My Dear Friend:
We have come to have a short, earnest talk with you about heaven and the way that leads to that better land. In all the realm of thought and conversation there is no sweeter theme than that of heaven. Oh, what pleasantness there is associated with the thoughts and hopes of spending an eternity in the blissful fields of that glory world. As we look upon the pale, lifeless form of some dear one whose spirit has flown away, what a comfort comes to our sorrowing breast when we have reason to hope they have gone to heaven.
There are frequent occurrences along the journey of life which remind us that we are only pilgrims, traveling to an eternal beyond, to which we may be called any day. It may be we have been in imminent danger and narrowly escaped the blow that severs the thread of life. It may be the sick chamber. It may be the news of someone who has departed this life, or the vacant seats around our own hearthstone. All these remind us that it is “appointed unto men once to die.” (Hebrews 9:27) We cannot forbear remarking here, “Be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not” (Matthew 24:44) the call may come to you. Surely you can not fail to comprehend the necessity of living every hour in such a way that, should the summons come, you could
Go softly and peacefully to rest,
Like slumb’ring childhood from task set free,
Or evening breeze ’mid orchard branches
Separating blossoms from the tree.
There are no aching hearts in heaven; no troubled breasts nor careworn brows. There is no sorrow there; neither pain nor tears. With such a place of eternal blessedness set before us, is it not wisdom to “give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10)?
The Savior said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions…. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2) In the trying hours of life, when all seems to have forsaken us and the world appears unfriendly; life’s burdens seem to be heavy, and a despondent feeling steals over our spirit, what a comfort to our trusting soul is the remembrance that there is a home prepared for us, “There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest.” (Job 3:17) There is room enough in heaven for all who will walk in the way that leads to that desired destination.
One night, while beholding the stars and thinking of that future home with our Father, we were given these lines:
Little stars in vault of heaven,
Windows you appear to be
Of my home, my home in glory.
Draw the curtain back for me,
Let me see the happy angels
As they flit before the throne:
If there’s room for me in heaven
Let me see my golden crown.
I can see my Savior smiling,
In His hand a crown I see:
You may low’r the curtain softly
Since I know there’s room for me.
All my soul is filled with glory,
Waves of peace sweep o’er my breast
When I think of going to heaven,
Where the weary are at rest.
While the thoughts of heaven are beautiful, there may be other thoughts that come like a blight over the spirit of many. Man is prone to draw a veil over the scenes that awaken thoughts of torment and woe; he invites thoughts of heaven, but banishes thoughts of hell. There is no pleasantness in the thoughts of eternal punishment. To think of spending an eternity in hell brings a terror to the soul. Whatever may be our feelings or thoughts, either heaven or hell shall be the eternal destination of all mankind. These two places are set before all who inhabit the earth. There is a way that leads from earth to heaven, and there is a way that leads from earth to hell. The way to heaven is called the way of life; the way to hell is called the way of death. These ways are set before every man, subject to his choice. He can take the way of life and gain heaven, or, he can take the way of death and make his bed in hell: “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil…. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:15,19)
It is not enough to say and to hope we are going to heaven; we must walk in the way that leads there, else our sayings and hopes will be in vain. Should you desire to go to a city, you must take the way that leads there. The way that leads to heaven is by the commandments of God. The Scriptures say: “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” (Revelation 22:14) The Lord said: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21) The Bible is the book God has given to teach us the way to that goal of eternal peace and rest. There is no promise for us in that blessed volume, nor an intimation from which we can glean a ray of hope of gaining heaven, if we are knowingly violating any of its commandments (James 2:10). Only those who do His commandments will enter through the gate into the city.