Matt. 16: 19, And I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Heb. 11: 16, For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

In this text we have God's great and unselfish love manifested through Christ, to earth's unlovely millions, at its noonday splendor. Its brilliant, and all penetrating beams illuminating earth's darkest corners, and bewitching the lowering clouds of man's sorrow, with a wonderful silver lining of faith, and hope, and blessed life.

Brawny justice is unarmed, and his burnished sword falls from his palsied hand, and he flies panic-stricken, before the conquering brigades of God's love, and hides his cowering face in the silken draperies of sweet mercy.

The God of creation, who confessed that it was he himself who scooped out the basin of ocean and sea, and holds their floods in the palm of his hand, and stretched out the sky like a velvet curtain and bejeweled it with glowing worlds, and built the track for the flying chariot wheels of racing comets, and springs the bow that forces through the astronomical heavens burning meteors, also confesses that man is the apple of his eye. Quintessence of all wonders, and marvels of all ages, humanity with all of its weakness, and multiplied infirmities, is the object of God's fatherly love. And as an earthly parent pitieth an afflicted child in his family more than the robust and red-cheeked, so God looks upon us in our afflictions with pity.

God has indeed proven his love for us, notwithstanding our unfaithfulness to him, he has sought by every means conceivable, a more demonstrative way by which to pour out his love to us. That we are an afflicted people is a demonstrated fact. The cemeteries, the asylums, the hospitals, the infirmaries, and orphan homes, are bold and eloquent witnesses of our weakness, and many imperfections.

But the heavenly father has not withheld any good thing from us. He has given us everything calculated to make us a happy and prosperous people. Even in the formation of the earth, God seemed to have the good of the people in mind, and made it a store house of rich things, held in reservation until the very moment it is most needed.


Gen. 1: 28-29, "Replenish the earth and subdue it: and have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and over the fowls of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth, and God said, behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed, to you it shall be for meat." Have dominion, What is that? I will tell you. It simply means that we are privileged to take the ore from the mines, and make the iron rails, and steaming locomotives, and ships. It means that we have the right to convert the tin and copper unto utensils, and the gold and silver into money, and dazzling ornaments for our use and pleasure. To tear out of earth's bosom the rich coal and burn it for our comfort--to slash down the forest and rip them into yellow lumber for our houses--to turn sparkling water into mighty steam and harness it, and hitch it to the vehicles of our invention--to put the yoke of service upon the writhing necks of wind, and flood, and lasso the lightning and hitch it to the post of duty with bridle bit, and rein, and make them slave for us in their turn.

The haughty lightning God has given to us to be our message bearer, and to tug at our chariots, and to turn the vast wheels of commerce, and to stand on our streets, winter and summer and patrol the alleys and avenues, and keep wakeful night watch while we sleep, and to illuminate our churches, and temples, and stand sentinel on duty in the chambers of our sick. Peace and comfort follow in the wake of this strange servant, but abuse it, and grim death gets up from his immemorial ambush and shakes from his shaggy mane sorrows unalterable.

Have dominion over earth's products, is also implied. We may enjoy the rich fruits of various description to the fullest extent. The sweet-scented fig, the mellow apple, the peace, the plum, and blood-red cherries, hang like ruddy moons from bush and bough in their season to whom the Creator gave form and flavor, such as would satisfy both the desire for beauty and appetite for food. Grains of all description, spices, sugar, cotton and medical herbs, are ours to enjoy.

We can shear the sheep of their wool, rob the cattle of their flesh and hides, and use them for our comfort, for they are God's gift to man. The flowers in the field, from the brilliant, and flaunting colors of the rose in tropical countries, to the miscroscopic moss in the land of perpetual ice, are God's velvet-cheeked missionaries, scattered permiscuously from one extremity of creation to the other, to teach us that God is not all stern law, but that he has a lovely side, and desires to please us with earth's decoration.

After he had given the use of all things created, into man's hand, still his great father heart yearned for some other way to manifest his love. Prophet after prophet was sent from the father with the message of his love, and faithful witnesses came laden with his promises, "thirty-two thousand promises of his love and protection," any one of which will float a soul in safety over the raging seas of life, and land him soul and body in the eternal home of the blessed.

But God's love manifested to the world through temporal blessings, was like the morning star heralding the glorious day of free grace, in which Christ was given to die on the cross in our stead.

St. John 3: 16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

God gave man everything on earth and in it to explore at his leisure and enjoy at his convenience. Then he gave his only son, the golden link of fraternal brotherhood, to tie us inseparably to God and high heaven.

Through Christ we have a full and free and complete salvation from sin, and its dominion. Holy Ghost religion is like an electric elevator, it brings the high down, and the low up, and places us all on one common platform of brotherhood. And the religious platform is wide enough for all creeds, and doctrines of salvation complete through Christ, but the Cumberland Presbyterian Church unblushingly and unhesitatingly, and unmovably stands on the plank in the platform, which was hewn out of the cross of Christ, that advocates a whosoeverwill gospel.

My faith in an allwise God, is not so palsied as to believe that he said to a few of earth's inhabitants, have those dominion over earth's treasures, and to the others, keep your hands off. Neither can I believe the God whom I serve, capable of such unspeakable selfishness, as to stand by the cross of Christ whom he gave to satisfy the demands of an insulted and broken law, and say to the repenting thief, "Thy sins be forgiven thee," and to the man who cried out, "surely this man was the Son of God," close thy lips, for before the foundation of the earth these were foreordained and predestinated to life eternal, but thou art not of the elect, therefore, lost eternally. If this is the true doctrine of God and his Christ, and if some of us are irrevocably and unalterably foreordained and predestinated to eternal woe, pray tell me why Christ died al all.

No, sir, Christ was God's greatest gift to the world, and the record of him says, "Whosoever believeth in him shall not perish." Glorious doctrine before which every other creed, and faith is stricken to the ground, and Christ stands the eternal gateway, to glory and to God, for whosoeverwill.

Why, my dear brethren and co-laborers, we can do anything we want to that is right with such a God, and such a religion, and such a church.

We have got plenty of money, and plenty of brains, to do anything for God and lost souls, and the upbuilding of his church.

There is enough brains left in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church to cover the United States, if spread out with a knife, and to pave a concrete walk from New York to London.

What the Cumberland Presbyterian Church has accomplished during the past one hundred years is only the beginning of what it will do in the next hundred years. Some one has very truthfully said, her past history is only a beginning for the future.

These old gray men who grace this great anniversary assembly, who have stood true under the enemy's lash unflinchingly and have preserved the good name of the church with the help of these stately men, "the apostles of right," will not be here when old Dickson rings with the shouts of Cumberland Presbyterians one hundred years from now.

Oh, no, but this assembly will long since have been seated in the great General Assembly on high, where congregations never break up and Sabbaths have no end. There the cheeks of the old will re-assume their beauty and the afflicted and down-trodden will forget the language of pain. I think we will have only one committee in that assembly, and that one will have one duty only to perform, and that duty will be to devise some means by which we can stand the first day in glory.


Jesus, the greatest missionary that was ever sent to any people, came to fulfill the will and promise of God, and to accomplish for the world that which no other could do. He gave his life and precious blood for the world's redemption and the establishment of the church. But that seemed not enough, and he said to his earthly brother, God the Father, has given you the whole world and its vast domains to explore at your will, but I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whosoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. The keys of the kingdom--what a magnificent gift; and how they dazzle the very gaze of the receiver.

Angels leaned over the parapet of heaven and smiled in wonder--the high officials whispered it through the courts of paradise--
man has the keys of the kingdom. The redeemed spirits began to talk about it, the birds sang about it, and the river of life murmured it, with the tossing of every silver wave, to the lilies afloat upon its mirroring bosom, and the lilies told it to the twinkling stars, and the twinkling stars told it to the big planets near the earth, and they flashed the good news to the worlds within the sword of Orion, "Man has the keys of the kingdom."

Three worlds were interested in that wonderful proclamation, and all creation listened and watched in rapt attention for the final culmination of earth's greatest drama; and everything that had breath or creepeth upon the earth seemed to praise God for his great gift to man, and the glorious anthem, "Man has the keys of the kingdom," was sounded by a million voices. Touching the notes of sweetest harmony, jarring the foundation sills of Satan's black pandemonium and blanching the cheeks of night.

Death himself (ugly monster) crouched in an open grave terror-stricken, while redeemed spirits sounded the glorious anthem at his very gate, and broke the rusty lock of the prison house of anxious millions--"Man has the keys of the kingdom."

The crickets hushed their doleful pipings under the doorstep of man's ruined home, to hear the heavenly proclamation, and with the rustling of their wings, the night was made vocal with--"Man has the keys of the kingdom."

The nightingale sang it at twilight and the night hawk tuned his hoarse voice to repeat it in the still hors (sic) of the night, and mocking bird in silver notes, warbled it at dawn--"Man has the keys of the kingdom."

The black vulture of sin gathered up his storm-torn plumes and sailed away to the haunted castle of earth's ruined children, and from a rusty throat horrid croaks burst forth, received in that dismal locality with cries of pain and angry cursing--"Man has the keys of the kingdom."

While all heaven rejoiced and all hell was laying under contribution every power within its grasp, "if possible to defeat the plans of God," the bad angel with bat wings and horrid breath, approached man, and said, "Your gift is of no value, the keys will not work."

I thank God that in the creation man was invested with some curiosity as well as the woman, and on that occasion it did him a good turn.

They won't work, insisted Satan, but Peter, the bold and resolute apostle, determined to put them to a practical test. And the hundred and twenty faithful followers of Christ climbed the rickety stairs to an upper chamber to wait for the promise of the father. There they prayed and waited nine days and nights "for the command was," depart not from Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high. And on the tenth morning with trembling fingers, and a wildly beating heart they dared to thrust the big golden key of faith into the key hole of the ponderous door of God's promise, and men and angels, and devils, stood in silent attention while they turned it. "Glory to God in the highest, the big lock rolled back with thunder peals in quick succession, and the door swung open, and the Holy Ghost came as the sound of a rushing mighty wind and filled all the place where they were sitting and there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

Heaven shouted with great joy, and hell creaked to its deepest caverns, while man, brimful of glory, shouted to earth's millions, living and unborn--The keys of the kingdom will work.'

Do you believe it? Do you know for yourself that they will work? These old gray fathers with frosty temples and flowing beard can tell you whether they will work or not. They have tested them on the battlefield and in the thickest of the fight, and in the trying hours of temptation and in the chambers of their sick and dying. I thank God for the blessed Christian fathers and mothers in our midst. They bind this world to the chariot wheels of God's providence. Take them out of the world and it will fall to staves. What is the memory of a good mother worth to you young men? What would you take for it--would you sell it? Is it not the memory of her sweet face and tender prayers that keeps you out of much mischief? Take mother out of your life and it would be like extracting carbon out of diamond.

(I) Faith is the big golden key that unlocks all the doors in the universe. St. John 15: 7, "If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." Do you believe that? If so, to you all things are possible through Christ. I have said many times and I repeat it before this Assembly of the church's, representatives, that the Cumberland Presbyterian Church has one great duty to perform, and that is to convince the world that she is a child of the Holy Ghost. And if ever we cease to be a spiritual church, we fail to accomplish the great aim for which M'Adoo, King and Ewing organized it one hundred years ago. With the golden key of faith we find a number of smaller keys of faith without which the keys of the kingdom are incomplete.

I. "Faith that makes whole." Matt. 9: 22, "Daughter, be of good comfort, thy faith hath made thee whole." This is the key to the office of the Great Physician who for six thousand years has not lost a case. He is able to save to the uttermost all those who will come unto him.

2. "Blessings according to your faith." Matt. 9: 29, "Then touched he their eyes, saying, as your faith is, so be it unto you." Faith is the measuring line of all our blessings and we cannot hope to rise above our faith.

3. "Great faith." Matt. 15: 28, "Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith, be it unto thee even as thou wilt." So many of us desire great faith, and we think if we had great faith what wonders we would perform for the Master. But many times the very person who seemingly has small faith, so far as wonderful works are concerned, is possessed with great faith. Those who are faithful to Christ, faithful in the prayer meeting, faithful to the church, and faithful over little things have great faith. And these are the kind of people, out of whom the Lord can make pillars in the church. Let us pray that the Lord will raise up more pillars, more men and women who are faithful over little things. We have a great many more sleepers in the church than we have pillars. This ought not to be. But the faithful pillars, will shine in the day of the Lord, like the golden beams of Jacob's ladder, for they carry the little key of great faith.

4. "Justifying faith." Rom. 3: 28, "Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith," Rom. 5: I, "Therefore, being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

5. "Walking faith." 2 Cor. 5: 7, "For we walk by faith and not by sight." I John I: 7, "If we walk in the light as he is in the light we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."

6. "Working faith." Gal. 5: 6, "Nothing availeth anything but faith, which worketh by love." Here we have walking faith and working faith, which implies religious activity.

7. "Dead Faith." Jas. 2: 17, 18, "Even so faith if it hath not works is dead, being alone." "Yea, a man may say thou hast faith and I have 'works.' Show me thy faith without thy works and I will shew thee my faith by my works." A dead faith is the fatal key that Satan will slip on the ring of keys that belong to the kingdom of heaven, if we are not on the constant lookout.

(I) Dead faith is a lead key and will lock up all the stores of blessing, and plunge the soul into unsettled and unquiet discontentment. The lead key was molded and fashioned in the foundries of outer darkness and it will surely defeat us in every effort, and failure will trail after us like a lazy dragon. Empty pews and a fruitless ministry, and a dead church, will certainly be the reward of him who carries the key of dead faith.

Have you failed in the Lord's work, is your ministry barren and your life fruitless? If so, in all probability you are the possessor of the fatal key. Get rid of it, and do it now. God demands it, and souls demand it, and the condition of your church demands it.

Every man and woman should be at their post and at their best, for to-day the call is ringing with new emphasis, go ye unto my vineyard and work, for lo, the fields are white unto harvest and the laborers are few.

(2) Sincerity is the little silver key that unlocks all the inside doors to the sanctuary.

Titus 2: 7, "In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works, in doctrine, shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity."

Phil. I: 10, "That ye may approve things that are excellent."

"That ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ."

Are we sincere in our prayers and supplication, or do we make long prayers to be heard of men? If so, we get our reward, we are heard and soon forogtten. (sic)

But the sincere and humble suppliants who keenly feel their need of the Savior's help and prayer only to be heard at a throne of grace, will write their influence indelibly upon the lives of those with whom they come in contact.

Dr. Bernardo, on London, "the great philanthropist," stood one evening on the piazza of his great home, and a small waif came up to him trembling with cold and hunger, and said "Please, sir, mister, write me admission to your home. I am so cold and so hungry, I have no home. Please, sir, mister, write me admission to your home.

But Dr. Bernardo turned away impatiently, wishing to test the boy's sincerity, and said, indifferently:

"Where are your letters of recommendation? Have you no friends? How do I know you are sincere?"

A big tear ran down each pale cheek, and the little fellow, thinking his case a hopeless one, waved his hands over his head, and the ragged sleeves of a threadbare waist fell back from arms blue with cold, and said, chokingly:

"Mister, if these 'ere rags are not my friends, then I have got nothing to recommend me."

The philanthropist said he felt something moist in his eyes while he wrote as fast as ever he could a little note of recommendation for that friendless child.

That is the way we must all come to Jesus, sincerely and honestly, and if we have no one on earth to recommend us in their prayers, our self-righteous rags and our great need accompanied by the sincere desire of the heart will eloquently recommend us to God.

The little silver key of sincerity will never fail to unlock the door of God's mercy.

(3) "Repentance is the big solid brass key which unlocks the door of God's forgiveness to the penitent and erring one."

2 Peter 3: 9, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise as some men count slackness, but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

The Apostle Peter said to the Jews assembled at Jerusalem on the day of pentecost in Acts 2: 39.

"For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."

How many are called? We find the answer in Rev. 22: 17, "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come, and let him that heareth say, Come, and let him that is athirst Come." And then the apocalyptic writer showed the whole chasm of man's apostasy, and said, "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."

Whosoever will may come to repentance. It certainly seems to me that this proclamation of free grace for whosoever will have it, is quite sufficient to silence all religious anarchists on that line forever.

(4) "Honesty" is a little strait key with not so much as a notch or hook at the end, but it works like magic, and will open the door to a clean character. Rom. 12: 17-18. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

And if it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Honesty is a priceless jewel and a grace to be coveted.

Dishonesty is not only applied to those who would cheat you in business, but the man, or set of men, who would cheat you out of your faith, and rob you of "that great and all-essential element of happiness." Contentment is a thief in the strictest analysis of the word.

Dishonesty in doctrine and belief is a great evil, which we should guard against.

If our doctrine is a good one, let us defend it unblushingly and boldly, and when we are asked if we believe all men may be saved through Christ, say so, and say it with emphasis. And if you believe in predestination and election, say so. But those of us who do not believe it, will say "no" so loud that three worlds will hear it. Stand up for what you believe to be right, regardless of opposition.

I know that it takes grit, grace and courage to stand the criticism and scathing opposition of our opponents sometimes, but Cumberland Presbyterians are abundantly blessed with these graces. We have got the grit, "alright," and grace sufficient, and courage to lend, and anything else we need, even the little key of honesty.

We have got men who are giants, intellectually, with a fist like a pile driver, and a backbone like a column of steel. They laugh at impossibilities and succeed. They hammer with their great fist against the stern walls of incomprehensible, and almost impenetrable opposition, and their supreme achievements hang like blazing suns in the sky of church history.

The church, to be sure, has had its Waterloo, its hack of swords, its finger of scorn, its alamo, its crash of fierce battle, its onslaughts, its leaden voice, its gullies filled with death, and all its fearful tragedies, but out of the Waterloo has come the true king, the monarch, and rules of parliament with the glorious key of honesty dangling at his belt.

There are honest souls that stand so tall if they stretched out their mighty arms they would touch the very pillars of the sky. And if they should lean against the polished columns, the ceiling of nature would creak, and the roof would tumble down, and the multiform and multiplied splinters would fly like snowflakes in winter.

(5) The prodigal's key is an old iron key and will unlock the door of God's forgiveness. This key has been worn smooth by thousands, wandering away from the father's house and returning. Hosea 14: 4. I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him. What a blessed thought: "Transporting in its nature," "mine anger is turned away," which is equivalent to My smiles are turned toward thee.

You will not find much difference in the practice of the different churches on this falling from grace proposition, though you may search until you hair turns gray. The Methodists backslide and the Baptists backslide, and the Cumberland Presbyterians get on the sidetrack, with the switch closed at both ends. But the prodigal's key will unlock the switch, and God's switch engine of forgiveness will pull us out on the main line, for he says "mine anger is turned away" from him.

(6) "God's strength" is a metal skeleton key and will unlock any door on earth, in heaven or hell. Rom. 8: 31. What shall we then say to these things, if God be for us who can be against us?

If the path of duty leads you through hard trials, and dark tunnels, Jesus will go with you. He has been there before you, and when you come to a dark and heavily barred door shutting out the light of God's smiles, "if you will look for it," you will find the skeleton key on the ring of keys which the Master gives to every believer, and it will unlock every door. It will unlock every door, only try it. If sorrows have come to you Jesus will share them with you, for he is indeed a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

Is there an angry storm hissing on the sea of your soul, tossing the small boat of endurance violently against the rocks of discouragement and tearing the white sails with lightning and drenching the decks with tears? If so, Jesus will hush the storm, for if God be for us who can be against us?

I have felt the fiercest storm raging in my own soul, and crashing thunders bounded from shore to shore, while a deluge of briny tears fell like winding sheets of rain, and lightning flashes fairly scorched my brow: Every wave was whipped to fury, and every crystal dewdrop was changed to serpent eyes, that glared at me like spying demons. There stood my cottage home all wrecked, it seemed, by the merciless storm. A black hearse with waving plumes, stood at the splintered gate-post, and a knot of crepe hung on the battered door knob. Death was there, and master of ceremonies, and the poor victims of the storm sat huddled together like orphan chicks, weeping. Sorrow was there, nobody sang for joy, and nobody laughed there, all was still, only the groans of the bereaved broke the horrid stillness. But in that awful stillness I heard footfalls, and I listened and notes of the sweetest music came floating over the sea. It was Jesus, the Sun of the morning, and his sweet face was turned in my direction and beamed with pity, and I heard a voice, not loud, not harsh, but a whisper, that to me sounded like a shower of glistening jewels dropped by heavenly maidens into the crystal seas of glory, "My child, it is I, be not afraid."

It was Jesus speaking, and all hell seemed to burst at his feet with a sarcastic yell. And a million sea-hounds snapped at his heels, with snarling lip, and gloating eyes. Wild and unreasonable echoes, reluctantly, but surely got up from their ambush and rolled in the wake of the storm and the wind, "that unfrightened robber whom nobody has ever arrested and brought to justice for his pilfering," came with hideous howls, to vent his wrath on the weary God-man. He fairly rolled the sea into mountain scrolls, and angrily broke their seals and dashed their contents heavenward, and with his long sword he split the watery winding sheets, and sheared their frazzled edges with scissors of fire.

Faith, pale-faced and trembling, stood at the wheel trying to man his boat, in whose startled ear doubt blew his hoarse horn. Every company of hell's artillery took sure aim and fired their hostile guns in quick succession, but there came one walking quietly and unmoved by the frightful onslaught.

The pressure of the conquering feet of the Master did not irritate a single nerve, or disturb the tender sensibilities of the soul. "Peace, be still." What music? I heard the echo jarring the foundations of nature, and at his word, the pilferer fled, and the sea hounds sprawled at his feet, and whined and grinned, as it more pleased than outraged.

The black sorceress, Terror, turned pale and her heaving bosom was belted with a gorgeous rainbow and the lightning scissors hung at her belt. Her purple lips parted in a strange, and curious smile, half outraged, mingled with shame and amazement. She sickened and died, and the sunbeams danced over her grave, and all was still--still.

The raindrops glistened like jewels along the flower-fringed shore and peace, sweet peace, was mine. Someone that I loved was gone from the cottage, a sweet voice in song was hushed, a lovely face from our family circle was missing. I sought the missing one, but found her not. But Jesus is there and all is still.

There is no storm raging, no angry thunder peals, no vivid lightning flash, for the light of immortal life streams down through the rifted clouds and by faith in the distance, "through the rift in the clouds," I see a pearly white city all glorious and bright, where the missing ones of our families have gathered, and are waiting for our coming. In the land of the setting sun there is a grass-grown mound, all that is left on earth of a sweet sister, but we will meet again in the sweet bye and bye, where death and sorrow never come.

Oh they tell me of a home far beyond the skies,
   Oh they tell me of a home far away,
Oh they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise,
   Oh they tell me of an unclouded day.

(7) "Trust is a peculiarly moulded key, bearing all the gorgeous colors of the rainbow, and wet with tears. This key, if carried in the hand of the sorrowing, will unlock the door of comfort.

Trust and obey for there is no other way,
To be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.

I Thess. 4: 16-18, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore, comfort one another with these words."

Psa. 37: 5, "Commit they way unto the Lord and he shall bring it to pass." A faithful prayer never fails to reach the ear of God. Those offered when time was young and those uttered but yesterday, are not forgotten. Even the tears of the saints are bottled up, not a tear is wasted nor a prayer forgotten.

Trusting, trusting, trusting in the Lord,
   I believe the promises he gave.
Trusting, trusting, trusting in the Lord,
   He alone can save.

One ray of trusting, and believing prayer has kindled pencilings of glory in our closets and has unlocked the door of comfort and spangled the clouds of sorrow with gold and silver edges, and glimmering into the night of our bereavements and stealing into the shadows of our disappointments have dropped a mellow light along our pathway.

But, oh, what will it be when perfect trust has reached its grand climax? When we shall bask with steady wing and kindled eye in the overwhelming splendors of the full tide of Jehovah's love, unveiled and filling eternity.

John spoke the truth when he said there shall be no night there in the day of God's appointment. These souls of ours shall drop these shackles of clay, and stepping upon the threshold of their tottering cages will plume their pinions, and climb right up into the sky, and land themselves on the bright frontiers of glory. Then the roaring floods of the centuries may dash, the angel with his earthquake trumpet may come, the judge may descend and earth catch fire, and storms may spread their black wings overhead, but they cannot disturb the trusting soul.

Earthquakes may split the earth, and hell itself may belch its demons at heaven's gate, but their breath will never wither a flower in the garden of God, where the saved are, high up in heaven.

(8) "Perfect love" is a key of wondrous beauty, richly set with pearls and precious gems. And along the main stem there are great drops of blood. This key will unlock the pearly gates to the city of God, and the door to everlasting life.

Old John Fuller, who was thrust into prison for his faith in Jesus carried his old Greek Testament with him, "his sole companion." When he was finally led out to pay the penalty with his life, he prayed, "O, my Father, give me a passage of Scripture, to sustain me in this awful hour. And he opened his old Greek Testament and read I John 4: 18. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out all fear. He pressed the the open book to his breast, and looked up with a radiant face and said, "It is enough for time and eternity." He thrust the key of perfect love into the keyhole of the pearly gates, and the executioner chopped off his head, the gate swung open and his redeemed spirit swept into glory.

I will give you the keys of the kingdom. What are they?

1. The glorious key of faith.
2. The key of sincerity.
3. The key of repentance.
4. The key of honesty.
5. The prodigal's key.
6. The skeleton key, "God's strength."
7. The beautiful key of faith.
8. The key of perfect love.


Heb. 13: 14, "For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. Our cities are capable of being destroyed, and our homes are perishable, but we look for a city whose maker and builder is God, "An eternal resting place." Here life is but a hand's breadth. Yesterday in the twilight of evening we gathered around mother's knee, white-robed children to say our evening prayers. Today we are men and women grappling with the stern problems of life. To-morrow the business fruit of youth will turn to ashes on the lips of old age. Everything in the wide universe says to us, here have we no continuing city, but immortality cries back to nature, we seek a city where death and sorrow and old age cannot come. John the revelator beautifully described the glorious future home of the righteous, under the figure of a magnificent city.

This figurative city was made of gold, and had twelve gates, each made of a single pearl, and was surrounded with a wall of polished jasper.

The city rested on twelve foundations of precious stones, disposed in layers one above the other, and each foundation was composed of a single gem.

This city was paved with gold and located in a new and glorified world, and in it was the throne of God, and of the Lamb from which, the apocalyptic writer says, proceeded the river of life. And probably beneath the glorious throne, were huge caverns walled and arched with jewels and diamond columns, from whose glittering pendants percolating nectar dropped, from which the fountains of living waters burst, in a thousand glossy torrents and uniting like streams of liquid crystal, embanked in emerald, flowed unhindered through the golden city, and sweeping majestically, beyond the jasper wall, girdled the sealess and renovated earth. In this city symbolizing the heavenly state, made accessible to man by Christ, "the way," was also the tree of life.

Not a single tree, I'm sure, but trees which grew along the streets and threw their cooling shades upon every golden pavement, where the citizens of heaven's metropolis, franchised and redeemed, will ever pass, and line also the banks of the river of life.

Their giant trunks upreared above floral hills, and burnished domes gleaming in silvery sheen, and spires and towers glittering with diamond frost, and palatial palaces resplendent and spangled with gems.

These trees of life are amazingly roofed with fadeless foliage, and their branches offshooting and wide-spreading are continually laden with immortal fruit, absolutely free to pluck, and eat, and live forever; there is no burnished sword gleaming and no cherubim forbidding. There, it is life--blessed life, and life forever.

Life is sweet, life is glorious, if but for a moment, but eternal life, who will dare to measure, who can measure, or fathom, or weigh the incalculable period of its duration?

Take your line, drop your plummet, and life your scales. What's the answer? Ah! it is eternal life.

If you would search more extensively for the meaning of eternal life, go to eternity's chronometer and mark the swift flights of cycles, infinite and count the vibrations of its ponderous pendulum, constantly going and coming. Count the mighty strokes upon its sounding bell, floating away in music, each repeating to its last murmur--life, blessed life, forever.

Chronicler of ages and never ending cycles--we entreat thee, repeat the period of your record--forever is the answer--eternity, eternity.

Life is heaven and a never-ending eternity the period of its enjoyment.

Here our homes decay and our loved ones die, but in that city for which we look, our home will be eternal, and our loved ones will never die. In that home of eternal joys, our fondest hopes will sweep to a rich and abundant fruition. In that home the immortal relation of the family will never be disturbed. The bonds of love and friendship will never be surrendered and love will wreath her bright chain of golden links about us inseverable forever. There will be no more sorrow, tears of crying, thank God there will be no more painful farewells in that God-blessed home of the faithful. Death will be eternally banished and the cadaverous monarch will be chained in the valley of bony loneliness and will count his empty vaults world without end.

Just where that heavenly home is located, or what it is like, I do not know. But it is quite enough for me to know that there is an eternal home of blessedness, somewhere in a sunny locality, prepared for those who walk uprightly. It may be, who can tell, some bright and glorious metropolitan world fixed securely in the center of the universe around which all suns and systems revolve, where magnificence and beauty struggle for the mastery and eternal glory sits enthroned? To that home we are bound, with Jesus leading the way, for he said, "I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go, I will come again that where I am there ye may be also."

Intervening is a vast ocean with billowy crest and towering waves, but we are aboard the old gospel ship Zion. Her keel, stern and timbers are strong. Her spires are tall, and her decks and cabins are spacious, and there is plenty of room on board for us all. God, the Father, is her captain, and Jesus her untiring pilot. Her journals reveal a thousand voyages, and a thousand storms. Her logbook reveals a flying speed and her register a million passengers, all going home. She is bound from earth to glory. She has already slipped her anchor, and unfastened her moorings and her invulnerable keel now cleaves the briny wave, and flies away like a rushing bird to the distant shore where home and loved ones are. Love drives her machinery and the wind of heaven crowd her canvas, and angels hover on her every mast as she leans to the surge and groans, and drives, and flies, with her swelling sails of lily white, like the plumed wings of the bird of paradise, wet with the dew of a perpetual morning.

On that ship you will find the widow and orphan, the old and the young. Some are lonely, and some are brokenhearted, and some are heavy laden. Some are weeping, some are praying and some are shouting. Every face of the ship's company is marked with the lines of suffering, and every heart has felt death's shock. Somewhere in their life they have wept, they have borne heavy burdens, they have buried their dead. But they are going home and every heart swells with the anticipation of a glorious homecoming.

The pilot turns the wheel, and the old ship swings around the black shores of the valley and shadow of death,--and "O! glory"--in the distance, all glorious and bright, the pearly white city, bathed in glory looms up, beautiful beyond description.

Every passenger rushes to the main deck, and every eye catches the glorious vision, and every voice shouts--"The city, the city."

She steams into harbor and the ship master throws out the gang-plank and orphans rush into the arms of radiant mothers, long separated, and sisters, and brothers, and fathers, and mothers, reach the end of their separation, while angels behold in joyous wonder the glorious homecoming of the homeless. The persecuted and oppressed are rewarded and the Lord's poor become rich in treasures imperishable.

Sooner or later the last day will come and we will stand at the end of our pilgrimage. Life with us will soon be over and the day of judgment will dawn. Then the sun unwheeled will drag along the jarring heavens and refuse to shine. The stars will veil their faces and the moon will roll up in the heavens red as blood, and hang her crimson livery upon the black wing of night. Earth will quiver upon her axis and huge mountains of sorrow will drift and lodge upon her quaking heart.

A mighty angel with a face like the sun, clothed with clouds, and crowned with a rainbow, and shod with wings of fire, will cleave the heavens in his lightning track, and descending with one foot upon the troubled sea, and one upon the earth, will life his hand to heaven, and swear by the Judge of the living and dead, that time shall no longer be.

Old Time, the father of centuries, and the heartless tomb-builder of generations will die, and fall a giant in ugly ruins. Then we will join the heavenly chorus, and hail redemptions, grand consummation, with one grand anthem, whose choral thunders rolling along all the paths of space, will shake the universe, with its bursting chorus, "Oh, death, where is thy sting?"

We are tenting to-day on the old church ground with our faces set like a flint toward our eternal home and our hearts are fixed on that city and in the sweet bye and bye we will be invested, both soul and body with immortality. And in that fair city at the sounding of the gavel and grand General Assembly of the Universe will be seated in the spacious halls of glory, to witness the marriage of the bride and the lamb, when matrimony will reach its grand culmination. O, let us go there, let us go there!

[Source: Baskette, R. L., comp. Centennial Sermons and Papers delivered at the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Organization of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church before the Eightieth General Assembly Dickson, Tenn., May 19-24, 1910. Nashville, Tennessee: The Cumberland Press, 1911, pages 151-174]

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