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Heaven our Home
By William Branks (1861)

Glasgow Herald.
“The author of the volume before us endeavours to describe what heaven is, as shown by the light of reason and Scripture; and we promise the reader many charming pictures of heavenly bliss, founded upon undeniable authority, and described with the pen of a dramatist, which cannot fail to elevate the soul as well as to delight the imagination. We unhesitatingly give our opinion, that this volume is one of the most delightful productions of a religious character which has appeared for some time; and we would desire to see it pass into extensive circulation.


I have often felt, that the views which most divines have given of heaven, are so utterly negative in their nature, and also so utterly unsocial in their aspect, that they are more calculated to repel the inquiries and longings and aspirations of the children of God after it, than to allure their thoughts upwards, and fix their affections and desires upon the things that are above.

The mechanism of our moral nature—God’s own workmanship—fits us for a social heaven. We are social beings. A heaven from which saint-friendship, and social intercourse among those who are in glory, are excluded, is not and cannot be a suitable abode for us, who have received from God’s own plastic hand those social affections which we are to possess for ever. A social heaven is accordingly the leading idea which I have endeavoured to embody and illustrate in the following treatise.

Richard Baxter's heaven, depicted in his “Saint's Everlasting Rest," is an eternity of holy repose—free from the sins and troubles of earth. John Howe's heaven, delineated in his “Blessedness of the Righteous,” is a calm intellectual eternity spent in the beatific vision of God. St Paul’s heaven is a being through eternity with Christ. St John's heaven, exhibited in the Apocalypse, is a great and gorgeous temple crowded with the worshippers of God. The heaven I have attempted to delineate is a home with a great and happy and loving family in it.

The Bible is the orient sun that has dispelled the long, deep night of darkness that once hung over heaven, and in a great measure concealed it from the view of man. The natural sun, by his rising every morning, brings the earth—our present home—into our view, with its variegated scenery, and its living, busy population. The Bible—God’s bright spiritual sun that has risen upon us—also brings by its revelations into our view an eternal heaven, which we who are the children of God are to enter at death, and meet each other again oh the other side of the Jordan's floods, and be happy for eternity there—in our Fathers home.

We need a home. What is our life here ? Look at a river upon earth; you see in its flowing waters life’s symbol. That river is but a little streamlet in its source, welling' out from its small and pebbly fountain; it gradually increases in depth and in width; it never rests, it flows on and on and still unceasingly onwards, without a moment’s pause: so does our life, till at last, like the mighty river nearing the ocean, it flings its waters with a convulsive and gurgling roll into the sea that is before the Lord, there to mingle with the living floods of angels and glorified saints, who move and gleam like a great ocean, filling the heavens, and stretching far and wide, and seemingly without a shore. Look at the sun in the sky; you see in it a symbol of life. That sun peeps up into the view of a living world, at his first rising, with but a comparatively dim and feeble shining; he gradually emerges with an increasing lustre from his chamber in the east; he goes forth over us in the sky, like a vessel of light sailing along upon the bosom of the great ocean of space; he reaches his meridian splendour, then he begins to descend gradually towards the western horizon, until at the close of day he passes from our gaze into the expanse beyond, going forth to sail still as a vessel of light over another sea of life in the opposite hemisphere, there to rise and to pour down his beams upon other homes, and upon other eyes, but removed from our view. It is the same with our life. Our soul is our sun. The thoughts of our minds are the beams of light that gleam forth in their scintillations, and radiancy, and illumination upon those around us. There is the first glimmering dawn of reason, then the increasing splendour of brightening faculties, then the meridian sunshine of intellectual and moral powers; the zenith of life is reached; our mental sun then begins to descend the western sky of age, the evening of death darkens around, then our soul—if in a state of grace—leaves the sphere in which it moved and shone for a season here, passes over the horizon that bounds eternity and time, the Lord Jesus transferring it to a new firmament—the hemisphere of glory—there to rise in new splendour before the throne of God, there to shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars of God for ever and ever.

It is computed that one of the human family dies every moment. Thus, every tick of the clock, an immortal spirit, as if with the outspread wings of an angel, is flying over the boundary line of time, and is entering the great world of spirits on the other side. There is thus a river of living souls continuously flowing from time into eternity. In the bed of that stream we are all sooner or later to take our place, and to pass away; for “ as the waters fail from the sea, as the flood decayeth and drieth up, so man lieth down and riseth not till the heavens be no more: they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.”

How comforting, in these circumstances, is the revelation that God has made to us in His Word,—we have a home for eternity, and that home is heaven!

In the following treatise I look in upon that home of love. I survey the family assembled there. I view their intercourse with each other, and with us who are still upon earth; and I notice the interest which they feel in what is occurring here. I also shew, that in the gospel view of heaven which I am led to set forth, death to believers in Jesus is going home.

It is no cold and uninteresting subject which I am thus led to treat. Was it like music in the ears of the Israelites, whilst journeying in the wilderness, to listen to the accounts which were orally and through tradition handed down to them, of the land promised to their fathers—& land flowing with milk and honey, and towards which they were advancing? And will it not be equally comforting to you who are the children of God; nay, will it not be infinitely more so, in the midst of your present wearisome journeyings, to read a gospel description of your Father’s home in the heavens, which many of your friends from earth have already entered, where you are again to meet them at your death, when time with you is past, and the world is left?

The descriptions which I have given of heaven have a deep and personal interest about them; for heaven is to be your home for eternity who read these, if ye are the children of God. The emigrant, who is about to sail to a foreign land, feels that he has a personal interest in the accounts which he reads about it in the newspapers or otherwise; for he is soon to sail to it, to land upon its shore, and he is to spend there the remainder of his life. The bride who is about to go to her new home feels that she has a personal interest in the descriptions which her friends give her of its site, of its appearance, and of its furnishings; for she has upon her soul the sunshine of the gladdening hope that she is to spend her future life beneath its roof. You have a similar interest in heaven. The sea, the deep blue sea is not far off, over the bosom of which you will soon set sail, that ye may land in eternity. The vessel is in the harbour, it is preparing to go forth to plough the bosom of the unseen deep—as Columbus launched forth upon the Atlantic, whilst America, on the other side, was all unseen—the sails are already spread, the pilot is at the helm. You already hear the dash upon the shore, and the roll of the great waters; and soon you, who are believers in Jesus, will be in the position of the emigrant, whilst standing upon the deck of the vessel that is already under sail; you will look back, and you will look down upon your weeping, bereaved friends, whom you are leaving in your death chamber—upon your home, with its dark cloud of bereavement lowering around it—and upon the earth itself, receding from your view, and gradually becoming smaller in the distance, till, like the vessel upon the far-off horizon, it flits away entirely from your gaze. You will then rise upwards to heaven—your home—you will enter and join for eternity God's family now assembled there. In the anticipation of that abundant entrance into heaven, you can even now look up to Jesus upon the throne, and you hear Him thus addressing you:—“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.”

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