Sixth Degree. — His and Our Home.

Psalm 23:6, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."

It might appear, at first sight, as if in the preceding verse we had come to the climax of blessings. Can there be a fuller measure than an overflowing cup; such as we receive at our gracious Shepherd's Table, where He not only fills the vessels up to the brim as at Cana, but makes them run over?

Yes, there is a still greater blessing in store; according to the marvellous abundance of Him Who is the portion of our inheritance and of our cup. The crowning blessing, the blessing of blessings, will be this — "to dwell in the house of the Lord for ever" — to be "for ever with the Lord" — with Him Who gave us that Table and that cup, when going to give Himself for us — to dwell with Him in His and our Father's House, Who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Him.

"High in the Father's house above,
My mansion is prepared;
There is the home, the rest, I love,
And there my bright reward.

With Him I love, in spotless white;
In glory I shall shine;
His blissful presence my delight,
His love and glory mine.

All taint of sin shall be removed,
All evil done away
And I shall dwell with God's Beloved,
Through God's eternal day."

But before entering more fully upon this blessed hope of the Christian, we find something else in our verse, for it consists of two portions first, the goodness and mercy of our God, following us all the days of our pilgrimage here below; and, secondly, the dwelling in the House of the Lord for ever.

Beloved fellow-pilgrim! We are passing through a wilderness where the taint of sin has not yet been removed, nor the evil been done away. On the contrary, evil of every kind is on the increase; violence and corruption filling the earth, as it was in the days of Noah, wherever one looks in the political, social, or religious field. These are the latter days, the last times described in the Divine Record with such solemn traits.

And what is needed, dear fellow-believer, to keep us, in these evil days, from being "overcome with evil?" The answer from God's own Word, is, "Cleave to that which is good;" and all that is Divine, and nothing else, is good. There is but one that is good, God; and it is an increasing sense of his goodness and mercy that we want more than anything else, amidst a world of increasing evil. And this being granted, my reader, what more adequate close could there be for our precious Psalm than this sixth verse? Having fed at the Lord's Table upon everything that is good and blessed, having got the heart filled with Christ and His Love, and with the sense of the grace and goodness of His and our God and Father; having in spirit, and in the power of the Spirit, as worshippers, breathed the pure atmosphere of heaven, of God's own holy and gracious Presence — we carry the savour and vigour of that atmosphere with us into our divers earthly relationships, when entering upon the duties of another week; and thus we shall be enabled, through grace, to walk here below, as those whose citizenship (conversation) is in Heaven, from whence we look for our Saviour.

And it is this quiet assurance and increasing sense of God's goodness and mercy, so much needed now-a-days by Christians everywhere, that we get at the beginning of our verse. It is but the simple and natural result of the preceding verse.

When speaking in our meditation on the second verse, of the blessing resulting from feeding at the beginning of the day on the pasture of the Word of God, I quoted a line from Dr. Doddridge: "Thy morning-smiles bless all the day." And, certainly, we may add: The smiles of Divine favour and blessing received on the Lord's Day morning, at His Table, bless all the week.

If you and I, Christian reader, have been (not in a prophetic, but in a Christian sense) in the Spirit on the Lord's Day — the first day of a new week — we enter upon the duties, or, may be, trials of another six days, with an over-running cup of blessing. What then is my first thought on Monday morning? The same as that which follows in our verse, close upon "my cup runneth over."

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."

Mark, reader, the very first word that follows upon such a cup, is, "Surely!" The expression of perfect and calm assurance.* Assurance of what? Of the forgiveness of my sins? of salvation? of my acceptance before God? That must have been all settled before; it precedes the cup, but cannot be produced by it. This is the calm assurance of the goodness and mercy of my God and Saviour. The same quiet confidence that spoke at the opening of our Psalm, "I shall not want," after having said, "The Lord Jehovah-Jesus is my Shepherd," says at the close, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me;" after having fed, not upon His Word only, but Himself, at His Table; and having drunk of that cup of blessing given by His own dying hands.

{*How different is the result of this cup from the effects of the poisonous cups of this world's joys, mixed by the hand of its prince and god, Satan. They produce wild excitement, followed by despondency or despair. That which our gracious Shepherd gives produces heavenly joy, and its effect is peaceful assurance.}

Arising on Monday morning, perhaps with a family "unprovided for" (as people say) around me, a week of trouble, and trials, and cares before me, a world surrounding me where evil of all kinds is increasing at a fearful rate, hastening towards the end like the floods of the Niagara — amidst a professing Church in disorder and ruins — ruins of which I form a part — when I look up from it all to Heaven, what do I say?

Is it, "Hitherto the Lord has helped me here I'll raise my Ebenezer? and, I trust and hope He will not let me sink at last?" Poor return for such a cup of blessing, that would be. It would be pretty much like Jacob's answer to God's promises, addressed to Jacob from the top of that ladder of blessings. God said to him, And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places, and will bring thee again into this land: for I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of."

And what was Jacob's answer at the bottom of the ladder? "If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God," etc.

Alas! alas! I am afraid not a few are at the bottom of the ladder on Monday morning. And why? Because they have not been at the top on the Lord's Day, Sad to wake on Monday morning, like Jacob, as it were, from a dream, and to say, like him, only in a different sense, "what a dreadful place is this! "

Our Monday morning hymn should be such as this: —
"O Lord, how does Thy mercy throw
 Its guardian shadow o'er me;
Preserving, while I'm here below,
 And guiding safe to glory."

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever!"
"Hallelujah! how lovely appear
High above us the vaults of the skies,
Since Thou art seated in Heaven!
Since Thou from the eternal Zion above
Art sending forth Thy living Word,
And dost protect Thy (feeble) flock.
Faith looks upwards
From this dust-plain,
Up to the Son:
My home, my home, is at the Throne.*

{*From the German.}

And then I say, "As sure as that Heaven is above me, from whence God has sent down His only begotten Son into this world, to seek and to save sinners, me among the rest; as surely as He has borne my griefs and carried my sorrows, and was wounded for my transgressions and bruised for my iniquities; as surely as God has raised Him from the dead, and received Him up to glory; as surely as He intercedes there above before God, as the High Priest for all His people, and as the Advocate with the Father for each beloved child; as surely as He, the Good, Great, and Chief Shepherd, and the Head of the Church, watches and directs and protects from on high, the flock and Church of God; as surely as I am sealed with the Holy Spirit, Who cries within me, "Abba, Father;" and as surely as God. Who cannot lie, tells me in His own Word that I am accepted in the Beloved One, and that, as He is, so am I in this world; and as surely as this Word assures me that from the Father's, and Christ's love, none and nothing shall be able to separate me; and as surely as there is no variableness nor shadow of turning with the Father of lights; as surely as Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday Jesus Christ, today Jesus Christ, and for ever Jesus Christ; and as surely as He has promised that His Spirit — the Eternal Spirit, shall abide with me for ever; and as surely as His Word shall abide for ever, when this world, with its vain glories and lying vanities, will have relapsed into nonentity; and, as surely as I have been feasting upon Him at His Table yesterday, and blessed His Cup of blessing, and have received there an overrunning cup of joy and peace, in the power of the Holy Ghost, — so

"Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."

In what light does the world appear to me now? As the "Valley of the Shadow of Death?" Rather, as a place where Christ upon the Cross has destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil; to deliver all who believe in Him, from the bondage of the fear of death. A place where He has sent me with a message of life, and peace, and glory — life and incorruptibility brought to light by the gospel. A place where I have daily opportunities to glorify God and His and my Christ, which will never occur in Heaven.

Or does it appear to me as the "valley of mulberries" — dearth and broken cisterns all around — dry as a sieve? just the place for God to teach me, and for me to learn that all my springs are in the living God, and that His loving-kindness is better than life, Who satisfieth my soul as with marrow and fatness; — just the place to dig wells with our "staves" under the direction of "the Law-giver" (the Holy Ghost), and, whilst passing through it, make it a well
"Is the wilderness before thee,
 Desert lands, where drought abides
Heavenly springs shall there restore thee,
 Fresh from God's exhaustless tides.
Light divine surrounds thy going,
 God Himself shall mark thy way;
Secret blessings, richly flowing,
 Lead to everlasting day."

Or does it appear to me a "valley of tears?" Yes, when I look at it; but then I look up to Him, Who, though He was a Man of sorrows in this world, acquainted with grief, and, in the days of His flesh, poured out strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, — now bids me, whilst weeping when looking around, to look up unto Him. Why was His heart glad when He passed through this vale of tears? It was because He set His God always before His face, and God was at His right hand. In the safe place of constant dependence upon His God, and in the perfect sense of His goodness, His heart was glad, and His tongue (or "glory") did rejoice. "My goodness extendeth not to thee," and "Why callest thou me good? There is none that is good but One, that is God."

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."

Or do I look at this world as a "valley of Achor," a "valley of trouble?" Alas! alas! it is! The Church, allured by the "wedge of gold" and the "Babylonish garment," has loved this world, that mocked her glorious Head with a crown of thorns and spit upon His face. And therefore shame and confusion have come upon her. But, while those who sigh and weep and lament over such ruins with some thing of the spirit of a Daniel and Jeremiah, (would there were more of that sighing and crying amongst Christians!) and bow down before God and say, "Unto us belongeth shame end confusion of face because we have sinned;" let us not forget to add, like Daniel, "But unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy, although we have sinned."* Surely the multitude of His tender mercies is still greater than the multitude of our sins, which His love has known how to cover in grace.

{*This is very different from, "Let us sin that grace may abound." Daniel was not an antinomian.}

The prince of this world will be sure to make it a "valley of Achor," in his sense, to all who desire, amidst the general defection, to live godly in Christ Jesus. He will say to them, as it were: Do you think I shall permit you to pass through my kingdom daily contradicting my principles in what you say and do? You shall have nothing but trouble.

I say, so much the better. For those that bear the reproach of Christ without the camp, Achor, i.e., trouble, is just the proper place. It is better than all the treasures of Egypt; it is the very place to be happy in, and to realize His nearness and sympathy, Who once called out from glory, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? "

And as to the "valley of trouble," to me it is but the "valley of Eshcol," where I daily taste the comfort of the Holy Spirit, Who, to me, turns it into a "door of hope;" not in the sense of an earthly Jewish hope, but as the One Who makes me say, "Come, Lord Jesus," and tells me that soon I shall dwell in the House of the Lord for ever.

Thus we pass through this world of increasing evil, not getting occupied with the scene of evil around us, but with the "goodness and mercy" of our good God above us.*

{*One coming from a place where there was much trouble in the church, entered in haste into the room of an eminent servant of Christ, saying, "Do you know what mischief Mr.— is doing at F—?" "Yes," was the reply, "I know all about it, and I am supremely happy, for God is above it all."
"Thou failest not, though everything be failing,
The surge of evil every side assailing;
Thou art above it all, our faithful God —
 Thou failest not."}

There is something very affecting in the thought of goodness and mercy following me all the days of my life. I must remind my reader here of a remark, when speaking on the "Valley of the Shadow of Death." I said that a child going by night with its father through a dangerous place, would, in the sense of the danger, cling closer to his father. In our sixth verse, it is not so much the sense of the evil and danger around that makes me cling closer to my God and my Saviour, but rather the sense of His goodness. And just as the eye of a loving mother, passing with her weak little child along a rough road, would watch and follow every movement of the child, so the loving eye of our God, in His unchanging goodness and mercy, follows and watches over our every step. The same gracious eye that was looking out for the return of the prodigal, and recognized him when he looked but as a speck in the distance, follows every movement of the found, accepted, and beloved child, on the way to the Father's House above. And how many children are there on that way? poor and feeble as to themselves, though infinitely rich in Christ; and though marking their daily path with failures; yet, a loving eye, that has counted each hair of those numberless children, follows their every movement, and His "good hand" marks our every-day path with the way-marks of His "goodness and mercy." May grace be given to each beloved child to be guided by the Father's eye, as we know the voice of His blessed Son, our Good Shepherd; that we may not be like horses and mules whose mouths must be kept in with bit and bridle; but may we be kept very close to His good and holy eye, to discern at once whither it bids us to go; and may we have a deeper sense of His good hand upon us. I mean that sense of His good hand which we find in His two servants of old, Ezra and Nehemiah, in a "day of small things," when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin opposed, taunted, or tried to ensnare them in every possible way. Then, with perils and evil without and within, what was it that upheld and encouraged those faithful servants of God in their arduous path? It was the sense of God's goodness and mercy above all the evil around, so fully re-echoed when the foundation of the Temple was laid and the song arose, "Praise ye the Lord, for He is good, and His mercy endureth for ever!" It forms the grand theme of so many Psalms, especially towards the close, anticipating the praises of Israel when, restored to their land and temple, they, on their part, will own and praise the goodness of Him Whose mercy endureth for ever.

Let me just quote a few passages from Ezra and Nehemiah. First, as to their sense of the eye of God being upon them; from Ezra: —

"But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, that they (their enemies) could not cause them to cease, till the matter came to Darius." (Ezra, 5:5).

Further, as to their sense of the "good hand" of their God: —

"And the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the Lord his God upon him." (Ch. 7:6).

"And on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him." (v. 9).

"Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of the Lord, which is in Jerusalem; and hath extended mercy unto me before the king and his counsellors, and before all the king's mighty princes. And I was strengthened, as the hand of the Lord my God was upon me; and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me." (27, 28).

"And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me." (Neh. 2:8).

"Then I told them of the hand of my God, which was good upon me." (v. 18).

The cloud and the pillar of fire went before Israel in the wilderness to guide; and the rock, which is Christ, followed them to provide; and did not Jacob own that goodness and mercy that had followed him all the days of his life, though they had been few and evil, when he worshipped God, leaning on the top of his staff?

But, Christian reader, whilst it is true that "the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of those whose heart is perfect towards him" (King Asa's was not); let us remember, on the other hand, what is written:

"The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous and his ears are open unto their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?" (1 Peter 3.)

Therefore, beloved, let us follow the same apostle's injunction "For he that will love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips, that they speak no guile; let him eschew evil and do good; let him seek peace and ensue it"

Christian reader, let us remember that the good hand of our God is also the mighty hand of our God, to humble those whom His goodness does not lead to repentance. But, blessed be His name, whenever He sees fit to humble us because we were not humble — as soon as He has reached His gracious purpose, and as soon as we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, we shall find it as gentle as it is mighty. The same hand which knows how to cast the wicked into the lake of fire and brimstone (Rev. 21) we find, in the same chapter, wiping all tears from the eyes of His children.* Blessed to be in that good, mighty, and gentle Hand, as the only place of safety, and blessed also to be under it, as the only true place for discipline and exercise.

{*It is not only the trusting under the shadow (power) of His wings, but also the enjoyment of the soft cover of His "feathers." "Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust." (Ps. 91.)}

There is a great tendency (always natural to man,) in these days of increasing evil, to become occupied with evil. We may have to deal with evil — in the Church and elsewhere — but we cannot do so in the right way and spirit, unless we are occupied with that which is good. This is the way to acquire that noble Christian art, if I may say so, of overcoming evil with good. That which is evil is not the proper food for the heart of a child of God, but that which is good. Christians are not vultures nor eagles, which are gathered together where there is a carcase. Neither ought they to be like the raven let out of Noah's ark, which went forth to and fro," because it preferred the carcases that floated on the water to the food that was to be found in the ark. We ought to be like the dove that returned to the ark with the olive-leaf of peace in her mouth; for the mind of the Spirit is life and peace, and His fruit — love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. We are enjoined to "follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart." And "the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."

What I have said, just before, as to the natural propensity to get occupied with evil, reminds me of a true word of some servant of Christ.* When speaking on that ungodly habit of evil-speaking, so baneful and destructive (and most so for the speaker himself) — he compares those evil-speakers to birds of prey, which, whilst flying over most lovely tracts of country, do not perceive anything of its charms and beauty. They have in view some out-of-the-way offal. on which they settle and peck (like the raven referred to above).

{*Bishop Hopkins, I think.}

May the God of Peace, in His infinite goodness and mercy, keep all His dear children — the "sons of peace" — from the spirit of strife and contention, and give us, as we are "children of Abraham," more of his spirit, "Let there be no strife amongst us, for we are brethren." If once the mind of a Christian has assumed the natural bent of being occupied with evil, there is no knowing where it may lead him.

It is this increasing sense of God's goodness and mercy, which is, I think, implied in the apostolic greeting of Peter, "Grace, mercy, and peace, be multiplied unto you;" and of Jude, "Mercy unto you, and peace, and love be multiplied;" before speaking, in his epistle, of these evil last days.

Oh that those words of that prayer of prayers, ascending to heaven from the heart and lips of the most loving Shepherd before He died for us, may in its divine savour and power rest in our hearts:

"And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. … And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. … I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I and not of the world."

And, beloved, does it not seem as if God, through His Spirit, in that most solemn epistle of Jude, answers (as He did at Pentecost) to this intercessional prayer of His blessed Son?

"Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."

One word more, and we shall have done with this first, all-important portion of our verse. My reader will remember that, in the preface of these pages, I referred to three essential requisites for the spiritual health as being fully met by our precious Psalm, viz. first, good and suitable food (in the first two verses of this Psalm); secondly, regular exercise (vv. 3 and 4); and last, but not least, a pure and congenial atmosphere. It is, I there remarked, this last requisite we find supplied in the two last verses. Now, at the close of the third chapter of Paul's epistle to the Philippians — that epistle where every line breathes the spirit of joy, peace, and liberty — we find our pure and heavenly native atmosphere, as those whose conversation (or citizenship) is in Heaven, from whence we look for our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Throughout the third chapter, all the capacities of the new nature, acted upon and drawn forth by the Holy Ghost as their motive power — are in motion — reaching onward, making, like a swimmer, for the shore of the first resurrection, with the ascended Christ as the glorious goal. He is, as it were, standing again at the shore, as in the closing chapter of St. John's Gospel, only not merely as the Great Shepherd, the First-begotten from among the dead, and First-born of many brethren, providing for the need of His own left behind in this world, but as our ascended and glorified Lord and Christ; ready to leave, once more, the place of His rest and glory, to receive up to Himself His own, in glorious bodies, to see Him as He is, and to be like Him and with Him, in the Father's House. Here we breathe heavenly atmosphere — resurrection air. But then, in the fourth chapter, we again are, for a little while, on earth — for what? Not to inhale the thick and poisonous air of this world, but to feed upon heavenly things, and to breathe, even here below, the atmosphere of Heaven! Another has said, "To live heavenly on earth, you must live in heaven." How true! And what about the troubles and cares of daily life here below? The answer is, "Be careful for nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God." Be at home in the third chapter of the Philippians, and you will be fully at ease in the fourth.

And what is the result of thus making our requests known unto God? The peace of God shall keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. What is its character? The peace of God is independent of circumstances. The mightiest throne of this world may be overthrown in a day by the tidal-wave of a revolution; but the peace of God is as high above the troubles and changeful circumstances of this world, as His throne is above it; and this immoveable, unshakable peace will keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. And having thus cast all our cares upon God, and, mark reader, leaving them there, — after having done so, we live in and breathe the pure heavenly atmosphere, and have room in our hearts for "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise;" and we "think on these things."

And what is the result, dear reader, of thus breathing the same atmosphere with God, and of being thus occupied with all that is good and heavenly? "And the God of peace shall be with you."* The God, Who makes even your enemies to be at peace with you if your ways please Him — that "God of peace," Who knows how to bruise Satan under the feet of His saints, will be with you — and thus our hearts being at home in our heavenly blessings in Christ, feeding upon all that is good, breathing the pure atmosphere of Heaven, we shall walk heavenly on earth with an abiding, yea, increasing sense of God's goodness and mercy; not only at the beginning of the week, but all through it; and our song in the wilderness (not only on Lord's Day morning) will be: —
"How good is the God we adore,
Our faithful unchangeable friend;
Whose love is as great as His power,
And knows neither measure nor end!"

'Tis Jesus, the First and the Last,
Whose Spirit shall guide us safe home;
We'll praise Him for all that is past,
And trust Him for all that's to come."

{*The peace of God means, peace above circumstances; the peace of Christ Jesus ("My peace I give unto you") means, peace unmoveable amidst circumstances. "I shall not be moved." And why? Because He had set His God before His face, and God was at His right hand.}

In the first chapter of Revelation (that book of general changes and commotions) we find the Eternal, Unchangeable One, and at the end — the eternal, unchangeable state and scene.

"Thou failest not! though everything be failing, The surge of evil ev'ry side assailing, —
Thou art above it all, our faithful God — Thou failest not.

Thou failest not! above our failures, errors, The grace that silenced once our fears and terrors, Is still the same, through Jesus' precious blood, That faileth not.

Thou failest not! Thou wilt forsake us never, Christ Jesus, yesterday, today, for ever! Our everlasting portion and our lot, Thou failest not.

Thou failest not! our Sun is ever shining, Sends forth His rays, light, warmth, and strength combining,
Through clouds, towards hearts that sigh to Thee, O God, That faileth not.

Thou failest not! above wants, cares, and sighing, A Father's love divine, all need supplying,
Us guideth still upon our homeward road, That faileth not.

Thou failest not! 'bove havoc, wand'ring, straying, A Shepherd's eye, once closed in death, surveying,
Restores, and comforts still, with Staff and Rod, That faileth not.

Thou failest not! 'bove ruin, shame, and weeping, The en'my watching, and Thy servants sleeping, Thy faithfulness, O God, can slumber not, Thou failest not.

Thou failest not! above man's puny lever, Thou art our help, Lord, God blessed for ever! Who under foot the Serpent's head hath trod, Thou failest not.

Thou tarriest not! above world, sin, and Devil, Soon shall we rise, leaving behind all evil, With rapture shout, 'For ever with the Lord!' Thou tarriest not!"

Yes, "goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." I do not want a prophet to tell me what is before me, — I know that "goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." This is enough. All the days of my life, yea, every moment, until the end of the pilgrimage. A lasting blessing here below, and everlasting blessing there above. "All the days of my life" here on earth, and "dwelling in the house of the Lord for ever" — above!
"Naught but good shall e'er betide us,
Best of blessings He'll provide us."

And what is this best of blessings, my reader? It is this: To dwell in the House of the Lord, and with Him for ever! It is the crowning blessing. Would our cup at His Table be overrunning, if we only showed His death, without being able to add, "till He come?" Why, it is the very thing that makes the cup run over, and contributes to impart such a savour to the repast spread for us by our dying Saviour's love. For it reminds us of the love wherewith He, Who gave not only His life but Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour, will come again Himself, to receive us up to Himself, to be for ever with Himself. It is this blessed hope which, next to His death, forms, so to speak with all reverence, an integral ingredient of the Lord's Table. Therefore our blessed Lord, when instituting the Supper of the New Testament, connected with it the blessed hope of His coming again as an integral, final portion of refreshment, as it were, when we feed upon the "Lamb slain," with the bread of affliction. At the time when He gave it, it was His coming again for Israel in the blessings of His millennial kingdom; for the Jews had not yet been finally rejected, and the Church was not yet in existence. But in the especial instruction Paul received of the Lord with regard to His Table, it is His coming for the Church — not His public appearing, as already mentioned in our meditations on the preceding verse. And if the blessed hope of His coming forms the cheering and comforting element, and gives the motive power for a Christian's life, how could it be wanting at His Table, where we remember Him Who once was offered to bear the sins of many, and shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation, unto them that look for Him. Perhaps it would have been the proper place there to enter upon that blessed subject. But I refrained from doing so, partly because it would have extended our meditations on that verse beyond the proper limits, and partly because I feared putting the chief subject of meditation at that Table, the death of Christ, in the back-ground.

It is true our verse does not mention the Lord's coming in so many words. But I have no doubt but that this blessed truth, like most of the other christian truths, is, in principle, imbedded and expressed in this Psalm, as far as this could be done in this precious portion of Holy Writ. For how can we read these words, "And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever," without at once thinking of those precious parting words of our blessed Lord to His disciples in John 14? There He mentions His Father's House where He was going to prepare a place for them, only in close connection with the blessed truth of His coming again for the Church (never mentioned before in that wondrous Gospel, and in the other Gospels not mentioned at all, nay, not even hinted at). It is as if our blessed Lord, in speaking those comforting parting words to His own, had said to them, "I know that it is not the House above merely, and the place I am going to prepare for you there, that makes Heaven Heaven for you, but your being there with Me. I give you credit, that, if the language of the Psalmist in the Old Testament is, "Whom have I in Heaven but thee? And there is none on earth whom I desire beside thee" this will be your language in a far higher sense — and therefore I tell you that I am not only going there to prepare a Place for you in the Father's House, but when that place is prepared, I'll come Myself to receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there ye may be also."

Or could a faithful Jew think of the House of the Lord at Jerusalem, His Temple, without connecting it with the coming of Him Who was greater than Solomon? Were not Simeon and Anna, who hardly departed from the Temple, looking for His coming? Thus, whether we take these words: "I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever," in the sense of the Temple at Jerusalem, or in the Christian sense of the Father's House — the heart of the faithful, (be it the faithful Jew of old, or in the future, or the Christian believer who knows and realizes this blessed hope,) cannot help at once connecting with the hope of His coming; for the Jew at His public appearing; for the Christian as a present hope, which he knows may at any day, yea, at any hour, be turned into a blessed reality. You might just as well think it possible that a betrothed one, to whom her future husband writes that she would soon dwell in his Father's house for ever, would, in reading this, not think at all of his coming to fetch her. I think his coming would be her very first thought.

Precious as is the assurance that goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, what would it be without the last few words, the culminating blessing of our Psalm! This life will soon be at an end. What then? The second assurance of our verse, "I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever!"

Yea, through all eternity. There I shall, together with all His flock, and yet in the full individual and undivided enjoyment of His presence, remember all that my blessed Shepherd has done and has been for me on earth. Then I shall remember and fully appreciate that goodness and mercy which has followed me all the days of my life, whilst on my way to Him through a mighty, subtle, and cruel enemy's country.

The same gracious Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, of Whom it is said in the 13th chapter of John, that, "having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end (of His life here below), assures them and us, in the next chapter, that we shall dwell with Him in the Father's House for ever: "In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you."

Let us meditate a few moments on these precious lines before we come to the next verse.

How great is the Father's House? Can you count the "ten thousands of ten thousands" and the "thousands of thousands," that are thronging there above, around the throne of God and the Lamb? Or can you number the hosts of the saved who are there, and will be there above, for ever with the Lord, and for whose benefit those crowds of angelic spirits were and are sent to minister to them during the time of their pilgrimage on earth, (Oh, wondrous love and grace that did and does send them!) And "yet there is room."

"I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."

Ah! dear fellow pilgrim, once arrived there, —
"The gates of pearl once entered,
Farewell to every care!"
There will be no longer any question as to whether I shall want or not nor as to the abundance of the green pastures, and the still waters, and the feeding and peaceful lying down there; nor of straying and restoring, and being led in the paths of righteousness; nor of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, with its darkness, perils, and terrors, and the safely and fearlessly passing through it; nor even of our gracious Shepherd and Lord's Table, and the Cup of blessing — though all this will ever be remembered in glory. Once arrived there, it will be the dwelling in the House of the Lord for ever and — blessed hope of the Christian believer — the being "for ever with the Lord." The Jewish worshipper, when going up three times a year from the distant borders of the Holy Land to worship at Jerusalem, might say, whilst travelling on the dusty road in the heat of the day, "Blessed are they that dwell in thy house; they will be still praising thee. Selah." But when the feast was over, then came the sorrow of parting. No such parting for us, fellow-heir of glory, —

"I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.'

And, beloved, there is something infinitely more precious than all the glorious surroundings of that bright place above. It is the face of Jesus that we shall see in that place. And that Face is more than all the Place.

Suppose you return home from a long journey. What would your home be to you if you find your beloved one gone, who makes it a home to you? What would be the Place to you, even if it were the most splendid and comfortable, without the beloved Face? — "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on earth whom I desire beside thee." What would be a Christless heaven to you? And may I add, "What would be a Christless home (I mean household) here on earth to you? I must leave it to the conscience of my Christian reader to answer the last question. There was a poor (but rich) brother in Christ (now in glory and rest with Christ), who had not much of a "home" here, but who could write these lines: —

"Oh, what shall I feel in the glory, when first
The visions of heaven upon me shall burst!
Since now my soul fainteth and thirsteth for Thee,
Oh, when, my blest Saviour, Thy Face shall I see?

That Face, once so marr'd, I shall gaze on at length,
And fearless behold, tho' all-shining in strength,
Those eyes, flames of fire, so searching I prove,
They shall beam on me then inexpressible love.

That Voice, like great waters, how calmly my soul
Will hear, in the glory, its deep thunders roll!
Though now it rebuketh, and humbleth all pride,
It shall speak only love to the glorified bride.

Dear Zion above! how oft have I trod
Thy streets of pure gold, the blest courts of my God;
The voice of thy harpers hath burst on my ear,
And thrill'd through my spirit with heavenly fear.

Like John in the Spirit, that heavenly flame
Hath borne up my soul to the source whence it came:
The Spirit of glory, the glory reveals,
And all God's true sayings triumphantly seals."

What a contrast to these words: "I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever!" do we find in the book of Revelation, as to those "who dwell on earth." The dwelling on earth, there, brings down upon those unhappy "settlers" all the awful judgments of God, mentioned in that most solemn, yet most precious closing portion of the Word of God. May God, in His mercy, keep all His Saints from practically forgetting and denying that they are Saints of God, by settling down at ease in a world where the Lamb of God has been slain; forgetting that we are to dwell in those "mansions" in the Father's House, where the "Lamb slain" will be in the midst of the Throne. He will be the only centre in heavenly glory; may He be our only centre on earth! The Psalmist, when saying: "I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever," does not give us any description of the scenery. At the close of the Word of God, we find indeed the glorious battlements of the Heavenly City pointed out to the eye of the wearied pilgrim, in the never-fading glorious colours of Divine inspiration. There we find the Jerusalem above depicted to the eye of faith (not of imagination, for we have not to do here with poetic fictions, but with eternal blessed heavenly realities) in the light of glory — "even like a jasper-stone, clear as crystal" — with its walls of jasper — gates of pearl — its foundations all garnished with precious stones — its streets of pure gold, transparent as glass — and the glory of God lighting it. But who is the light of it? The Lamb — "And the Lamb is the light thereof." He was the light of this dark world, and He is the light of that Heavenly glory. What a glorious scene we find depicted here to the adoring gaze of faith! But in our Psalm it is neither the House nor the City that fills the writer's heart and mind, but it is the One Who dwells in that House. It is the "house of the Lord." When the Lord comforts (in John 14) the hearts of His sorrowing disciples, it is not so much the "many mansions," that He lays stress upon. He gives them credit for better desires. They are in His Father's House. But more; after having said, "I go and prepare a place for you," He continues, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may he also." Likewise the apostle Paul, when comforting the persecuted Thessalonians with the bright hope of the Lord's coming (1 Thess. 4), does not give them a glowing description of heavenly scenery, but simply says, "And so shall we be for ever with the Lord; comfort one another with these words." Instead of depicting the scene, he simply mentions Him Whose presence gladdens heaven, on Whose face the eye of God rests with perfect Divine delight. It is neither the pressure of daily cares and circumstances, nor even the attractive power of heavenly rest and glory, that makes a heart that is true to Jesus, long for His coming, but His own blessed Self. It is true this wretched scene of sin, death, misery, and cares, and opposition to God and His Word and work — this world — will for ever close behind me if the Lord should come today, or this moment. And more than this, my wretched self, my flesh, wherein there dwells nothing good — that which hinders me more than the world around me, from the full enjoyment of communion with Him, and in His service — all this will be left behind in the twinkling of an eye. All that scene of sorrow will close behind me for ever! and a wondrous scene of heavenly light, glory, and bliss will open before our view, when at the word of Divine command that once spoke, "Lazarus, come forth," and at the voice of the archangel, and at the sound of the trump of God (and, O blessed hope! this may come to pass in the course of this very day!) all the sleeping saints of all ages will come forth from their tombs, and we that are alive shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air, to be led and introduced by Himself, our Good Shepherd, (Who has led us here below so often beside the still waters,) into rest and glory with Him in His and our Father's House. … But it is Himself, and not circumstances, neither earthly nor heavenly, that makes the heart long for His coming. "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on earth whom I desire beside thee." How much more than in the case of the Psalmist, should this be the only hope and comfort of the Christian's heart?

What should we think of a poor maiden, betrothed to a nobleman who had gone into a far country, if she were looking for his return, and for the nuptial day, because it would release her at once from the cares and troubles of her present poverty, and transplace her into the luxuries and comforts of a splendid mansion? Could such motives be called bridal affection? As little as selfishness can be love. The one excludes the other.

Or, take the case of a queen, retained as a captive in a land from which her royal husband had been expelled. What would be the subject of her thoughts, hopes, and affections, at the news that he was on his way to reconquer his kingdom? Would it be the relief from her present state of humiliation, captivity, and dangers? Or would it be the anticipation of sharing again the throne with him, surrounded with homage and splendour? Certainly not, if her heart were true to him. It would be himself — his person — his look — the tone of his voice — his face and his embrace — that would engross her mind and heart. And, suppose the once rejected king had regained his kingdom and throne, and is approaching, after his victory, to hold his triumphal entrance into his capital. His hitherto deserted and captive queen, followed by the acclamations of the people, hastens to meet him before the gate of the city. What do you think, does she strain her eyes for — what to catch sight of, at the approach of the victorious procession? Is it the splendid ranks of the warriors and officers, and their trophies, and their glittering arms? Or is it the splendid festive robes of the magistrates and courtiers, or the standards and flags of all colours, that her eye is resting on? Or is it the sound of the victorious trumpets that her ears are so eager to catch and to drink in? No, there is one voice only — a voice sweeter to her ears than the sweetest strains of the triumphal march — a voice not heard by her for many a year, except in her dreams, but, once heard, never forgotten — it is the sound of that voice her ear is longing to hear. All the splendid scenery — the gorgeous pageant — which the great crowd is eager to see and to admire, is to her only so far of interest as it announces the approach of him whom her heart loves, and has so long pined for, during dreary nights and comfortless days.

"Thy spirit, through the lonely night,
 From earthly joy apart,
Hath sighed for One that's far away —
 The Bridegroom of thy heart.

But see, the night is waning fast,
 The breaking morn is near;
And Jesus comes, with voice of love,
 Thy drooping heart to cheer."

At last he himself appears on the white horse of victory, and the murmur, "There is the king — the conqueror" — soon swells to the outburst of general homage, "Long live the king! Hail to the conqueror!" Mothers hold up their little children in their arms, and say, "There is the king, the mighty conqueror!" What is the queen's all-absorbing feeling and thought at the sight of the king — "There is my husband!" To her, at this moment, it is neither the king nor the conqueror that would swell her heart with pride. No! it is the all-absorbing thought of love. That is my husband, who has so loved me, and does love me, and from whose love neither sea nor land could ever separate me. And now I shall be with him for ever!

There is something very sweet and precious in the words of the Apostle John in the first chapter of Revelation: "He that loveth us." The disciple, whom Jesus loved, and who was calmly leaning on His bosom, when all around, except Judas Iscariot, were startled and alarmed at the words of the Lord: "One of you shall betray me" — the same disciple, when speaking of Him as he saw Him in His attributes of judicial glory, (which, when seen by John, laid him at once prostrate like a dead man at the Master's feet,) greets the Church from Jesus, "who loveth us, and has washed us from our sins in His own blood;" re-echoed, as I suppose, in that precious portion, by the whole Church. The terror of the Lord had not frightened away his confidence in His love, any more than it did in his fellow-apostle Paul.
"The Voice that speaks in thunder,
Says, Sinner, I am thine."

The Voice that had sounded in John's ears like "the noise of many waters," like the cataracts of a Niagara, or like the roaring sea, was still the voice of the Good Shepherd that died for him, — that same voice said to him: "Fear not; I am the first and the last. I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell (hades) and of death."

The Church, in the same closing book of Holy Writ, is called "the Lamb's wife." It is not "The King's wife." Let us remember this also.

The bright Star of that hope, be it the hope of the Lord's coming for the Church, or the looking of God's witnesses of old for His public appearing, shines throughout the pages of Holy Writ, from Enoch to the last page of the Word of God, the very last word of which is the longing expression of that blessed hope: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus. It shines in its wondrous brightness from the beginning of the New Testament to Revelation. It was the Star of Jacob that had arisen, the Star from the East that set the wise men of the East a-going, and kept them a-going, perhaps faint, yet pursuing, and led them safely unto Bethlehem's manger, to bow in worship and homage before the Divine babe, Who was "God manifest in the flesh." The very darkness of those terrible waves of judgments in that solemn closing portion of God's Word, only serves to enhance, as it were, and to set in relief, the brightness of Him Who says: I am the bright and morning star. Ah reader, may those two words found in that closing chapter, as it were the winding up of the whole Bible, — the words: "I Jesus," in their full blessed meaning, be more realized in our hearts, and lead us more into the patient waiting for His coining; as He, at the right hand of God, Himself is patiently waiting for the moment when the Father shall bid Him arise, and receive up unto Himself, into the Father's House, all for whom the Good Shepherd died.

"Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord."

There was in Germany a dear aged handmaid of the Lord, known to the writer, who was a practical illustration of this patient waiting for Christ. "Sister Margaret," — under that name she was known to her Christian friends, — had to struggle hard for her existence; but she had faith and patience; faith, to rise above difficulties, and patience, to bear up under them. Her daily task was to fill up the little tiny holes in newly manufactured cloth. So she was, day by day, sitting in her poor little chamber, which was half darkened by the cloth spread against the window to discern those tiny holes. At every one of her hard and trying tasks, she used to say: "Now, I'll just finish this, and then the Lord will come." Was she disappointed to find the Lord did not come when she had finished it? The next stitching invariably began again with: "Now just do this, and then the Lord will come." She did not say, "Now when I have done this I shall only get those few pence, and how am I to pay this week's rent tomorrow, seeing it hardly suffices to pay for a loaf?" (Even that was often wanting, only never beyond the right moment.) But that dear Christian had not only patience to wait, but faith to knock at the right door, as the following little incident will show: —

One afternoon, on a very hot summer day, two or three Christian friends came to see "Sister Margaret." They were poor, like herself. Wearied and fatigued from the journey, they looked as if they would not be averse to a cup of the well-known German beverage. But in Sister Margaret's cupboard there was neither bread nor coffee. It was like the widow's barrel — empty. Sister Margaret lifted up her heart to Him from Whom every good gift and every perfect gift cometh, and Who "giveth liberally and upbraideth not." She felt sure that her fervent desire for entertaining — not angels, but some of God's own children, had been granted. She filled her kettle with water and put it on the fire. The kettle began to sing. Sister Margaret silently thanked the Lord for having granted her request, though no sign of it was to be seen, not even, as it were, a little cloud as big as a man's hand. The water began to boil. Still dearth all around. The water is boiling over. Says Sister Margaret quietly: "Lord, the kettle is boiling." A knock at the door. Another Christian friend enters, who knows nothing of the urgency of the case, and within a few moments Sister Margaret's table is spread with plenty.

I know I need make no apology to my Christian reader for having introduced into these pages these scenes from humble life. Perhaps they may serve, under God's blessing, to make us more gratefully appreciate and turn to account that most blessed and sweet Christian privilege of hospitality, which our dear "Sister Margaret" craved and obtained from her and our Liberal Giver. May we, through grace, learn to say like her, in childlike simplicity, Now, I'll just do this or that," however insignificant it may be, and not for my own profit or credit, but in the name of the Lord Jesus "and then the Lord Himself will come." Then, as to the minutest circumstances, we shall be able to say with the same simplicity, "Lord, the kettle is boiling."

I am afraid that not a few of the "Lord's poor" have not sufficiently learnt the full meaning of that noble title "the Lord's poor." Bowed down with the cares of daily life, they do not remember that the cares of this world may become a snare just as much, though in another way, as the riches of this world, if they are allowed to get between Christ and the heart. They are like the pendulum in the fable, that stopped moving, and, when asked by the dial "Why do you stop," replied. "I was thinking how many ticks I have to perform in the course of every day sixty ticks every minute, sixty-times-sixty every hour, and four-and-twenty-times-sixty-times-sixty, or eighty-six thousand and four hundred ticks every day! The thought quite overcame me, and I stopped." "Why," replied the dial, "don't you simply confine yourself to making every single tick, without troubling yourself about the next? For if you do so, the next tick would follow as a matter of course, and all would be easy enough."

This was exactly what Sister Margaret did. She made every single tick in the monotonous clockwork of every day's task, without troubling herself about the next following tick; thinking that before her aged eyes would have to search for another tiny hole in her cloth, the Lord might come, in the twinkling of an eye, and she be "for ever with the Lord."

What was the character of the evil servant in the Gospel? He was not like those mockers of the last days, of which the Apostle speaks, that say aloud and boldly, "Where is the promise of his coming?" He only listened to the secret whisper of his heart saying within himself "My Lord delayeth his coming." The effect is immense. He is in company with the drunkards, (mark, it is not said that he took to drinking himself) i.e., in friendship and company with the world, whose friendship is enmity against God. May the Lord in His infinite mercy, grant us all a more daily and hourly realization of those blessed words: —

"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." (1 Thess. 4:15-18.)

Let me just direct the attention of my readers to one expression in this blessed portion. The English translation has "in the clouds," which is not exact. The Greek text says "in clouds," (not "into the," nor "in the.") It means that the very clouds which at our Lord's public appearance will be the symbols of judgment*, will, at His coming for His saints, be only like chariots — the means of conveying them up to Him. "A cloud" (like a chariot) "received him out of their sight" (Acts, 1:9; Comp. Rev. 11:12.) It will be the same with His saints. Sweet and blessed thought!

{*"Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so. Amen." (Rev. 1:7.)

The children of this generation are not only wiser, but also more persevering, where their interests are at stake, than the children of God. Many, if not most, of my readers are familiar with the history of the famous retreat of Xenophon with his little army. During nearly two years, those ten-thousand men. under their brave and skillful general, had to fight their way back to their own country, through twenty-three provinces of the vast Persian Empire. They had to contend with every kind of hardship and danger; with hunger, thirst, cold, heat, diseases; daily pursued, attacked, and harrassed in every way by their subtle and cruel enemy, whose army was immensely superior in numbers to theirs. But nothing daunted, though often faint, they pursued their dangerous retreat.

What was their great motive power, my Christian reader? It was the hope of soon reaching home. That little word: "Home, sweet home!" was, as it were, their daily watchword. It was their daily hope, animating, cheering, and sustaining them in their arduous and perilous journey, day by day, and step by step. And when at last they were not very far from their native country, they came to a place called Colchis, where their vanguard. ascended a high range of hills that lay on their way. No sooner had they reached the top of those hills, than they burst into the cry: "Thalatta! Thalatta!" that is: "the sea! the sea!" Xenophon, their leader, who was in the rear, not discerning, at such a distance, the meaning of their cry, and believing that his vanguard was attacked, sent some battalions to their succour. But as soon as these had climbed the hills, they all joined in the cry: "Thalatta Thalatta!" Soon Xenophon, together with the rest, joined them, and then they perceived the cause and the meaning of their cries and gesticulations. There, at their feet, lay the vast ocean, so long looked for. There was the harbour, with numerous ships, to convey them to their now not very distant home. And they had been so near it, and had not known it! It was a scene beyond description. Some of the soldiers throwing themselves upon the ground, and weeping with joy; — others throwing away their arms, and embracing each other, whilst some others, again, danced with joy. At last the end of all their troubles had arrived. Here they were at the top of the hills, inhaling the fresh breezes of the sea, numerous vessels lying ready for conveying them home — home to their own country — home to their native towns or villages — home to their old street — home to the well-known house — home to their beloved ones, rushing forth to embrace them! All those two years of unprecedented hardship were forgotten at that moment! Alas! they did not think, in those first moments of joy, of the sorrows and disappointments they might have to meet, when reaching home at last! Many a seat in their homesteads they would find empty — many a sweet voice hushed in the silence of the tomb; and hearts of old friends grown cold and indifferent!

Oh, beloved in the Lord, you and I need not anticipate such disappointments, when we shall shout a better word than Thalatta! Thalatta!
"The Lord Himself shall come,
And shout a quickening word;
Thousands shall answer from the tomb
For ever with the Lord!'

Then, as we upward fly,
That resurrection-word
Shall be our shout of victory;
'For ever with the Lord!'

How shall I meet those eyes?
Mine on Himself I cast,
And own myself the Saviour's prize:
Mercy from first to last.

'Knowing as I am known!'
How shall I love that word,
How oft repeat before the throne,
'For ever with the Lord!'

That resurrection-word,
That shout of victory —
Once more, 'For ever with the Lord!'
Amen, so let it be!"

Christian reader! Is He, Who is "the bright and the morning star," our daily and hourly expectation? And does the blessed hope of His coming shed its light upon our daily and hourly path, keeping us with a large heart, walking in the narrow path of obedience, in holiness, righteousness, and peace, through a subtle and cruel enemy's land, towards our glorious home? Does it, like the star that guided the wise men from the East to Bethlehem's manger, set us a-going and keep us a-going, as those in whose hearts the day-star has arisen? "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come!" And He that answers, "Surely, I come quickly" will not tarry! Those morning clouds, dipped in glory, which we behold there in the sky, ready, as it were, like those vessels in the harbour of Colchis, to convey us home, may be ordered the next moment to receive us up in changed, glorified bodies, out of the sight of this world, and to convey us through that endless blue ocean above our heads, to that glorious coast of the first resurrection, where He Himself, the great Captain of our salvation, Who has guided us by His Spirit safely through His and our enemy's dreary and perilous territory, will land us safely, and introduce us into His Father's House and presence. "Behold I and the children which God hath given me!"

"For ever with the Lord!"

When on earth, I knew that nothing should be able to separate me from His and the Father's love — what can separate me here in heavenly glory?

If in the house of Simon on earth, there was one at His feet who had been lost away from Him, and was then lost in Him, overwhelmed by His presence; and if there was another in the house of a raised Lazarus at Bethany, lost at His feet in wonder and adoration, unmindful of every thing and everybody around —
"What will it be to dwell above,
 And with the Lord of glory reign,
Since the blest knowledge of His love
 So brightens all this dreary plain!
No heart can think, no tongue can tell,
 What joy 't will be with Christ to dwell.

Where sin no more obstructs the sight,
 And flesh and sense deceive no more;
When we shall see the Prince of Light,
 And all His works of grace explore:
What heights and depths of love divine
 Will there through endless ages shine!

And God has fix'd the happy day,
 When the last tear shall dim our eyes,
When He will wipe these tears away,
 And fill our hearts with glad surprise
To hear His voice, and see His face,
 And know the fulness of His grace."

The whole of our precious Psalm will then be a thing of the past, though ever held in grateful remembrance.

And now, my dear Christian reader, I must bid you farewell. We have been feeding together, under the direction of our gracious Shepherd, I humbly trust, upon the "green pastures" and been led by Him beside the "still waters" of His loving provision. Through this lovely "garden of the Lord," under the guidance of His Spirit, I hope we have walked together "in the cool of the day," listening to the searching and gracious voice of our blessed God and Saviour. We have tasted, through the grace of our blessed divine Guide, of its exuberance of blessings; we have gone from degree to degree, from terrace to terrace, as it were, and the higher we rose, the more we sung (for we could not help it), until we have reached the top in our heavenly Paradise — His and our blessed Father's House. And before we are bidden to enter there, let us once more turn and cast a grateful glance around us, and let us sing with adoring hearts:

"Goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord," (aye, and with the Lord) "for ever."
"Where God Himself vouchsafes to dwell,
And every bosom fill.

Who shall to me that joy
 Of saint-thronged courts declare;
Tell of that constant, sweet employ,
 My spirit longs to share

That rest secure from ill,
 No cloud of grief e'er stains;
Unfailing praise each heart cloth fill,
 And love eternal reigns.

The Lamb is there, my soul —
 There God Himself doth rest,
In love divine, diffused through all,
 With Him supremely blest.

God and the Lamb — 'tis well,
 I know that source divine
Of joy and love no tongue can tell,
 Yet know that all is mine.

And see, the Spirit's power
 Has oped the heavenly door,
Has brought me to that favour'd hour,
 When toil shall all be o'er.

God and the Lamb shall there
 The light and temple be,
And radiant hosts for ever share
 The unveil'd mystery."

Blessed for ever be His glorious and gracious Name!