For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
Changeableness is one characteristic of all that is earthly. What is history? Largely the record of a succession of vapours which have appeared for a little time, and then have vanished away. What is philosophy but knowledge of the rise and progress, the extent and duration of shadows? What is poetry but the expression of the deep emotions awakened by earthly vicissitudes? And what is this world as we now all see it but a system of globes having a double revolution? Nothing abides in the same place, or exhibits two days together the same aspect. Changeableness is one feature of all that is earthly; human nature being no exception. Personally, relatively, in body, in spirit, within, without, there is no continuance. Some of the changes to which men are subject are manifestly good in themselves, good in all respects, and in the case of those who love God, and who are the called according to His purpose, all things work together for good. "Here have we no continuing city." In what position are we left? Are we never to have continuance? Yes, we are to look upon things abiding, for while "here we have no continuing city, we," Christians, "seek one to come."
I. Look at THIS CHANGEABLENESS HERE FELT AND ACKNOWLEDGED. "Here have we no continuing city." This seems discordant with the closing verse of the former chapter, where it is said — "We receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear." But you remember, that kingdom is within us; and that kingdom is continued. The apostle is speaking in the text rather of that which is outside of us. Here, too, have we no fixed temporal condition. The rich often become poor; the elevated are brought low; and the men of many friends are made desolate. Here, too, have we no ultimate stage of existence. We begin with babyhood, rise into childhood, and oh, how soon do we get through manhood! And here have we no permanent visible Church. The persons constituting the Churches of Christ die; the members of particular congregations change; they pass from one community to another; and our Church forms and modes alter. Here, too, have we no fixed and unalterable demand upon our resources and powers. Duties and responsibilities, they all vary. Here, too, have we no fixed state of the emotions. To-day we are in joy; to-morrow in sorrow. Here, too, have we not the consummation of redemption. There are some things in our salvation now complete. Our pardon is complete; our justification is complete; but the inner salvation is being wrought out. There is no continuance in the experience of a true Christian. Here, too, have we not the everlasting Jerusalem. So that we may say, looking at all these facts, "Here have we no continuing city."
II. WE CHRISTIANS SEEK ONE TO COME. We desire that which is unchangeable, and we seek it. "One to come" — a higher and a settled dwelling-place — a final home. It is love that makes a home. To love, and to be loved, though it be in the peasant's cot, is to be at home; and often you find homes in the rudest dwellings, and none in the most splendid palaces. But where love is likely to be disturbed — where some rude hand can take the threads that love is ever spinning and tying and fastening, and cut them and sever them, the home feeling must of course be partial. And we long for a place and a state where we shall abide eternally in the presence of those who love us. "We seek one to come." A higher and a settled dwelling-place, a final home, a permanent state of being — not a stereotyped state of being, but still a permanent state of being, as distinguished from a mere probational state. And we long for, we seek a permanent state of being, and an undisturbed condition. Society, for example, just to take two or three illustrations — society without interruption or separation. Now, as soon as we know one another, we are taken away from each other. Occupation pursued for ever. The man who looks at this world as he should look at it almost trembles to undertake anything great or anything grand. But think of immortality as the day of your work. What broad foundations of enterprises may you lay, when you shall feel that you have the "for-ever" before you in which to execute those enterprises! "One to come" — not only occupations to be pursued for ever, but pleasure to be enjoyed for ever, and honours to be worn for ever, and worship to be continued for ever, and communion to be unbroken for ever, and the Church to be glorious and perfect for ever. Now, we Christians desire this for comfort's sake, for progress' sake, and above all for righteousness' sake. Acknowledge, then, that "here have we no continuing city"; acknowledge it. Acknowledge it by expecting change. Do not busy yourself in trying to fix permanently all the arrangements of your households, and to say, as I sometimes hear some of you say, and hear you say occasionally with trembling, "Now we are settled." Settled? Settled this side of the grave? Settled — where change is the very law of life? Settled? Oh, never say with the spirit that we are now condemning, "Now we are settled." When God requires you to make changes, make them, and be ready for them, and then they will not hurt you. "Here have we no continuing city." Acknowledge this fully and cordially. Then " seek one to come" — by union with Jesus Christ, and by spiritual preparedness. There is a city to come — a collection of the saved children of Adam in one place — a holy place, a city. It is beautiful for situation, like Jerusalem of old, but built upon everlasting hills which shall never bow, and upon mountains which shall never be moved. It is a holy city, into which shall not enter anything that defileth or worketh abomination, or maketh a lie.
Parallel VersesKJV: For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.