In My Father's house are many mansions John14:2
these words may be observed two things,
1. The thing described, viz., Christ's Father's house.
Christ spoke to his disciples in the foregoing chapter as one
that was about to leave them. He told 'em, verse 31, "Now
is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him," and
then goes to giving of them counsel to live in unity and love
one another, as one that was going from them. By which
they seemed somewhat surprised and hardly knew what to
make of it. And one of them, viz., Peter, asked him where
he was going; verse 36, "Simon Peter said unto him, Lord
whither goest thou?" Christ did not directly answer and tell
him where he was going, but he signifies where in these words
afterwards, in the verse 12, he tells 'em plainly that he was
going to his Father.
2. We may observe the description given of it, viz., that in
it there are many mansions. The disciples seemed very
sorrowful at the news of Christ's going away, but Christ
comforts 'em with that, that in his Father's house where he
was going there was not only room for him, but room for them
too. There were many mansions. There was not only a
mansion there for him, but there were mansions enough for
them all; there was room enough in heaven for them. When
the disciples perceived that Christ was going away, they
manifested a great desire to go with him, and particularly
Peter. Peter in the latter part of the foregoing chapter asked
him whither he went to that end that he might follow him.
Christ told him that whither he went he could not follow him
now, but that he should follow him afterwards. But
Peter, not content with Christ, seemed to have a great
mind to follow him now. "Lord," says he, "why cannot
I follow thee now?" So that the disciples had a
great mind still to be with Christ, and Christ in the words
of the text intimates that they shall be with him. Christ
signifies to 'em that he was going home to his Father's house,
and he encourages 'em that they shall be with him there in due
time, in that there were many mansions there. There was a
mansion provided not only for him, but for them all (for Judas
was not then present), and not only for them, but for all that
should ever believe in him to the end of the world; and
though he went before, he only went to prepare a place for
them that should follow.
The text is a plain sentence; 'tis therefore needless to press
any doctrine in other words from it: so that I shall build my
discourse on the words of the text. There are two propositions
contained in the words, viz.,
I. that heaven is God's house, and
II. that in this house of God there are many mansions.
Prop. I. Heaven is God's house. An house of public worship
is an house where God's people meet from time to time to attend on
God's ordinances, and that is set apart for that and is
called God's house. The temple of Solomon was called God's
house. God was represented as dwelling there. There he has his throne
in the holy of holies, even the mercy seat over the
ark and between the cherubims.
Sometimes the whole universe is represented in Scripture as
God's house, built with various stories one above another:
Amos 9:6, "It is he that buildeth his stories in the
heaven;" and Psalm 104:3, "Who layeth the beams of his
chambers in the waters." But the highest heaven is especially
represented in Scripture as the house of God. As to other
parts of the creation, God hath appointed them to inferior
uses; but this part he has reserved for himself for his own
abode. We are told that the heavens are the Lord's, but the
earth he hath given to the sons of men. God, though he is
everywhere present, is represented both in Old Testament and
New as being in heaven is a special and peculiar manner.
Heaven is the temple of God. Thus we read of God's temple
in heaven, Revelation 15:5. Solomon's temple was a type of heaven.
The apostle Paul is his epistle to the Hebrews does from time
to time call heaven the holy of holies, as being the antitype not
only of the temple of Solomon, but of the most holy place in
that temple, which was the place of God's most immediate
residence: Hebrews 9:12, "He entered in once into the holy
place;" verse 24, "For Christ is not entered into the holy
places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but
into heaven itself." Houses where assemblies of Christians
worship God are in some respects figures of this house of God
above. When God is worshipped in them in spirit and truth,
they become the outworks of heaven and as it were its gates.
As in houses of public worship here there are assemblies of
Christians meeting to worship God, so in heaven there is a
glorious assembly, or Church, continually worshipping God:
Hebrews 12:22,23, "But ye are come unto mount Sion, [and
unto] the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and
to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly
and church of the firstborn, that are written in heaven."
Heaven is represented in Scripture as God's dwelling-house;
Psalm 113:5, "Who is like [unto] the Lord our God, who
dwelleth on high," and Psalm 123:1, "Unto thee I lift up
mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens." Heaven is
God's palace. 'Tis the house of the great King of the
universe; there he has his throne, which is therefore represented
as his house or temple; Psalm 11:4, "The Lord is in his holy
temple; the Lord's throne is in heaven."
Heaven is the house where God dwells with his family.
God is represented in Scripture as having a family; and
though some of this family are now on earth, yet in so being
they are abroad and not at home, but all going home:
Ephesians 3:15, "Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named."
Heaven is the place that God has built for himself and his
children. God has many children, and the place designed for
them is heaven; therefore the saints, being the children of God,
are said to be of the household of God, Ephesians 2:19: "Now
therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens
with the saints, and of the household of God." God
is represented as a householder or head of a family, and heaven
is his house.
Heaven is the house not only where God hath his throne,
but also where he doth as it were keep his table, where his
children sit down with him at his table and where they are
feasted in a royal manner becoming the children of so great a
King: Luke 22:30, "That ye may eat and drink at my table
in my kingdom;" Matthew 26:29, "But I say unto you, I will
not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine until that day
when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."
God is the King of kings, and heaven is the place where he
keeps his court. There are his angels and archangels that
as the nobles of his court do attend upon him.
Prop. II. There are many mansions in the house of God.
By many mansions is meant many seats or places of abode.
As it is a king's palace, there are many mansions. Kings'
houses are wont to be built very large, with many stately
rooms and apartments. So there are many mansions in God's
When this is spoken of heaven, it is chiefly to be understood
in a figurative sense, and the following things seem to be taught
us in it.
1. There is room in this house of God for great numbers.
There is room in heaven for a vast multitude, yea, room enough
for all mankind that are or ever shall be; Luke 14:22, "Lord
it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room."
It is not with the heavenly temple as it often is with
houses of public worship in this world, that they fill up and
become too small and scanty for those that would meet in them,
so that there is not convenient room for all. There is room enough
in our heavenly Father's house. This is partly what
Christ intended in the words of the text, as is evident from the
occasion of his speaking them. The disciples manifested a great
desire to be where Christ was, and Christ therefore, to encourage them
that it should be as they desired, tells them that in
his Father's house where he was going were many mansions,
i.e., room enough for them.
There is mercy enough in God to admit an innumerable multitude
into heaven. There is mercy enough for all, and there
is merit enough in Christ to purchase heavenly happiness for
millions of millions, for all men that ever were, are or shall
be. And there is a sufficiency in the fountain of heaven's
happiness to supply and fill and satisfy all: and there is in all
respects enough for the happiness of all.
2. There are sufficient and suitable accommodations for
all the different sorts of persons that are in the world: for great
and small, for high and low, rich and poor, wise and unwise,
bond and free, persons of all nations and all conditions and
circumstances, for those that have been great sinners as well
as for moral livers; for weak saints and those that are babes
in Christ as well as for those that are stronger and more grown
in grace. There is in heaven a sufficiency for the happiness of
every sort; there is a convenient accommodation for every
creature that will hearken to the calls of the Gospel. None
that will come to Christ, let his condition be what it will, need
to fear but that Christ will provide a place suitable for him in
This seems to be another thing implied in Christ's words.
The disciples were persons of very different condition from
Christ: he was their Master, and there were his disciples; he
was their Lord, and there were the servants; he was their Guide,
and they were the followers; he was their Captain, and
they the soldiers; he was the Shepherd, and they the sheep;
[he was, as it were, the] Father, [and they the] children; he
was the glorious, holy Son of God, they were the poor, sinful, corrupt
men. But yet, though they were in such different circumstances
from him, yet Christ encourages them that there shall
not only be room in heaven for him, but for them too; for
there were many mansions there. There was not only a mansion to accommodate
the Lord, but the disciples also; not only the head,
but the members; not only the Son of God, but those
that are naturally poor, sinful, corrupt men: as in a king's
palace there is not only a mansion or room of state built for
the king himself and for his eldest son and heir, but there are
many rooms, mansions for all his numerous household, children,
attendants and servants.
3. It is further implied that heaven is a house that was
actually built and prepared for a great multitude. When God
made heaven in the beginning of the world, he intended it for
an everlasting dwelling-place for a vast and innumerable multitude.
When heaven was made , it was intended and prepared
for all those particular persons that God had from eternity designed
to save: Matthew 25:34, "Come, ye blessed [of my Father, inherit the
Kingdom] prepared for you [from the foundation of the world]."
And that is a very great and innumerable multitude:
Revelation 7:9, "After this I beheld,
and, lo, a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations,
and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues, stood before the throne
and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes." Heaven
being built designedly for these was built accordingly; it was
built so as most conveniently to accommodate all this multitude:
as a house that is built for a great family is built large and
with many rooms in it; as a palace that is built for a great
king that keeps a great court with many attendants is built
exceeding great with a great many apartments; and as an
house of public worship that is built for a great congregation
is built very large with many seats in it.
4. When it is said, ["In my father's house are many mansions"],
it is meant that there are seats of various dignity and
different degrees and circumstances of honor and happiness.
There are many mansions in God's house because heaven is
intended for various degrees of honor and blessedness. Some
are designed to sit in higher places there than others; some are
designed to be advanced to higher degrees of honor and glory
than others are; and, therefore, there are various mansions, and
some more honorable mansions and seats, in heaven than others.
Though they are all seats of exceeding honor and blessedness
yet some are more so than others.
Thus a palace is built. Though every part of the palace is
magnificent as becomes the palace of a king, yet there are many
apartments of various honor, and some are more stately and
costly than others, according to the degree of dignity. There
is one apartment that is the king's presence-chamber; there
are other apartments for the next heir to the crown; there are
others for other children; and others for their attendants and
the great officers of the household: one for the high steward,
and another for the chamberlain, and others for meaner officers
Another image of this was in Solomon's temple. There were
many mansions of different degrees of honor and dignity. There
was the holy of holies, where the ark was that was the place
of God's immediate residence, where the high priest alone might
come; and there was another apartment called the holy place,
where the other priests might come; and next to that was the
inner court of the temple, where the Levites were admitted:
and there they had many chambers or mansions built for lodging-rooms
for the priests; and next to that was the court of
Israel where the people of Israel might come; and next to that
was the court of the Gentiles where the Gentiles, those that
were called the "Proselytes of the Gate," might come.
And we have an image of this in houses built for the worship
of Christian assemblies. In such houses of God there are many
seats of different honor and dignity, from the most honorable to
the most inferior of the congregation.
Not that we are to understand the words of Christ so much
in a literal sense, as that every saint in heaven was to have a
certain seat or room or place of abode where he was to be locally
fixed. 'Tis not the design of the Scriptures to inform us much
about the external circumstances of heaven or the state of heaven
locally considered; but we are to understand what Christ says
chiefly in a spiritual sense. Persons shall be set in different
degrees of honor and glory in heaven, as is abundantly manifested
in Scripture: which may fitly be represented to our imaginations
by there being different seats of honor, as it was in the
temple, as it is in kings' courts. Some seats shall be nearer
the throne than others. Some shall sit next to Christ in glory:
Matthew 20:23, "To sit on my right hand and on my left, is not
mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared
of my Father."
Christ has doubtless respect to these different degrees of glory
in the text. When he was going to heaven and the disciples
were sorrowful at the thoughts of parting with their Lord, he
lets them know that there are seats or mansions of various degrees
of honor in his Father's house, that there was not only one
for him, who was the Head of the Church and the elder brother,
but also for them that were his disciples and younger brethren.
Christ also may probably have respect not only to different
degrees of glory in heaven, but different circumstances. Though
the employment and happiness of all the heavenly assembly
shall in the general be the same, yet 'tis not improbable that
there may be circumstantial difference. We know what their
employment [is] in general, but not in particular. We know not
how one may be employed to subserve and promote the happiness
of another, and all to help one another. Some may there
be set in one place for one office or employment, and others [in]
another, as 'tis in the Church on earth. God hath set every one
in the body as it hath pleased him; one is the eye, another the ear,
another the head, etc. But because God has not been
pleased expressly to reveal how it shall be in this respect, therefore
I shall not insist upon it, but pass to make some
of what has been offered.
I. Here is encouragement for sinners that are concerned and exercised
for the salvation of their souls, such as are afraid that
they shall never go to heaven or be admitted to any place of
abode there, and are sensible that they are hitherto in a doleful
state and condition in that they are out of Christ, and so have
no right to any inheritance in heaven, but are in danger of
going to hell and having their place of eternal abode fixed there.
You may be encouraged by what has been said, earnestly
to seek heaven; for there are many mansions there.
There is room enough there. Let your case be what it will,
there is suitable provision there for you; and if you come to
Christ, you need not fear that he will prepare a place for
you; he'll see to it that you shall be well accommodated in heaven.
But II. I would improve this doctrine in a twofold exhortation.
1. Let all be hence exhorted earnestly to seek that they may
be admitted to a mansion in heaven. You have heard that
this is God's house; it is his temple. If David, when he was
in the wilderness of Judah and in the land of Geshur and of
the Philistines, so longed that he might again return into the
land of Israel that he might have a place in the house of God
here on earth, and prized a place there so much, though it was
but that of a door-keeper, how great a happiness will it be to
have a place in this heavenly temple of God! If they are
looked upon as enjoying a high privilege that have a seat
appointed them in kings' courts or in apartments in kings'
palaces, especially those that have an abode there in the quality
of the king's children, then how great a privilege will it be
to have an apartment or mansion assigned to us in God's
heavenly palace, and to have a place there as his children!
How great is their glory and honor that are admitted to be of
the household of God!
And seeing there are many mansions there, mansions enough
for us all, our folly will be the greater if we neglect to seek a
place in heaven, having our minds foolishly taken up about the
worthless, fading things of this world. Here consider three things:
(1) How little a while you can have any mansion or place of
abode in this world. Now you have a dwelling amongst the
living. You have a house or mansion of your own, or at least
one that is at present for your use, and now you have a seat
in the house of God; but how little a while will this continue!
In a very little while, and the place that now knows you in
this world will know you no more. The habitation you have
here will be empty of you; you will be carried dead out of it,
or shall die at a distance from it, and never enter into it any
more, or into any other abode in this world. Your mansion or
place of abode in this world, however convenient or commodious
it may be, is but as a tent that shall soon be taken down, but a
lodge in a garden of cucumbers. Your stay is as it were but
for a night. Your body itself is but a house of clay which will
quickly moulder and tumble down, and you shall have no other
habitation here in this world but the grave.
Thus God in his providence is putting you in mind by the
repeated instances of death that have been in the town within
the two weeks past, both in one house: in which death he has
shown his dominion over old and young. The son was taken away
first before the father, being in his full strength and flower of
his days; and the father, who was then well and having no
appearance of approaching death, followed in a few days: and
their habitation and their seat in the house of God in this world
will know them no more.
Take warning by these warnings of Providence to improve your
time that you may have a mansion in heaven. We have
a house of worship newly created amongst us which now you
have a seat in, and probably are pleased with the ornaments of
it; and though you have a place in so comely a house, yet you
know not how little a while you shall have a place in this
house of God. Here are a couple snatched away by death that
had met in it but a few times, that have been snatched out of
it before it was fully finished and never will have any more a
seat in it. You know not how soon you may follow, and then
of great importance will it be to you to have a seat in God's
house above. Both of the persons lately deceased were much
on their death-beds warning others to improve their precious
time. The first of them was much in expressing his sense of
the vast importance of an interest in Christ, as I was a witness,
and was earnest in calling on others to improve their time,
to be thorough, to get an interest in Christ, and seemed very
desirous that young people might receive council and warning
from him, as the words of a dying man, to do their utmost to
make sure of conversion; and a little before he died left a
request to me that I would warn the young people in his room.
God had been warning of you in his death and the death of his
father that so soon followed. The words of dying persons
should be of special weight with us, for then they are in
circumstances wherein they are most capable to look on things as
they are and judge aright of 'em,--between both worlds as it were.
Still that we must all be in.
Let our young people, therefore, take warning from hence,
and don't be such fools as to neglect seeking a place and mansion
in heaven. Young persons are especially apt to be taken
with the pleasing things of this world. You are now, it may be,
much pleased with hopes of your future circumstances in
this world; [and you are now, it may be, much] pleased with
the ornaments of that house of worship that you with others
have a place in. But, alas, do you not too little consider
how soon you may be taken away from all these things, and no
more forever have any part in any mansion or house or enjoyment
or happiness under the sun? Therefore let it be your
main care to secure an everlasting habitation for hereafter.
(2) Consider when you die, if you have no mansion in the
house of God in heaven, you must have your place of abode in
the habitation of devils. There is no middle place between
them, and when you go hence, you must go to one or the
other of these. Some have a mansion prepared for them in
heaven from the foundation [of the world]; others are sent away
as cursed into everlasting burnings prepared for the [devil and
his angels]. Consider how miserable those must be that shall
have their habitation with devils to all eternity. Devils
are foul spirits; God's great enemies. Their habitation is
the blackness of darkness; a place of the utmost filthiness,
abomination, darkness, disgrace and torment, O, how would
you rather ten thousand times have no place of abode at all,
have no being, than to have a place [with devils]!
(3) If you die unconverted, you will have the worse place
in hell for having had a seat or place in God's house in this
world. As there are many mansions, places of different degrees
of honor in heaven, so there are various abodes and places
or degrees of torment and misery in hell; and those will have
the worst place there that [dying unconverted, have had the
best place in God's house here]. Solomon speaks of a peculiarly
awful sight that he had seen, that of a wicked man
buried that had gone [from the place of the holy], Ecclesiastes 8:10.
Such as have had a seat in God's house, have been in a
sense exalted up to heaven, set on the gate of heaven, [if they
die unconverted, shall be] cast down to hell.
2. The second exhortation that I would offer from what has
been said is to seek a high place in heaven. Seeing there are
many mansions of different degrees of honor and dignity in
heaven, let us seek to obtain a mansion of distinguished glory.
'Tis revealed to us that there are different degrees of glory to
that end that we might seek after the higher degrees. God
offered high degrees of glory to that end, that we might seek
them by eminent holiness and good works: 2 Corinthians 9:6, "He that
sows sparingly [shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth
bountifully shall reap also bountifully]." It is not becoming
persons to be over anxious about an high seat in God's house
in this world, for that is the honor that is of men; but we can't
too earnestly seek after an high seat in God's house above, by
seeking eminent holiness, for that is the honor that is of God.
'Tis very little worth the while for us to pursue after honor
in this world, where the greatest honor is but a bubble and
will soon vanish away, and death will level all. Some have
more stately houses than others, and some are in higher office
than others, and some are richer than others and have higher
seats in the meeting-house than others; but all graves are
upon a level. One rotting, putrefying corpse is as ignoble as
another; the worms are as bold with one carcass as another.
But the mansions in God's house above are everlasting mansions.
Those that have seats allotted 'em there, whether of
greater or lesser dignity, whether nearer or further from the
throne, will hold 'em to all eternity. This is promised,
Revelation 3:12 :"Him that overcometh I will make him a pillar in the
temple [of my God, and he shall go no more out]." If it be
worth the while to desire and seek high seats in the meeting-house,
where you are one day in a week, and where you shall
never come but few days in all; if it be worth the while much
to prize one seat above another in the house of worship only
because it is the pew or seat that is ranked first in number,
and to be seen here for a few days, how will it be worth the
while to seek an high mansion in God's temple and in that
glorious place that is the everlasting habitation of God and all
his children! You that are pleased with your seats in this
house because you are seated high or in a place that is looked
upon honorable by those that sit round about, and because
many can behold you, consider how short a time you will enjoy
this pleasure. And if there be any that are not suited in their
seats because they are too low for them, let them consider that
it is but a very little while before it will [be] all one to you
whether you have sat high or low here. But it will be of
infinite and everlasting concern to you where your seat is in
another world. Let your great concern be while in this world
so to improve your opportunities in God's house in this world,
whether you sit high or low, as that you may have a distinguished
and glorious mansion in God's house in heaven, where
you may be fixed in your place in that glorious assembly in an
Let the main thing that we prize in God's house be, not the outward
ornaments of it, or a high seat in it, but the word of God and his
ordinances in it. And spend your time here in seeking Christ, that
he may prepare a place for you in his Father's house, that when he
comes again to this world, he may take you to himself, that where he is,
there you may be also.