The Christian Pilgrim

Genesis 47:9
       And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of the my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Jacob calls his life a pilgrimage.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): A more appropriate term could not be conceived to express the life of Jacob.

OCTAVIUS WINSLOW (1808-1878): The aged saint selects one of the most striking figures with which to depict his own and all life…Let us now see how this character applies to all believers, and ascertain if in any feature it corresponds with us. What are some of the elements, or rather characteristics of the Christian pilgrimage?

ADAM CLARKE: The pilgrim was a person who took a journey, long or short, on some religious account, submitting during the time to many hardships and privations.

OCTAVIUS WINSLOW: It is recorded of the ancient worthies that “they confessed they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth,” Hebrews 11:13. They were not ashamed to acknowledge that this was their character.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): They were “strangers” because their home was in heaven; “pilgrims,” because journeying thither.

OCTAVIUS WINSLOW: In the first place, there is this characteristic: the Christian pilgrim is not at home here in this world. A pilgrim is never supposed to be so; he is travelling to a distant place. If ever this characteristic finds a truthful application, it is in the life of the child of God. He is not at home in this world; he does not feel so, and he is day by day made to realize that he is a stranger here, and that he experiences the heart of a stranger.

J. C. PHILPOT (1802-1869): You feel yourself a stranger in this ungodly world; it is not your element, it is not your home. You are in it during God’s appointed time, but you wander up and down this world a stranger to its company, a stranger to its maxims, a stranger to its motives, a stranger to its lusts, its inclinations, and all in which this world moves as in its native element. Grace has separated you by God’s distinguishing power, that though you are in the world, you are not of it.

OCTAVIUS WINSLOW: Another characteristic of the Christian’s pilgrimage is the life of faith that he lives. This is an essential element of the Christian pilgrimage―a life of faith in God.

R. C. CHAPMAN (1803-1902): It is only as by faith we see our home above, that we are proper pilgrims here.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): This world is not our home, but that is.

JOHN BRADFORD (1510-1555): Dearly beloved, remember that you are not of this world; that Satan is not your captain; that your joy and Paradise are not here; that your companions are not the multitude of worldlings. But ye are of another world, Christ is your Captain; your joy is in heaven; your companions are the fathers, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, virgins, confessors, and dear saints of God, who follow the Lamb withersoever He goeth.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Set not your hearts, say I, on this world’s trash, since better things abide you.

EDWARD PAYSON (1783-1827): The world—O what a bubble—what a trifle it is!

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The mind of a Christian ought not to be filled with thoughts of earthly things, or find satisfaction in them, for we ought to be living as if we might have to leave this world at any moment.

OCTAVIUS WINSLOW: Another feature or characteristic of the Christian pilgrim is indifference to present objects, scenes, and events. A traveller, passing through a strange city to another and distant place, feels but little or no interest in the affairs of that city, its local administration, and its party strifes…
      We do not think that God would have His people pass blindfolded through life, abjuring their intelligent and observant faculties, taking no note of His administrative government of the world. A true child of God cannot be totally indifferent to the mode by which his heavenly Father conducts His providential government―Beyond this we are to be Christian pilgrims, feeling no more interest or regard for these things than as though they were not. Ah, many a Christian professor merges his religion in his politics, loses the spirituality of his heavenly calling, in the deadening influence of his earthly calling. Beware, as a Christian man, of the politics of the world; beware of a too absorbing interest in worldly scenes; beware, oh, beware, of having the affections, thoughts, and powers of your soul swept onward by the tide of political, commercial, and scientific excitement, which drowns so many souls in perdition. As a believer in Jesus, you are a pilgrim on earth; and you are the citizen of a better, that is, a heavenly country.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): If his citizenship is in heaven, if his place, his portion, and his home be on high, if he is only a pilgrim and a stranger here below, then it follows that he is not called to meddle in any way with this world’s politics, but to pass on his pilgrim way, patiently submitting himself to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, yielding obedience to the powers that be, and praying for their preservation and well-being in all things.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): I am a stranger, and a pilgrim. My citizenship, my charter, my rights, my treasures, are, I hope, in heaven, and there my heart ought to be…I may be removed—and perhaps suddenly—into the unseen world, where all that causes so much bustle upon earth at present, will be no more to me than the events which took place among the antediluvians—many things which now assume an air of importance, will be found light and insubstantial as the baseless fabric of a vision.

JOHN CALVIN: In what spirit, then, ought we to dwell in a world where no certain repose or fixed abode is promised us?

MATTHEW HENRY: Jacob reckons his life by days; for, even so, it is soon reckoned, and we are not sure of the continuance of it for a day to an end, but may be turned out of this tabernacle at less than an hour’s warning. Let us therefore number our days, Psalm 90:12, and measure them, Psalm 39:4.

OCTAVIUS WINSLOW: Is this characteristic of the Christian pilgrimage ours? Oh, do we feel that earth is but a lodge, a sojourn as for a night?

MATTHEW HENRY: Such is our life: it appears but for a little time, and then vanisheth away, James 4:14; it vanisheth as to this world, but there is a life that will continue in the other world; and, since this life is so uncertain, it concerns us all to prepare and lay up in store for that to come.

MARY WINSLOW (1774-1854): Let us, then, live more for eternity, and less for this poor dying world.

JOHN TRAPP: This should be every man’s pilgrimage in this world.


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