By | October 20, 2012

By Richard Baxter
Chapter XXXV

“Another part of carnal self-interest to be denied, is, our native country, or place of habitation, with all the comforts and accommodations they afford us. It is lawful to have some special love to our own country; but not such as shall prevail against the love of Christ, or seem sufficient to entangle us in sin. We must show our love to it principally by desiring and endeavoring, that God’s name may be hallowed, and his kingdom maintained, and his will fulfilled among and by our countrymen; but if they should turn enemies to the gospel or to godliness, we must love the servants of God abroad much better than his enemies at home; and wish the success of his servants, though of other countries, against his enemies, though they were of our own. And if we cannot serve God, or enjoy the freedom of a good conscience, at home, another nation, though it were in the utmost parts of the earth, where we may better serve God, must seem a better place to us.  And if we be banished or necessitated to forsake our country, we must not stick at it, for the cause of Christ. It is none of the greatest trials to be put to remove from one country to another, as long as we have necessaries wherever we come. We have the same God to be with us, and take care of us, beyond sea, as at home; the same earth, and air, and sun to shine upon us: the same Spirit, and grace, and promises to accompany us; the same saints of God, and ordinances of worship, may be had in other countries as our own. It is a kind of childishness to make such a matter of being driven out of one kingdom into another, when we have the same or greater mercies in the other. All is but our Father’s house; and we do but remove from room to room. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” As I said before of imprisonment, so I say of banishment; it is in our own wills, by consenting to it, to make it no banishment. If you will make an affliction and a great matter of it, you may. A merchant or factor can live for his commodity far from home, even among Turks and infidels, and take it for no banishment: much more should you do for the sake of Christ. Every place is our country where our Master’s work lieth. We are but pilgrims; and as long as we are not out or our way, we need not complain much for being out of our country. Indeed we are here but strangers, and this is not our country, and therefore let us not over-love it upon a mistake. The apostles of Christ did purposely leave their countries, and travel about the countries of the world, to bring them the doctrine of salvation by Christ. And is it not better to be walking lights to illuminate the world than candles shut up within the walls of our own habitation? “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed, and went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles – for he looked for a city which had foundations, whose builder and maker is God,” Heb. xi.8,9,19. “They confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth; for they that say such things, declare plainly that they seek a country; and truly if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned; but now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city,” ver, 13-16. It was the sorest kind of banishment that the saints endured, that is mentioned, Heb. xi. 37,38, and yet they patiently underwent it. “They wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy; they wandered in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” We judge ourselves unworthy of Christ, and the new Jerusalem, and our heavenly country, if we cannot deny an earthly, sinful country for them.”

Here Have We No Continuing City
A Hymn by Thomas Kelly 1769-1854
Hebrews 13:14

We’ve no abiding city here;
This may distress the worldly mind;
But should not count the saints a tear,
Who hopes a better rest to find.

We’ve no abiding city here;
Sad truth, were this to be our home;
But let this thought our spirits cheer,
We seek a city yet to come.

We’ve no abiding city here;
Then let us live as pilgrims do;
Let not the world our rest appear,
But let us haste from all below.

We’ve no abiding city here;
We seek a city out of sight,
Zion its name, the Lord is there,
It shines with everlasting light.

O sweet abode of peace and love,
Where pilgrims freed from toil, are blest;
Had I the pinions of the dove,
I’d fly to thee and be at rest.