Homer’s heaven was an elysium which he describes as a plain at the end of the earth or beneath, with no snow nor rainfall, and the sun never goes down, and Rhadamanthus, the justest of men, rules. Hesiod’s heaven is what he calls the islands of the blessed, in the midst of the ocean, three times a year blooming with most exquisite flowers, and the air is tinted with purple, while games and music and horse-races occupy the time. The Scandinavian’s heaven was the hall of Walhalla, where the god Odin gave unending wine-suppers to earthly heroes and heroines. The Mohammedan’s heaven passes its disciples in over the bridge Al-Sirat, which is finer than a hair and sharper than a sword, and then they are let loose into a riot of everlasting sensuality.
The American aborigines look forward to a heaven of illimitable hunting-ground, partridge and deer and wild duck more than plentiful, and the hounds never off the scent, and the guns never missing fire. But the geographer has followed the earth round, and found no Homer’s elysium. Voyagers have traversed the deep in all directions, and found no Hesiod’s islands of the blessed. The Mohammedan’s celestial debauchery and the Indian’s eternal hunting-ground for vast multitudes have no charm. But here rolls in the Bible heaven. No more sea—that is, no wide separation. No more night—that is, no insomnia. No more tears—that is, no heart-break. No more pain—that is, dismissal of lancet and bitter draught and miasma, and banishment of neuralgias and catalepsies and consumptions. All colors in the wall except gloomy black; all the music in the major-key, because celebrative and jubilant. River crystalline, gate crystalline, and skies crystalline, because everything is clear and without doubt. White robes, and that means sinlessness. Vials full of odors, and that means pure regalement of the senses. Rainbow, and that means the storm is over. Marriage supper, and that means gladdest festivity. Twelve manner of fruits, and that means luscious and unending variety. Harp, trumpet, grand march, anthem, amen, and hallelujah in the same orchestra. Choral meeting solo, and overture meeting antiphon, and strophe joining dithyramb, as they roll into the ocean of doxologies. And you and I may have all that, and have it forever through Christ, if we will let Him with the blood of one wounded hand rub out our sin, and with the other wounded hand swing open the shining portals.
Day and night keep your window open toward that Jerusalem. Sing about it. Pray about it. Think about it. Talk about it. Dream about it. Do not be inconsolable about your friends who have gone into it. Do not worry if something in your heart indicates that you are not far off from its ecstasies. Do not think that when a Christian dies he stops, for he goes on.