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The prince answered, his grand-father. Well, said the dervis, I think a house which changes its inhabitants so often, may properly be called a caravansary. Christians look not at the things that are seen, but at things which are not seen, and eternal. They live by faith in the promises of God, and feel as those believers did, who took joyfully the spoiling of their goods; knowing in themselves, that they had in heaven a better and more enduring substance. They feel like good old Barzillai, who declined accepting the great and good things which his king offered him, lest they should hinder his preparation for death. 6. Pilgrims never think of turning back, on account of any difficulties which they meet with in their way. If they are lame, or sick, they stop only till they recover, and then go forward. If the season be unfavorable, they wait only till it becomes better. Or if the roads be obstructed, they wait only till the obstructions are removed. They never think of turning back on any account. * Just so those who live by faith, having put their hand to the plough, never look back. They have sat down and counted the cost, and determined to take up the cross, and follow Christ whithersoever he leads them. They mean to fight the good fight of faith, and follow them, who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Pilgrims long to get to their journey's end, which prepares them for rest and enjoyment. They anticipate the happiness of ceasing from their dangers and fatigues, and of enjoying peace, safety and quietness. And this is the feeling of christians, who live by faith on the promises of God. Paul desired to depart this life, and to be with Christ, which was far better. In running the christian race, he kept his eye and his heart upon the prize. The primitive christians reckoned that the sufferings of the present time were not worthy to be compared with the glory to be revealed. Moses had respect to the recompense of reward, and all the patriarchs sought a heavenly country, and the everlasting enjoyments of a heavenly city. And all who live by faith, long for the end of their journey, and wish for that rest which remaineth to the people of God. And such a life of faith and hope prepares them in the best manner for a peaceful and joyful death. It was because the ancient patriarchs lived in faith, that they all died in faith. Those who live by faith in the promises of God, and feel and act as pilgrims and strangers on the earth, are properly prepared to leave this world, and to enter into that which is far better. A detachment from the world, and an attachment to heaven, always prepares men to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord. Those who live in faith of the promises are prepared to take the possession of them. A lively faith in the promises of God, removes the sting of death, and the terrors of the grave. This was verified in the triumphant death of Paul. He could say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
1. If those who cordially embrace the promises of God are real pilgrims, then it is to be expected that they will profess their faith before men, and confess that they are pilgrims and strangers on the earth. Their faith in the promises of God, which leads them to feel as pilgrims, must naturally lead them to renounce the fear of man, and disregard the reproach of the world, and dispose them to confess that they are determined to live and act as pilgrims, and to walk in the strait and narrow path to eternal life, which God has promised them. The faith of the patriarchs in the promises of God, disposed them to declare to the world, that they had set their faces towards heaven. They all confessed that they were pilgrims, who were seeking a heavenly country, and a city which had solid foundations, whose builder and maker was God. Though they foresaw all the dangers and difficulties to which a public profession of their faith in the promises of God, and their strict obedience to his commands would expose them, yet they resolved to face a frowning world, and let them know that they placed their trust in the Lord Jehovah, in whom there is everlasting strength. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were not ashamed to acknowledge the Lord to be their God; and God was not ashamed to be called their God: for he had prepared for them a city. The primitive christians, who embraced the promises of God, were not ashamed to confess Christ before men, and to declare that they meant to live by faith, and act as pilgrims, through the whole course of their lives. It must be owing, therefore, either to the want or the weakness of faith, in any who entertain the hope that they have embraced the promises of the gospel, that they are afraid or ashamed to profess Christ before men, and their determination to live and act as pilgrims. Can they really believe that they are the children of Abraham, if they have not the faith and confidence of Abraham 2 Can they really believe that they are christians, if they have not the spirit of Christ, and are not willing to take up the cross, and follow him 2 Can they really believe that they are the followers of those who inherit the promises, if they are afraid or ashamed to profess their faith in the promises 2 It is certainly safe for those who embrace the promises of the gospel, to profess their faith in them, and to feel and act according to them. This is what God requires, the world expects, and they cannot neglect, consistently with the hope of eternal life. 2. If those who profess to be christians, at the same time profess to be pilgrims, then there is a great impropriety as well as criminality in professors of religion being conformed to the world. Their very profession implies, that they have renounced the spirit, the customs and manners of the world, and mean to live by faith, and walk in newness of life. They profess to be pilgrims; but pilgrims would appear very absurd, in dressing, in living, and acting, as those who are not on a journey. So the professors of religion appear very absurd, when they conform to the spirit, to the language, to the customs and amusements, of the world. How absurd would it have been, for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to have conformed to the heathen nations among whom they sojourned, in their idolatrous rites and ceremonies, and in their impious, corrupt, and criminal practices ! How contrary would it have been to their profession of supreme love to the supreme God, to bow down to heathen idols in heathen temples, to sacrifice to heathen deities, and to attend heathen feasts and festivals' Under the Mosaic dispensation, the professed people of God were expressly forbidden to conform to the heathen about them in any of their religious concerns, and in any of their common, civil, and social concerns, and in any of their modes of living and dressing. Though the men of the world under the gospel are not heathens, yet they are as real and great enemies to God, to his cause, and to his friends, as any of the pagan world ever were, or are now ; and it is as absurd and criminal for christian professors to conform to their spirit, and to symbolize with them in their unchristian practices, as it was for patriarchs and prophets to be conformed to the enemies of the God of Israel. The apostle Paul says to christians, “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfeet, will of God.” And he represents the conformity of believers to unbelievers, as absurd as the former conformity of the professed people of God to their pagan neighbors. “For;” says he, “what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord almighty.” The reason why christians should not conform to the world, the apostle John gives. Speaking of sinners, he says, “They are of the world, therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.” Christians, who are religious pilgrims, and travelling towards heaven, cannot stop and converse with the men of the world, and delightfully hear them speak, out of the abundance of their worldly hearts, without contradicting their profession, and dishonoring their religion. 3. If all real christians are pilgrims, and live and act as such, then they are living monitors to sinners. They admonish both by their profession and practice. They profess to be going in the strait and narrow way to a heavenly country, and to avoid the broad road to everlasting darkness and despair. They are citizens of Zion, and set their faces Zion-ward. Their practice speaks louder than words, and admonishes all who do not walk with them, that they believe both the promises and threatenings of the gospel; and that if their faith is well founded, they shall be received into a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God; while those who refuse to walk with them, will soon faint, and languish, and die. Such monitors were the ancient patriarchs. Such monitors were the primitive christians. And such monitors are pious parents, pious brothers and sisters, pious friends, and all pious persons, who are living and acting as pilgrims. They are the light of the world, and salt of the earth. They have been the preservers of the world that lies in wickedness, for nearly six thousand years. You will find this to be true, if you read the lives of the Old Testament and New Testament believers in the promises of God; or if you read the lives of later christians; or if you observe the spirit and conduct of the pious pilgrims still living among you. You have heard their repeated and solemn admonitions in health, in sickness, and on a dying bed. Sinners see and shun the strait and narrow path in which they are walking, and which practically tells them that they are pursuing the path to ruin. Pious pilgrims have always been the excellent of the earth, and are still living and solemn monitors to the unbelieving world. And the force of their admonitions will sooner or later be felt. Let them not, therefore, cease to admonish, through fear or favor of those who need their admonitions. 4. If all real christians are pilgrims, then those have little reason to think they are pilgrims who do not make it appear so in the sight of the world. They generally know and love their own, and none but their own. They have in all ages distinguished, hated and opposed pious pilgrims. And they are as capable now, as ever they were, of distinguishing pilgrims. And if christian professors do not appear as pilgrims in their view, they must have but little reason for their appearing so in their own view. The world will claim them, and they can hardly deny their claim. 5. If christians are pilgrims, who are entitled to the great and precious promises of God, then they will be peculiarly happy when they finish their pilgrimage, and reach their long home. All their labors, and dangers, and trials, and sufferings, will work for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Having come out of great tribulation, they will wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. They will cease from their labors, and their works will follow them. They will inherit the promises, and find mansions prepared for them in heaven. They will be as holy and happy as their hearts can desire, or their natures can admit. In the course of the year just closing, four professed pilgrims have finished their pilgrimage in this place. We have good reason to hope that they now inherit the promises. One finished her course last week, and finished her course with joy. Her nearest friends have reason to rejoice, as well as mourn; and all who in the course of the year have been bereaved of exemplary christian friends, have reason to rejoice and submit. These deaths ought to admonish and console all the pious pilgrims in this place. They hope to leave the world in as much peace and safety as those who have gone before them. There have been sixteen deaths here in the current year—three infants; three children; three young persons; three in the meridian of life; one in the decline of life; and three aged persons. Whether men are pilgrims or not, they must leave this world, and go into another, from which they will never return. Now let me ask all whether you are prepared to follow those that are gone? It has been a healthy year; the next may call for a larger number. Have you ever trusted in the promises 2 These alone can prepare you for a safe, easy, and joyful death.