy to convince him that he disbelieves these things: but you have no difficulty in discovering that he takes no interest in them. Here, then, is a faith "persuaded" of the truth, but not "embracing" the truth! Do you ask, then, "How shall I embrace the salvation thus offered?" The answer is plain — "By coming to Christ for it, in the way prescribed — repenting, converting, trusting in Him."

IV. A VISIBLE INFLUENCE ON THE HEART, THE LANGUAGE, AND THE LIFE. Let a man gaze upon the sun till he can without pain examine its splendours; he will find, on recalling his eyes to this lower world, that their power is gone for a season. And such is the effect where faith is in full exercise: one upward glance at "the glory that shall be revealed" is enough to eclipse the most glittering earthly bauble.

V. A STEADFAST RELIANCE ON THEM EVEN IN DEATH. After "seeing," "being persuaded," "embracing," and walking as "pilgrims and strangers," the black river of death still remains to be crossed, before we "receive the promise." But "the righteous hath hope," even then; and they that "walk by faith" will assuredly "die in faith."

(J. Jowett, M. A.)

I. AN ACCURATE DESCRIPTION OF HUMAN CONDITION. The fact which it asserts, it is a very easy thing to acknowledge in words; but nothing can be harder than to realise it particularly. The truth is admitted indeed, just because the denial of it would be utterly beyond hope. Every funeral procession, every tolling bell, furnishes a memorial of what awaits each one of us in our turn. Infirmities, to which our flesh is heir, and ailments, are nothing else but God's messengers to accomplish God's sentence of universal mortality. And there is evidence in the restless and the far-reaching character of human wishes, that the whole sphere of our being cannot possibly lie within the horizon which now circumscribes our dwelling-place. Man looks to the future; he draws on the expectation of other days for the enjoyment of the present. What we have to labour for, is not the admission of the truth, but the imparting to it an operative influence. The brevity of human -life is a matter which belongs to observation and not to experience; we see it in others, but as yet we know nothing of it in ourselves. But it is very hard to bring home to our bosoms the certainty that the hearts which are now full of hopes and fears and wishes shall soon cease to beat. No man believes himself to be immortal; and yet there is no truth so difficult to get embodied as one's own mortality. And all this while the world present environs us about and shuts us in closely on every side. It is visible to the eye of sense; it excludes the world unseen and spiritual. And we remember what Scripture tells us concerning one who, through his usurpation, is called "the prince of this world." We know that it is his business to separate the souls of men from Him who is the only source of their happiness and their good. And he accomplishes his end in the most effectual way when he casts about them the fetters of an utter worldliness, preventing the free spirit from soaring aloft into a better atmosphere and into communion with the Father of all spirits, by binding it down gradually closer and closer to the concerns and the interests of this earth that we tread. He does much indeed for his object, when he can plunge men into sensuality, when he can entangle them in vicious pursuits; for then they must needs, if they would be at peace, administer an opiate to conscience. But we entreat you to remember that the peril arises not merely from things which are in themselves bad and forbidden; but from things in themselves and in their commencement blameless or even praiseworthy — the business of daily life, its thousand schemes and its thousand toils, in the midst of which a man may move forward with his integrity unimpeached, maintaining a character for honour that has never known a stain. He forgets the world that is to be. Now these considerations will furnish, as you will immediately perceive, a great motive why we should enforce the assertion of our text. But it is not the eloquence of the advocate, nor the urgency of the appeal, nor the frequency of the warning, that can dislodge the earthliness of mind whereof we have spoken. The grace of God must come into the heart of man, "teaching him so to number his days that he may apply his heart unto wisdom."

II. AN AVAILING MOTIVE FOR HUMAN CONDUCT. We must, as a preliminary, call upon you to observe that the text includes a reference to the future. The patriarchs believed not merely that they had "no abiding city here"; they believed also that " God had prepared for them a city," "which hath foundations, whose Maker and Builder is the Lord." And the information of the Bible are more and wider and of greater encouragement than what would be contained in a mere detail of the world's barrenness and insufficiency. It sets faith in operation; of which the apostle says, it is "the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen." And it so wrought in the patriarchs of old time, who are the subjects of our chapter, that "they that said such things declared plainly that they sought a country." Now what we find operative in the case of godly people many centuries ago, is still the only availing principle whereby we can turn men aside from pursuits and pleasures unsatisfying and perilous, and bring them to follow after Him who alone can satisfy an immortal and redeemed spirit. We cannot turn them aside from the love of this present world, its business or its painted vanities, by sermons alone .on its insufficiency; we must tell them of a world that shall be hereafter, where all is true and good and lovely. And whatsoever may have been the man's particular object of pursuit, there is most mercifully provided for him in the gospel something better in that very department, which shall so through the grace of God lay hold upon his very heart as to separate it from the things whereby it was once enslaved. And if you will think awhile you cannot but perceive that there is a remarkable safety in looking unto that "rest which remaineth for the people of God." It is like the home thoughts which come into the heart of an exile, and which return again and again with the potency of an irresistible charm; they come about the heart of the wanderer, sometimes to preserve him from seductions which would otherwise be insurmountable. And sometimes they sustain him under suffering, carrying him through weary days through the power of the principle of hope, which is strong in his bosom. And thus while God's pilgrims are passing through a world thickly set with perils, encompassed on all sides by foes, they are safe while they think of the land where there are holy affections and dutiful obedience, where there is no sin, where there are no tears, and where trial cannot come any more. And if these things are truly impressed upon the heart, not merely shall we believe the fact which is asserted in our text, but we shall make a correspondent movement. We shall immediately prepare for our journey. And whoever has these thoughts upon his heart will remember that a reckoning must follow. He possesses all things in stewardship; he possesses nothing as a proprietor. "All things are of God," and to be used for His glory. And, finally, in the enumeration of the various motives brought to bear upon the heart of man through the receiving practically the truth which is affirmed in our text, we must by no means forget the sympathy with the great family of man which is thus engendered in the heart. Points of difference may have seemed considerable while we lived as though there were no scene to be entered on but the present; but let us only read our own poverty and dependence and the transitory nature of everything we possess, and straightway there is a brotherhood established large enough to embrace all men — a wider and a wider circle, till it includes every individual of the whole race of man.

(S. Robins, M. A.)

"Wherefore they are not to be heard," says the seventh article of our Church, "which feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises." It is well known that in all ages of the Church there have been men who have taken this unworthy view of Old Testament theology-believing that the saints of the Old Testament did look for transitory promises, and nothing else. On what ground have they come to such a conclusion? Well, they took down the Books of Moses; they searched them from beginning to end; and what did they find there? Anything about heaven? Anything about hell? Anything about a great scheme of retribution, such as we have brought before us in the parables of our Lord, or in the writings of St. Paul? No, they found nothing of this. They saw that rewards were temporal, that punishments were immediate; the whole economy of moral government seemed to be constructed only upon present recompenses, limited to the present life, and never pointing at any other. Now if these objectors had taken the pains to understand the genius of Old Testament teaching, or the nature and design of Old Testament types — if they had mastered the simple fact which every devout Jew well understood, that the dispensation under which he lived was to be succeeded by another — this their difficulty would have vanished. For then they would have seen that the land of Canaan, the great subject of Old Testament promise, was a declared and understood type of the heavenly city. They would have understood further that all the historical antecedents of the Jewish people were typical also. Their wilderness wanderings were to be a type of man's life to the end of time. Their warfare in the desert was an emblem of man's constant struggles with the power of evil. Their redemption from Egypt was a sign of man's deliverance from the bondage of sin: and their settlement in the good land shadowed forth the blessedness and repose of heaven. Hence you will observe, that in the chapter before us, the apostle does not hesitate to attribute to all the children of faith under the Old Testament an insight into the spiritual purposes of God. He supposes them to understand that a great scheme of pictorial truth was being brought before their eyes, even in the facts of their external history. They dwelt in tents because they knew there were mansions in store for them. They knew that there was to be a more complete development of God's purpose. They knew that His promises were to have a spiritual fulfilment. They saw the day of Christ afar off. They were persuaded of all the blessings promised to them in and through Him: they embraced these promises. Thus while in possession of those temporal privileges, which God in His mercy had vouchsafed unto them, they learned to sit loosely to them, because they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

I. THE IMAGE WHICH IS HERE GIVEN US OF LIFE. Notwithstanding their possession of these outward advantages, the fathers confessed that they were "strangers and pilgrims on the earth." Other Scriptures express the same thought (Psalm 39:12; 1 Peter 2:11).

1. Such an idea of life would be suggested by the very nature of the human constitution, and the relation in which we stand to the world around us; for everything in that world will be found to suggest the conclusion of this being a passage world, and not a resting world. For this world cannot satisfy those higher instincts with which God has endued us.

2. Such an idea of life would be suggested by its constant changeableness and instability. The strange admixture of good and evil which we experience in our passage through life is no chance arrangement. Our world seems to be evidently arranged upon the principle that we should have so much of good in our lot as to enable us to bear the evil, and yet so much of evil commingled therewith that our hearts may not be unduly set upon the good. Now, all this exactly answers to the pilgrim's condition.

3. The text would suggest to us an infinite and everlasting existence; for he that is a stranger in a country has another country which he calls his own; and he that is a pilgrim has a place and destination towards which he is hastening.


1. The duty of contentment — the duty of acquiescence in that lot which God has appointed for us, whether it be fixed here or there — a holy indifference whether, in the arrangements of the social household, we be set down in a higher or a lower room.

2. Reference should be constantly had to Divine guidance and direction. We are not pilgrims only, says the apostle, but strangers. Now, the stranger in a strange land does not know his way. Misled by delusive appearances, he may take a way which seemeth right unto him, "but the end thereof are the ways of death." He takes one path for its smoothness, and he finds that it is beset with perils and hidden snares; he takes another path for its shortness, and afterwards finds that he has but gone so far out of the way. Oh! how wisely does the prophet remind us, "The way of man is not in himself. It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps!"

3. The duty of exercising in all things a holy moderation and sobriety. The patriarchs might have lived in tents in Chaldea, or they might have lived in palaces in Canaan, but they would not have palaces, and they would not return to Chaldea. Why? Because these tents were designed of God to be a standing protest against a worldly spirit, even as Canaan itself was also to be an emblem of the spiritual and eternal state. They kept to their tents because they would testify to the simplicity of the patriarchal character, because they would witness against the pride, the covetousness, and the ostentation too often found to accompany a season of prosperity. And thus we are to "let our moderation be known unto all men." Be sober in your joys, sober in your griefs, sober in your gains, sober in all the pursuits of life.

4. Having no continuing city here, being strangers and pilgrims upon the earth, we should seek one to come. The patriarchs had no home in Canaan, and yet they loved it. Why? It was not the fertility of its valleys, nor the beauty of its hills, nor the wealth of its fig-trees, nor the luxuriousness of its vines, that made them love the land in which they were strangers. It was because Canaan was typical of the rest of the covenant. It was because it was the place where God had promised to honour and meet and bless His people. It was because it was associated in their minds with the most inspiring tokens of the Divine presence, as well as all their most lofty anticipations of the life of the world to come.

(D. Moore, M. A.)


1. Aliens. Not of same race as world; not having same desires, aims, thoughts, affections.

2. Travellers. Only staying for a time; ever passing on from one stage to another.


1. Fearless, independent. The world is almost a matter of indifference. It can neither give nor take away anything worth possessing.

2. Earnest ambition for a better state.

3. Patient resignation. When a state will so soon be over it matters little what is its nature.

III. THE INCUMBENT DUTY. "They confessed." This implies a realisation of the important truth. The great cause of our indifference and negligence and consequent loss is a failure to realise our state and to apprehend what our actions involve.



1. The pilgrim's original home was in the city of destruction.

2. His pilgrimage commenced through the influence of the gospel on his heart.

3. By faith in God's testimony he set his face towards the heavenly Zion.

4. As a pilgrim he claims no possession in the country through which he passes.

5. As a pilgrim he travels onwards towards the city of habitation.


1. A pilgrim's heart. And that is a renewed heart; one delivered from the love of sin and the world.

2. A pilgrim's head. A knowledge of his way; of the good old way; the way revealed in the Holy Scriptures; a way written in the luminous words of God; a way trodden by all preceding pilgrims journeying to Zion.

3. A pilgrim's spirit. The spirit which has animated every child of God.

(1)Of devotion and direct intercourse with God.

(2)Of praise; singing His statutes, and rejoicing in His grace.

(3)Of self-denial: sacrificing self, and submitting fully to the will of God.

(4)Of faith and hope: believing and trusting in the truth and goodness of the promises of God.

(5)Of vigilance, to watch against enemies and perils.

(6)Of perseverance: holding on his way.

4. A pilgrim's resources.

(1)His staff on which to lean. And this is the pledged promise of God, that His own presence shall go with him, and never, never leave him.

(2)His provisions: bread and water given him from heaven. The true manna and the streams of salvation. "If any man thirst."

(3)His houses of entertainment. Places where he can be welcomed to the hospitable board and chamber of repose. These are the ordinances of religion, and the various social and private means of grace.

(4)Suitable raiment, and especially sandals for his journey. "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass," &c. "Feet shod," &c.Application:

1. How really happy is the Christian pilgrim; his sorrows and crosses will soon be over, and that for ever: his present comforts and blessings are rich and numerous.

2. How glorious the end of his journey. The heavenly Jerusalem; the city of God; world of light, and life, and glory.

3. Urge sinners to set out on this spiritual pilgrimage.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

I. ALL, MEN, BOTH GOOD AND BAD, ARE STRANGERS AND PILGRIMS ON THE EARTH. "The life of man is a kind of pilgrimage," are words which Plato quoted as proverbial; and Cicero puts this speech into the mouth of one of his characters: "Our departure from this life is like leaving not our home but an inn, for nature hath given us this world as a place to rest in, but not that we should fix here our permanent habitation." In how many respects does this life resemble a pilgrimage! How full of labour, of inconvenience, of privation! Even when no particular calamity presses; when we are free from bodily suffering, from anxiety, even then there is a vacuity, a certain unsatisfactoriness in our very prosperity itself. Men endure in this world sorrow enough, and pain enough, disappointment enough, to convince them that they are strangers and pilgrims here. One of the greatest pleasures of travel consists in our meeting with good and agreeable people, whom we feel it is a privilege to have met. But one of the pains of travel is, that these persons must be parted with so soon; as if we had enjoyed just enough of the pleasures of their society to qualify us for feeling the pain of losing it. The societies of this life, its closest relations, even those of families and bosom friends, what are they but the casual meeting of travellers at an inn?

II. ALL ARE STRANGERS HERE IN FACT; THE SAINTS ALONE ARE STRANGERS IN SPIRIT. Others must die and leave this state like them-they would leave it. They hold the world by that loose grasp — they view it in that light as merely a temporary residence, as a tabernacle or tent to dwell in, that they feel no deep regret when it is taken down; nay, they long ofttimes for its dissolution (2 Corinthians 5.). They converse with the end of life. It is a door of hope. Why should the captive, burdened with the load of mortality, weep when about to put off that burden? Although " to be absent from the body" were some pain in itself, it becomes a pleasure when it is the condition of our being "at home with the Lord."

III. THOUGH THE SAINTS CONFESS THEY ARE STRANGERS AND PILGRIMS ON THE EARTH, THEY ARE NOT WITHOUT A HOME. It is their prospect of something higher, more glorious, which exiles the affections of holy men from the earth. Their tastes have been purified and exalted, till this world has become unfit for them, and they have become unfit for it, except to be disciplined in it. Whenever our perceptions are so corrected as to apprehend what good is, it is from that moment impossible we should be at home anywhere but in heaven, in which the illuminated eyes of the mind (Ephesians 1:18) discern every character of a secure and eternal habitation. There sin is not, and the soul, punting for release from that burden, sees in heaven the land of its liberty. There God, who is "light," dwells no more in "light inaccessible," and there the spirit is at home who earnestly desires to know God, to enjoy God, to be like him. Lessons:

1. Though the saints are dissatisfied with this earth, as their home, yet they are content, yea, cheerfully resigned to endure it as their schoolhouse.

2. As we are strangers and pilgrims here, let our thoughts and affections be more set on the place which is our home, being the house of our heavenly Father.

3. Let us, knowing this is not our country in which we dwell, take care to behave ourselves innocently and circumspectly.

4. Is there not good reason to. apprehend that many who profess to be strangers and pilgrims on the earth, are so as Nabal was, and as Saul was, and as Ahab was, only because they cannot help it? If not, why such deathless animosities? Such grasping to get and to keep the mammon of unrighteousness? Such holding to this world? Such forgetfulness of the next? Such intemperance? Such sensuality? Is this the character of strangers and pilgrims?

(R. Lee.)

I. THE POSSESSOR OF FAITH IS A STRANGER IN THE EARTH. What a change! In unbelief we were strangers to God (Ephesians 2:12). By faith strangers to world. Because —

1. We are now more sensible of our frailty. "Make me to know how frail I am."

2. Our Master was a stranger. His love made Him a stranger.

3. We, like Him, are born from above. Life Divine will re-seek its source. Sparks fly to sun.

4. The true Christian even now lives elsewhere. He is a non-conformist to the world. Thus an enigma.


1. A well-trodden path of pilgrimage.

2. A brief pilgrimage.

3. A pilgrimage in which we have an excellent guide.


1. Heaven is our legal inheritance.

2. Heaven is our rest.

3. Heaven is our "city of foundations."

4. Heaven is the ultimate "place of assembly" of God's people.


1. By word (ver. 14; Numbers 10:29).

2. By conduct.

(1)Let us not seek our happiness here.

(2)Let us be satisfied with our portion here. Enough for a journey.

(3)Let us remember that our way to heaven lies not only through duties of religion, but also through duties of our calling; self, families, fellow-men have demands, though subordinate.

(4)Let us look for a change of place.

(5)Let us fit ourselves for a change of place.

(R. S. Latimer.)

This is a confession which all the patriarchs made; if not in words, more emphatically in deeds. We find it expressly made on five occasions in the Old Testament.

I. The first two instances of this confession occur in historical narratives, and may be considered by themselves.

1. Abraham says to the sons of Heth: "I am a stranger," &c. (Genesis 23:4). You are alone, and would fain be let alone, in your grief. You care not for companionship; you shrink from it. "Leave me to myself," may be your instinctive cry. "Only give me liberty in quietness to bury my dead. Earth may have many things attractive to you: for me, it can furnish only one thing I care for; a grave for my dead." This may be a morbid frame; and it may have a fascination for the mourner; and such a fascination as is apt to grow. It may become the luxury of woe; and, like all luxury, it will enervate and enslave. It is to be resisted in its beginning. As a lover of men, you have much to live for; to do good as you have opportunity. As a lover of Christ, you have more; for to you to live is Christ. In this spirit, you may well and warrantably use the language of the patriarch; with fullest fellowship and sympathy, "Have pity upon me, O my friends!" "You may have been wont to regard me simply as a stranger; separated from you; moving in a different sphere, and following different ways. You may have seen perhaps, with some not unnatural grudge, my prosperous state; thinking it hard that such an uninvited intruder into your country should possess such wealth in flocks and herds: or the simple worship of my household may have provoked your indignation or contempt. I was not one of you. You saw me as a stranger; as one whom you did not understand, and could not altogether like. But see me now, a stricken mourner, a desolate old man, fain to come to you and ask from you a grave in which to bury my dead." There is that in sorrow which makes men kind; which makes them kin. How precious, in this view, may a season of distress be to one labouring among his neighbours on behalf of Christ!

2. The Lord says to Israel, "The land is Mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with Me" (Leviticus 25:23). This may be regarded almost as a kind of rejoinder to the pathetic appeal which we have heard Abraham making to the sons of Heth. "Thou art here again, 'after a long interval, in the land where thou wast once a wanderer. Then thou was a stranger and sojourner with the sons of Heth. Now thou art a stranger and sojourner with Me. Then thou didst acknowledge them to be thy hosts, and thyself to be their guests. Now thou art to feel that I am thy Host, and thou art My guest. For the land is Mine. Thou sojournest with Me." There is comfort in this thought applied retrospectively. Thou didst indeed then succeed in purchasing a few feet of ground, that thou mightest bury thy dead in no borrowed tomb, but in a sepulchre thou hadst by purchase made thine own. But, after all, it was in a land possessed by alien tribes, a land of strangers. Is it not a satisfaction, solace, to reflect now that it was in a land which is the Lord's? This comfort may be yours, believer. You too bury your dead in a land that is the Lord's. And the land is the wide earth; for the earth is the Lord's. Whenever you have to bury your dead, it is in a land of which the Lord says, It is Mine. To leave loved remains on a foreign strand, slowly and sadly to lay down the brave where the foe is sullenly firing; to lose the weary adventurer in the wild jungle, abandoned to his fate among its beasts of prey; to cast with measured plunge into the deep sea the .cold form which you prize above all its treasures: ah! what a hard sore trial of love and faith. But courage. "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof! " There is admonition also in the thought. If you were hospitably received in some great and good man's house, seated at his table, and allowed the full range of his wide domains, you would not think of taking liberties as if all were your own. You would be on your guard, lest you should abuse his hospitality. You would beware of encroaching on his condescension. And you would pay him the decent compliment of showing how much you valued him and his company above all his goodly fare. Then again you would be careful not to set your heart too much upon your temporary residence, and its temporary entertainment. You would moderate your taste for the enjoyments and indulgences which are yours only for a brief and uncertain time; allowed to you by him whose guest you are. And you would not think of giving away to foolish friends the goods stored up in his cellars; or cutting down the timber of his woods for your own pleasure or aggrandisement. This figure or parable may explain and enforce the right and safe way of using this world without abusing it. As the Lord's guests you cannot be indifferent or stand neutral in the great strife that is going on in the land of which He says, It is Mine. You must take a side. Nor can there be room for doubt what the side is to be. The buried bones of your pious dead, whose graves are all over the field of battle, forbid all hesitancy or indecision, all cowardice or compromise. The earth is indeed the Lord's. And it is ere long to be triumphantly vindicated and gloriously Occupied as His. But meanwhile it is the Lord's, as a kind of debateable territory, every inch of which has to be fought for, to be won and kept as it were, by force of arms; like the parcel of ground which Jacob bought, but which, nevertheless, his sons had to conquer by their swords and their bows. And it has in its bosom a countless multitude of redeemed bodies, belonging to redeemed souls; bodies now vile perhaps, but destined to be conformed to the Lord's own glorious body. You cannot be idle while the battle is raging that is to end in such a victory. Two things in particular you must have much at heart. The first is to break every tie that ever bound you, or could bind you, to the usurper's service; the service of the prince of this world. You cannot now be brought under Satan's bondage; for greater is He that is for you than all they that can be against you. You cannot now be blindfolded by the great deceiver. You know the truth, and the truth makes you free. Surely now you will not betray your Host with whom you dwell, by shrinking from knowing His name and defending His cause, or by keeping up a treacherous correspondence with the enemy. Rather, secondly, knowing His mind and heart, seeing how intensely He longs to clasp to His bosom, and welcome into His home, and entertain as His guests each and all of those fighting in the rebel host, will you not be ever appealing to every one of them whom you meet with, every stranger wandering afar off, every unwary youth enlisting himself as a recruit?

II. The three other instances of this confession of the text occur in devotional exercises, and they may be made to fit into one another.

1. "We are strangers before Thee and sojorners, as were all our fathers" (1 Chronicles 29:15). Here the thought " we are strangers before Thee and sojourners " is brought in to heighten the admiring and grateful joy with which David contemplates the amazing goodness of God, in permitting him and his people to do so much, to do anything, for the building of His house and the glory of His name. What grace, what condescension, is there in this! The Proprietor and Lord of all things enables and inclines us who are His guests, sojourning with Him in the land that is His own, to offer as our gift what already, as His property, belongs to Him alone; and most generously consents to accept the offering!

2. "Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; hold not Thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with Thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were" (Psalm 39:12). This is your sad cry as you suffer under the inevitable evils of a stranger's lot, even though you may have the blessedness, in the land in which you are strangers, of being sojourners with him whose land it is. For, however hospitably he with whom you are sojourning may entertain you, it is still, as it were, within the precincts of an inn, nor can you expect to escape the vexations and troubles inseparable from that mode of accommodation. Then you must remember that the land in which as strangers you are for the present entertained as sojourners, is the earth which has been cursed for your sin, and on which, with whatever mitigation, the sentence still lies. You may think it strange, perhaps hard, that you should be thus lodged, even temporarily; in the midst of creation's groans, mingling with your own. But for wise ends your gracious entertainer considers this to be right. And may you not always be appealing to Him, and reminding Him of your relation to Him?

3. "I am a stranger in the earth: hide not Thy commandments from me" (Psalm 119:19). The point and pith of this prayer would seem to lie in the continual need which one who is a stranger on the earth has of communion with Him whose guest he is; with whom, as a stranger, he is a sojourner. In that character, as a stranger on the earth, I do not now desire to have more fellowship with the people of the land than is necessary for pious ends; for the comely burial of my dead, or for the discharge of my duty of love to the living. I would rather converse with Him who says, "The land is Mine." And the medium of conversation with Him is His word, or His commandments. His commandments, His communications of whatever sort, precepts, promises, histories, prophecies, warnings, encouragements, all sayings of His, for they are all commandments, I desire to use as means of real personal converse with Him. But I cannot do so unless He opens my eyes. Therefore, I pray, "Hide not Thy commandments from me."

(R, S. Candlish, D. D.)

The people of God are strangers and pilgrims.

1. In respect of their station, the place of their abode. While they are in the world they are in a strange country; while they are present in the world they are far from home. The world is a strange country, and their habitations in it, how much soever their own in civil respects, are but as inns in that journey homeward. The world is a strange country to the people of God, and the men of the world are men of a strange language, strange customs, strange laws, far differing from that of their own country.

2. In respect of their design, their motion, it is still homewards. This strange country likes them not, nor they it; they are travelling towards another, that which is, that which they account, their home, that better country, that heavenly country, that city prepared for them, that city whose builder and maker is God.

3. In respect of their enjoyments. They are but accommodated here like strangers. Much would be a burden, a hindrance to them in their journey; they have more in hopes than hand. Their treasure, their crown, their glory is at home, their Father's house; till they come there they are strangers.

4. In respect of their usage. They are not known in the world, and so are often coarsely used. In this strange country they meet with few friends, but many injuries. Their habit, language, practices, must be after their own country fashion, such as become heaven; now this being contrary to the world, meets with opposition, scorn, reproaches, hatred.

5. In respect of their continuance. Their abode on earth is but short. They dwell but as Abraham in tabernacles (ver. 9), in tents, moveable dwellings, quickly, easily removed; no dwelling that has a foundation, that is lasting, durable, till at home (ver. 10).

6. In respect of their relations. Their dearest relations are in another country. Their Father, their Husband, their Elder Brother, their dearest Friend, their Comforter, and the far greatest part of their brethren and fellow-members, are all in heaven.

Use 1. Reproof of those who profess themselves to be the people of God, and yet live not like His people; live on earth as though earth was their home, and mind heaven as little as they mind a strange country; suffer their thoughts, affections, endeavours, to be so taken up with the earth, and the things of it, as though the world were all the home they expect; instead of being strangers to the world, are strangers to the thoughts of, to the employments of, to the endeavours for heaven; rise up early, &c., to lay up treasure on earth, and lap up their hearts and souls with it.

Use 2. Exhortation to the people of God. You are strangers and pilgrims, oh endeavour to live as strangers. You expect to die in the faith, oh live then as you may so die.(1) Be not familiar with the world. Let the pleasures, the carnal interests of it, be strange things to you (1 Peter 2:12; Romans 12:2).(2) Be patient under sufferings, under the affronts, reproaches, hard usages you meet with from the world. It is the portion of strangers. Expect no vindication till in your own country.(3) Be content with what things you enjoy. Though it seem small or poor, it is enough for a stranger. More would be a burden to you, and travellers should avoid burdens, if they long to be at home.(4) Set not your hearts upon anything here below, Remember, while you are on earth, you are but in an inn. Mind the things here below as in transitu; use them as though ye used them not.(5) Make haste home. Make no longer stay than needs must in this strange country. Make straight steps to your feet; disburden yourselves of worldly cares, projects, fleshly lusts, that weight that does so easily beset you. What you have to do here, do it with all your might, that you may be fit for home. Despatch, make haste; remember whither you are going, and to whom. Your Father expects you; the Bridegroom thinks long till you come, He that will delight in you for ever.(6) Be not too fearful of death. It is a sleep now; Christ's death did change the property of it? and will a pilgrim, a weary traveller, be afraid of sleep?

(D. Clarkson, B. D.)


1. The faith of Christians in the promises of God implies that they understand them.

2. Their faith in the promises of God implies that they have a full and undoubting Conviction of their truth and certainty.

3. The faith of true Christians in the promises of God implies a cordial approbation of them.


1. Pilgrims never feel at home. They find no place which they can call their own; where they can reside as long as they please. They are constrained to go from stage to stage, and to change their situation from day to day. And though they may sometimes find pleasant and desirable places, yet they can find no place at which they can feel at home.

2. Pilgrims feel very much alone in the world. They find but a few travelling their way; and if some now and then fall into their company, yet they are strangers to their views and feelings, and afford them but very little comfort or entertainments and generally they obstruct rather than animate and quicken them in their journey.

3. Pilgrims always feel themselves exposed to danger. Travelling in a foreign country, they are unacquainted with the disposition of the inhabitants, and unused to their customs and manners. On these accounts, they never know when or where they are safe. They cannot place entire confidence in those with whom they converse, whether they wear a friendly or unfriendly aspect. They are exposed to contempt from the great, to fraud from the unjust, and to every evil from the lawless and malevolent.

4. Pilgrims feel thankful for all the agreeable accommodations which they meet with on their way. They are sensible of their dependence on Providence, and on the favour and assistance of their fellow.men. They are thankful for plain and smooth paths, for pleasant weather, and for good stages for rest and refreshment. And they are thankful to every stranger who faithfully directs them and kindly treats them.

5. Pilgrims take nothing with them but what they deem necessary for their journey. They throw aside the superfluities as encumbrances.

6. Pilgrims never think of turning back on account of any difficulties which they meet with in their way. If they are lame, or sick, they stop only till they recover, and then go forward. If the season be unfavourable, they wait only till it becomes better. Or if the roads be obstructed, they wait only till the obstructions are removed.Improvement:

1. If those who cordially embrace the promises of God are real pilgrims, then it is to be expected that they will profess their faith before men, and confess that they are pilgrims and strangers on the earth.

2. If those who profess to be Christians at the same time profess to be pilgrims, then there is a great impropriety as well as criminality in professors of religion being conformed to the world.

3. If all real Christians are pilgrims, and live and act as such, then they are living monitors to sinners. They admonish both by their profession and practice.

4. If all real Christians are pilgrims, then those have little reason to think that they are pilgrims who do not make it appear so in the sight of the world.

5. If Christians are pilgrims, who are entitled to the great and precious promises of God, then they will be peculiarly happy when they finish their pilgrimage, and reach their long home. All their labours, and dangers, and trials, and sufferings, will work for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

I take the idea of pilgrimage to illustrate the life of a true soul in the world.

I. Soul-pilgrimage involves a DEPARTURE.

1. From a dominant materialism.

2. From controlling selfishness.

3. From practical atheism.

II. It involves a PURSUIT. Not of wealth or happiness, but of godliness. Following on to know the Lord. Pressing toward the mark.


I. WHAT IS IT TO FEEL AND CONDUCT OURSELVES AS STRANGERS AND PILGRIMS ON THE EARTH. It is to feel and conduct ourselves as not being at home in the flesh, but as travelling on a journey to the world above. A wise pilgrim will not encumber himself with a load of toys which will only impede his progress towards home; which, instead of adding to his enjoyments, will only perplex him on his journey; and which at last he cannot carry into his Father's house to possess, but must lay down and leave at the threshold. A stranger on earth, if he is wise, will not expend his all in procuring the riches of the country which he cannot carry with him when he returns, as he shortly must to his native land. His principal object will be (besides those temporary supplies which will support him by the way) to lay in copiously those riches which he can carry with him when he returns to his abiding habitation.


1. A- pilgrim's way is the only way to heaven. We are by nature as far from home as we are from God. In order then to find an entrance into the peaceful doors of our Parent's house, we must say with the prodigal, "I will arise and go to my Father."

2. Heaven is the only good worth setting our hearts upon — the only place where unsullied enjoyment is to be had — the only spot where untainted excellence is found. It alone contains pleasures which will never fade away.

3. There is a sweetness in feeling ourselves strangers and pilgrims on the earth. It is sweet to feel ourselves not at home in the flesh, just on the wing to be gone, and arising to a better habitation. It is sweet to feel the world beneath our feet, to stand above it and converse with God. The man that does this is not indebted to the unsteady shifting objects of time and sense for his principal satisfaction, but possesses a happiness which the world can neither give nor take away. He can remain unruffled amidst the changes of life.

4. A stranger and pilgrim on earth has everything that he needs; why then should he wish for any closer alliance with the world? "God's favour is life, and His loving-kindness is better than life." He who enjoys Him has all and needs no more.

5. To relax into friendship with the world, to feel earth our home, and to say, It is good to be here, is very dangerous; as it draws the soul from God, clouds out of sight the glory of spiritual objects, exposes us to temptation, and is the chief cause of all our miseries.

6. We are here in an enemy's country, while our dearest friends are in heaven.

7. This earth was never designed for the Christian's home. It is a field in which he is sent to labour.

8. The more of strangers we are on the earth, and the more intercourse we have with heaven while here, the more welcome and happy shall we be when we arrive at glory.


1. To believe and trust in the promises of God is an exercise of faith and an essential mark of a Christian.

2. We should not distrust the promises of God on account of their not being yet fulfilled, or because at particular times we cannot see the fulfilment of those which relate to the present life. It was never designed that the promises which relate to the life to come should be fulfilled at present. It is not fit we should receive our reward till our work is done.

3. The want of a realising belief in the Divine promises is the great reason of our impatience at the thought of being strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

4. There is a sweetness in believing and trusting in the promises of God. The Christian then feels as secure and immovable as unchanging truth and almighty power can make him.

5. The promises of God are absolutely unfailing. And dare any who have the Bible in their hands deny their truth? Let us then —(1)Reprove ourselves for our worldly attachments, and for not feeling more like strangers and pilgrims on the earth.(2) Let us reprove our impatience and despondency at a distant view or disbelief of the promises.

(E. Griffin, D. D.)

1. A stranger is no medler in the country wherein he is; he takes that which is requisite for hint; he looks to his own business; but he doth not interpose himself in the affairs of the commonwealth, he leaves them to those that be of the country. Even so being strangers in the world, let us meddle no more with the world than needs must. But we are drowned in the world, our minds are on the world all the week, all the year long; we meddle little with the Scripture, with prayer, heavenly meditations; we are altogether in and about the world.

2. Strangers must not think to bear sway in the town and country where they dwell, the natural inhabitants will not digest that (Genesis 19:9); the Sodomites could not endure that Lot should be asking among them. So we, being strangers in the world, must not make account to domineer in it, to have all men at our control, we must be content to be underlings here that we may be aloft hereafter; the faithful are often put to the wall and the wicked are lords over them. This we must take patiently because we are strangers.

3. Strangers and pilgrims are wont to be abstemious (1 Peter 2:11); a stranger, a traveller, if he be a wise man, doth not set his mind on feasting and banquetting, he takes a morsel, and so away. So, being strangers here, we must lead a sober life, take no more of the world than will serve us for our journey; we must reserve our feasting till we come to that place where we shall eat bread with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,

4. Strangers must look for no great love; for the most part they are hated in the country where they be, and they are wished to be out of it; even so the world loveth her own; we are not of the world, we are men of another world, therefore marvel not that we find little friendship in the world.

5. Strangers have a longing desire to be at home. If an Englishman be in Spain, Turkey, India, he thinks every day two till he be in England. Oh that I were with my wife and children, with my friends and neighbours at home! So, being strangers in this world, let us not make too great account of it; let us desire to be at home in our heavenly Jerusalem; let us say with St. Paul, I desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ, which is best of all.

6. Strangers do not heartily love that country wherein they be; they may love it in some sort, but nothing to their own country; so being viatores we may take viaticum; but let us not love the world; let us use it as if we used it not. Let the heavenly Canaan, our native country, have all our love.

7. If a stranger come to an inn he looks about hint and says, This is a fair inn, here I have a goodly chamber; I fare well for my money; but this is no place for me to tarry in. So we should think and say of the world, I have a convenient dwelling, meat and drink enough; I thank God I want nothing; but this is not my place of abode, I am but a stranger here, all these things I must forego. I would to God that this were deeply engraven in the hearts of us all that we did effectually consider we were strangers on the earth. We say we are strangers, but we live as lords. A strange thing that strangers should be so bewitched with a strange country as we are with the earth.

(W. Jones, D. D.)

I. OUR PASSAGE THROUGH LIFE IS COMPARED IS HOLY SCRIPTURE TO VARIOUS THINGS — sometimes to an arrow flitting through the air — sometimes to a flower which is to-day in the field, tomorrow cut down and withered. But no figure, I think, more comprehensively describes it than that of a journey.

1. The first great resemblance may be found in the various stage of each. In the common journeys of this world some are long, and marked, of course, with a great variety of circumstances. Others, again, are short, quickly performed, and little varied with any particular occurrences. Exactly thus is our great journey through life. In our great journey through life we cannot make the stages as we please. They are laid out for us. We have only to prepare ourselves properly for them.

2. A second great resemblance which may be traced between a journey and our passage through life arises from the various roads which present themselves in both. Every one accustomed to travelling knows there are various roads commonly leading to the same place. Some are bad, others indirect, while there is generally but one which is the best, and which every prudent traveller would wish to pursue. Such too is our journey towards eternal life. Ask any who are not quite abandoned and they will tell you they hope to go to heaven — that this at least is their aim; but through what a variety of paths do they often pursue it! It may be hoped indeed that all these wanderers will in time see their error, and at length arrive safely at their heavenly home. But what toil, what distress might they have prevented if they had not suffered themselves to be led astray through all the bye-paths of pleasure or worldly allurements; but had from the first pursued the direct road!

3. As a journey thus resembles our passage through life in being a progress through various stages to a destined end, so does it resemble it in the many difficulties and inconveniences with which it is incommoded. No man can pass through life without meeting them. From our early youth they begin, and as we advance our difficulties increase. The cares and mischances of the world — or the knavery and malice of mankind — or sickness — or the ingratitude of friends — or the miscarriages, if not of ourselves, at least of our near connections, present us with a great variety of distress. Then again, they who are of a feeling nature have their compassion daily exercised by their fellow-travellers whom they see toiling under various burdens and cannot relieve. As we advance towards the end of life new distresses arise. The infirmities of age and the difficulty of mixing with a younger generation, all tend to lessen our relish for the world and teach us more and more to depend on happiness hereafter.

4. Another resemblance, nearly allied to the last, between a journey and our passage through life arises from the different manner in which its different stages affect us. At first, during the warmth and inexperience of youth, everything strikes us with pleasure. The world is new to us — our spirits are high — our passions are strong — the gaieties of life get hold of us — and it is happy, if we can enjoy them with moderation and innocence. Now and then we meet a rebuke from the world, but we lay it not to heart; youth is prone to forget untoward circumstances, and other objects catch our attention. But as years come on — as the inconveniences of life increase and the satisfactions arising from it diminish — we grow fatigued with so tiresome a march, and if we are those strangers and pilgrims upon earth of whom the text speaks we begin to think with pleasure of finishing our earthly toil.

5. From these inconveniences which meet us in every stage another resemblance arises, the last I shall suggest, which is, that we must never expect to find in a journey the comforts we look for at home. Many people have no idea of a heavenly home. Of them I speak not. They must, if they choose it, wander about in this world without any aim till they drop into their graves, and must take the consequence.


1. In the first place, let us not set our hearts upon anything in it.

2. If, again, life is a journey, let us not loiter in it.

3. Lastly, if life be a journey, let us keep the great end continually in view. We are journeying to our great home — the eternal mansion of spirits. What is there here to detain us from such an end? Our valuables are not about us; they are at home, at the end of our journey. Where our treasure is, there then let our hearts be also.

(W. Gilpin, M. A.)

It seems a very common thing to take the word "pilgrim" in its religious sense as very nearly identical with the word "hermit"; but the two not only differ, but in some respects very strongly contrast. The hermit is a personage who never appears in the Bible, or if he does appear, it is in some very distant glimpses indeed. He is not found, either in the Old or the .New Dispensation, as having any part in the appointments of the people of God; but the hermit is one of the favourite institutions of heathenism, and was, in olden times, prevalent over all the great ancient countries. The idea was early adopted in Egypt, and from Egypt it diffused itself over all the West, even to our own country. The hermit is one who has a quarrel with human society, and takes it to be his business to get as far away from mankind as circumstances will permit him. He may effect the separation by locality, by getting into a desert; he may effect it by confining himself within the walls of a convent, by getting up a tree, or living on the top of a pillar, as has sometimes been done. He may confine that separation to costly and particular habits and vows; but still his great idea is, to separate himself from human society and so cut out that part of human nature that does not lie built up within the four walls of his own person. Now, this is by no means the character of the pilgrim. The pilgrim is quite another personage. He has no quarrel with human society. He does not purpose to separate himself from mankind. On the contrary, pilgrims have been remarkable in every age and nation for being social, for seeking in their pilgrimage as many companions as they can possibly gather together, and for cheering their pilgrimage with as many comforts as they can carry through the journey, and with as many songs, and as much intercourse, and as much vivacity and pleasure of every kind as they can possibly command. But the pilgrim is one who has a point at which he is aiming, and a purpose for which he aims at it; and no matter what land he has to traverse, however pleasant it may be, it must not tempt him to stay, or however foul it may be, it must not discourage him so that he turn back. He has to go on; if it be a desert, to cross it in spite of its difficulties; if it be a garden, to cross it in spite of its flowers, and still to go on.

(W. Arthur, M. A.)

A holy indifference to present things makes it easy to part with them, and death less fearful. , in a letter to Ciriacus, who was tenderly sensible of his banishment, wrote to him, "You now begin to lament my banishment, but I have done so for a long time; for, since I knew that heaven was my country, I have esteemed the whole earth as a place of exile. Constantinople, from which I am expelled, is as distant from paradise as the desert to which they send me."

A father, with his little son, is journeying overland to California, and when at night he pitches his tent in some pleasant valley, the child is charmed with the spot, and begs his father to rear a house and remain there; and he begins to .make a little fence about the tent, and digs up the wild flowers and plants them within the enclosure. But the father says, "No, my son. Our home is far distant. Let these things go, for to-morrow we must depart." Now, God is taking us, His children, as pilgrims and strangers, homeward; but we desire to build here, and must be often overthrown before we can learn to seek "the city that hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God."

(H. W. Beecher.)

They seek a country.
I. THE LONGING WHICH THE GODLY HAVE FOR SOMETHING BETTER THAN THIS WORLD CAN GIVE. Here we may notice first of all the difference in kind between this longing and sinful discontent on the one hand, and the difference between it and the noble aspirations of worldly minds on the other.

1. Discontent is the spirit of self-will, displeased with the ordinances of God, or denying a providence and complaining of its destiny. This temper is insubordinate, for it would remove the disposal of things out of God's hands: it is proud and selfish, for so far from being willing to take an humble place in the universe, it would take the highest, and bend everything to its own arrangements: it is worldly, for the excessive desire of earthly good, which by the nature of the case must be ungratified, gives it birth: it is not only miserable in itself, but the source of new misery, for it leads the soul to look on the dark side of its earthly lot, and to make the most of whatever counteracts the desires. Compare with this discontent the temper of the godly man, as he looks with dissatisfaction upon this world. He is not like the chained beast which howls with rage and bites his chain, nor even like the caged bird that sings as he flies about the walls of his little prison but seizes the first chance to escape: he is rather like the soldier in the garrison, with whom he has often been compared, weary, it may be, with the constant vigilance and the toilsome defence, but stationary until his commander allows him to depart, and giving himself up meanwhile, with energy of will, perhaps with heroic joy, to the defence of the fortress.

2. The feeling of the godly man towards this world, so unlike the spirit of discontent, resembles much more the higher aspirations of mere human nature. There are men who seem to have by nature a high standard of character and attainment, who, if they lived alone and were uneducated, would have a certain dignity about them which is not allotted to all. These men are not made to be worldlings; the toils of covetousness, the intrigues of ambition they despise. Now these men have this resemblance to the godly who are our true pilgrims, that they are at a wide remove from earthly-mindedness in its worst sense, that they never reach the goal of their choice, and that thus they gather a dissatisfaction, often a very great dissatisfaction, with themselves and the world., But they differ from them in this; that they have not surrendered their native self-will, and that their standard, however lofty, is not spiritual.

II. The text leads us to remark in the second place THAT THE GODLY HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO RETURN TO THEIR FORMER STATE AND MAKE THIS "WORLD AGAIN THEIR PORTION. By not doing this they show that they seek a heavenly country. The confessions which proceed from their lips and lives prove that the world has not yet satisfied them. But if their earthly desires are not controlled by heavenly principles, they have abundant facilities for making new experiments upon the world. They can immerse themselves it again, as they did in their days of thoughtlessness. The world is ready to welcome them back, for it does not relish the silent reproofs which a non-conformist to its rules utters, as he withdraws from it. But he with opened eye is seeking for a better country, that is a heavenly. It is not the extent of his dissatisfaction with the world, or the strength of his resolution, or the force of circumstances, or a peculiar nature which leads him on in his chosen course, but the conviction that there is a better country to which he can attain. And it is better not simply because it promises a greater amount of good, or more lasting good such as the earth gives for a few years, but because it lays before his hopes another kind of good, as different from earthly as possible. This difference between spiritual and temporal good was always a reality of infinite importance, but he could not perceive it until his eye was opened and his affections transferred. Since that great revolution in his character, weak and tempted and often vacillating as he has been, he has resisted the invitations of the world to return to his old plan of life, because his desires are fastened on a new object, on the heavenly inheritance, which comprises all that is holy and truly blessed.

III. Owing to these heavenly desires, to this spiritual mind of the Christian, GOD IS NOT ASHAMED TO BE CALLED HIS GOD. As his God and Protector, God takes care of his interests by preparing for him a city. The man of God dwells in a tent or tabernacle in this world, and not only wants no city here, but feels that he can find none. Still his nature longs for something abiding. Death, decay, change, uncertainty are alien from his nature, they run counter to the longing for immortality which is within him. Such an abidingplace God, his God, hath provided for him. It is a permanent home. Again it is a city which is prepared for the godly man, in distinction from a lonely tent among strangers. So that his feeling of being by himself away from his best friends will have an end. As the traveller in the East passes from the bazaars and thronged streets of some capital, to the border of the wilderness, where the Bedouin is encamped for a season, he finds a new sort of people, who have no turn for city life, who are retired from the haunts of men, and when nearest to cities feel wholly estranged from them. Something so do godly men feel amid all the ties and joys of this world. Its spirit is unlike theirs. They have no home-feeling in its neighbourhood; they have, while they live closest to it, an unsatisfied sense of absence from something most akin to them, a sense of emptiness for which hope alone furnishes a relief. The city which God, their God, hath prepared for them fills up this want. There they are to be among friends, in whom they can fully confide — with God, Christ, and the redeemed — there they will no more have that sense of loneliness which saddened them in their night-wanderings through this world.

(T. D. Woolsey.)

It is in the power of actions as well as of words to declare plainly; and the patriarchs of this chapter made it as plain by what they did as by what they said, whither it was that their desires and their affections were tending. Nothing could be more explicit of this than the practice of Abraham — who gave up the place of his nativity; and tore himself away from all its charms and endearments; and became a pilgrim in an unknown land. What is very well termed a man's general drift, stood most palpably out on the whole of his history. And, in the same way, every human being has a prevailing drift, that may in most instances be pretty accurately gathered from certain obvious indications, which are ever obtruding themselves on the notice of bystanders. But there is a distinction to be remarked here. It may sometimes not be so very plain what the particular interest is which a man is prosecuting with the main force of his ambitious desires — whether it be the love of money, or the love of power, or the love of acceptance in society, or the love of eminence above his fellows by the lustre of a higher literary reputation. I may not be able to pronounce of the most bustling and ambitious member of our city corporation, whether his heart is most set on the acquirement of a princely fortune, or on a supreme ascendency over all his compeers in the political management of this great community. But whether it be the one or the other, I can say on the instant, that the great theatre of his favourite exertion is this, the place of our habitation — that is here — that it is among home society around him where he seeks to signalise himself, whether by wealth or by influence, or by popularity; and not in any remote or distant society with whom no sympathies are felt, and for u-hose homage either to his dignity or to his opulence, no anxiety whatever has been conceived. One would need to be profoundly intimate with the hidden mysteries of our nature to trace the numerous shadings and varieties of worldliness that obtain in our species. But it may be a matter of the most obvious recognition to the most simple of men, that worldliness, in some shape or other, is the great pervading element of all its generations. This much at least may be seen, without the piercing eye either of scholar or of satirist; and while the apostle said of the faithful whom he was enumerating., how they declared plainly that they were seeking a future and a distant country — we may say of nearly all whom we know, and of all whom we look upon in society, that they declare as plainly the world to be the only scene on which their hopes and their wishes do expatiate. It is not either that man is actually satisfied with present things. It is not that he has set him down in placid acquiescence among the creatures and the circumstances by which he is for the moment surrounded. We see nothing of the repose of full and finished attainment with any of our acquaintances. There is none of them, in fact, who is not plainly stretching himself forward to some one distant object or other; and, as the tokens of one who is evidently on a pursuit, do we behold him in a state of motion and activity and busy endeavour. But when we come to inquire into the nature of the object that so stimulates his desires and his faculties, do we find it to be a something which lies within the confines of mortality — a something suited only to such senses and such powers of enjoyment as death will extinguish — a something that he may perhaps hand down to posterity, but which a few rapid years will wrest away from himself, and that by an act of everlasting bereavement. Surely it is one of the strangest mysteries of our nature, and, at the same time, one of the strongest tokens of its derangement, that man should thus embark all his desires in a frail and crazy vessel so soon to be engulfed. But to alleviate this gross infatuation, it may be said, and with plausibility too, that the region of sense and the region of spirituality are so unlike the one to the other — that there is positively nothing in our experience of the former which can at all familiarise our minds to the anticipation of the latter. And then, as if to intercept the flight of our imaginations forward to eternity, there is such a dark and cloudy envelopment that hangs on the very entrance of it. Ere we can realise that distant world of souls, we must pierce our way beyond the curtain of the grave — we must make our escape from all the warm and besetting urgencies, which, in this land of human bodies, are ever plying us with powerful solicitation; and force our spirits across the boundaries of sense, to that mysterious place where cold and evanescent spectres dwell together in some incomprehensible mode of existence. We know not if there be another tribe of beings in the universe who have such a task to perform. Angels have no such transition of horror and mystery to undergo. There is no screen of darkness like this intrposed between them and any portion of their futurity however distant; and it appears only of man, that it is for him to drive a breach across that barrier which looks so impenetrable, or so to surmount the power of vision as to carry his aspirings over the summit of all that vision has made known to them. Now if this be the work of faith, you will perceive that it is not just so light and easy an achievement as some would apprehend. Think for one moment of the apostolical definition of faith. It is the substance of things hoped for, anti the evidence of things not seen — or, as it should have been rendered, it is the confident expectation of things hoped for, and the clear and assured conviction of things not seen. It is that which gives to an interest that is future all the urgency and deciding power upon the conduct which belong to an interest that is present. And should the future interest be greater than the present, and they come into competition, the one with the other, faith is that which resolves him who is under its influence to give up the immediate gratification for the sake of the distant advantage. Thus it is, essentially and by its very nature, a practical principle; and no sooner does it take possession of the heart of any individual, than it holds out the plain attestation of itself upon its history — and not by his dogmata, but by his doings. Heaven is held out in the gospel not in bargain as a reward to our performance of God's precepts, but simply in anticipation as a fulfilment to our hope of God's promises; and what place, it may be asked, is there for seeking after this? How shall we seek that which is already gotten? or what conceivable thing is there to do in quest of a benefit that is offered to our hand; and on the honesty of which offer we have merely to lay an unfaltering reliance? We can understand how to go about it, when the matter is to seek that which we must work for. But if heaven be not of works but of grace, what remains but to delight ourselves in the secure anticipation of that which we should count upon as a certainty, instead of labouring for it as if it were a contingency that hung upon our labours? And yet they are promises, and nothing else, which put all the patriarchs into motion. It was just because they saw these promises afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth — it was just because of all this that they declared plainly, both by their desires and by their doings, that they sought a country. Eternal life is the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord — a thing not purchased by us but purchased for us by another — a matter so gigantically beyond any price that man could render for it, that, if held up to him in this aspect it would look to his despairing eye as if placed in the region of impossibility away from him. Grace has been charged with ministering to human indolence. But it is free grace, and nothing else, which unfastens this drag — which releases man from the imprisonment that formerly held him — which brings him out to a large and open space, and sets an object of hopefulness before him that he knows to be accessible — which breaks him loose from the grasp of that law, from whose condemnation and whose penalties he felt so inextricable. So that, instead of doing nothing for heaven, when the gulf of a pathless separation stood in the way of it, he can now embark on a career of approximation, where, by all his doings, and by all his seekings, he may declare plainly that heaven is indeed the country to which he is travelling. It is said of the patriarchs in this chapter that they were not only persuaded of the promises, but that they embraced them. To be persuaded of them was to believe in the truth of the promises; to embrace them was to make choice of the things promised. Abraham chose his prospects in a distant country, rather than his possessions in the country of his father; and, in the prosecution of this choice, did he abandon the latter, and plainly declare, by all his subsequent doings, that he was seeking and making progress towards the former. And a believer nowadays, is not only persuaded that he has heaven for the acceptance of it; but he actually accepts, and, in so doing, he, like the father of the faithful, makes a preference between two objects which stand in competition before him. The man who chooses heaven rather than earth, chooses what is essentially characteristic of heaven, rather than what is essentially characteristic of earth; or, in other words, he makes choice of the piety of heaven, and the purity of heaven, and the benevolence of heaven. It is not by these that he purchases a place for himself in paradise; but it is by these that he prepares himself both for the doings and for the delights of paradise. It is by these that he brings his taste and his temper into conformity with that which is celestial. It is by these that he becomes a fit recipient for all those sensations of blessedness which are current there. The point at which heaven is accepted as a gift, so far from marking that place in the history of a believer when he gives up his activity because he has now gotten all that he wants, marks the place of his breaking forth on a career of activity — at the entrance of which he was before bound by a spell that no exertion of his could dissipate.

(T. Chalmers, D. D.)

One told Socrates that he would fain go to Olympus, but he distrusted his sufficiency to go the length of the journey. Socrates said, "Thou walkest every day little or much; continue this walk, forward thy way, and a few days shall bring thee to Olympus." Every day every man takes some pains. Let him bestow that measure of pains in travelling to heaven; and the further he goes the more heart he gets, till at last he enters through the gates into the city."

(T. Adams.)

If you expected to make California your home in the next six months, would you not be interested in that country? I once knew an old man whose son went out to Oregon, where he became prosperous, purchased a great farm, and was getting it under magnificent cultivation. He often wrote home to his family about Oregon and his prosperity. By and by he sent for his brother to come out there and live with him; and then he sent for his sister and her husband. One by one, all the boys and their wives, and all the sisters and their husbands, were settled and prospering in Oregon. That old man was far more interested in Oregon than Indiana, where he was born and had lived all his days. He had many books on Oregon; he studied Oregon, its climate and soil, its increasing population, its commerce and prospects. Presently the son wrote to the old man, "We are coming for you, father." After that the old man was more interested than ever. He talked about Oregon more and more, when he went to visit his neighbours or his neighbours came to visit him; he talked to his farm hands; up and down the streets he talked about Oregon, until some people thought he had well-nigh gone crazy. Do we not often forget that "our citizenship is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ"? (Philippians 3:20). Have we not sometimes forgotten that He said, "I go to prepare a place for you," and "if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also"? (John 14:1-37). Oh, what .interests we have there!

(G. F. Pentecost, D. D.)

It is a country and it is a city. A country. That thought throws before us at once the great idea of breadth and vastness. As we are passing to the other world, we are not passing to a confined sphere, but to one where there will be wide places for the powers of every man and of every woman called to unite in the work of that land, wide places for all to exercise their power, and for all to dwell in it. It is a city. It is not a lonely place, but a place of society. It is a city: it is not an undefended place, but a place with its walls and bulwarks, and eternal fences. It is a city: it is not a place built by chance and without arrangement, but a place built upon a plan. It is a city that hath a builder and a maker; that is, as we should say in our modern language, both an architect and a builder. The word translated "builder " means the architect who builds the structure first within his soul before it is ever built outside. An oration, a sermon, a grand scheme, or a palace, is in the first place produced within the soul of a man, and there it stands, and grows, and shines, perhaps far nobler than it ever does in the outer world. And so that city has its Architect, the great God; for, in what He would delight in the midst of His own, in what He Himself would dwell, where His children should be housed, in what streets the princes of God should walk, in what abbey the multitudes of the happy should assemble, and with what defences and adornments the city of the ,Great King should shine upon the eyes of His own for ever, He formed this first, and then He made it. Both architect and constructor is God; and that city and that country are His country and His city.

(W. Arthur, M. A.)

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