Those In Touch Of Heart With God
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The Oldest Question
Where is her There's a narrow pine box, and a slender strip of green sod. But he is not there. Or, is he? He, where is he!
It's the oldest question, that is the oldest tense human question. It has been wrung out in every generation by grief, staring dry-eyed or sobbing, over the sod strip, out into the gray beyond.
Our earliest mother knelt broken-hearted by the body of her boy. It was a triple grief with her. Her boy was dead, grief enough that. But it was through passionate violence, and, worse yet, violence by his own brother. War had an early start.
Grief had its first birthplace in a mother's broken heart. No, not its first. Its first birth-place was in the heart of God, when His prodigal world went away from the old fire-side. But then that was a mother heart a father mother heart, and a broken heart too.
Yet, it was the first human heart. And again you must say, not even that. For God's heart is a human heart, as well as more. We get our human heart from His human heart, we made in his likeness.
That question, and that grief, have never quit since that day just outside the Eden gate. The grief sobs out its ceaseless requiem regardless of clock or clime. And the question intrudes its sharp cutting point into the most sacred hour and corner.
The Greeks were masters of the world. Their sense of beauty has never been surpassed. Their chiselled marble, chaste architecture, and noble teachings, set the world's standard. But their answer to this old question couldn't still the tumult in their own broken hearts.
Quite gone, he had, they said. It's the end. There's nothing beyond. So their brains, though their hearts never accepted the answer. There was a sharp break between the two, never bridged by any philosophy.
Others of them disagreed. But the best thing they could do was picturing a cheerless, aimless, colorless existence that was itself repellant. That was the best answer that the best Greek wisdom and culture could bring.
The Romans were masters of force, sheer brutal force, organized with rarest skill. Their force mastered the Greeks but it couldn't force any mastery here. The question forced them to admit themselves mastered, out-done, in the presence of its breaking grief. They trod the same path hewed out by Greek philosophy. They had no light to relieve the gray gloom.
The earlier dwellers on the Nile saw no bet-ter light. They could pierce the sky with their rare pyramidal engineering. But their longing tear-bedimmed eyes could pierce ahead past the line of the grave not the tiniest scratch, nor the faintest gleam.
The Euphrates sages stopped dumb at the same place, hoping, wishing, wondering but skeptical. The Phoenicians could shape an alphabet to be carried through one national culture after another up to our own English. But they couldn't shape a teaching about the future that could ease the heart tug at the gateway of the grave.
And the later teachers up to this hour, following the same path of reasoned research, have nothing to add to those earlier thinkers. The best they can bring is a vague uncertainty. Wearisome comforters are they all, like job's friends.
The candle's snuffed out. He has gone, for good and all. That's the end. Or, you can dimly see him wandering aimlessly about in a gray gloom that only adds a touch of bitterness to the heart's grief.
It's a cheerless answer. The cold light of reason is well called cold. This is the best and the most that its lantern can do, or, at any rate, has done, in the night of man's sorrow. It's a repellant look out into the dark night.
But stop. That's not all. There is another answer. And it's an answer that answers. There's no beggarly begging of the question here. And it stands in sharpest contrast to these others. They are vague. It is positive and clear. There's an element of thoughtful measured certainty, that begins to ease the heart at once.
Indeed certainty is a marked characteristic of this answer. There is a sheer certainty that is startling and refreshing. Already the air clears. The clouds scurry. Sunlight begins to edge the clouds with its cheery golden glint.
There is a small group of facts that underlie this teaching of certainty about the life after death. A fact is something that is really so. It stands in direct contrast with theory or speculation, with mere logic or argument. A fact is a real state of things. It is something to be reckoned with in practical life. It is something you can put your finger on and say "this is so".
The sun is a fact. You look up and see it. There it is. The theorist explains that you really don't see the sun. For it is some ninety-two or -three million miles away. And the human eye cannot see that far. It's the reflection you see. And he is quite right in his theorizing.
But the crowd, busy with its daily practical work, is impatient of mere theory. It says, "there's the sun in plain sight, you can see it. You feel its heat. You work by its light," And that settles the thing. The 'crowd pushes ahead with its work. And the crowd is right. The sun is a potent fact in common life.
Now, to the plain man on the street, too busy for fine-spun theory, there is a small group of facts that stand out to common view as plainly as the sun in the sky. And one's daily life can be shaped by them as really as by the sun.
First of all, Christian civilization is a fact. It stands out in sharpest contrast with the civilizaton of the Caesars, which overspread the world in the time of Christ. Treatment of the weak is the acid test of any civilization.
Then, there was slavery both white and black. Now, there is not only freedom from slavery, but the highest civil rights for the humblest and state education for all, from the poorest up.
Then, woman was a chattel, a piece of property merely. Now, she is loved, shielded, cultured, queen of the home, and more. Then, children were commonly despised and neglected, when not actually thrown to a horrible death. Now, they are prized and cared for as our most precious possessions.
Then, degrading superstition controlled in the care of the sick, and the mentally deficient, when they were not wholly ignored. Now, science and a gracious humanitarianism combine their best, even in caring for those who can offer no compensation.
Then, the most sordid unadulterated selfishness held complete sway. Now, actually billions of money are given voluntarily for the relief of the needy. Then, there were no commonly accepted standards of morality. The question of sex morality was quite commonly regulated by the fact of property rights, or ownership, as is quite common to-day where Christian civilization does not control.
Now, in all the lands known as Christian, there is a standard touching the great moral questions of truth and honesty and right sexual relations.
That standard is continually violated. But it is recognized, and has an incalculable influence in common life.
Take these few items simply as threads in the whole fabric of similar weave. It is not possible to state the case fully in brief words. For Christian civilization is an atmosphere filling the lungs of the western world. We are too much a part of it to sense it fairly. Only a Roman, dropping down into it, could appreciate the tremendous contrast, as he tried to catch his startled breath.
The contrast is stupendous. These things, and the like, are recognized as the distinctive traits of Christian civilization.' The contrast in this regard between western nations and those where Christian influence has not yet permeated, is both painful, and is a living exposition of Christian civilization.
And all this is in spite of the fact that our Christian civilization has just suffered its most savage, most unchristian, most uncivilized, blow ; and that too, from within itself. It is in spite, too, of the fact that the present day feverish restlessness among so-called Christian nations brings sharply to view conditions and practices that are decidedly non-Christian.
Indeed the question has been freely raised how far our boasted Christian civilization is mere veneer, of varying thickness, for something radically different underneath ; a pretense covering up something that needs hiding. This tree seems to 'have grown great until birds find their nests in its protecting branches, foul scavenger birds, preying on human kind.
But Christian civilization is not an original thing. It has not an independent life. It has no roots of its own. It is an outgrowth of something else. And that something else is greater than the outgrowth. The root is more than the shoot growing out of it, immensely more in this case.
If some yet more savage war swept over the world, and stuck to its job longer, and cleaned the whole thing of Christian civilization out of existence, the root out of which it grew would still remain. It would remain as full of life and fertility as before. It would put forth new shoots. And its growth would again largely cover the earth.
This leads to the second fact, Christianity is a fact. For Christian civilization is an outgrowth of Christianity. Christianity is the root. Christion civilization is the shoot out of the root. It has no separate life of its own. And more yet, it seems pretty plain that Christian civilization isn't the chief outgrowth.
These radical differences between two civilization must really be classed as incidentals. Revolutionary they are, blessedly revolutionary, yet mere by-products. Christian civilization is a by-product ; nothing more. It is a by-product of Christianity. It is not the main thing itself.
For, by common consent, no nation to-day is Christian in the profession and daily lives and practices of even a majority of its people. And the governmental policies, while taking on the outer coloring of Christian civilization, are underneath, confessedly the reverse of Christian, in the selfish, grasping spirit that dominates. Christian ity has not had the opportunity of producing its chief result in the generic life of Christian nations.
So, if these distinctive traits of our characteristic civilization are mere incidentals or by-products of something else, that something else is seen to be not only a fact, but a fact of immensely deeper significance.
Christianity is an ideal, a group of moral principles, and it is a vital power, that makes that ideal and those principles real in human life. It can change radically a human life from bad to good. And it does it. It presents a high ideal, makes a man long intensely after it, and then makes it an actual experience in his life, over-coming the most stubborn opposition.
No stronger thing could be said of any power. It changes the human will. It changes it at the core. And it does it wholly from within. There is no other power known to man that has done that, or that can do it.
The drunkard becomes sober, and a hater of the evil he once loved so passionately. The impure becomes pure, the thief honest, the covetous generous, the wavering and drifting purposeful, the weak strong. And the changed man becomes a new factor influencing his surroundings.
Every continent, and civilization, and distinct race, has living evidence of such change. Yellow men and brown, black men and white, have alike revealed this unmatched solitary power at work. The extremes meet here. The city slum, that ugly ragged sloughed-off edge of our best civilization, and the savage tribe untouched as yet by any civilization, acknowledge alike this trans-forming power.
This is what I mean by saying that Christian civilization is merely an incidental of Christianity. This thing of changing radically human character from bad to good this is the chief thing. Any thing else is incidental to this. The civilization is mere surface veneer. This goes down to the very vitals. Indeed this is the starting point of a true abiding civilization.
And so, Christianity is seen to be a fact, in plain open evidence in the life of the race. It is an indisputable fact even to those who hate it.
Christ a Fact
But there's another step in the ladder. Put your foot up on the next rung. Christianity leads you straight to something else. And again it is something else greater than itself. It's a sharp scale ascending. The something else proves to be some One else. For Christianity doesn't stand by itself. It is not a thing nor a system in itself. It is merely a shoot out of a root.
As Christian civilization roots in Christianity, so Christianity roots in Christ. It comes out of Him. The two are intertwined beyond separation. And it is less than He. The shoot is less than the root. Cannon Liddon said a few generations ago, "Christianity is Christ." That is, the real thing of Christianity can be understood only as one gets to Christ. He is the standard of it. And so we have the third fact. Christ is a fact.
I am ignoring a whole lot of evidence here. There are large evidential reserves wholly untouched. I am talking for the man in the street, on the move, to be caught by plain talk if at all. Simply from this level, where all are compelled to confess what their eyes see, Christian civilization certifies the fact of Christianity. And the fact of Christianity certifies the fact of Christ.
And Christ stands here not simply for those thirty-three years of His personality. Christ stands for the potent influences that radiated, and that radiate, from that personality, and from those years with their tremendous happenings.
The name Christ stands for ideals, the highest known. It stands for ideals lived amid the stress of our common life; actually lived. It stands for love and sacrifice beyond what any other did show, or could show. It stands for power in overcoming the terrific moral inertia of life, the prejudice and superstition, the hatred of men, and of evil at its deadliest, and immensely more in completely overcoming the power of death itself, and living again a new triumphant life on earth past the grave line.
Yes, Christ stands for more yet, the power that can make that ideal a living reality in human life to-day. For what has been said of Christianity must be said of Christ. He is the power of Christianity. Christ is Christianity, the real thing. He is more than it. For all of its power comes out of Him. Christ is a fact, a tremendous, unmistakable, unalterable fact.
The evidence is plain and open to the man in the street. A glance at the date line in the morning paper, and at the post-mark of the last letter that came, tells of the fact of Christ. A touch with some one you know who lives the real thing, or, who has been blessedly changed in life, makes that fact take hold of your very heart.
But there's another egg in this nest. A little mothering will bring it to life. The fact of Christ is linked up with another fact, the Christ-Book. The Bible is a fact, tied and knotted up with the fact of Christ. The two are inextricably inter-woven. For Christ is the very heart-blood of this Book. Take Him out of it you cannot, simply cannot! You would have itself taken out of it.
It is striking that you must go to this Book to get the essential facts about Christ Himself. It is the one original source of information about Him. The very book that tells at first hand about the divine Christ must itself be divine. It is a lonely book, solitary, quite by itself in its standards, its ideals, and its power. It would take a Christ to make a Christ. And it would take a Christ to make this Christ Book.
Inspired Revelation a-Fact
The Bible is a fact. I do not mean merely that it is a fact that there is such a book. But this Book itself is a living fact or factor in Christian civilization, in Christianity, in Christian propaganda among non-Christian peoples, in the personal history of Christ Himself, and in the human lives it has touched and moulded.
Wherever it is known, it is accepted as the one standard of moral teaching, unapproached by any other. By common consent its contributions to jurisprudence, to political economy, to moral philosophy, business ethics, sanitation and hygiene, are the underlying foundation of all books on these subjects. It is characterized by a fine re-serve, a conservative caution of utterance, and a rare modesty about itself. Its high moral character is freely accepted wherever it is known.
In its ideals of life, unmatched and unapproached, its originality, its unfailing freshness and adaptation after centuries, its subtle real touch of something more than human through the human medium, and in its one outstanding person Christ, it stands in solitary grandeur among all books of whatever time or clime. The Bible is a fact in the life of the race.
And, now, there's another hatch in this brood. A bit of heart warmth will quickly pip the shell. Notice a striking thing. This conservative Book makes a certain claim for itself. It actually claims to be a distinctive revelation from God Himself.
It claims to be so in-breathed by the Holy Spirit as to be a dependable revelation of God's will and purposes, and of how He sees that things will work out. And it is so interwoven with these other plain facts that the acceptance of them, at once, involves the acceptance both of it, and of its claim.
And so, very quietly, a fifth fact adds itself to the group. It is a fact that there is a revelation from God. I know of course that this is disputed. It is disputed vigorously with bitterness and persistence. Indeed the peculiar spirit of bitterness and stubborn tenacity in the propaganda against this fact is distinctively unscholarly in spirit, and more, it is suggestive of the real source behind all this sort of thing. There's a bitterness of hate, a serpentine quality of subtlety and venom, immensely suggestive.
But the bit for the common man on the street, who wants things simple and plain and straight, is this. The fact that there is a revelation from God is as clearly a fact as these other facts named. It's as clear as the fact of the sun over-head.
A man may rest in this, as a mere matter just now of flawless logical reason, that the acceptance of these facts is in full accord with the most rugged intellectual integrity. The most vigorous insistent mentality can rest content in following this simple line of reasoning. Merely as a matter of evidence, regardless of the moral consequences involved, this group of facts may safely be left to the verdict of the highest judiciaries of these two English-speaking peoples.
Muddy Scholarship, and the Real
I have put the thing in this simple direct positive way because of the muddy scholarship that has such wide sway today. That is, it passes for scholarship, and it is certainly muddy. It is marked by the absence of clear vigorous thinking, and of clean-cut utterances.
There has grown up a system of instruction which uses the fine old name of scholarship. It sits in high places, in universities and divinity schools. And its text books and influence are in the lower schools. Its dominant method is to raise questions and leave them hanging in the air, the biggest thing in view. With elaborately spun speculation, which has a fine scholastic tinge and tang, it incubates doubt. And the incubated brood far outnumbers those of a natural mother, as in many a commercialized poultry yard.
In choice scholarly language, with impressive repetition of names prominent in the modern scholarly world, it breathes out a gray be-dimmed foggy atmosphere of doubt. Such authenticated facts as would conteract their theories are ignored, or minimized, or skilfully slurred over.
It has become a common thing for young peopie, trained in Christian homes, and in simple old-fashioned church circles, and in the old-fashioned beliefs in the essential facts of Christian truth, to be inoculated with these germs. The disease becomes chronic, and a break of moral fibre is a result not slow in arriving.
We must all be grateful for true scholarship. Our debt to it can never be paid. It is striking to note that the best scholarship of the ages is headed in point of time and of preeminence, by one who may be thoughtfully called the greatest of all scholars. And his scholarly research work brought him to the acceptance of a direct distinctive revelation from God.
In Touch with God
He was learned in all the vast learning of the Egyptian schools, which were the world's universities of that day. And he had more than learning. He had that rare scholarly instinct for independent research regardless of where it leads, which constitutes the real scholarly genius.
He went to the original sources as has none other. Following the Egyptian University work, and the long post-graduate course in the University of the Desert, were two exceptional post-graduate courses, of six weeks each, most intensive research work, on Horeb. That was indeed a going to the original sources.
Real scholarship's results are close at hand in every library of standard works, for him who wants the facts. And nothing is better settled than the utter dependability of this old Book, and the essential accuracy of its transmission to us. We have the Book's message with remarkable dependability and accuracy, as it came from God to and through its writers, under the holy spell of God's Spirit,
That there is a revelation from God is a fact. That fine word revelation is used here in its old-fashioned full meaning. There's no thinning out or watering of its meaning, after modern usage. It is a revelation of something that could have been gotten in no other way.
It is a something that never has been gotten in any other way. It does not belittle reason. It uses and honors reason. It is meant to fit into reason's processes. It meets reason at the line of reason's highest achievement, and leads it into higher fields.
Reason with its marvellous God-like powers, slowly works its way up to certain conclusions, and then stops. It must stop. It can go no further. This revelation tells what reason cannot find out, because of its natural limitations. Reverent God-touched reason accepts reverently God's revelation, and finds it in complete accord with, and supplementary to, all that itself has done, and in revealing what it could never find out. This is the fact of revelation.
Further, it is noteworthy that this revelation is in full accord with the moral character of the Book which contains it. It is in perfect accord with the character of God and of Christ. It is such a revelation as one would rationally look for from such a source. In this it stands in sharpest contrast with other literature dealing with such matter.
The Bible Practical
Now it is very striking to notice that this rev-elation, the old Book of God, deals with the very questions that have puzzled men in every generation. It answers fully this old question, "where is he?" It brings the comfort of certain knowledge to the bruised torn heart.
It deals with the questions which the war has brought up all afresh, the other, spirit world, of which this one we know is only a part, life beyond the grave, communication with the dead, and this whole group of intense questions. In short, it starts in where reason is obliged to confess itself unable to go further.
It answers them with a certainty that is nothing less than startling. And so it is in sharpest contrast with the long line of merely human philosophizings. It comes with a great sense of relief, of refreshment, and, more, of real comfort and strength.
And as one actually lives the fine habitual surrender to the mastery of the Lord Jesus, as he grows keener and more disciplined in his mental processes, as he becomes more sensitive in spirit to the presence and will of the Holy Spirit within himself, the more does his inner spirit answer to the living Spirit within this Book, touching all points of this revelation. And the surer becomes his inner spirit of the reality of God, and of the spirit world.
We turn now to this solitary Book of God. And we bring this oldest tense human question where is he? At once you are conscious that here the whole outlook is changed. It is as though you had stepped in out of the night into à house flooded with light,
The whole view-point is diametrically opposite. Outside you seem groping in darkness, or twilight, or early dawnlight. God is left practically out of the reckoning, out there. Here God is let in. He is let in at His own valuation. Once admit God, and the whole equation is changed.
The personal equation, that is, the God equation, completely alters the problem, and its solution. What is impossible without God, becomes the natural thing once God is admitted. It seems so natural now that you know instinctively in your spirit that God belongs in.
We find at once that this is a Book of thoughtful distinctions. It doesn't slur moral matters over. It makes a clear distinction between men, based on their attitude of heart toward God and good.
And sothe answer to the question is in two parts. The second part is the painful, hurting part of the answer. That will come in our next talk. Just now we want to talk about the first part of the answer. What do we certainly know about those in touch of heart with God, who have died.
Our Question Aswered
And, I think- it may make things stand out clearer, if, first of all, I tell a simple connected running story of what happens to these at death, without using references. Then we will gather the great teaching passages out of the Book, with chapter and verse, and then gather up certain out-standing events or incidents of the Book, that illustrate and emphasize the teachings. The story grows wholly out of these teachings and events.
At last then we come to answer the question, where is he? And one may well get into some quiet corner, where he can think quietly, and try to take in, the wondrous story that answers the question.
The moment of death has come. The physician, standing so impressively still, with his trained finger on the pulse, says in a hushed voice, "he is gone." Where? The beginning of death is the beginning of life. The close here is the opening there. The end is really the beginning. The shutting door to us is an opening door to him.
At once, quicker than you can bat your eye, or catch your breath, he is consciously in the immediate presence of our glorified Lord Jesus Christ. He doesn't go alone. A convoy of bright-faced angel-beings meet him, and take his spirit straight up into the presence of Christ in the homeland.
I said at once. I said it thoughtfully. I was using the language he and his angel convoy would use. He doesn't travel what we think of as a long distance through space. He is instantly at his new destination.
Time and space and distance are things that be-long to our thinking down here. It takes such and such a length of time, we say, to go such and such a distance. That is necessary earth talk. Up there, in the spirit world, they go as swiftly as thought through what we call a long distance. We can't take it in possibly, but it is clearly so.
And so the moment he has gone from us here, he has arrived there, in the new home. He sees Jesus. He meets the loved ones gone before. There's the wondrous reunion at once. He hears strains of music such as his human ears have never heard.
All pain of body, all distress of mind, all strain of spirit are all gone. He is at home in a new world, where life and light, harmony and glad joy, are the very atmosphere to an extent we simply cannot take in down here. His cup of enjoyment and happiness is full.
That is a general statement of what has come to him the instant he slipped the tether of life here. Now there are certain detailed particulars of intense interest, of which we have equal assurance.
He is the same person that we knew down here. His identity is unchanged and undisturbed. The same essential characteristics, the same individualities, that mark him to his loved ones, remain. All the traits that go to make up his distinct personality remain the same. All distinctive moral traits of a weak or not good sort are gone. But through all the growth and development which now goes forward there will persist the same identity of person as we knew here.
Closely allied to this is the matter of mutual recognition. One of the commonest of questions is about knowing each other up there. There is nothing clearer and surer than this thing of instant full mutual recognition. We shall be more over there, not less, our powers keener and more developed.
But, you are thinking that. years have gone, by earth's reckoning of time, since they left us. We have changed, perhaps very decidedly. And they have changed too, have they not? you say. The possibility of meeting the one tenderly intimately loved without instant recognition comes with a sharp sense of pain.
A mother thinks of her babe, perhaps, who died in infancy. The little one had already wound its tendrils so tight in and out about the mother heart. Not unlikely she thinks still of a little babe. Yet she would be grieved and startled beyond words, after years of separation, to find her child a little thing quite undeveloped.
Well, a little thought reveals the comforting truth. Over there in His presence is fullness of life. Our spirit perception will be far keener there than here. Our loved ones will have grown, and in the growth all that is best has developed, and developed with the distinctive individual traits.
That mother, as she crosses the threshold of the real life, if not before, will instinctively recognize that her babe has grown, much more, and better, and differently, than if here. She will be looking to meet her child, now matured, cultured, poised, grown with the fine growth of all spirit and mental and individual traits. There will be the intense desire to have it so.
And it is so that she will meet her child. There will be instant recognition that this thoughtful matured manly man, this womanly woman, grown into the fine spirit image of Christ, is her child of the long years ago. And with the recognition will be great joy because of the growth. The recognition will be instant and mutual and joyous.
Now, further, as he comes into Christ's presence there will be no discussion of his sin. For he, this man we are talking about, was in touch of heart with the Father. And the sin question has all been settled for him.
Christ's death and resurrection settled it. The blood of Christ covers his sin. And he is accepted by the Father even as His Only Begotten is accepted. He begins to appreciate now just what a tremendous thing Jesus did for him in dying.
But there will be certain changes in him of a moral sort. As he comes into the presence of Christ, certain things in his character will be removed or changed. It will be done just as putting a lump of gold ore into the fire instantly makes a separation of whatever there is in the ore that is not gold. The other part is burned up, or thrown off.
Christ is pictured as a man of Fire. Fire purifies. Fire consumes what can't stand the heat of its flame. Christ's mere presence will act on one's character as he comes into that presence, just as the actual fire acts upon the lump of gold ore.
Whatever in a man's character, of the sort characterized by Paul as "wood, hay and stubble," that is, whatever won't stand the fire of the pure presence of Jesus, will be removed as by the burning of fire. That is, whatever there is of selfishness, self-seeking, pettiness, uncontrolled passion, self-will, bitterness, narrowness, the artificial and the like, will go.
It is to be feared that in some cases the fire will burn up more than it leaves. For fire is relentlessly truthful and honest. No doubt many a man's life, (that is, the opportunity of his stay on the earth), will be practically lost because it has been controlled by un-Christlike motives.
But his soul, or after-life, the man himself, will be saved. For that is a matter of Christ's blood. Indeed some will be saved because of what the fire does. For not even Christ's blood can save the growth of selfishness encrusting this man, who at heart really does trust Christ. The blood saves the man himself, the fire burns up these bad growths. There will be some pretty severe shrinkage in the presence of the purifying Man of Fire.
The Changed Outlook
Then, too, the whole outlook changes up there. It will be like climbing a high mountain, above the cloud line, after living down here in the valley among fogs and mists. We shall know fully then, even as also we are fully known now. The point of view completely changes. Our sense of values will instantly change, both shrinking and growing.
Everything is seen up there at its real valuation, that is, God's valuation. Some things that we cling to with desperation will be seen as quite valueless. And things that we dimly recognize as good yet let slip, or held with a loose hold, will now be seen as purest gold, of highest value.
We shall see clearly even as now God sees clearly. Things of the earth life, controlling motives, policies of men and groups and governments, individual suffering, the common acute problems-in all this, there will be a radical re-shift in values.
This sense of the change of values will be revolutionary. It will come to many with unspeakable tensest surprise, and even shock, this utter shift of values. Yet it will at once be recognized that now things are seen at their true value.
Then the change of outlook will affect our understanding of our loved ones still living down on the earth. We shall be fully conscious of things on the earth. But we shall see all things from God's point of view. We shall understand much, at least, of God's general plans for the future. We will sense how things will turn out.
And if one thinks, naturally, how can we know without being disturbed of our loved ones having difficulties and pain and the like, let it at once be recalled that we shall see all these things from God's standpoint, There will be an utter change of proportion in estimating these things. It will be the true proportion. What holds God steady now in his tender love for us, and yet His intimate knowledge of things here, that same thing will hold us steady.
Then, we want to remember that our loved ones up there in the homeland, are growing. We know it by simple inference. For growth is a law of life. And up there they have the real article of life. Whatever has God's touch upon it grows. And up there is God's own fireside. All things are His way. And so there is growth of the finest truest sort, up there.
The dear wee babies, the vast majority of those who have gone through the upper doorway, have been growing. Like the child Jesus, they have grown in wisdom or understanding, and in stature, and in favor with God and men. That covers their mental and spirit and social powers. Under the touch of God's creative power, ever at work, and under the tutelage of their angel-teachers, they have steadily grown in matured, poised, gentle strength.
And so each one has gone on growing in all the fine traits and powers and understandings and self-control, that make perfect human character. For heaven is a school as well as a home. Only both words take on a fineness of meaning there, unknown here. All the fine training of perfect school-life and all the true sweets and restraints of fine home-life are the blessed commonplace up there.
We have all suffered a good bit, including God, by the common teachings about heaven. It has been preached and taught and hymned away out of touch with true human feelings and thought. I can recall distinctly a few lines of a hymn I knew and sang in my early growing days. The lines that still stick in my memory said,
"Where congregations ne'er break up, And sabbaths have no end."
The melody was a fine one. I loved it. I find myself singing it now sometimes. The melody has kept the words living in my memory.
But when I thought into it as a boy it didn't awaken any special enthusiasm over going to heaven. The sabbaths I knew had some un-natural restraints about them, though I still think that those restraints that irked were very decidedly better than the looseness that everything runs to now.
I had a boy vision of one ceaseless church service, on plain hard wooden benches with straight stiff backs, singing psalms and hymns and listening to long proper sermons, and the like. That's a very simple thing, perhaps childish. But is it not of a piece of the common idea most folks have about the other life.
I presume the writer of those lines, like many in the same list, was thinking only of the perfect harmony up there, the sweet fellowship of men with God. But the way he expressed it doesn't seem to fit into human ideas of things we common folk have.
No, it is God's real home up there. Things are as He plans. There's what would be called a natural round of life up there. God is a rhythmic purposeful God, And so there is purpose and motive and definite aim in each life. There's a working toward a goal, and the zest of seeing things grow under one's touch. For that belongs to true life.
Each one yonder has his task and round of occupation, and a rare joy in doing it. It's a busy purposeful active life, up there, but without any strain or worry, crowding or drudgery, or competition of the hurting sort.