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FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER.
THE FATHER'S HOUSE.
St. John XIV. 2.
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.
We are approaching that day in the Christian year which we keep in honour of our Lord's Ascension—and the passages selected from the Gospel for the last three Sundays, have been preparing us for that event.
They are all taken out of that memorable discourse of our Lord's, related by St. John in the fourteenth and three following chapters of his Gospel. In many parts of that discourse allusion is made by Christ to His going away; and the benefits that would follow to His disciples.
Thus, in the Gospel for the third Sunday after EasterJesus said, Yet a little while and ye shall not see me ; and again a little while and ye shall see me; because I go to my Father.
And again, in last Sunday's Gospel-Now I go my way to Him that sent me, and none of you asketh me, whither
goest Thou? But because I have said these things unto you sorrow hath filled your heart-nevertheless, I tell
the truth, it is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you, but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.
Further on, in that part of the same discourse which has been read to-day, we have these words from our Lord—I came forth from the Father and am come into the world : again, I leave the world and go unto the Father.
Once more, in the seventeenth chapter of St. John's Gospel, we have the same announcement. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee.
I come to Thee—that, you will observe, is the key note that runs throughout the whole of this great discourse. Christ leaves the world, and goes to His Father-goes for His own glory, and for our good-goes to complete His work of mercy, by sending the Holy Ghost the Comforter; goes Himself to sit as our Mediator in God's holy presence, ever living to make intercession
But this is not all—Christ ascending to God's right hand opens, as it never could have else been opened, the kingdom of heaven to our view.
We have now clearer and and more definite notions of what heaven is. We know it is a place distinct and separate from every other place—where the supreme Godhead dwells—where He also dwells who has a form and a shape like our own, the Son of Man, who is in heaven. We know it is a large place—that there is room in it
for many-room prepared, got ready beforehand-into which, at the appointed hour, all the elect of God, all the redeemed of Christ, shall be gathered.
This we may learn from the Lord's Ascension into heaven, and from His own words about heaven in the text-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—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 be also
Let us dwell upon the thoughts which these words suggest. We shall surely find in them something to comfort us—something to quicken us—to stir us up, it may be, to live more as God's people should live; more worthy of our heavenly inheritance; more as men whose hope it is to survive the grave; who believe, as we all do here, in the resurrection of the body, and everlasting life after death.
In my Father's house are many mansions—I go to prepare a place for you. God's house, then, or heaven, is not here. It is distant from here, Christ tells us-He goes there as though to some far off place.
Where it is, He does not tell us. We look up to the sky on a clear night and see it filled with stars--each star a world. The astronomer, with his instruments, looks still further, and sees stars which are beyond the reach of our unassisted eye. Our minds are awed by the very immensity which his discoveries reveal. There seems no limit to that vast distance over our heads. But Christ, the Scripture declares, went up far above all heavens !
And yet we know not, and cannot know at present, where it is whither He is gone. Nor need we wish to know-we should be none the wiser for it. We do know what is far better-of far more practical use to us—we know the road by which we ourselves may get to heaven
- Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life--no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.
And yet, brethren, though we know not, and cannot know now where heaven is, we are not without some hints as to what it is.—Christ speaks of heaven as His Father's house—the place where God abides, has His home.
It may indeed be said, that God's home is everywhere—that the whole universe is His dwelling-and in a certain sense this is true. God is everywhere—He made all things, and He fills all things—He layeth the beams of His chambers in the waters, and maketh the clouds His chariot, and walketh upon the wings of the wind !
And yet while God may be said to be everywherethere is one particular place in which the Scripture describes Him as dwelling—dwelling in unveiled glorywhere even now the angels behold His face—where the children of the resurrection shall in due time behold Him—and that place is heaven.
But again-look at the expression My Father's House. The house of a father supposes the presence in it of many members. The house of a father is the shelter and resort of all who bear his name. It is where sons and daughters, sometimes to the third and fourth generation, are found assembled. To it the wanderer returns and finds a welcome-under its dear roof those who had parted when young meet in older years. There, if any
where, anxious cares are laid aside, and peace and happiness prevail.
And so-only in a far higher, far more perfect manner-will it be, hereafter, in the Father's house of heaven. It will be the house of a great family-where all God's children will be gathered. There, surely, in its ample shelter, will be assembled the wise, and the good, the pure in heart, and the unselfish—not of one church, or nation, only, but of all nations, and of all churches-For God is no respecter of persons ; but in every nation, he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him.
There, too, will the sons meet who chose so differently, and lived so differently in the world—both the elder son who served many years, and never transgressed at any time his father's commandment; and the younger son who had been so undutiful, who had lived in the far country till all was spent, and only found his way back just in time, when he was perishing with hunger.
There will be, we may think, both these, and many types of each in heaven-both the prodigal and his brother!
There will be other men together there, quite as wide apart as were these when on earth-men who had once cast out each other's name as evil-men now separated by sects, by prejudice, by mutual ignorance of each other's worth—but who, when once under the great Father's roof, will recognize their many points of resemblance—will see that after all their aim was the same even God's glory, and the good of their fellows—and who will henceforth be of one mind, and of one soul-rivals