Living on Earth as Inhabitants of Heaven

John Howe:

“If one should give a stranger to Christianity an account of the christian hopes, and tell him what they expect to be and enjoy, before long; he would sure promise himself, to find so many angels dwelling in human flesh, and reckon, when he came among them he should be as amidst the heavenly choir; every one full of joy and praise. He would expect to find us living on earth, as the inhabitants of heaven, as so many pieces of immortal glory lately dropped down from above, and shortly again returning thither. He would look to find, everywhere in the Christian world, incarnate glory sparkling through the over-shadowing veil; and wonder how this earthly sphere should be able to contain so many great souls.

But when he draws nearer to us, and observes the course and carriage of our lives, when he sees us walk as other men, and considers the strange disagreement of our daily conversation to our so great, avowed hopes, and little sense of joy and pleasure we discover ourselves to conceive in them; would he not be ready to say, ‘Sure some or other (willing only to amuse the world with the noise of strange things) have composed a religion for these men, which they themselves understand not their own pretences; they are taught to speak some big words, or to give a faint or seeming assent to such as speak them in hteir names, but it is impossible they should be in good earnest, or believe themselves in what they say and profess.”

And what reply then should we be able to make? For who can think that any who acknowledge a God, and understand at all what that name imports, should value at so low a rate, as we visibly do, the eternal fruition of his glory, and a present sonship to him, the pledge of so great a hope. He that is born heir to great honours and possessions, though he be upon great uncertainties as to the enjoyment of them, (for how many interveniences may prevent him?) yet when he comes to understand his possibilities and expectancies, how big doth he look and speak? what grandeur does he put on? His hopes form his spirit and deportment. But is it proportionably so with us?”

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