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TUE EVIDENCES OF OUR TITLE TO THE HEAVENLY
GENESIS xv. 6.
And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know, that I shall in
The patriarch Abraham was called out of Ur of the Chaldeans to sojourn in the land of Canaan. While he was in this land, God appeared unto him in a vision, and made him a promise of a numerous posterity, and of an inheritance for them in the country in which he now sojourned. God said to him, “I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees to give thee this land to inherit it.” And he said, “Whereby shall I know, that I shall inherit it?” This he spake, not as disbelieving the truth of the promise, but as desiring a more full confirmation of his faith. This confirmation God was pleased to grant him, in the manner related in the following part of the chapter. “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. He was distinguished by the eminence of his faith. He is called the father of all them that believe.
The land of Canaan, which was promised as an inheritance to Abraham, was a type of the heavenly inheritance, which is promised to those who walk in the steps of his faith. If the patriarch was solicitous to know, that he should inherit the former, much rather should we feel a concern to know our title to the latter. Canaan was a valuable inheritance, but heaven is far more valuable.
Canaan is called a holy land ; for it was sequestered from other lands for the people whom God had chosen to be a peculiar people to himself. There, God's name was known, his worship maintained, and his will revealed. There, such privileges were enjoyed, as were granted to no other country on earth. The psalmist says, 'God sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments to Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation, and as for his judgments they have not known them.'
Heaven is in a more eminent and peculiar sense a holy place. Into that, nothing enters that defiles—there the spirits of just men are made perfect-there God displays the glories of his character --there he is worshipped with constancy, zeal and delight. There is no corruption to damp the fervor of devotion, and no impertinent and obtruding objects to divert the pious thoughts of the worshippers, or interrupt their pleasing service.
The seed of Abraham in Canaan saw many wonderful works of God-many astonishing interpositions-many stupendous miracles in their favour. These were to pious men subjects of delightful contemplation and devout thanksgiving and praise. In heaven more glorious scenes will open to the view of the saints. There they will behold such works, as they never saw or imagined before; and many works which they have seen, they will there behold more clearly and understand more perfectly. Their views of creation, providence and grace will be enlarged–The mysteries of God's dispensations will be unfolded. The happy consequences of a thousand grievous events will be manifested. They will join in the song of those around God's throne. Thou art worthy to receive glory and honor and power ; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty, just and true are thy ways, thou King of Saints. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, for he hath redeemed us by his blood.'
Canaan was a rich and fruitful inheritance. It was a land flows ing with milk and honey, and abounding in all the blessings which could be desired--a land in which they might dwell securely, and eat bread to the full. In this respect it was a faint emblem of heaven, where the saints shall hunger no more, nor thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat ; and the Lamb shall feed them, and lead them to living fountains of water, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.'
The land of Canaan was given to the seed of Abraham for an everlasting possession. They were to enjoy this land, as long as they continued in God's covenant. The perpetuity of the possession depended on the constancy of their obedience. The promise was conditional. When they departed from that obedience, which was the condition of the promise, they forfeited the inheritance. When they returned to God, they were reinstated in the possession of it. For their wickedness they were sent into captivity in Babylon.-In their captivity, they repented and sought God's mercy; and were again restored to their ancient country and privileges. They are now, for their unbelief, cast out of their land again—but they are still preserved as a distinct nation. The time is coming when they will embrace the gospel; and then they will be gathered together in the land of their fathers, and will inherit it to the end of time. They shall long enjoy the work of their hands. The promise, therefore, that this land should be to the seed of Abraham an everlasting possession, or a possession to continue as long as the earth shall be a habitation for men, will doubtless be made good; for those temporary interruptions, which are caused by their own unbelief and disobedience, are no infractions of the promise. This promise, however, could respect the seed of Abraham only in their collective, or national capacitynot the individuals of the nation. Though a nation may be continued long by a succession of generations, yet the particular persons must soon be removed by death.
The heavenly inheritance is everlasting in the most absolute sense. There is no curse, no mortality, no succession of generations among the happy possessors of it. Each one will possess it for ever in his own personal right. His probation is finished
his holiness is confirmed his security established. There will be no temptation to corrupt him-no sin to eject him-no death to remove him-no enemy to supplant him. He will abide forever in the inheritance of the Lord, under his sure protection and gracious smiles. This is an eternal inheritance. It is an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and fading not away. It is now promised to the faithful. It is reserved in heaven for them; it is secured to them by promise, and it is ready to be revealed in the last time.
Here now, methinks, I hear some of you say : This is, indeed, a good land—I feel a solicitude to obtain a share in it. But whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? I shall endeavor to answer this important enquiry.
1. Look to the patriarch Abraham and see how he gained a knowledge of his title to the heavenly inheritance.
“He became an heir of the promise by faith," and under the influence of faith he walked with God in a course of humble obedience; he lived on earth as a pilgrim and a stranger; sought a better country, even a heavenly; and looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
The apostle to the Hebrews exhorts christians to give diligence, even to the end, that they may obtain the full assurance of hope; and to be followers of them, who through faith and patience inherit the promises. By faith we obtain a title to the promises ; by patience and persevering obedience we prove the sincerity of our faith, and the sureness of our title. The promise of eternal life is to them who seek it by a patient continuance in well-doing.
Now ask yourselves : Do you believe there is an heavenly inheritance, and do you walk as if you believed it? Have you that faith by which you look at things unseen ? Are those things in
obtain an interest in the world above? Do you live like Abraham who saw the promises afar off, and was persuaded of them and embraced them, and confessing himself a stranger in the earth, sought a heavenly country for his home, and relied on the word of God, that he was his God, and had prepared for him a city?!
2. Abraham desired a confirmation of his faith. He sought a fuller evidence of his title to the inheritance. He enquired, whereby shall I know that it is mine? He felt its importance, and wished to have all doubts concerning his claim to it, entirely removed. Is this your temper? If you content yourselves with a careless and superficial hope in a case of so much consequence, you are not like Abraham. He prayed, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?
You are not satisfied with a doubtful title to an earthly inheritance. If your heart is as much engaged in securing a heavenly, as an earthly possession, you will not rest contented with a precarious claim to that. You will fear, lest a promise being left you of entering into it, you should seem to come short of it. If you are not as solicitous to secure an eternal as a temporal inheritance, then your affections are principally set on the latter. And whether a governing affection for this world be consistent with a title to heaven, you can easily judge for yourselves.
3. Whether we shall inherit the heavenly land, we are to know by our attendance on Divine ordinances; for these are the means by which we are to improve our qualifications for it, and ascertain our title to it.
In answer to Abraham's enquiry, God directed him to prepare and offer a sacrifice. He prepared it in exact conformity to the Divine instruction, and attended upon it with great watchfulness and care. In his devout attendance God gave him new and fresh assurance of the promised inheritance.
God has instituted other ordinances for us to observe ; and has appointed them for the same gracious purpose. In them we are to seek communion with God—to learn his will—to enliven our faith—to strengthen our resolutions of obedience, and thus to acquire a knowledge of our interest in his favor.
If we turn away from the institutions of God, we can have no evidence of our title to the inheritance; for we not only neglect the means of obtaining this evidence, but shew a temper of disobedience, which is inconsistent with such evidence.