The Gospel 24/7
Follow Book & Flag
AN EXTRACT FROM HIS BOOK
WEBMASTER'S PERSONAL NOTE:
Although I had read quite a bit of Baxter before, I "discovered" his wonderful "Saint's Everlasting Rest" while at home briefly between spending most of my time at the hospital in Dallas with my beloved oldest sister, Novella Dearmore Moon, who was dying from lukemia. When I found this, especially chapter 7, which is reproduced below, it really touched my heart and comforted me. I am sure it would be a great blessing also to any saved person upon the loss of a Christian loved one, so I have reproduced it here. BUT TO ANY REAL CHRISTIAN, it should be a really worthwhile "read" AT ANY TIME in their own life and experience.
It has been well said of Baxter: "He was 'meant for mankind;' and therefore the only account which can be given of his creed is, that man is lost by sin, and saved by grace: and the only definition of his polity is, "Little children, love one another." Thus many can say, with equal truth:
"Ours is a Baxter, resolute and calm, Keen to unravel, candid to concede;
His spirit breathing like a spicy balm, Round the tall cedar, and the humble weed."
In the funeral sermon for Baxter, Dr. Bates said: "In his sermons there was a rare union of arguments and motives, to convince the mind and gain the heart." ........ And Bates went on to say of Baxter, " There was no resisting the force of his discourses, without denying reason and divine revelation."
While we, being Bible Believing independent Baptists, do not agree with every jot and tittle and every implication of Mr. Baxter, or most of the other Puritans for that matter, there is a world of wonderful material to be found in their writings. Baxter's work on the everlasting rest of the Saints is one of the outstanding examples of Puritan work, and is worthwhile reading for any Christian, especially for Pastors and Sunday School teachers, as well as for Bible College and Seminary or Training Course teachers.
Following is chapter 7 of this famous work, AND AS YOU READ IT YOU WILL FIND IT HAS BEEN EDITED, SHORTENED, AND SOME OF THE ARCHAIC WORDS HAVE BEEN MODERNIZED, BUT NOT ALL, as compared to the version of date May 17, 1651. Posted here 9/21/96. Read and enjoy!
From Chapter 7 Of The Book
THE EXCELLENCIES OF THE SAINTS' REST
I. It is the purchased possession;
2. A free gift;
3. Peculiar to saints;
4. An association with saints and angels;
5. It derives its joys immediately from God himself;
6. It will be seasonable;
8. Perfect, without sin and suffering;
9. And everlasting.
2. A free gift;
3. Peculiar to saints;
4. An association with saints and angels;
5. It derives its joys immediately from God himself;
6. It will be seasonable;
8. Perfect, without sin and suffering;
9. And everlasting.
Let us draw a little nearer, and see what further excellencies this rest affordeth. The Lord hide us in the clefts of the rock, and cover us with the hands of indulgent grace, while we approach to take this view.
1. It is a most singular honor of the saints' rest, to be called the purchased possession; that is, the fruit of the blood of the Son of God; yea, the chief fruit, the end and perfection of all the fruits and efficacy of that blood. Greater love than this there is not, to lay down the life of the lover. And to have this our Redeemer ever before our eyes, and the liveliest sense and freshest remembrance of that dying, bleeding love, still upon our souls! How will it fill our souls with perpetuaL joy, to think that in the streams of this blood we have swum through the violence of the world, the snares of Satan, the seductions of flesh, the curse of the law, the wrath of an offended God, the accusations of a guilty conscience, and the vexing doubts and fears of an unbelieving heart, and are arrived safely at the presence of God! Now he cries to us, "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow!" And we scarce regard the mournful voice, -- scarce turn aside to view the wounds. But then our perfected souls will feel, and flame in love for love. With what astonishing apprehensions will redeemed saints everlastingly behold their blessed Redeemer! the purchaser, and the price, together with the possession! Neither will the view of his wounds of love renew our wounds of sorrow. He, whose first words after his resurrection were to a great sinner, "Woman, why weepest thou?" knows how to raise love and joy, without any cloud of sorrow or storm of tears. If any thing we enjoy was purchased with the life of our dearest friend, how highly should we value it! If a dying friend deliver us but a token of his love, how carefully do we preserve it, and still remember him when we behold it, as if his own name were written on it! And will not, then, the death and blood of our Lord everlastingly sweeten our possessed glory? As we write down the price our goods cost us; so, on our righteousness and glory write down the price, The precious blood of Christ. His sufferings were to satisfy the justice that required blood, and to bear what was due to sinners, and so to restore them to the life they lost, and the happiness from which they fell. The work of Christ's redemption so well pleased the Father, that he gave him power to advance his chosen, and give them the glory which was given to himself; and all this "according to his good pleasure and the counsel of his own will."
2. Another pearl in the saints' diadem is, that it is a free gift. These two, purchased and free, are the chains of gold which make up the wreaths for the tops of the pillars in the temple of God. It was dear to Christ, but free to us. When Christ was to buy, silver and gold were nothing worth; prayers and tears could not suffice, nor any thing below his blood; but our buying is receiving; we have it freely, without money and without price. A thankful acceptance of a free acquittance is no paying of the debt. Here is all free; if the Father freely give the Son, and the Son freely pay the debt; and if God freely accept that way of payment, when he might have required it of the principal; and if both Father and Son freely offer us the purchased life on our cordial acceptance; and if they freely send the Spirit to enable us to accept; what is here, then, that is not free? O the everlasting admiration that must surprise the saints to think of this freeness! "What did the Lord see in me, that he should judge me meet for such a state? That I, who was but a poor diseased, despised wretch, should be clad in the brightness of this glory! That I, a creeping worm, should be advanced to this high dignity! That I, who was but lately groaning, weeping, dying, should now be as full of joy as my heart can hold! yea, should be taken from the grave where I was decaying, and from the dust and darkness where I seemed forgotten, and be here set before his throne! That I should be taken, with Mordecai, from captivity, and be set next unto the king; and with Daniel from the den, to be made ruler of princes and provinces! Who can fathom unmeasurable love?" If worthiness were our condition for admittance, we might sit down and weep, with St. John, because no man was found worthy. But "the Lion of the tribe of Judah" is worthy, and hath prevailed; and by that title we must hold the inheritance. We shall offer there the offering that David refused, even praise for that which cost us nothing. Here our commission runs, "Freely ye have received, freely give;" but Christ has dearly bought, yet freely gives.
If it were only for nothing, and without our merit, the wonder were great; but it is moreover against our merit, and against our long endeavoring our own ruin. What an astonishing thought it will be, to think of the immeasurable difference between our deservings and receivings! between the state we should have been in, and the state we are in! to look down upon hell, and see the vast difference from that to which we are adopted! What pangs of love will it cause within us to think, "Yonder was the place that sin would have brought me to; but this is it that Christ hath brought me to! Yonder death was the wages of my sin, but this eternal life is the gift of God, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Who made me to differ? Had I not now been in those flames if I had had my own way, and been let alone to my own will? Should I not have lingered in Sodom till the flames had seized on me, if God had not in mercy brought me out?" Doubtless this will be our everlasting admiration, that so rich a crown should fit the head of so vile a sinner; that such high advancement, and such long unfruitfulness and unkindness, can be the state of the same person, and that such vile rebellions can conclude in such most precious joys! But no thanks to us, nor to any of our duties and labors, much less to our neglects and laziness: we know to whom the praise is due, and must be given for ever. Indeed, to this very end it was that infinite wisdom cast the whole design of man's salvation into this mould of purchases and freeness, that the love and joy of man might be perfected, and the honor of grace most highly advanced; that the thought of merit might neither cloud the one nor obstruct the other; and that on these two hinges the gate of heaven might turn.
So then let DESERVED be written on the door of hell; but on the door of heaven and life, THE FREE GIFT.
3. This rest is peculiar to saints, it belongs to no other of all the sons of men. If all Egypt had been light, the Israelites would not have had the less; but to enjoy that light alone, while their neighbors lived in thick darkness, must make them more sensible of their privilege. Distinguishing mercy affects more than any mercy. If Pharaoh had passed as safely as Israel, the Red Sea would have been less remembered. If the rest of the world had not been drowned, and the rest of Sodom and Gomorrah not burned, the saving of Noah had been no wonder, nor Lot's deliverance so much talked of. When one is enlightened, and another left in darkness; one reformed, and another by his lust enslaved; it makes the saints cry out, "Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" When the prophet is sent to one widow only of all that were in Israel, and to cleanse one Naaman of all the lepers, the mercy is more observable. That will surely be a day of passionate sense on both sides, when there shall be two in one bed, and two in the field, the one taken and the other left. The saints shall look down upon the burning lake, and in the sense of their own happiness, and in the approbation of God's just proceedings, they shall rejoice and sing, "Thou art righteous, O Lord! who wast, art, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus."
4. But though this rest be peculiar to the saints, yet it is common to all the saints; for it is an association of blessed spirits, both saints and angels: a corporation of perfected saints, whereof Christ is the head: the communion of saints completed. As we have been together in the labor, duty, danger and distress; so shall we be in the great recompense and deliverance. As we have been scorned and despised, so shall we be owned and honored together. We who have gone through the day of sadness, shall enjoy together that day of gladness. Those who have been with us in persecution and in prison, shall be with us also in that place of consolation. How oft have our groans made, as it were, one sound! our tears one stream and our desires one prayer! But now all our praises shall make up one melody; all our churches, one church; and all ourselves, one body; for we shall be all one in Christ, even as he and the Father are one. It is true, we must be careful not to look for that in the saints which is alone in Christ. But if the forethought of sitting down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven, may be our lawful joy; how much more the real sight and actual possession! It cannot but be comfortable to think of that day, when we shall join with Moses in his song, with David in his psalms of praise, and with all the redeemed in the song of the Lamb for ever; when we shall see Enoch walking with God; Noah enjoying the end of his singularity; Joseph of his integrity; Job of his patience; Hezekiah of his uprightness and all the saints the end of their faith. Not only our old acquaintance, but all the saints of all ages, whose faces in the flesh we never saw, we shall there both know and comfortably enjoy. Yea, angels as well as saints will be our blessed acquaintance. Those who now are willingly our ministering spirits, will willingly then be our companions in joy. They who had such joy in heaven for our conversion, will gladly rejoice with us in our glorification. Then we shall truly say, as David, I am a companion of all them that fear thee; when "we are come unto Mount Zion, 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 first-born, who are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant." It is a singular excellence of heavenly rest, that we are "fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God."
5. As another property of our rest, we shall derive its joys immediately from God. Now we have nothing at all immediately, but at the second or third hand; or how many, who knows? From the earth, from man, from sun and moon, from the ministration of angels, and from the Spirit, and Christ. Though, in the hand of angels, the stream savors not of the imperfection of sinners, yet it does of the imperfection of creatures; and as it comes from man, it savors of both. How quick and piercing is the word in itself! yet many times it never enters, being managed by a feeble arm. What weight and worth is there in every passage of the blessed Gospel! enough, one would think, to enter and pierce the dullest soul, and wholly possess its thoughts and affections; and yet how oft does it fall as water upon a stone! The things of God which we handle, are divine; but our manner of handling is human. There is little we touch, but we leave the print of our fingers behind. If God speaks the word himself, it will be a piercing, melting word indeed. The christian now knows, by experience, that his most immediate joys are his sweetest joys; which have least of man, and are most directly from the Spirit. Christians who are much in secret prayer and contemplation, are men of greatest life and joy; because they have all more immediately from God himself. Not that we should cast off hearing, reading, and conference, or neglect any ordinance of God; but to live above them while we use them, is the way of a christian. There is joy in these remote receivings; but the fulness of joy is in God's immediate presence. We shall then have light without a candle, and perpetual day without the sun for "the city has no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it; for the glory of God lightens it, and the Lamb is the light thereof; there shall be no night there, and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; and they shall reign for ever and ever." We shall then have enlightened understandings without Scripture, and be governed without a written law; for the Lord will perfect his law in our hearts, and we shall be all perfectly taught of God. We shall have joy, which we drew not from the promises, nor fetched home by faith or hope. We shall have communion without ordinances, without this fruit of the vine, when Christ shall drink it new with us in his Father's kingdom, and refresh us with the comforting wine of immediate enjoyment. To have necessities, but no supply, is the state of them in hell. To have necessity supplied by means of creatures, is the state of us on earth. To have necessity supplied immediately from God, is the state of the saints in heaven. To have no necessity at all, is the prerogative of God himself.
6. A further excellence of this rest is, that it will be seasonable. He that expects the fruit of his vineyard at the season, and makes his people "like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season," will also give them the crown in his season. He that will have a word of joy spoken in season to him that is weary, will surely cause the time of joy to appear in the fittest season. They who are not weary in well-doing, shall, if they faint not, reap in due season. If God giveth rain even to his enemies, both the former and the latter in its season, and reserveth the appointed weeks of harvest, and covenants that there shall be day and night in their season; then surely the glorious harvest of the saints shall not miss its season. Doubtless, he who would not stay a day longer than his promise, but brought Israel out of Egypt on the self-same day when the four hundred and thirty years expired, neither will he fail of one day or hour of the fittest season for his people's glory. When we have had in this world a long night of darkness, will not the daybreaking and the rising of the Sun of Righteousness be then seasonable? When we have passed a long and tedious journey through no small dangers, is not home then seasonable? When we have had a long and perilous war, and received many a wound, would not a peace, with victory, be seasonable? Men live in a continual weariness; especially the saints, who are most weary of that which the world cannot feel; some weary of a blind mind; some of a hard heart; some of their daily doubts and fears; some of the want of spiritual joys; and some of the sense of God's wrath. And when a poor christian hath desired, and prayed, and waited for deliverance many years, is it not then seasonable? We lament that we do not find a Canaan in the wilderness, or the songs of Sion in a strange land; that we have not a harbor in the main ocean, nor our rest in the heat of the day, nor heaven before we leave the earth; and would not all this be very unseasonable?
7. As this rest will be seasonable, so it will be suitable.The new nature of the saints doth suit their spirits to this rest. Indeed, their holiness is nothing else but a spark taken from this element, and by the Spirit of Christ kindled in their hearts: the flame whereof, mindful of its own divine original, ever tends to the place from whence it comes. Temporal crowns and kingdoms could not make a rest for saints. As they were not redeemed with so low a price, neither are they endued with so low a nature. As God will have from them a spiritual worship, suited to his own spiritual being, he will provide them a spiritual rest, suitable to their spiritual nature. The knowledge of God and his Christ, a delightful complacency in that mutual love, an everlasting rejoicing in the enjoyment of our God, with a perpetual singing of his high praises; this is heaven for a saint. Then we shall live in our own element. We are now as the fish in a vessel of water, only so much as will keep them alive; but what is that to the ocean? We have a little air let in to us, to afford us breathing; but what is that to the sweet and fresh gales upon mount Sion? We have a beam of the sun to lighten our darkness, and a warm ray to keep us from freezing; but then we shall live in its light, and be revived by its heat for ever. As are the natures of the saints, such are their desires; and it is the desires of our renewed nature to which this rest is suited. Whilst our desires remain corrupted and misguided, it is a far greater mercy to deny them, yea, to destroy them, than to satisfy them; but those which are spiritual are of his own planting, and he will surely water them, and give the increase. He quickened our hunger and thirst for righteousness, that he might make us happy in a full satisfaction. Christian this is a rest after thy own heart; it contains all that thy heart can wish; that which thou longest, prayest, laborest for, there thou shalt find it all. Thou hadst rather have God in Christ, than all the world; there thou shalt have him. What wouldst thou not give for assurance of his love? There thou shalt have assurance without suspicion. Desire what thou canst, and ask what thou wilt, as a christian, and it shall be given thee, not only to half of the kingdom, but to the enjoyment both of kingdom and King. This is a life of desire and prayer, but that is a life of satisfaction and enjoyment. This rest is very suitable to the saints' necessities also, as well as to their natures and desires. It contains whatsoever they truly wanted; not supplying them with gross, created comforts, which, like Saul's armor on David, are more burden than benefit. It was Christ and perfect holiness which they most needed, and with these shall they be supplied.
8. Still more, this rest will be absolutely perfect. We shall then have joy without sorrow, and rest without weariness. There is no mixture of corruption with our graces, nor of suffering with our comfort. There are none of those waves in that harbor, which now so toss us up and down. To-day we are well, to-morrow sick; to-day in esteem, to-morrow in disgrace; to-day we have friends, to-morrow none; nay, we have wine and vinegar in the same cup. If revelations raise us to the third heaven, the messenger of Satan must presently buffet us, and the thorn in the flesh fetch us down. But there is none of this inconstancy in heaven. If perfect love casteth out fear, then perfect joy must cast out sorrow, and perfect happiness exclude all the relics of misery. We shall there rest from all the evil of sin and of suffering.
Heaven excludes nothing more directly than sin, whether of nature or of conversation. "There shall in no wise enter any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie." What need Christ at all to have died, if heaven could have contained imperfect souls? "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." His blood and Spirit have not done all this, to leave us, after all, defiled. "What communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial?" Christian, if thou be once in heaven, thou shalt sin no more. Is not this glad news to thee, who hast prayed and watched against it so long? I know, if it were offered to thy choice, thou wouldst rather choose to be freed from sin, than have all the world. Thou shalt have thy desire. That hard heart, those vile thoughts which accompanied thee to every duty, shall be left behind for ever. Thy understanding shall never more be troubled with darkness. All dark Scriptures shall be made plain; all seeming contradictions reconciled. The poorest christian is presently there a more perfect divine than any here. O that happy day, when error shall vanish for ever! when our understanding shall be filled with God himself, whose light will leave no darkness in us! His face shall be the Scripture where we shall read the truth. Many a godly man here, in his mistaken zeal, has been the means of deceiving and perverting his brethren, and, when he sees his own error, cannot tell how to undeceive them. But there we shall join in one truth, as being one in Him who is the truth. We shall also rest from all the sin of our will, affections, and conversation. We shall no more retain this rebelling principle, which is still drawing us from God; no more be oppressed with the power of our corruptions, nor vexed with their presence: no pride, passion, slothfulness, insensibility, shall enter with us; no strangeness to God, and the things of God; no coldness of affections, nor imperfection in our love; no inconstant walking, nor grieving of the Spirit; no scandalous action, nor unholy conversation: we shall rest from all these for ever. Then shall our will correspond to the divine will, as face answers face in a glass, and from which, as our law and rule, we shall never swerve. "For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his."
Our sufferings were but the consequences of our sinning, and in heaven they both shall cease together.
We shall rest from all our doubts of God's love. It shall no more be said that "doubts are like the thistle, a bad weed, but growing in good ground." They shall now be weeded out, and trouble the gracious soul no more. We shall hear that kind of language no more, "What shall I do to know my state? How shall I know that God is my Father? that my heart is upright? that my conversion is true? that faith is sincere? I am afraid my sins are unpardoned; that all I do is hypocrisy; that God will reject me; that he does not hear my prayers. All this is there turned into praise.
We shall rest from all sense of God's displeasure. Hell shall not be mixed with heaven. At times the gracious soul remembered God, and was troubled; complained, and was overwhelmed, and refused to be comforted; divine wrath lay hard upon him, and God afflicted him with all his waves. But that blessed day shall convince us, that though God hid his face from us for a moment, yet with everlasting kindness will he have mercy on us.
We shall rest from all the temptations of Satan.What a grief is it to a christian, though he yield not to the temptation, yet to be solicited to deny his Lord! What a torment to have such horrid suggestions made to his soul! such blasphemous ideas presented to his imagination! sometimes cruel thoughts of God, undervaluing thoughts of Christ, unbelieving thoughts of Scripture, or injurious thoughts of Providence! to be tempted sometimes to turn to present things, to play with the baits of sin, and venture on the delights of flesh, and sometimes on atheism itself! especially when we know the treachery of our own hearts, ready as tinder to take fire as soon as one of those sparks shall fall upon them! Satan hath power here to tempt us in the wilderness, but he entereth not the holy city; he may set us on a pinnacle of the temple in the earthly Jerusalem, but the New Jerusalem he may not approach; he may take us up into an exceeding high mountain, but the mount Sion he cannot ascend; and if he could, all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, would be a despised bait to the soul possessed of the kingdom of our Lord. No, it is in vain for Satan to offer a temptation more.
All our temptations from the world and the flesh shall also cease.Oh the hourly dangers that we here walk in! Every sense and member is a snare; every creature, every mercy, and every duty is a snare to us. We can scarce open our eyes but we are in danger of envying those above us, or despising those below us; of coveting the honors and riches of some, or beholding the rags and beggary of others with pride and unmercifulness. If we see beauty, it is a bait to lust; if deformity, to loathing and disdain. How soon do slanderous reports, vain jests, wanton speeches, creep into the heart! How constant and strong a watch does our appetite require! Have we comeliness and beauty? What fuel for pride! Are we deformed? What an occasion of repining! Have we strength of reason and gifts of learning? O how prone to be puffed up, hunt after applause, and despise our brethren! Are we unlearned? How apt then to despise what we have not! Are we in places of authority? How strong is the temptation to abuse our trust, make our will our law, and mould all the enjoyments of others by the rules and model of our own interest and policy! Are we inferiors? How prone to envy others' pre- eminence, and bring their actions to the bar of our judgment! Are we rich, and not too much exalted? Are we poor and not discontented? Are we not lazy in our duties, or make a Christ of them? Not that God hath made these things our snares; but through our own corruption they become so to us. Ourselves are the greatest snares to ourselves. This is our comfort: our rest will free us from all these. As Satan hath no entrance there, so he has nothing to serve his malice; but all things there shall join with us in the high praises of our great Deliverer.
As we rest from the temptations, so shall we rest from the abuses and persecutions of the world. The prayers of the souls under the altar will then be answered, and God will avenge their blood on them that dwell on the earth. This is the time for crowning with thorns; that, for crowning with glory. Now, "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution;" then, they that suffered with him shall be glorified with him. Now, we must be hated of all men for Christ's sake; then, Christ will be admired in his saints that were thus hated. We are here made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men: as the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things, men separate us from their company, and reproach us, and cast out our names as evil; but we shall then be as much gazed at for our glory, and they will be shut out of the church of the saints, and separated from us, whether they will or not. We can now scarce pray in our families, or sing praises to God, but our voice is a vexation to them: how must it torment them, then, to see us praising and rejoicing while they are howling and lamenting! You, brethren, who can now attempt no work of God without losing the love of the world, consider, you shall have none in heaven but will further your work, and join heart and voice with you in your everlasting joy and praise. Till then, possess ye your souls in patience. Bind all reproaches as a crown to your heads. Esteem them greater riches than the world's treasures. "It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled, rest with Christ."
We shall then rest from all our sad divisions and unchristian quarrels with one another. How lovingly do thousands live together in heaven, who lived at variance upon earth! There is no contention, because none of this pride, ignorance, or other corruption. There is no plotting to strengthen our party, nor deep designing against our brethren. If there be sorrow or shame in heaven, we shall then be both sorry and ashamed to remember all this conduct on earth; as Joseph's brethren were to behold him, when they remembered their former unkind usage. Is it not enough that all the world is against us, but we must also be against one another? O happy days of persecution, which drove us together in love, whom the sunshine of liberty and prosperity crumbles into dust by our contentions! O happy day of the saints' rest in glory, when, as there is one God, one Christ, one Spirit, so we shall have one heart, one church, one employment for ever.
We shall then rest from our participation of our brethren's sufferings. The church on earth is a mere hospital! Some groaning under a dark understanding, some under an insensible heart, some anguishing under unfruitful weakness, and some bleeding for miscarriages and wilfulness; some crying out of their poverty, some groaning under pains and infirmities, and some bewailing a whole catalogue of calamities. But a far greater grief it is, to see our dearest and most intimate friends turned aside from the truth of Christ, continuing their neglect of Christ and their souls, and nothing will awaken them out of their security: to look on an ungodly father or mother, brother or sister, wife or husband, child or friend, and think how certainly they shall be in hell for ever, if they die in their present unregenerated state; to think of the Gospel departing, the glory taken from our Israel, poor souls left willingly dark and destitute, and blowing out the light that should guide them to salvation! Our day of rest will free us from all this, and the days of mourning shall be ended. Then thy people, O Lord, shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of thy planting, the work of thy hands; that thou mayest be glorified.
Then we shall rest from all our own personal sufferings. This may seem a small thing to those that live in ease and prosperity; but to the daily afflicted soul it makes the thoughts of heaven delightful. O the dying life we now live! as full of sufferings as of days and hours! Our Redeemer leaves this measure of misery upon us, to make us know for what we are beholden, to remind us of what we should else forget, to be serviceable to his wise and gracious designs, and advantageous to our full and final recovery. Grief enters at every sense, seizes every part and power of flesh and spirit. What noble part is there that suffereth its pain or ruin alone? But sin and flesh, dust and pain, will all be left behind together. O the blessed tranquillity of that region, where there is nothing but sweet continued peace! O healthful place, where none are sick! O fortunate land, where all are kings! O holy assembly, where all are priests! How free a state, where none are servants but to their supreme Monarch! The poor man shall no more be tired with his labors: no more hunger or thirst, cold or nakedness: no pinching frosts or scorching heats. Our faces shall no more be pale or sad; no more breaches in friendship, nor parting of friends asunder; no more trouble accompanying our relations, nor voice of lamentation heard in our dwellings: God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes. O my soul, bear with the infirmities of thine earthly tabernacle; it will be thus but a little while the sound of thy Redeemer's feet is even at the door.
We shall also rest from all the toils of duties. The conscientious magistrate, parent and minister cries out, "O the burden that lieth upon me!" Every relation, state, age hath variety of duties; so that every conscientious christian cries out, "O the burden! O my weakness, that makes it burdensome!" But our remaining rest will ease us of the burdens.
Once more, we shall rest from all these troublesome afflictions which necessarily accompany our absence from God. The trouble that is mixed in our desires and hopes, our longings and waitings, shall then cease. We shall no more look into our cabinet and miss our treasure; into our hearts, and miss our Christ; no more seek him from ordinance to ordinance; but all be concluded in a most blessed and full enjoyment.
9. The last jewel of our crown
is, that it will be an everlasting rest.
Without this all were comparatively nothing. The very thought of leaving
it would embitter all our joys. It would be a hell in heaven, to think
of once losing heaven; as it would be a kind of heaven to the damned, had
they but hope of once escaping. Mortality is the disgrace of all sublunary
delights. How it spoils our pleasure to see it dying in our hands! But,
O blessed eternity! where our lives are perplexed with no such thoughts,
nor our joys interrupted with any such fears! where "we shall be pillars
in the temple of God, and go no more out." While we were servants,
we held by lease, and that but for the term of a transitory life; "but
the son abideth in the house for ever." "O my soul, let go thy
dreams of present pleasure, and loose thy hold of earth and flesh. Study
frequently, study thoroughly this one word -- eternity. What! live and
never die! rejoice, and ever rejoice!" O happy souls in hell, should
you but escape after millions of ages! O miserable saints in heaven, should
you be dispossessed after the age of a million of worlds! This
contains the perfection of their torment and our glory.
O that the sinner would study this word; methinks it would startle
him out of his dead sleep! O that the gracious soul would study it; methinks
it would revive him in his deepest agony! "And must I, Lord, thus
live for ever. Then will I also love for ever. Must my joys be immortal;
and shall not my thanks be also immortal? Surely, if I shall never lose
my glory, I will never cease thy praises. If thou wilt both perfect and
perpetuate me and my glory, as I shall be thine, and not my own, so shall
my glory be thy glory. And as thy glory was thy ultimate end in my glory,
so shall it also be my end, when thou hast crowned me with that glory which
hath no end. 'Unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise
God, be honor and glory, for ever and ever.'"
O that the sinner would study this word; methinks it would startle him out of his dead sleep! O that the gracious soul would study it; methinks it would revive him in his deepest agony! "And must I, Lord, thus live for ever. Then will I also love for ever. Must my joys be immortal; and shall not my thanks be also immortal? Surely, if I shall never lose my glory, I will never cease thy praises. If thou wilt both perfect and perpetuate me and my glory, as I shall be thine, and not my own, so shall my glory be thy glory. And as thy glory was thy ultimate end in my glory, so shall it also be my end, when thou hast crowned me with that glory which hath no end. 'Unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory, for ever and ever.'"
Thus I have endeavored to show you a glimpse of approaching glory. But how short are my expressions of its excellency! Reader, if thou be an humble, sincere believer, and waitest with longing and laboring for this rest, thou wilt shortly see and feel the truth of all this. Thou wilt then have so high an impression of this blessed state as will make thee pity the ignorance and distance of mortals, and will tell thee all that is here said falls short of the whole truth a thousandfold. In the mean time, let this much kindle thy desires, and quicken thy endeavors. Up and be doing; run, and strive, and fight, and hold on: for thou hast a certain glorious prize before thee. God will not mock thee; do not mock thyself, nor betray thy soul by delaying, and all is thine own. What kind of men, dost thou think, would christians be in their lives and duties, if they had still this glory fresh in their thoughts? what frame would their spirits be in, if their thoughts of heaven were lively and believing? Would their hearts be so heavy; their countenances so sad? or would they have need to take up their comforts from below? Would they be so loth to suffer; so afraid to die? or would they not think every day a year till they enjoy it? May the Lord heal our carnal hearts, lest we "enter not into this rest because of unbelief."Thus ends chapter seven of this marvelous work of the great old Puritan, Richard Baxter. (The special emphasis or enlargement of the main points was done by this editor. JHD)