And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.…
Denizens of the Christian world abound, who, with dissatisfied spirits, not only disregard, but almost despise, the profusion of good which Almighty Love has lavishly spread around and about them, and fix their anxious eyes upon a heaven that lies beyond the grave, and up in the starry regions of space. This state of mind is as objectionable in its nature, and as pernicious in its influence, as it is popular and abounding. The latter state of mind — that embodied in the prayer which Christ gave His disciples — is the more right and wholesome state of mind to be cherished in relation to heaven.
I. THE ONE IS MORE REASONABLE THAN THE OTHER. The state of mind which seeks to get heaven out of our sphere, activities, and circumstances, here on this green and lovely earth, seems to us far more rational than the state of mind which is constantly looking away for it in the invisible and remote.
1. Man has in an inexhaustible degree all the elements of heaven here.
2. These inexhaustible elements are here and now available. All depends upon the moral state of the heart. In privations, sufferings, persecutions, sainted men in all ages have felt the transports, and hymned the strains of the upper heavens. Which, then, is the more reasonable state of mind? The one that comparatively overlooks, and but very partially enjoys, the infinite sources of happiness available to us in this life, in sentimental aspirations for foreign and imaginary joys; or the one, that through faith in Christ, so enters into the blessed activities and joys of the present, as to indulge no restless longings for the future?
II. THE ONE IS A MORE USEFUL STATE OF MIND THAN THE OTHER.
1. The one leads to a more cheerful life than the other. It gives sunshine to the man; his spirit is genial, and his conduct glows with a radiant life. Having a soul full of goodness, he sees good in everything; being harmonious within, he hears music all round him; his "soul delights itself in fatness"; he is "blessed in his deed." Like a man marching to music, he treads the path of life with a joyous step.
2. The one leads to a more practical life than the other. The man who finds his heaven here by having the true love, doing the right work, and living the Christ-like life, is bringing down heaven to the men and women around him. His life is a stream gushing from the fountain of infinite love, and it touches into heavenly life and beauty all within its sphere. His life is a mirror, which reflects on all around the glories of the upper world.
III. THE ONE IS MORE SCRIPTURAL THAN THE OTHER.
1. Heaven consists in the inner state of the soul and not in external circumstances. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." They are blessed. They see God now.
2. The grand Work of man in this world should be to promote this state of soul, both in himself and in his fellow-men.
IV. THE ONE IS MORE CERTAIN OF REALIZATION THAN THE OTHER. He who seeks happiness as an end, is like a man running to catch his shadow; the fleeter he runs, the fleeter runs his shadow. "Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall find it."
Parallel VersesKJV: And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.