If there is anything that ought to make heaven near to Christians, it is knowing that God and all their loved ones will be there. What is it that makes home so attractive? Is it because we have a beautiful home? Is it because we have beautiful lawns? Is it because we have beautiful trees around that home? Is it because we have beautiful paintings upon the walls inside? Is it because we have beautiful furniture. Is that all that makes home so attractive and so beautiful? Nay, it is the loved ones in it; it is the loved ones there.
I remember after being away from home some time, I went back to see my honored mother, and I thought in going back I would take her by surprise, and steal in unexpectedly upon her, but when I found she had gone away, the old place didn't seem like home at all. I went into one room and then into another, and I went all through the house, but I could not find that loved mother, and I said to some member of the family, "Where is mother?" and they said she had gone away. Well, home had lost its charm to me; it was that mother that made home so sweet to me, and it is the loved ones that make home so sweet to every one; it is the loved ones that are going to make heaven so sweet to all of us. Christ is there; God, the Father, is there; and many, many that were dear to us that lived on earth are there - and we shall be with them by and by.
We find clearly in the 18th chapter of Matthew, and the 10th verse, that the angels are there: Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven, their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
Their angels do always behold the Father's face! We shall have good company up there; not only they that have been redeemed, but those that have never been lost; those that have never known what it is to transgress; those who have never known what it is to be disobedient; those who have obeyed Him from the very morning of creation.
It says in another place, when Gabriel came down to tell Zachariah that he was to be the father of the forerunner of Jesus Christ, Zachariah doubted him, he had never been doubted before; and that doubt is met with the declaration: "I am Gabriel, that standeth in the presence of the Almighty." What a glorious thing to be able to say!
It has been said that there will be three things which will surprise us when we get to heaven--one, to find many there that we did not expect to find there; another, to find some not there whom we had expected; a third, and perhaps the greatest wonder, will be to find ourselves there.
A poor woman once told Rowland Hill that the way to heaven was short, easy and simple; comprising only three steps--out of self, into Christ, and into glory. We have a shorter way now--out of self and into Christ, and we are there. As a dead man cannot inherit an estate, no more can a dead soul inherit heaven. The soul must be resurrected in Christ. Among the good whom we hope to meet in heaven, we are told, there will be every variety of character, taste, and disposition. There is not one mansion there; but many. There is not one gate to heaven, but many. There are not only gates on the north; but on the east three gates, and on the west three gates, and on the sough three gates. From opposite quarters of the theological compass, from opposite quarters of the religious world, from opposite quarters of human life and character, through different expressions of their common faith and hope, through different modes of conversion, through different portions of the Holy Scripture, will the weary travelers enter the Heavenly City, and meet each other--"not without surprise"--on the shores of the same river of life. And on those shores they will find a tree bearing, not the same kind of fruit always and at all times, but "twelve manner of fruits," for every different turn of mind, --for the patient sufferer, for the active servant, for the holy and humble philosopher, for the spirits of just men now at last made perfect; and "the leaves of the tree shall be for the healing," not of one single church or people only, not for the Scotchman or the Englishman only, but for the "healing of the nations,"--the Frenchman, the German, the Italian, the Russian--for all those from whom it may be, in this, its fruits have been farthest removed, but who, nevertheless, have "hungered and thirsted after righteousness,: and who therefore "shall be filled."
An eminent living divine says: "When I was a boy, I thought of heaven as a great, shining city, with vast walls and domes and spires, and with nobody in it except white-robed angels, who were strangers to me. By and by my little brother dies; and I thought of a great city with walls and domes and spires, and a flock of cold, unknown angels, and one little fellow that I was acquainted with. He was the only one I knew at that time. Then another brother dies; and there were two that I knew. Then my acquaintances began to die; and the flock continually grew. But it was not till I had sent one of my little children to his Heavenly Parent-God-that I began to think I had got a little in myself. A second went, a third went; a fourth went; and by that time I had so many acquaintances in heaven, that I did not see any more walls and domes and spires. I began to think of the residents of the celestial city. And now there have so many of my acquaintances gone there, that it sometimes seems to me that I know more in heaven than I do on earth."