Ephesians 3:15
from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
Sermons
Family RelationshipJ. Pulsford.Ephesians 3:15
GlorificationDr. Jarbo.Ephesians 3:15
Home Relations -- What is HomeDean Vaughan.Ephesians 3:15
No Part in the FamilyC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 3:15
One Family in Heaven and EarthA. Raleigh, D. D.Ephesians 3:15
Paternal GovernmentJ. Pulsford.Ephesians 3:15
Saints in Heaven and Earth One FamilyC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 3:15
The Christian Brotherhood of ManE. L. Hull, B. A.Ephesians 3:15
The Christian Church a FamilyF. W. Robertson, M. A.Ephesians 3:15
The Christian FamilyE. Henderson.Ephesians 3:15
The Christian FamilyDr. Thomas.Ephesians 3:15
The Christian FamilyW. Graham, D. D.Ephesians 3:15
The Communion of SaintsH. J. Wilmot-Buxton, M. A.Ephesians 3:15
The Divine FamilyJ. Burns, D. D.Ephesians 3:15
The Divine FamilyW. Anderson, LL. D.Ephesians 3:15
The Family BondGibbon.Ephesians 3:15
The Family in Heaven and EarthJ. Lathrop, D. D.Ephesians 3:15
The Family in Heaven and EarthA. K. H. Boyd, D. D.Ephesians 3:15
The Family in Heaven and in EarthT. Croskery Ephesians 3:15
The Father and the FamilyB. H. McKim, D. D.Ephesians 3:15
The Royal FamilyC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 3:15
The Source of FatherhoodJ. Pulsford.Ephesians 3:15
The Unity of Heaven and Earth in GodR. W. Dale, LL. D.Ephesians 3:15
The Unity of the Family of GodHugh Stowell, M. A.Ephesians 3:15
the Whole Family'Alexander MaclarenEphesians 3:15
The Whole Family in HeavenJ. C. Innes, Ph. D.Ephesians 3:15
The Whole Family in HeavenEphesians 3:15
The Whole Family in Heaven and EarthJ. Parsons.Ephesians 3:15
The Whole Family on EarthG. Brooks.Ephesians 3:15
A Prayer on Behalf of the Ephesian ChristiansR. Finlayson Ephesians 3:14-19
Intercessory PrayerD. Thomas Ephesians 3:14-19
The Great Mystery of the Love of ChristW.F. Adeny Ephesians 3:14-19
A Pattern of PrayerCanon Vernon Hutton.Ephesians 3:14-21
An Ascending PrayerA. G. Brown.Ephesians 3:14-21
Christian PrayerG. Brooks.Ephesians 3:14-21
KneelingEphesians 3:14-21
Kneeling in PrayerEphesians 3:14-21
Paul's Prayer for the Ephesian ChristiansJ. C. Brown, LL. D.Ephesians 3:14-21
Prayer a Self-RevelationA. G. Brown.Ephesians 3:14-21
St. Paul's Example as to PrayerPaul Bayne.Ephesians 3:14-21
St. Paul's Prayer for Gentile ChristiansA. F. Muir, M. A.Ephesians 3:14-21
The Christian Brotherhood - Paul's Second PrayerR.M. Edgar Ephesians 3:14-21
The Christian Temple: its Material and MagnitudeA. J. Parry.Ephesians 3:14-21
The Ladder of PrayerC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 3:14-21
The Top of the LadderC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 3:14-21
The prayer of the apostle, which includes a reference to the whole family interest of the universe under the blessed Father, is one of the most fervent, comprehensive, and sublime to be found in all Scripture. Let us consider the force and beauty of the expression, "the family in heaven and in earth." The primary reference is to the Church of God, brat it likewise includes the angels, who merge with the saints into one family; for "all they are brethren." The Church is the family of God in many respects.

I. IT IS SO IN THE TIE THAT BINDS ALL THE MEMBERS TOGETHER. A family has its constitution in nature, not in similarity of opinion, or interest, or taste. We cannot choose who shall be our brothers or sisters. There are relationships in human life into which we can enter or not enter at will, such as political associations, literary fellowships, social bonds of various kinds. The family is not of this character. Now, the Church is a family unlike these merely voluntary associations, for it is founded by God himself, in which we have our place by his own adopting grace, and once we are there, our relations to everything internal and external are determined, not by ourselves, but by the laws of family life. We become "children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26). There may be members in this family who may not recognize us as fellow-members at all, but we are members notwithstanding, by ties which they have done nothing to create and which they cannot undo by their exclusiveness or their bigotry. Yet all the members are really bound to each other by the tie of a common life, for they live by faith in Christ Jesus, and of a common love; for faith worketh by love, and never works without it. Jesus says, "Love one another, as I have loved you." That is, we are to love with a love practical, humble, bountiful, patient, gentle, all-embracing, and lasting as Christ's own love.

II. THE CHURCH IS A FAMILY BY ITS UNITY. There is but one Father in the Divine family, who unites in himself the perfection of fatherly and motherly affection. There is but one Church on earth, "one body," as there is but one faith, one baptism, one hope. Wherever there is union with Christ, there is membership in his body the Church. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the bond of unity in the Church. It follows, therefore, that believers must be one in faith, love, and obedience.

III. THE CHURCH AS A FAMILY ADMITS OF GREAT DIVERSITIES. There are great diversities of affection, of temperament, of character, in the same family, contributing, indeed, to the fullness and happiness of its life. The completeness of the family depends, indeed, on the beautiful fusion of its masculine and feminine elements. Now, the Church similarly, though one, exists under great diversities of form and condition. There are, first, the two great divisions of the Church into the heavenly and the earthly membership. It is a mistake to say, as some do, that the Church consists only of living saints, as if the dead ceased to he in its unity. God does not set members in the body that they may die out of it again; he is the God, not of the dead, but of the living; and if such members are not in the body, they are without a Head, that is, without Jesus Christ, who is the only Head of the body. Can "the whole body" grow to the measure of the stature of a perfect man without including the growth of the entire Church of God? Then, again, there are the diversities of dispensations. Believers of every age, no matter under what dispensation they lived, are members of the Divine family. The way of salvation was always the same (Romans 4.). The one Lamb of God who took away the sin of man was "slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 8:8). The variety of dispensations marks the onward stages of the family life. Then, again, there are the diversities of opinion which have existed within the Church of God without destroying its unity; and endless diversities of character and temperament, all governed more or less by the subduing grace of God; and the diversities of lot, service, and event, illustrated in the career of the members of this family.

IV. THE CHURCH IS A FAMILY WITH A FINAL GATHERING AND A HOME FOR ALL ITS SEPARATED MEMBERS. There is a house of" many mansions," which our Savior has gone before to prepare (John 14:2) - "the holy places made without hands;" the grand metropolis of God's moral rule, "whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord," from every realm of earth, from every age of time. There angels will mingle with saints, and interchange experiences of the love of God. The fatherhood of God is thus seen to connect different orders of beings by a new and loving tie. Happy family, whose names are written in heaven! Happy family, whose ranks are unbroken, whose hearts are one! Gathered home at last, to be forever with the Lord, and forever with one another! - T.C.







Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.
I. In the first place, let us consider THE DEFINITION GIVEN BY THE APOSTLE PAUL OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, taken in its entirety. It is this, "the whole family in heaven and earth." But in order to understand this fully, it will be necessary for us to break it up into its different terms.

1. First of all it is taught by this definition that the Church of Christ is a society founded upon natural affinities — a "family." A family is built on affinities which are natural, not artificial; it is not a combination, but a society. In ancient times an association of interest combined men in one guild or corporation for protecting the common persons in that corporation from oppression. In modern times identity of political creed or opinion has bound men together in one league, in order to establish those political principles which appeared to them of importance. Similarity of taste has united men together in what is called an association, or a society, in order by this means to attain more completely the ends of that science to which they had devoted themselves. But as these have been raised artificially, so their end is, inevitably, dissolution. Society passes on, and guilds and corporations die; principles are established, and leagues become dissolved; tastes change, and then the association or society breaks up and comes to nothing. It is upon another principle altogether that that which we call a family, or true society, is formed. It is not built upon similarity of taste, nor identity of opinion, but upon affinities of nature. You do not choose who shall be your brother; you cannot exclude your mother or your sister; it does not depend upon choice or arbitrary opinion at all, but is founded upon the eternal nature of things. And precisely in the same way is the Christian Church formed — upon natural affinity, and not upon artificial combination.

2. Another thing which is taught by this definition is this, that the Church of Christ is a whole made up of manifold diversities. We are told here it is "the whole family," taking into it the great and good of ages past, now in heaven; and also the struggling, the humble, and the weak now existing upon earth. Here again, the analogy holds good between the Church and the family. Never more than in the family is the true entirety of our nature seen. Observe how all the diversities of human condition and character manifest themselves in the family. First of all, there are the two opposite poles of masculine and feminine, which contain within them the entire of our humanity — which together, not separately, make up the whole of man. Then there are the diversities in the degrees and kinds of affection. And then there are diversities of character. And so it is also in the Church, In the Church of God there is a place — and that the noblest — for Dorcas making garments for the poor, and for Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, just as truly as there is for Elijah confounding a false religion by his noble opposition; for John the Baptist making a king tremble on his throne; or for the Apostle Paul "compassing sea and land" by his wisdom and his heroic deeds.

3. The last thing which is taught us by this definition is, that the Church of Christ is a society which is forever shifting its locality, and altering its forms. It is the whole Church, "the whole family in heaven and earth." So then, those who were on earth, and are now in heaven, are yet members of the same family still. Those who had their home here, now have it there. Let us see what it is that we should learn from this doctrine. It is this, that the dead are not lost to us. There is a sense in which the departed are ours more than they were before. There is a sense in which the Apostles Paul or John, the good and great of ages past, belong to this age more than to that in which they lived, but in which they were not understood; in which the commonplace and everyday part of their lives hindered the brightness and glory and beauty of their character from shining forth. So it is in the family. It is possible for men to live in the same house, and partake of the same meal from day to day, and from year to year, and yet remain strangers to each other, mistaking each other's feelings, not comprehending each other's character; and it is only when the Atlantic rolls between, and half a hemisphere is interposed, that we learn how dear they are to us, how all our life is bound up in deep anxiety with their existence. Therefore it is the Christian feels that the family is not broken.

II. Pass we on now, in the second place, to consider THE NAME BY WHICH THIS CHURCH IS NAMED. "Our Lord Jesus Christ," the apostle says, "of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named." Now, everyone familiar with the Jewish modes of thought and expression, will allow here, that "name" is but another word to express being, actuality, and existence. When the apostle here says, "Our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named," it is but another way of saying that it is He on whom the Church depends — who has given it substantive existence — without whom it could not be at all. It is but another way of saying what he has expressed elsewhere — "that there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we may be saved." Let us not lose ourselves in vague generalities. Separate from Christ, there is no salvation; there can be no Christianity. Let us understand what we mean by this. Let us clearly define and enter into the meaning of the words we use. When we say that our Lord Jesus Christ is He "of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named," we mean that the very being of the Church depends on Christ — that it could not be without Him. Now, the Church of Christ depends upon these three things — first, the recognition of a common Father; secondly, of a common humanity; and thirdly, of a common sacrifice.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

I invite you to consider the ties which bind us to those who have gone before, and the indissoluble kinship in Christ which holds us as much as ever in one sacred unity.

I. First, let us think of THE POINTS OF THIS GREAT FAMILY UNION. In what respects are the people of our God in heaven and earth one family?

1. Let us note, first, concerning those in heaven and earth whom the Lord loves that their names are all written in one family register. That mystical roll which eye hath not seen containeth all the names of His chosen. Let us gaze by faith upon that great Book of Life where all the names of the redeemed stand indelibly written by the hand of everlasting love, and as we read those beloved names let us remember that they make but one record.

2. The saints above and below are also one family in the covenant made in Christ. Fellow citizens with the glorified, but strangers and foreigners among worldlings.

3. All the saints in heaven and earth have the covenant promises secured to them by the self-same seal, viz., the sacrifice of the bleeding Lamb.

4. The family in heaven and earth, again, will be plainly seen to be one, if you remember that they are all born of the same Father, each one in process of time.

5. The nature of all regenerate powers is the same, for in all it is the living and incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth forever. The same nature is in the saints above as in the saints below. They are called the sons of God, and so are we; they delight in holiness, and so also do we; they are of the Church of the first born, and so are we; their life is the life of God, and so is ours; immortality pulses through our spirits as well as through theirs. The new life in heaven is more developed and mature; it has also shaken off its dust, and has put on its beautiful garments, yet it is the same. Oh, it needs but little alteration in the true saint below to make him a saint above. So slight the change, that in an instant it is accomplished. "Absent from the body and present with the Lord."

6. We are one yet further, brethren, because all saints, whether in heaven or earth, are partakers in the same Divine love. "The Lord knoweth them that are His" not merely those in heaven, but those below.

7. Heirs of the same promises, and the same blessed inheritance. Think of this, you who are little in Israel.

8. All members of one body, and necessary to the completion of one another. We are the lower limbs, as it were, of the body, but the body must have its inferior as well as its superior members. It cannot be a perfect body should the least part of it be destroyed. The saints above with all their bliss must wait for their resurrection until we also shall have come out of great tribulation; like ourselves they are waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body.

II. Let us now speak upon THE INSEPARABLENESS OF THIS UNION. "The whole family in heaven and earth," not the two families nor the divided family, but the whole family in heaven and earth. It appears at first sight as if we were very effectually divided by the hand of death. There was a great truth in the sentence which Wordsworth put into the mouth of the little child when she said, "O master, we are seven." You cannot conceive of our heavenly Father's being bereaved. Our Father which art in heaven, Thou hast lost none of Thy children. There is no break towards the Father, and no break towards the Elder Brother, and therefore it must be our mistake to fancy there is any break at all.

1. Space makes no inroads into the wholeness of the Lord's family. Space is but the House of God; nay, God comprehends all space, and space, therefore, is but the bosom of the Eternal.

2. And what a mercy it is that greatest of all separators, does not now divide us, for we are "made nigh by the blood of Christ."

3. Neither do errors and failures of understanding divide the family of God; if, indeed, they did, who among us could be of the same family as those who know even as they are known? The little child makes a thousand mistakes, and his elder brethren smile sometimes, but they do not deny that he is their brother because he is so ignorant and childish.

4. Neither can sorrow separate us. To deny that your warring soldier is a part of the host would be a great mistake; to say that he is not of the army because he is in the midst of the conflict would be cruel and false. The saints militant are of the same host as the triumphant; those who are suffering are of the same company as the beatified.

III. A topic of deep interest now comes before US — THE PRESENT DISPLAY OF THIS UNION.

1. The service of those who have departed blends with ours. They, being dead, yet speak; their service projects itself beyond this life. Do not let the living think that they are the sole champions in the holy war, for, to all intents and purposes, the spirits of the just made perfect stand side by side with them; and the battle is being carried on in no small measure by cannon which they cast, and weapons which they forged. Though the builders be absent in body, yet the gold, silver, and precious stones which they builded, their Lord will establish forever.

2. The influence of the prayers of those in heaven still abides with us. Many a mother dies with her children unsaved, but the prayers she continually offered for them will prevail after her death.

3. Further, the unity of the Church will be seen in this, that their testimony from above blends with ours. The Church is ordained to be a witness. My brethren, we try to witness as God helps us to the truth as it is in Jesus, even as those who are above once witnessed with us here in life and in death. But now that these spirits have entered within the veil do they cease their testimony? No. Hear them. They bear witness to the Lamb, saying, "For Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood." Ye are comrades with us, ye shining ones; ye are fellow witnesses for Jesus, and therefore ye are one with us.

4. The main employment of saints above is praise. Beloved, what is ours but praise too? Their music is sweeter than ours, freer from discord, and from all that is cold or wandering, but still the theme is the same, and the song springs from the same motive, and was wrought in the heart by the same grace.

5. Towering over all is the fact that the Well-beloved is the common joy of saints in heaven and on earth. What makes their heaven? Who is the object of all their worship? Beloved, He is as much all in all to us as He is to them. Jesus, we know Thee and they know Thee; Jesus, we love Thee and they love Thee.

IV. Last of all, there is to come, before long, A FUTURE MANIFESTATION OF THIS FAMILY UNION, much brighter than anything we have as yet seen. We are one family, and we shall meet again. If they cannot come to us we shall go to them by and by.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. LET US UNDERSTAND THE LANGUAGE OF THE TEXT.

1. The key word is "family." A building sets forth the unity of the builder's design. A flock, unity of the shepherd's possession. The title of citizen implies unity of privilege. The idea of an army displays unity of object and pursuit. Here we have something closer and more instructive still: "family."

(1)The same Father, and thus unity of relationship.

(2)The same life, and so unity of nature.

(3)The same mutual love growing out of nature and relations.

(4)The same desires, interests, joys, and cares.

(5)The same home for abode, security, and enjoyment.

(6)The same inheritance to be soon possessed.

2. The link-word is "whole." "Whole family in heaven and earth." There is but one family, and it is a whole.(1) On earth we find a portion of the family

(a)Sinning and repenting: not yet made perfect.

(b)Suffering and despised: strangers and foreigners among men.

(c)Dying and groaning, because yet in the body.(2) In heaven we find another part of the family —

(a)Serving and rejoicing. Sinless and free from all infirmity.

(b)Honouring God, and honoured by Him.

(c)Free from sighing, and engrossed in singing. The militant and the triumphant are one undivided family.

3. The crowning word is "named." We are named after the first-born, even Jesus Christ.(1) Thus are we all acknowledged to be as truly sons as the Lord Jesus; for the same name is named on us.(2) Thus is He greatly honoured among us. His name is glorified by each one who truly bears it.(3) Thus are we greatly honoured in Him by bearing so august a name.(4) Thus are we taught whom to imitate. We must justify the name.(5) Thus are we forcibly reminded of His great love to us, His great gift to us, His union with us, and His value of us.

II. LET US CATCH THE SPIRIT OF THE TEXT. Let us now endeavour to feel and display a family feeling.

1. As members of one family let us enjoy the things we have in common. We all have —(1) The same occupations. It is our meat and drink to serve the Lord, to bless the brotherhood, and win souls.(2) The same delights; communion, assurance, expectation, etc.(3) The same love from the Father.(4) The same justification and acceptance with our God.(5) The same rights to the throne of grace, angelic ministration, Divine provision, spiritual illumination, etc.(6) The same anticipations. Growth in grace, perseverance to the end, and glory at the end.

2. As members of one family, let us be familiar with each other.

3. As members of one family, let us practically help each other.

4. As members of one family, let us lay aside all dividing names, aims, feelings, ambitions, and beliefs.

5. As members of one family, let us strive for the honour and kingdom of our Father who is in heaven.

(1)Let us seek out the lost members of the family.

(2)Let us cherish the forgotten members of the family.

(3)Let us strive for the peace and unity of the family.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Thomas Brooks mentions a woman who lived near Lewes, in Sussex, who was ill, and therefore was visited by one of her neighbours, who to cheer her, told her that if she died she would go to heaven, and be with God, and Jesus Christ, and the saints and angels. To this the sick woman in all simplicity replied, "Ah, mistress, I have no relations there! Nay, not so much as a gossip, or acquaintance; and as I know nobody, I had a great deal sooner stop with you and the other neighbours, than go and live amongst strangers." It is to be feared that if a good many were to speak their thoughts they would say much the same.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

There is a connection between the word for "Father," and that for "family" in the Greek which we cannot reproduce in translation, but which may be illustrated by the analogous connection which exists in English between "Creator" and "creature." Every family (πατριά) derives its name from the Father (πατήρ).

I. I find here a remarkable and most interesting statement of the Fatherhood of God. It is this: that THE PROTOTYPE OF ALL HUMAN FATHERHOOD IS FOUND IN THE DIVINE. God is the true and perfect Father, of whom all other fathers are but faint likenesses. As one of the old divines has it, "Not from us did this name and the relation it expresses ascend to heaven, but from heaven it came down to us." Let me illustrate. Far off beyond the Rocky Mountains, in the valley of the Humboldt River, the traveller sometimes sees, in certain conditions of the atmosphere, some earthly object — even an entire landscape — painted as if by an angel's hand upon the clouds. Not thus is this word "Father" applied to God — an earthly image upon a heavenly ground. Ah, then, dear as it is to the ear of man, it were no better than a cruel mirage mocking poor travellers through this desert of time I But no: it is a heavenly image reflected in earthly relations; the application of the word "father" to man is borrowed from its Divine and heavenly meaning. It is a dewdrop fallen from the skies, which mirrors in its tiny surface the whole "scope of heaven."

II. The next thought suggested by the text, relates to THE FATHERHOOD OF MAN. Behold the dignity and glory of the family! It is heavenly and Divine in its origin. Great reason is there, then, that men should take heed how they exercise their relationship — how they fulfil the holy office of "father." Let us stint neither prayer nor care, that our families here on earth may be, at least in some faint degree, a reflex of the family in heaven. There is a little sheet of water at the eastern end of the Yosemite valley, in which one may see, if we visit it before the sun has touched it, a most wonderful and entrancing sight. In the surface of that tiny lake, polished to an almost preternatural smoothness by the hand of God Himself, is mirrored the whole grand amphitheatre of gigantic walls and towering cliffs, varying from two thousand to five thousand feet in height; the entire valley of the Yosemite, some eight miles in length, and with it the over-arching sky, reflected with absolute exactness, and with such vividness that every tint of the forest, and every crevice and stain in the cliffs, and every hue of the floating clouds, is distinctly reproduced. We may not hope even to see an earthly family which shall be such a mirror as that, which shall reflect the family in heaven with any such perfectness as that. But surely our earthly families may reflect something of heaven — something of the peace and joy and love which reign there. Surely we may at least by God's blessing, so order our homes that they need not always be like a turbid lake, so tossed and so unquiet as never to show any reflection of heaven.

III. THE PERPETUITY OF THE FAMILY. Follow for a little distance the fortunes of a family. They gather, we will suppose, in a bright country home — father and mother, sons and daughters, all bright and hopeful and happy; the young full of enthusiasm for the untried voyage before them, the old full of joy in the happiness and hope of the young. A few years pass, and again we see them gathered, it may be, in the same scene; but how changed already! Lines — the well known lines of care — traced on the brow, and gray hairs here and there, tell the story of battle and bereavement in the experience of life. There is a vacant chair or more, and the tears on more than one cheek bear silent witness to the sad associations that the family reunion recalls. Years roll on; and one after the other is missed, till the number up there is greater than the number here, and the home centre must be sought beyond the river. At length only one is left, a lonely pilgrim, tottering under the weight of years, and steadily approaching the brink of the cold, dark stream. To such a one, how sweet the gospel message about the family in heaven I to know that, fast as the Christian family breaks up here, it is reforming in a better home there; and to be assured that the life there shall not be an utterly new and strange one — that this at least will remain, the family.

(B. H. McKim, D. D.)

I. OF WHOM THE DIVINE FAMILY IS COMPOSED.

1. The family in heaven embraces —(1) An innumerable host of spiritual intelllgencies, denominated angels, seraphim, cherubim, thrones, principalities, etc., also called sons, saints, etc. (see Deuteronomy 33:2; Jude 1:14; Job 38:7).(2) The souls of all who have died in the faith. From the righteous Abel to the present hour. "For to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord."(3) All the spirits of those who have died in infancy.We feel satisfied of the happiness of these;(1) Because accountability implies trust, capacity, etc.; these never entered upon this trust, never possessed this capacity; therefore, do not fall under the penalty of the wicked.(2) Because for all original guilt, there is an ample remedy in Christ's all-sufficient sacrifice.(3) Because Jesus received such, and blessed them, and declared that "of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:14).(4) Because the Divine mercy is over all His works; but if infants perish this declaration is not correct.

2. The Divine family on earth is composed of all true believers. They may differ materially in knowledge, talents, gracious attainments, etc.; "but to as many as received Him, gave He power to become the sons of God," etc. (John 1:12).

II. IN WHAT RESPECTS THE TWO BRANCHES IN HEAVEN AND EARTH ARE BUT ONE FAMILY.

1. They have only one head. Jesus is the Head of the body, the Church. So He is the Head of principalities and powers; He is Lord of all (Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 2:10).

2. They have one distinguishing nature. And that is holiness; with this difference, that those in heaven are made perfect, while those on earth are advancing towards it (Revelation 7:13).

3. They have one employment. To bless and adore Him who sitteth on the throne, and the Lamb forever. To obey the Divine commands, and to exhibit His spirit, whose they are and whom they serve.

4. They are one in interest and affection.

III. MAKE SOME REMARKS ON ITS FUTURE UNION AND CONSUMMATION. Both branches shall be joined, and in one holy place they shall spend an eternity together. Notice —

1. The time of this union and consummation. After the termination of Christ's reign upon earth; the judgment, etc. (see whole of Revelation 21 and 22).

2. The great number of this family.

3. The moral and intellectual character of this family. All bright and unerring in knowledge; burning with love — without spot or wrinkle, etc. (Revelation 21:27). Notice —

4. Its perfect happiness. Every cause of grief and misery removed — presence of all good — pleasures for evermore (Revelation 22:1-5). Notice —

5. Its eternal permanence.(1) How desirable to be members of this Divine family. What privileges here, what glory hereafter!(2) How easy the mode! by believing on the name of the Son of God.(3) If the Church is one family, how love and peace should be promoted; the unity of the spirit kept in the bonds of peace!(4) Let us invite poor aliens to the joys and blessings of gospel adoption.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

Paul's description of God as "the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named," is unique. Unfortunately the charm and the force of it cannot be represented in an English translation. The Greek word represented by "family" is used to denote not only a family, but a clan, a tribe, a nation, a race — any number of men who are thought of as the descendants of one father. We have no analogous word in our own language, and therefore the felicity of Paul's expression cannot be transferred into English. What he means is this: — You have a name for those who belong to the same family, the same tribe, the same nation, the same race, by which you describe them as the descendants of a common ancestor; a name which implies that their unity is not the artificial creation of human law, but consists in their relationship to a common father; this name bears witness to the relationship of all the families and tribes of men, and of all ranks and orders of angels, to the eternal Fountain of all created life. God is the true Father of all races in heaven and on earth; and the unity of a family, a tribe, a nation, in its common ancestor, has its original and archetype in the unity of angels and men in Him. This great and noble conception of the unity of heaven and earth in God is characteristic of that form of Christian theology which is illustrated in this Epistle and in the Epistle to the Colossians. As yet, according to Paul's conception, the Divine idea is unfulfilled. Its orderly development has been troubled, thwarted, and delayed by sin, by sin in this world and in other worlds. But it will be fulfilled at last (Colossians 1:16). In union with Christ, the Eternal Son, heaven and earth will be restored to the Eternal Father.

(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)

It may be useful to contemplate the relation between believers on earth, and saints and angels in heaven.

1. They all spring from the same common parent.

2. They are all governed by the same general laws.

3. As children of the same family, they share in the same pleasures and enjoyments.

4. They have all the same general temper; the same distinguishing complexion.

5. They have all one common interest.

6. The members of a family, however diversified in age, condition, abilities, and improvements, agree in this, that they look to, rely upon, and are guided by the same head. It is so in God's great family.

7. They are all objects of God's love.

8. At the last day, all the saints, those who are now on earth, and those who are in heaven, will meet in God's presence, be openly acknowledged as His children, and admitted to dwell together in His house forever.Concluding reflections:

1. If we estimate the dignity of men from the families with which they are connected, how honourable is the believer! He belongs to the family in heaven. He is a son of the Most High God.

2. We see our obligations to mutual condescension, peaceableness, and love. The family in heaven are all of one heart and one soul. They are united in the worship and service of God, and in the designs of benevolence toward one another. If we profess to belong to that noble family, let us learn to imitate their temper and manners.

3. If we are God's family, how careful should we be to attend on the orders of His house!

4. Let those who are not of this family be solicitous to obtain a place in it.

5. Let such as profess to be of God's family, walk as becomes so honourable a relation.

(J. Lathrop, D. D.)

The word rendered "family" is from the same root as the word rendered "Father." The Father of the Lord Jesus Christ is the Father of all who by Him attain sonship. His Father is our Father. His God is our God. The "whole family" or kindred. It is a collective term for the descendants of the same father, nearer or more remote; as in the second chapter of Luke's Gospel we read of the "house and family of David." What, now, is the extent of its meaning here? Is it confined to those who are children of God by faith in Jesus Christ? to the redeemed from among men both on earth and in heaven? Or is it to be understood as comprehending the celestial and angelic worlds, and all the ranks of heavenly creatures? I prefer this latter interpretation. The meaning is, that the whole circle of holy and intelligent creatures take the name of a family, after God as their Father. "Of Him" — the Universal Father — "the whole family in heaven and earth is named." He is Father to them all. They all feel the comfort of His love. He is not only the fountain of law, and preserver of order, but also fountain of tenderness and grace. And we may be sure that whatever needs to be done in those heavenly worlds, in sustaining weakness, in guiding inexperience, in admonishing what would be waywardness if not corrected in time, in the leading of younger spirits, or in the comforting of those that are discouraged by the mysteries of the universe — all will be done by the Universal Father, who cannot be one Being here and another there, one Being today and another tomorrow, but who, like the Eternal Son, who manifests and represents Him, is "the same yesterday, today, and forever." Having thus drawn out the meaning of the text, and having found it be a very large and a very tender one, let us now see what uses we ought to make of it.

I. THESE VIEWS OUGHT SOMEWHAT TO OVERCOME THE DEPRESSING EFFECT NATURALLY PRODUCED ON US BY THE VASTNESS AND GRANDEUR OF THE MATERIAL UNIVERSE.

II. This passage will do us good if it confirms our faith (a faith which is sometimes wavering enough) in THE ACTUAL OBJECTIVE EXISTENCE OF HEAVEN AS A PLACE — a chosen, favoured place, where God and His children meet and dwell. It is spoken of in such a way in the Scriptures that we might call it the paternal house and home; we might almost say the old ancestral home, although of course these earthly analogies may easily mislead us, and at the best are very meagre and poor. But clearly, if this passage is to have any honest and practical meaning for us at all, it must be regarded as telling us that there is a real heaven, as there is a real earth, and that if there be God's children, named and nourished in the earth, there are also God's children named and nourished in heaven. Heaven is assuredly a place, with sure foundations, somewhere in space. It is often necessary to insist on the complemental or correlative truth, that heaven is a state even more than a place. We can, without difficulty, conceive the place being changed, if there were need: God could build a city anywhere in space. But we cannot conceive the state being essentially changed and heaven left. There is but one moral condition that can make heaven. It may be anywhere as to locality, but it must always consist of knowledge, sanctity, and love. All this granted, it yet is true that we shall suffer a most depressing loss if we cease to think of it as a local habitation — a world, or worlds; as real — probably far more real and permanent than any of the worlds we see. We cannot afford to lose anything of the definiteness and firmness of the Scriptural language. Our faith holds fast to the "place" which Jesus has prepared for His people; where He shows forth His own glory.

III. HEAVEN HAS GREAT PRIORITY AND PREEMINENCE OVER EARTH. Heaven stands first, not only in the order of the phrase, but as being intrinsically and immensely superior. Earth, too, is a mansion of the Father's house, or a room of it, or an outlying field connected with it; but how far inferior to heaven! The children go from earth into heaven. They don't come from heaven into the earth. Angels do, for brief moments, when they come to minister to the heirs of salvation. The ministration rendered, they go up again like flames of fire or beams of light, to renew their strength by "beholding the face of their Father who is in heaven." Not an angel, of high or low degree, is ever born into this world. But men are being continually born into heaven — into heaven as a moral kingdom here, by regeneration; into heaven as a place, by death. Thus at every deathbed of one of the family, and at every grave, the less is bowing down to the greater. Earth is worshipping heaven: yielding up her best fruits to that high garnerage; consenting (ah! sometimes only with a struggle) that her deepest questions and dearest hopes shall have solution and fruition only there. If, in traversing a country, you saw many rills and brooks flowing down many hillsides and along many valleys, and evidently converging towards some distant point, you might be sure that beyond that point you would find the deep river, and that beyond the river you would come to the sea. Well, the children of the family in this world are all going one way. They make a ceaseless procession. None of them turn back. They all disappear through the death gate. Some are feeble through very age, and some are helpless in their infancy — carried in their mothers' arms along the heavenward road; while now and again one in the prime of life and in the flush of untried strength will head the procession and enter in at the gate. And what does it all signify to the Christian thought but this, that Heaven is far greater and in every way better than earth, and that we may well yield up our best and dearest to swell its numbers and enhance its glories and felicities?

IV. If we thus regard heaven as greater and better than earth, WE SHALL CERTAINLY FIND IT BY SO MUCH EASIER TO BEAR SOME OF OUR HEAVIEST SORROWS, AND TO UNDERSTAND SOME OF THE DEEPEST MYSTERIES OF LIFE. Death is but a momentary shadow. Life has unbroken continuity. Loss, in the long reckoning, is impossible. Gain is necessary and certain. When to live in Christ, then to die must be gain.

V. IT SURELY OUGHT, WITH EACH ONE OF US, TO BE THE GREAT AMBITION OF OUR LIFE, AND THE VERY CHIEF OF ALL OUR CARES, TO BELONG, HEART AND SOUL, TO THIS GREAT FAMILY OF GOD.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

The brotherhood of man has been the dream of old philosophers, and its attainment the endeavour of modern reformers. Like a memory of some lost Paradise it has floated down the ages, and, failing in one generation, it has ever been revived by its successors. And if we inquire into the meaning of this deep conviction, we shall find that, like all such beliefs, it is founded on a great truth — the truth that man can only reach his highest life when he forms part of a society bound together by common sympathies and common aims; for, by a great law of our nature, it is true that he who lives utterly apart from his fellows must lose all true nobleness in selfish degradation. There is no real progress for the individual but through social sympathy. There is no strong and enduring aspiration but in the fellowship of aspiring souls. Thus the belief in brotherhood, and the yearning after its attainment, spring from the image of God in which humanity was made. But strong as that conviction has been, all human endeavours to reach it have failed. It can be found only in Christ.

I. The brotherhood of man in Christ. You can scarcely fail to observe that Paul speaks of this as an actually existing fact. He does not say that there shall be, he asserts that there is a family named in the one name of the Father and the Son. It is the unity of spirit and life underneath the external differences which constitutes the brotherhood of man. Paul's words imply a three-fold unity: the Fatherhood of God: the Brotherhood of Christ: the union between the seen and the unseen worlds.

1. The fellowship of devotion to a common Father. This, at first sight, may seem to be a very feeble bond of union between men. We all join in this devotion; we all join in saying "Our Father, which art it heaven"; and yet are we any nearer our fellows? But in reality it destroys the grandest source of disunion, for the absence of fellowship with God is the great cause of separation between man and man. If you consider it, you will find that all the strong bars of disunion have here the secret of their power. All forms of selfishness rise from separation from God. On the other hand, by devotion to a common Father all separating walls are broken down, and a real brotherhood arises. Through the earnest consecration to our Father in heaven, pride and selfishness dissolve, for we are our own gods no more. No man can live in the love of God, because God first loved him, and then yield to bigotry, for bigotry is the love of an opinion, not the love of the Father. Here, then, is a real and actual ground of unity.

2. The fellowship with Christ, our common Brother. In the words, "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," Paul implies this second ground of unity as an existing fact. What does he mean by it? What power is there in that? Evidently, in one broad and true sense, the humanity of Christ makes all men brethren. The fellowship of the Saviour's obedience and conflict is the great bond of unity. Distinctions vanish here. Varieties of creed and culture become of little consequence. The poor man in his ignorance, and the rich man in his temptations; the preacher and the hearer; the student and the man engaged in the toils of commerce — are all one. Again I say, this unity is real and actual. Men are nearer to each other than they seem to be; and the more they realize this life, the more they struggle to reach the Christ-like life, the more will they feel this essential unity amid all diversities.

3. That fellowship unbroken by the change of worlds. "In heaven and earth." In conclusion, glance at the results of realizing this fact of brotherhood.(1) Earnestness of life. If we are isolated, it seems sometimes as if it were impossible to live always earnestly. We say we have to bear the responsibility of our own acts. We shall bear the penalty and suffering of failure. Realize the fact of brotherhood — and an awful fact it is. If one member suffers, others suffer with it; for we are linked by chains of influence to each other — we are one body. Complain not that your task is low and poor; it is as needful in its place as the task of the great thinker.(2) Power and grandeur of hope. Some men complain that their ideas of heaven are vague and ineffective. Only realize the brotherhood of man, and then the hope of the future will become a power in life. Realize that you are come to the "general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven," and hope will glow with the radiance of reality. You will feel that the veil is rent, and that the family is one.

(E. L. Hull, B. A.)

I. THE FIRST CHARACTERISTIC OF THE CELESTIAL FAMILY IS HOLINESS. Now, we would not insinuate the absence of genuine uprightness from the hearts and the homes of men on earth. But we would broadly assert the infinite inferiority of the holiness which even here commands the homage of the sinful to the holiness which shall reign in glory — its superiority in respect of beauty and perfection. For, no worldly temptations, no fleshly lusts, no wiles of the seducer shall mar the purity of the Paradise of God.

II. THE SECOND CHARACTERISTIC OF THE CELESTIAL FAMILY IS LOVE. Now love is of two kinds, general and special. General love extends to every member of the household of God. Special love is limited to certain individuals in the same.

1. With regard to the former, it is evident that where there is true love to God, there will be true love to all His children. For(1) the Divine image recognized on the soul, will excite love.(2) The objects of faith and hope are alike to all, and therefore mutual affection must spring up and flourish.(3) The perils of the present evil world, and the daily trials of the Christian life are common to the faithful — and these will generate a common sympathy and love.(4) Regard to the new commandment of the Lord Jesus, will necessarily be the predominant feeling in the breast of every disciple.

2. But the love of the heavenly world will be special and individual. The happy company of the saints at rest is described as a "family." Surely then, there will be mutual recognition among the several members, especially among those who were known and endeared on earth. Let us endeavour to make good this thought — so full of consolation to the sorrowing.(1) First of all, then, we appeal to the testimony of Holy Scripture. When our Lord was transfigured on Tabor, "Peter and they that were with Him saw His glory, and the two men that were with Him. And it came to pass, as they departed from Him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles, one for Thee, one for Moses, and one for Elias." Now we regard this vision of glory as a specimen of that which is to be revealed at the second coming of the Lord. Further, the future and final home gathering of the scattered family of God. St. Paul continually regards and represents as the reward of all his sufferings and toils. "What," saith he, writing to the Thessalonians, "What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye, in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For ye are our glory and joy." Words vain and meaningless if they who know Him now in the flesh, shall know Him no more forever.(2) The theory of recognition accords with the whole constitution of our nature — mental and emotional. You cannot utterly destroy a single molecule of matter. In the history of the physical world we have no ascertained instance of annihilation. In like manner it is impossible to destroy a single principle of the human mind. And therefore it is against the whole constitution and course of nature, to suppose that in a future state, any power of our mental being shall be lost.

(J. C. Innes, Ph. D.)

The Church of Christ is a family. No analogy better sets forth the connection which one believer sustains to his fellow.

1. All the members of the family have one Father.

2. In this family there is one name.

3. There is the family resemblance.

(1)We all feel alike with reference to sin.

(2)We all feel penitent because of our transgressions.

(3)We all agree in loving the Saviour.

(4)We agree in self-renunciation.

(5)There is also an agreement in reference to holiness.

4. There is also diversity of character in this family. God has not made us all alike, but differently, because we have different works to do.

5. There is one home for this family.

(E. Henderson.)

I. Notice THE HEAD of this family. He is the great and everlasting God. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the family is named, after whom it is named — the great originator of it, the great compactor together of it. In various passages of Scripture, as I need scarcely remind you, God presents Himself in the character of a parent — the head of a numerous offspring, all entirely dependent upon Him.

II. Let us next proceed to observe its MEMBERS. They are numerous and varied. The language of our text speaks of a "family in heaven and in earth." Here are comprehended the inhabitants of regions visible and invisible; and they must now, as each is presented here, briefly pass under our review. There are those, who compose the family in heaven — for we take the term "heaven" without debate or controversy, as signifying really and truly the celestial world. And these, my brethren, are the holy angels — those lofty and dignified spirits, who were the first handiwork of the glorious Creator, possessing vast capacities, sustained in perfect holiness, and endowed with deathless existence. According to the language of inspiration, we find that they reside constantly in the celestial regions, in hosts bright and innumerable, all depending on God, and all owning God as being their Father. There are also other beings, who were once the inhabitants of our own world, but who reside with the angels in those celestial mansions — "the spirits of just men that are made perfect"; men whose spirits rose at death to that higher state, and men who in that higher state are made perfect in holiness and in felicity. By these, "the family in heaven" has been constantly multiplied and augmented, from the commencement of time until now; and these must be regarded as the most precious trophies which the infinite love of the Father has made, or can make, His own. As to the members of this "family on earth," the persons who compose this department are men now living, who have been redeemed from their original corruption and depravity, and who have been brought into a state of reconciliation and acceptance before God. They are constituted the children of God by a direct operation of the Holy Spirit on their hearts.

III. From noticing the head of this family, and its members, we proceed now to notice its DUTIES. We can form no idea of a family, without an associated idea of duties: one is indispensable in its connection with the other. These duties are owing to God, and they are owing to each other. As to the duties which are owing to God: the great Head of the household has demanded a certain tribute from His children, which it is their obligation cheerfully and unreservedly to pay. They are to adore His majesty; they are to be grateful for their goodness; they are to obey and perform His will: these are His unchanging and eternal obligations. As to the duties which are owing to each other: there are reciprocal obligations, extending throughout the whole of the family; and these obligations may be regarded as comprehended and summed up under the one noble impulse of love.

IV. From this notice of the duties belonging to the family, let us proceed now to notice their PRIVILEGES — the privileges of this family. We have already, from the statements we have made, indicated those privileges as numerous and eminent: and we now must enumerate them more distinctly. We do not now direct your attention to those privileges which are enjoyed by the "family in heaven" — these will be noticed subsequently; we merely remark now, that they are made partakers of perfect and inviolable felicity; our attention is to be pointed towards the privileges possessed by the "family" of God yet dwelling "on the earth."

1. And we observe there is the privilege of instruction. As a wise parent administers instruction to his household in all matters which are right and important for the welfare of those who compose it, so is it in the family, of which God Himself is the Head. He administers instruction to His children upon all the great matters on which it is essential for them to be informed.

2. Again, there is also the privilege of communion — we mean, that the children have intercourse, fellowship, or communion with God. They see not His glory, and they hear not His voice; but through His written word, and through the ordinances and means of grace He has been pleased to appoint, there is an interchange of mind — their minds go forth and ascend to Him, and His mind comes forth and descends to them. There is a special intercourse of mind between the children and the Parent.

3. And there is the privilege of discipline. God has placed in action a certain order of administration, which is intended for the subjugation of what in the character of His children is impure and unholy, and also for the growing assimilation of their attributes and state to the moral purity and grandeur of His own likeness. Here, brethren, of course we refer to that order of administration which is comprehended under the title of afflictions — events which transpire in the course of our earthly probation, from time to time, and which, in themselves, are painful and distressing to endure. But how, it may be asked, can such an order of dispensations as these be numbered among our privileges? Is it not a solecism, a contradiction in fact, as well as in terms? No, brethren, when we consider the design of our Father, in imposing this order of administration, and when we consider the results which invariably follow under His grace, it must be secure.

4. And yet, once more, there is the privilege of protection. Many, ingenious, and malignant are the enemies with which we are surrounded; constantly at work, in order to retard our progress, and to prevent out attainment of happiness. Against these God has been pleased to provide an ample protection. He stands as by our side in time of conflict and peril, and says, "Fear not, for I am with you!" He protects us against sin; He permits not the "law in the members" to gain the victory over the "law of the mind." Sin "has no dominion over us." He makes us "free from sin, and servants unto righteousness, bringing forth fruit unto holiness, that the end may be everlasting life." He protects us against the world. The world in its blandishments and attractions is emasculated and paralyzed — for "greater is He that is for us than he that is in the world." He protects us against Satan — his wiles and his fiery darts are alike impotent and harmless, and "the very God of peace shall bruise Satan under our feet shortly." He protects us against death. Death to us is no more the king of terrors.

5. And then, and more especially, the whole family will be united in the enjoyment of final and imperishable happiness.It will he the happiness arising from holiness, from mutual recognition and intercourse, from the vision of God, from pure and dignified employments, and from the consciousness of security and immortality.

1. Let us be grateful for having been introduced into this family. There is no position like that, brethren, which is occupied by us. From what evils are we relieved, to what blessings are we entitled, by being rendered "the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus"! Nothing in the honours of earth can be compared to it.

2. Let us rejoice over those, who from "the family on earth," have gone to unite with the "family in heaven." Multitudes of men have already been transferred from the probationary to the permanent state; and not a few of those who are present now, have had friends once dear to them in the flesh and in the Lord, who have also made the step of transit, and are now before the throne on high.

3. And then, finally, let us anticipate the various events, through which we are to unite with the "family in heaven" ourselves. We are all brethren and sisters in Christ. We are all tending towards our home. Our march is constantly in rapid progress. And when the last enemy rears himself before us, we shall find that, though he may come in harsh costume, and with a rugged accent, he can but administer to us one message — "Child of God, I am sent by thy Parent to summon thee to His home." How, then, shall we not welcome him and tell him to strike, knowing, that "when the earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens"? It will be but the sigh, or, it may be, the convulsion and agony of a moment, and then all is past, and the child of God has gone from the "family on earth," and is numbered with the "family in heaven."

(J. Parsons.)

? — St. Paul tells us that it is a society which has God for its founder, and we have only to add to this that it is a society of which each individual father is the human centre. The parental presence is the home. Place is no part of it. We may speak of the home of our childhood, or the home of our youth, and mean by this the particular house in which days full of delightful memories were spent, and from which to have been uprooted by circumstances adverse or prosperous, was a trouble and a sorrow never to be compensated — but, after all, the home itself moves with the parents, and the essence of it is still, amidst all change, the parental presence. Now the home, thus defined, may be of various, even of opposite characters. There are good homes and bad homes — homes of beautiful example, tender affection, and entirely beneficent influence. There are homes of mere self-indulgence, teaching no better lesson than that of the utter unsatisfactoriness of a life lived to itself. There are homes of pitiable discord, where the best hope of the best of sons is that he may be the gentle and persuasive mediator, determined to veil what he cannot honour, and to do his difficult duty alike and equally towards two incongruous characters whose one chance of harmony lies in him. We have seen such instances — we have seen the painful task nobly accomplished, whatever the final issue in success or failure. These last words show us that home does not cease to be home because its characteristics are not home-like. Home is the parental presence, and neither unworthiness, nor ungodliness, nor open evil can either abrogate its rights or destroy its responsibilities. "Home" has its "relations" still, even where pain and grief are the sum of them. Most true and certain it is, that the state of the homes is the state of the population. If you would know what society is, you must examine the family. The terrible thing is, when you find in the lower classes of the national life an early abandonment of the home, or a stay within it on the footing of an absolute and avowed independence. In many of our great towns the daughter, as well as the son, is a lodger: the contribution, which is her bounden duty, to the family resources, takes the form of a rent for board and lodging, which, on the first word of rebuke or restraint, she can, with or without notice, simply carry elsewhere. The religion of the family, such as it is, is not a family religion: each member of the family goes his or her own way, on the day of rest, to the church or chapel, to this or that church, to this or that chapel, in absolute disregard of the wish of the parent or of the companionship of brother or sister. The family life is a rope of sand, without recognition and without cohesion. Is not that a true word, a divine insight, which traces all the faults, and all the sins, and all the crimes of that nation, to its root and source here? Is it not the estrangement of fathers from sons, and of children from parents, which makes the world, our world, the wilderness it is? Is it not at this point that the Elijah must begin his restoring, that the Elisha must throw in his healing salt, if the restoration is to be thorough, if the cure is to be vital? But now we must say a word or two as to what home is — in God's intention, and in the experience of His children.

1. Home is our haven. In early years it is a place of safe keeping. What should we have been without that safeguard? Have we ever stopped to commiserate and to feel for the homeless? Those poor children, baptized in tears, who never had a home — what must it be for them? No sweet memories — of gentle nurture, of kind smiles and loving words, of the presence of all good and the absence of all evil — can we wonder that they fell into bad ways and vile habits? What was there to warn them off from them? What was there to win them another way? What was there so much as to distinguish for them between good and evil? God's holy ordinance, above and before all services or sacraments, of a tender and loving home, this was wanting to them — and, with it, all that "preventing with the blessings of goodness" of which a Psalmist tells, and of which we, the worst of us, have all had experience!

2. Home is our confessional. Yes; before there was altar or shrine, ministry or priesthood, home was. The father of the household was its priest. God modelled upon that exemplar all priesthood that was ever His institution. Priesthood itself replaced not the home, still less that Christian ministry which leaves all Christians priests. How many soever be the presbyters of the Church of England, still the confessional, as God ordained it, is the home. Thither carry your secrets — there unbosom, and there leave them.

3. Yet one word more. Home is our friend. Very delightful is other friendship — ask not of me any depreciation of it. "There is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother." The mere fact that I have chosen Him partly proves and partly ensures the congeniality and the sympathy. But yet, I say it — home is the friend. It is the dear ones of birth and nature who will go through life with us. Friends may he severed beyond the reach of voice or sign — friends may form their own new ties, or their own life tie, and be partially lost to us. The home and its belongings change not. We go back to them, as to our own, after the longest separations, after the widest wanderings. Hold fast by your home. Even its relics and fragments are precious. Even upon the "broken pieces of that ship" we can "escape safe to land"! Nothing is like it. Cling to it. It is your life.

(Dean Vaughan.)

The stream of fatherhood leads up your thoughts to the source of fatherhood. You cannot think of a flowing stream, without also thinking of its origin and source. You cannot think of a branch without thinking of its root. You cannot think of an eternal nature, as separate from His own procession, or Only Begotten Son. And how could the Son of the Infinitely prolific Ground, or Father, be anything but the Beginning and Fountain of innumerable fathers of families?

(J. Pulsford.)

Monarchical-paternal government is universal. No other form of government would represent God, nor would any other be concentric and harmonic with His government. That which is central to all, namely, the Fatherhood of God, repeats itself throughout all orderly creations. If this were not the law of God's whole creation, the generations of heaven and earth could with no propriety be called "every paternity in heaven and earth." The Eternal Father is represented by innumerable fathers; and every kingdom of every governmental father derives its name from a distinction which he inherits from the Father of all. Every race, whether in heaven or on earth, brings into manifestation some new principle, affection, or aspect of the Divine nature. Families are not isolated individuals, but the descendants of their fathers, and therefore essentially members one of another: God Himself being the Father of all the families of the universe. What can be more interesting than to contemplate the intelligent universe, as consisting of endlessly multiplied bonds of fatherhood and childhood; and all these held in the strong unity of one Divine Father and one Divine Sonship?

(J. Pulsford.)

Family relationship is therefore a very sacred thing. Its root being not in the creation, but in God. And though we shall not find on earth any development worthy of its holy root, nevertheless, the flower which fills the world with choicest fragrance is family affection. It is capable of becoming most heavenly, since the Eternal Father is Himself the spring of parental; as His Eternal Son is of filial love. Therefore, also, family affections are capable of ceaseless cultivation. There is nothing to hinder family love from becoming evermore deeper, stronger, and lovelier. If it be so strong and so precious among fallen creatures, what must it be among the perfect? If family life on the earth gives rise, as it often does, to a very paradise of courtesies and tender sanctities, what must family life be in the immediate presence, and under the direct influence, of the infinite Father and His only begotten Son?

(J. Pulsford.)

Immediately before the battle of Verona he (Theodoric) visited the tent of his mother and sister, and requested them on a day, the most illustrious festival of his life, they would adorn him with the rich garments they had worked with their own hands. "Our glory," said he, "is mutual and inseparable. You are known to the world as the mother of Theodoric; and it becomes me to prove that I am the genuine offspring of those heroes from whom I claim my descent."

(Gibbon.)

Fellowship of souls does not consist in the proximity of persons. There are millions who live in close personal contact, dwell under the same roof, board at the same table, and work in the same shop, between whose minds there is scarcely a point of contact, whose souls are as far asunder as the poles. Whilst, contrariwise, there are those separated by oceans and continents, aye, by the mysterious gulf that divides time from eternity, between whom there is a constant intercourse, a delightful fellowship. In truth we have often more communion with the distant than the near.

(Dr. Thomas.)

Sometimes the Church is called God's family. St. Paul says, in his Epistle to the Ephesians, "I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named." Now, you know that in an earthly family there are several members, but they all form one body — the family. And there must be a head to the family. Well, the Church is God's family, and Jesus Christ is "the Head of the body, the Church." Yes, Jesus is the Head of the family of God, and we are the members. In your baptism each one of you was made a member of Christ. Now a member is part of a body. Your legs and arms are members, your eyes, your ears, your feet, and your hands are members, and you call all those members together your body. So each one of us in holy baptism becomes a member, a part, of a body which, because it belongs to Christ, is called Christ's Body, that is the Church. Every living body must have a head, so the Church, which is a living body, has Jesus for its Head. When we speak of the Universal Church we do not mean only the Church on earth. St. Paul speaks of the whole family in heaven and earth. Some of you have relations abroad, in New Zealand and Australia. But if I ask you how many you are in family you will always include those who are thousands of miles beyond the sea: you are one family, although so widely divided. Some of you have seen brothers and sisters die, some of you wear mourning for father or mother, whom you remember as worshipping God in church. Well, do you suppose that the brothers and sisters and parents are no longer members of God's Church, that they dropped out of His family when they died? Surely not. We are baptized into a faith which tells us to believe in the resurrection of the dead and everlasting life after death. You have read in your Bible what holy men and women did in the Church on earth: how St. Paul and the other apostles preached the gospel, and many of them died for Christ's sake. Well, St. Paul and the other holy people are still in the Church, still worshipping God, only in another place. If you were to watch a long procession of people climbing up a mountain by a winding path, part of the procession would be in sight, and another part would be out of sight high up on the mountain. I want you to understand, my children, that God's family, the Church, is one united body, and that even death cannot even separate us from it. We say something about this in the Creed. Directly we have said that we believe in the Holy Catholic Church, we go on to say that we believe in the Communion of Saints. These two, the Church and the Communion of Saints, are very closely connected, in fact, we may almost say that they are one and the same thing. If we are to understand what the Communion of Saints means (and a great many people do not understand) we must get at the exact meaning of the words. What does Communion mean? It means common union, or fellowship, or oneness. Two friends who are very fond of each other are in communion. They understand each other, they enter into each. other's feelings, they have "two hearts that beat as one." The organist in church and the person who blows the bellows are in communion — one cannot do without the other. The musician cannot play a tune unless the organ blower fills the bellows, and the blower cannot produce any result unless the organist touches the keys. Have you ever seen a boat race? Well, the boat's crew are in communion, each member of the crew depends on his companions; unless the crew keep together, and row in the same time and stroke, the boat cannot go properly through the water. It is the same with soldiers marching — they must keep step, they must be as one. You see, then, that communion means fellowship, oneness with another. Next, what do we mean by the Communion of Saints? The name saints simply means holy people; so when we say that we believe in the Holy Catholic Church and the Communion of Saints, we mean that all the members of Christ's holy Church are in fellowship, or communion, with God and with each other. First, then, all members of the Church who are trying to lead holy lives have fellowship with God. Do you remember what St. John says in his first Epistle, "Our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ"? You know, too, that the words with which we end so many services are, "The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all." But is it possible for us poor weak people to have fellowship with God? Yes, when we try to keep God's commandments we are in communion with Him, His will and our will are at one. Next, all members of the Church who are trying to lead holy lives have fellowship, or communion, with each other. They may belong to different nations or countries, they may be separated by thousands of miles of sea or land, and yet they have fellowship. They are all members of one body — the Church. They have one and the same Spirit, Lord, Faith, Baptism, etc.

(H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, M. A.)

There are few more beautiful sights in this fallen world," than that of a happy and harmonious family, where there are no secret heartburnings, no jealousies, no envyings, no covert mistrusts; but where the good of one is regarded as the good of all, the sorrow of one as the sorrow of all, the happiness of each as the happiness of all; where the strife is not so much who shall be first, as who shall be last; who shall be ministered unto, as who shall minister. Few scenes as there are on earth so lovely as this, the text directs us to a family unspeakably more lovely, as well as infinitely more exalted, than any that earth alone can display.

I. The whole family in heaven and earth are knit in one, because they have but ONE EVERLASTING FATHER.

II. The whole family in heaven and earth is knit together also in the LOVE AND SYMPATHY OF ONE COMMON MOTHER — the Church.

III. The whole family in heaven and earth are still more knit in one, in that they have ONE COMMON SPIRIT.

IV. The whole family in heaven and earth are bound together still further, and, if possible, even more endearingly, in that they have ONE ELDER BROTHER — the Lord Jesus Christ.

V. They have ONE FAMILY LIKENESS. "The beauty of the Lord their God is upon them."

VI. ONE COMMON AFFECTION. The love which is in Christ Jesus constrains them to love one another.

VII. ONE ETERNAL HOME.

(Hugh Stowell, M. A.)

1. Divine.

2. Holy.

3. Opulent.

4. Numerous.

5. United.

1. The Father.

2. The members.

3. The duties.

4. The privileges.

5. The inheritance.

(G. Brooks.)

The family is one, though divided into two parts. Some have passed over the Jordan, and enjoy the glories of the New Jerusalem and the promised land; they have conquered and received their crown; they lived and died in faith, and their robes are made white in the blood of the Lamb; they know the reality of the Divine love which centres in the person of the Redeemer, on earth hidden, veiled in the vestments of our mortal nature, but now radiating in the splendour of resurrection glory. His presence fills all hearts with joy; angels, saints, cherubim, and seraphim are around His throne; the unfallen and the redeemed are alike sharers of His beneficence. They are in the kingdom of glory no hunger, no thirst, no weariness, no weakness, no wants; no more sins to lament over, no more temptations to resist, no more enemies to overcome. There is no more death, and sorrow and sighing have fled away. The long alienated are now reconciled, the long divided have met at last in their Father's house. This is heaven, and this is the believer's home. But we are still in the flesh. They are triumphing with their King, and we are fighting His battles; they are in Canaan, and we are in the wilderness. We have the manna, the guiding pillar, and the frail tabernacles; they the corn, and the wine, and the fixed temple of the New Jerusalem. We are following in their train, and our faith is quickened and strengthened by the cloud of witnesses with which we are surrounded. Stand fast, brother! Do not yield! Thou art not alone in the fight! Jesus is with thee, the apostles and the prophets in heaven are before thee, the glorious army of the martyrs sees thee, the eye that met Stephen's in his trials is upon thee! And oh, consider the reward!

(W. Graham, D. D.)

Many of you remember those touching verses, in which a great poet tells us how he met a little girl of eight years old, and asked her how many brothers and sisters she had. She answered, "There are seven of us: two brothers gone to sea; two of us living at a place a long way off; two of us lying in the churchyard; and not far from them," she said, "I live with my mother." The good man tells us how he went on to say to the child, that if two out of the seven brothers and sisters were dead, then there were only five in the family now. But he tells how the little girl resisted such a thought: how she would count in the number of her brothers and sisters the brother and sister that were in heaven. "How many are there of you," once more said the kind poet, "if there are two in heaven, and only five left in this world?" But you remember how she still answered, "Seven." When she counted up the number of her brothers and sisters, she counted the dead ones too: she could not think that though her brother and her sister had gone away, they were not her brother and her sister yet. Quite true, they no longer lived in her home, nor played with her on the green: quite true, that now for many a day she had not seen them, nor talked with them: quite true, they were living now in heaven, with One who was so kind to little children when on earth. But for all this, the wise little girl knew that they had been her brother and her sister once, and she was sure that wherever they were, her brother and her sister they would be. St. Paul would have said she was right. If you had asked him how many there were in a Christian family, of which five were in this world and two with our Blessed Redeemer, he would have said, "Seven." He would have sided with the little girl who, in reckoning up her brothers and sisters, did not forget the dead ones. See how, in my text, the great apostle speaks of the Church of Christ, the great company of all redeemed and sanctified souls. He calls it, "the whole family in heaven and earth." Nothing can be plainer. All Christians, whether in heaven or on earth, make one great family. The stream of death runs through this family, indeed: part of the family is on one side, and part on the other: but that does not make two families of it; it remains one family still. And yet, plain as this is, it startles us at first: for it conflicts with one of those large vague half-conscious beliefs, which do us a great deal of harm. We have come to feel as if death breaks all ties. If we had lost two out of a family of seven, and if anyone had asked how many there were in the family, we should be ready to say, "Once there were seven: now there are only five." But it is not thus that St. Paul reckons. All Christians, he says: all pardoned through Him who bade us rather show forth His death than remember even His blessed birth; all sanctified by the Holy Spirit He sends us: however divided they may be — even though divided by that most complete of all severances we know, death — are yet so closely united as to make but one family. Death may divide the family; but only into two companies, not into two families. And first, a word may fitly be said as to the propriety of this imagery: as to the resemblance between the company of all believing people, and our idea of a family. Not that any good will follow of our pushing figure into fact, or trying to carry out the resemblance into too minute details. Let us remember that all there is to be traced between the earthly and the heavenly is an analogy; and an analogy, as we all know, is a resemblance in some respects between things which markedly differ in other respects.

I. Now the first idea which commonly enters our mind when we speak of a family, is, that the members of it have all one father. And you know that this is emphatically so with the great family of which St. Paul speaks in the text. Each member of that great community, the Christian Church, is taught to look up to God in that kind relation: He is "Our Father which is in heaven."

II. Then, we know a family by the common name all its members bear. And who needs to be told that Name, above every name, into which we are baptized, which we bear, on which we call, which we fear and glorify?

III. Next, it is an interesting thought, that among all true Christians there is a strong family resemblance. You know that between the members of an earthly family, amid all the great differences of look and bearing we see, we can still make out a certain likeness: an indescribable something in feature and gesture, which makes a felt resemblance amid real great diversity. And just in that way, amid all the differences of age, temperament, character, advancedness in the divine life, there are yet strong and marked features of family resemblance among all Christians who are Christians indeed. The grand feature of renunciation of self, and of simple trust in Christ for salvation, is there in all. All look for strength and holiness and comfort to the same Blessed and Holy Spirit. All can testify to the needfulness and power of prayer. All have known, more or less, what it is to be convinced of sin: what it is to repent: what it is to commit the soul to our Saviour: what it is to strive after holiness, and to resist the law in the members by the law of the mind.

IV. A further note of this great family is this: that all its members have one home. Of course, looking even to that little portion of the Church of Christ which is still on earth — for by far its larger part is in heaven, the harvest of many generations is gathered there — we see that this one home of all believers is not as yet inhabited by all the family together. But still, every member of the family looks to the same home at last; and though we may live long elsewhere, and grow attached to other places and form ties to them, yet, till we enter that home never to leave it, we are no more than strangers and pilgrims everywhere. This is not our rest: our rest is beyond the grave. By the make of our being, we never shall be right, never quite as we would be, till we enter our Redeemer's beatific presence; till we enter forever that peaceful and happy place, of which it has pleased God we should know so little, yet whose name is so familiar on our lips — heaven.

(A. K. H. Boyd, D. D.)

Pride of family — the assumption of consequence because of descent from eminent progenitors, is a feeling by which the bosoms of many are very powerfully influenced. If a man is worthy himself, a lineage of worthy ancestry invests him with additional honour. A wicked Jew appears only more odious when we reflect how degenerated he is, as descended from Abraham; but in the same proportion does a believing Jew appear venerable, as being a son of the father of the faithful. Alas! that there should be so many, assuming the Christian name. who have no inward consciousness of any nobility, in the strength of which they may take their stand and vindicate their claim to respect. So felt Nathan before David, so felt Elijah before Ahab, so felt Daniel before the king of Babylon, so felt Peter before the Sanhedrim, so felt Paul before Felix, and so felt Luther, and Knox, and Melville, and all the noble company of martyrs, before their respective judges. The consciousness of their being members of the family of God inspired them with courage and intrepidity in bearing witness for truth and right.

I. Brethren, reflect: THE FAMILY OF GOD! How august the parentage! How great the honour, to be hailed as a son or daughter of the King of kings! The Indians of Mexico, alive to this deep debasement of the human family, looked upwards for an ancestry of which they might boast, and dignified themselves with the appellation of "the children of the sun." What a rebuke the idolatry of those noble-minded savages administers to many among ourselves, who are satisfied with a birth so mean as that on account of which they assume such airs of consequence!

II. The question, therefore, now arises, HOW IS THIS HAPPY SENTIMENT OF FILIAL INTEREST IN GOD TO BE PRODUCED AND CHERISHED IN THE SOUL? One might suppose it would be effected easily. Is not God our Creator? Is not every movement of life sustained by His providence? What, then, is so natural for man as that he should regard Him with filial affection and interest? Nevertheless, there is nothing on all the earth so rare. Yes; the wide experience of the soul of man proves, that solid peace and delight in God are attainable, only when He is contemplated as the giver of His Son, constituted under whom as our Mediatorial Head, it is consistent for the Divine government to manifest for us a Father's affection.

III. Having thus considered the constitution of the family, I proceed to state and illustrate briefly A FEW OF ITS CHARACTERISTICS.

1. Reflect, then, on the largeness of this family. The multitude and power of their kindred usually form a subject of boasting among worldly men. How much greater reason has the Christian to felicitate himself on this head! Our text distinguishes two departments of the family, to be ultimately consolidated into one. The first is that part which at present resides in heaven. It consists, primarily, of thousands of thousands of angels. Whether you have no friends on earth, or whether those whom you have be of such a character, that you are ashamed to acknowledge them, let the thought of your angel-brethren animate you with a feeling of family consequence. Next to the angels, the heavenly department of the family is composed of the departed saints. What an innumerable company! When thy spirit is ready to grow faint with the thought of the wickedness of thy neighbours, and to complain as if thou wert left alone, and that the reward of the travail of His soul had failed the Redeemer, look on high, and behold that multitude, which, without needing that any more be added to it, is already so great that no man can number it! Whatever may be thy suspicions of the present generation, suspect not the history of the past, as if it were all a fable, when it records the achievements of the spirit of God; but, especially, suspect not the faithfulness to his memorial of Him who is the Blesser of children.

2. Reflect on the fairness and beauty of the family of God. A family may be large, when it is yet a disgrace, instead of an honour, to be a member of it, from its being so ill-favoured and ill-conditioned. But all God's children are fair. I speak of Divine beauty — the beauty of holiness. But I make the claim also on behalf of the department of the family on earth, and that universally. Some are fairer than others; and the fairest have some remains of the bad complexion, the sinister looks, and the deformed person of their original nature. Nevertheless, generally, all are fair. There is not an ugly, unlovely child in all God's family. If there be in anyone something offensive, there is more that is attractive. All of them have been born anew, and bear the lineaments of their heavenly parentage.

3. Reflect that this family is one of great prospects and high destiny. Oh! your worldling — your nobleman, your wealthy merchant, your philosopher, your fine singer, your fine dancer, your favourite of the beautiful face and elegant form — what and where shall they all be but a few years hence? What a foolish loss it is to lavish your admiration, respect, and favour on what is so evanescent! There is no loss like the losing of love: to expend years of affection on objects which pass away from you and perish. Love that which will be to you an object of love forever: and such objects you will find in the members of the family of God.

(W. Anderson, LL. D.)

Notice, first, the members of the heavenly family; secondly, the unity of this family; thirdly, the glorious characteristics of this family.

I. THE MEMBERS OF THIS FAMILY. In this place, "not made with hands," there is —

1. The Head of the family. The glory of God will be conspicuous there — it will shine through every part of the wide-spread heaven.

2. There is an innumerable company of angels. These are called "morning stars," "sons of God," "Jehovah's hosts," His "ministering servants."

3. The whole body of collected believers will be there. Heaven is not a place of solitary, but of social joy. The inhabitants will hold sweet converse with each other.

II. OBSERVE THE UNITY OF THIS FAMILY: "The whole family."

1. There is one family house. This cannot be on earth. Diversity of sentiment and worship renders it desirable that in separate companies we should go up to the heavenly Zion. Besides, no house on earth could hold the congregation of the faithful. But there is "a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens," where all will assemble. All the descriptions given to us in the Bible go to prove that heaven is not only a state, but a place — a material place where the bodies of the saints will dwell forever.

2. All this family have the same employment. They worship God and the Lamb. "His servants shall serve Him."

3. All have the same enjoyment. They see God, enjoy God; the Lamb leads them to "living fountains of water, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." But let us inquire more particularly in what the happiness of heaven consists.(1) The happiness of the redeemed will be derived from increased and perfect knowledge.(2) The happiness of the redeemed is derived from increased holiness.(3) The happiness of heaven will be derived from its employment. Heaven is a rest, but not a rest of idleness and sloth, but one of activity.(4) This happiness will be perfect in its nature. It will be free from every imperfection which mingles and destroys our happiness here.(5) This happiness will be various in its degrees. All will be happy; but all not equally so. "As one star differeth from another star in glory," so is it in heaven.(6) Their happiness is progressive and eternal. The increase of happiness arises from the continued new discoveries the redeemed will make in heaven.

III. THE GLORIOUS CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS FAMILY. We have already trespassed upon this part of our subject, and need therefore only mention that —

1. They are absolutely pure — no spot or infirmity there; not one envious, or angry member.

2. They are perfectly blessed. Nothing that disturbs or grieves will be there.

3. There will be glorious permanency. Immutability is engraven upon the walls and pavements of the celestial city; there can be no change.

(Dr. Jarbo.)

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