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Strangers And Pilgrims

(Hebrews 11. 18).

The order in which these words are given to us, and the joining of them together are instructive. Strangers first, then Pilgrims! We can never make it manifest, never declare plainly, that we are pilgrims in this world if the stranger character is absent from our walk and conversation. These men and women of Hebrews 11. were like David, strangers with God, as they journeyed onward to the heavenly country and the city which God had prepared for them. What wonderful faith was theirs as they embraced the promises of God and plodded onward! Such was their faith that they endured as seeing Him, who while invisible to mortal eyes, was to them an ever-present, living God. It was so easy to know them as they went ever onward, seeking a country of their own. Had they been mindful of that country that they had left behind, there was ever the opportunity to return to it. But they were not mindful of it. The world or age which they were in, but not of, was not worthy of them. It was no place for such men and women of faith. They could not, nor would they, settle in it, for to do so was to lose the sweet fellowship of Him with whom they were journeying.

Rather than allow this sweet fellowship to be marred, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, and evil entreated; the desert, the mountains, and caves and holes of the earth being their dwelling places. How they longed for the day when their eyes would see the country and the city of which God had told them! Onward, pilgrims, onward! The desert so trying to the feet and the eyes will one day give place to the evergreen verdure of the heavenly country. The caves and holes of the earth, so long your dwellings, will then be for ever left behind, and the lovely abodes in the city of God shall be eternally yours. The mirages so often seen on the desert pathway, promising water to the thirsty pilgrim, only proving to be worthless, empty and illusionary, will not be there, mocking you as they fled.

Onward, pilgrims, ever onward! until your thirst is for ever satisfied by Him who is the Fountain of living waters, for then, ah then, you will hunger and thirst no more! The goatskins and sheepskins that clung so closely to you with their weight, will then be for ever laid aside, as you stand before the throne of God clothed in the spotless robes of His own weaving. The wilderness for ever past, the journey ended, the saints seen as kind, pious ones will rest upon their beds in glory, while they sing for joy and exult with the high praises of God in their mouth (Psalm 149.5, 6).

Brethren, beloved in the Lord, the race is on. How are we running? Are we keeping close to our Princely Leader? He has left us His great example, and we have also the great cloud of witnesses who bear record to His keeping-power, ever compassing us round about, crying "Onward, brethren, onward!"

Some dear saints make a better show in the fight than they do in the race, for here our staying power is put to the test, and patience and endurance, two twin brothers, are in constant demand.

"With a scrip on the back, and a staff in the hand,

We march on in haste, through an enemy's land;

The road may be rough, but it cannot be long,

So we'll smooth it with hope, and we'll cheer it with song."

Strangers with God! What a privilege in being so named because we are found "outside the camp" in separation with Him who, in order that "He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered without the gate" (Hebrews 13.12).

Constrained by His matchless love may we make it our earnest prayer,-

O Lord, 0 Master, help usOh keep each heart at leisure

To walk apart with Thee,From all the world beside,

Outside the camp, where onlyIn close communion ever

Thy beauty we may see; Thus with Thee to abide;

Far from the world's loud turmoil,So all Thy whispered breathings

Far from its busy din, Of love and truth to hear,

Far from its praise and honour,And hail Thee with rejoicing

Its unbelief and sin. When Thou shalt soon appear."