‘If a man die, shall he live again?’ Job 14:14
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Samuel 28:3–16
What would any of us who fear God think, if we were once in heaven? Would not the very suggestion of return, though it were to the most faithful spouse and best-beloved children, be a cruelty? What, bring back again to battle the victor who wears the crown? What, bring me back again to pain and sorrow, to temptation, and to sin? No. Blessed be God, that all the wishes of friends shall not accomplish this, for we shall be ‘Far from this world of grief and sin.’
This world is not so lovely as to tempt us away from heaven. Here we are strangers and foreigners; here we have no abiding city; but we seek one to come. There is one wilderness, but we bless God there are not two. There is one Jordan to be crossed, but there is not another. There is one season when we must walk by faith and not by sight, and be fed with manna from heaven; but blessed be God there is not another, for after that comes the Canaan—the rest which remaineth for the people of God. What man among you, immersed in the cares of business, would desire two lives? Who, that is tired today with the world’s noise, and vexed with its temptations, who that has come from a bed of sickness, who that is conscious of sin, would wish to leave the haven when once it is reached? As well might galley-slave long to return to his oar, or captive to his dungeon!
For meditation: The story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31) teaches plainly that, for sinner or saint, there is no way back from eternity. Longing for such a return is therefore fruitless, no matter how loved anyone has been. We should seek to be delivered from such desires.
N.B. This sermon was preached on the occasion of the Hartley Colliery disaster in which some 200 miners were killed. Several of them were Christians.
Sermon no. 432
30 January (1862)