THE SAINTS' EVERLASTING REST. BY THE REV. RICHARD BAXTER. ABRIDGED BY BENJAMIN FAWCETT, A. M. NEW-YORK: PUBLISHED BY THE AMERICAN TRACT SOCIETY, NO. 150 NASSAU-STREET. Fanshaw, Printer.
EXTRACTS FROM AN INTRODUCTORY E S SAY, By THOMAS ERSKINE, Esa. Deos WE do not arrogate to ourselves so much, as to suppose that our commendation can add any thing to the authorityof such a name as that of RICHARD BAXTER. He belonged to a class of men, whose characters and genius, now universally venerated, seem to have been most peculiarly adapted, by Divine Providence, to the circumstances of their age and country. We do not speak only of those who partook in Baxter's views of ecclesiastical polity ; but of those who, under any name, maintained the cause of truth and liberty, during the eventful period of the seventeenth century. Theywere made of the same firm stuff with the Wickliffs, and the Luthers, and the Knoxes, and the Cranmers, and the Latimers, of a former age. They formed a dis- tinguished division of the same glorious army of reformation ; they encountered similar obstacles, and they were directed, and supported, and animated, by the same spirit. They were the true and enlightened crusaders, who, with all the zeal and courage which conducted their chivalrous ancestors to the earthly Jerusalem, fought their way to the heavenly city; and rescuing, by their sufferings and by their labors, the key of knowledge from the unworthy hands in which it had long lain rusted and misused, generously left it as a rich inheritance to all coming generations. They speak with the solemn dignity of martyrs. They seem to feel the importance of their theme, and the perpetual presence of Himwho is the great subject of it. There are only two things which they seem to consider as realities the favor of God and the enmity of God; and only two parties in the universe to choose between the party of God and the party of his adversaries. Hence that heroic and noble tone which marks their lives and their writings. They had chosen their side, and they knew that it was worthy of all they could do or suffer for it. The agitated state of surrounding circumstancesgave them continual proof of the instability of all things temporal, and inculcated on them the necessity of seeking a happiness which might be independent of
4 INTRODUCTORY ESSAY. external things. They thus practically learned the vanity and nothing- ness of life, except in its relation to eternity ; and they declared to their fellow-creatures the mysteries of the kingdom of God, with the tone of men who knew that the lightest word which they spoke out weighed, in the balance of reason as well as of the sanctuary, thevalue of all earth's plans, and politics, and interests. They were upon high and firm ground. They stood in the midst of that tempestuousocean, secure on the Rock of Ages ; and as they uttered to those around them their invitations, or remonstrances, or consolations, they thought not of the tastes, but of the necessities of menthey thought only of the difference between being lost and being saved, and they cried aloud, and spared not. There is no doubt a great variety of thought, and feeling, and expression, to be met with in the theological writers of that class ; but deep and solemn seriousness is the character of them all. They seem to have felt much. Religion was not allowed to remain as an unused theory in their heads ; they were forced to live on it as their food, and to have recourse to it as their only strength and comfort. Hence their thoughts are never given as abstract views ; they are always deeply impregnated with sentiment. Their style reminds us of the light which streams through the stained and storied windows of an ancient cathedral. It is not light merely, but light modified by the rich hues, and the quaint forms, and the various incidents, of the pictured medium through which it passes. So these venerable worthies do not give us merely ideas, but ideas colored by the deep affections of their own hearts ; they do not merely give us truth, but truth in its historical application to the various struggles, and difficulties, and dejections, of their strangely chequered lives. This gives a great interest to their writings. They are real men, and not books, that we are conversing with. And the peace, and the strength, and the hope, which they describe; are not the fictions of fancy, but the positive and substantial effects of the knowledge of God òii their own minds. They are thus not merely waymarks to direct our journeyings ; they seem themselvespilgrims travelling on the same road, and encouraging us to keep pace with them. In their books, they seem thus still to journey, still to combat; but, O let us think of the bright reality i their contests are past, their labors are over; they have fought the good fight, and they are now at rest, made perfect in Christ Jesus. They are joined to that cloud of witnesses, of whom the world was not worthy ; and their names are inscribed in the rolls of heaven ; yet not for their own glory, but for the glory of himwho washed them from their sins in his own blood, and whose strength was made perfect in their weakness.
INTRODUCTORY ESSAY. 5 These were the great men of England ; and to them, under God, is England indebted for much of that which is valuable in her public institutions, and in the character of her people. They were, indeed, a noble army ; they were born from above to be the combatants for truth ; they were placed in the gap, and they held their ground, or fell at their posts. In this army Richard Baxter was a standard -bearer. He labored much, as well in preaching as in writing, and with an abundant bless- ing on both. He had all the high mental qualities of his class in perfection. His mind is inexhaustible, and vigorous, and vivacious, to an extraordinary degree. He seizes irresistibly on the attention, and carries it alongwith him ; and we assuredly do not know any author who can be compared with him, for the power with which he brings his reader directly face to face with death, and judgment, and eternity ; and compels him to look upon them, and converse with them. He is himself most deeply serious, and the holy solemnity of his own soul seems to envelope the reader, as with the air of a temple. The Saints' Everlasting Rest was written on a bed of sickness. It contains those thoughts and feelings which occupied, and fortified, and animated the author, as he stood on the brink of eternity. The examples of heavenly meditation which he gives, really breathe of heaven; and the importance of such meditation, as a duty, and as a means of spiritual growth, is admirably set forth, and most powerfully enforced. And is it not a most pernicious madness and stupidity to neglect this duty ? Is it not strange that such prospects should excite so little interest ? Is it not strange that the uncertainty of the duration of life, and the certainty of its sorrows, do not compel men to seek refuge in that inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and which fadeth not away? Is it not strange that the offers of friendship, and intimate relationship, which God is continually holding out to us, should be slighted, even in competition with the society of those whom we cannot but despise and reprobate ? Is it not strange that we should, day after day, allow ourselves to be duped by the same false promises of happiness, which have disappointed us just as often as they have been trusted ? O let us be persuaded, that there is no rest in created things. No ; there is no rest, except in Him who made us. Who is the man that can say he has found rest elsewhere ? No man says it. May God open our hearts, as well as our understandings, to see the truth ; that we may practically know the insufficiency, and hollowness, and insecurity of all earthly hopes; and that we may be led, in sim- plicity and earnestness, to seek, and se to find, our rest in Himself. T. E Edinburgh, February. 1824
CONTENTS. Compiler's Preface, PAGE 7 CHAP. I. The Introduction to the Work, with some account of the Nature of the Saints' Rest, - - - - - 13 CHAP. ILThe great preparatives to the Saints' Rest, - 28 CHAP. III.The excellencies of the Saints' Rest, - - 37 CHAP. IV.The character of the Persons forwhom this Rest is designed, - - - - - - - - - 52 CHAP. V. The great Misery of those who lose the Saints' Rest, 67 CHAP. VI. The Misery ofthose who, besides losing the Saints' Rest, lose the Enjoyments of Time, and suffer the torments of Hell, - - - - _ - - - - - 80 CHAP. VII.The Necessity of diligently seeking the Saints' Rest, - - - - - 93 CHAP. VIII.How to discern our Title to the Saints' Rest, 111 CHAP. IX. The Duty of the People of God to excite others to seek this Rest, - - - - - - - - 129 CHAP. X. The Saints' Rest is not to be expected on Earth, 148 CHAP. XI. The importance of leading a heavenly life upon Earth, - - - - - - - - - 167 CHAP. XII.Directions how to lead a heavenly life upon Earth, - - - - - - - - - 186 CHAP. XIII.The nature of heavenly contemplation ; with the Time, Place, and Temper, fittest for it, - - - 204 CHAP. XIV.Whatuse heavenly Contemplationmakes of Con- sideration, Affections, Soliloquy, and Prayer, - - 216 CHAP. XV.Heavenly Contemplation assisted by sensible ob- jects, and guarded against a treacherous Heart, - 232 CHAP. XVI.Heavenly Contemplation exemplified, and the whole Work concluded - - - - - 248
THE COMPILER'S PREFACE. MR. RICHARD BAXTER, the author of the Saints' Rest, so well known to the world by this, and many other excellent and useful writings, was a learned, laborious, and eminently holy divine of the last age. He was born near Shrewsbury in 1615, and died at London in 1691. His ministry, in an unsettled state, was for many years employed with great and extensive success, both inLondon and in several parts of the country ; but he was nowhere fixed so long, or with such entire satisfaction to himself, and apparent advantage to others, as at Kidder- minster. His abode there was indeed interrupted, partly by his bad health, but chiefly by the calamities of a civil war, yet in the whole it amounted to sixteen years ; nor was it by any means the result of his own choice, or that of the inhabitants of Kidderminster, that he never settled there again, after his going from thence in 1660. Before his coming thither, the place was overrun with ignorance and profaneness ; but, by the divine blessing on his wise and faithful cultivation, the fruits of righteousness sprung up in rich abundance. He at first found but a single instance or two of daily family prayer in a whole street; and, at his going away, but one family or two could be found in some streets, that continued to neglect it. And on Lord's days, instead of the open profanation to which they had been so long accustomed, a person, in passing through the town, in the intervals of public worship, might overhear hundreds of families,,.engaged in singing psalms, read- ing the Scriptures and other good books, or such sermons as they had wrote down while they heard them from the pulpit. His care of the souls committed to his charge, and the success of his labors among them, were truly remarkable ; for the number of his stated communi- cants rose to six hundred, of whom he himself declared, there were not twelve concerning whose sincere piety he had not reason to enter- tain good hopes. Blessed be God, the religious spirit, which was thus happily introduced, is yet to be traced in the town and neighborhood in some degree; (O that it were in a greater!) and in proportionas that spirit remains, the name of Mr. Baxter continues in the most honorable and affectionate remembrance. As a writer, he has the approbation of some of his greatest contem- poraries, who best knew him, and were under no temptations to be partial in his favor. Dr. Barrow said, " His practical writings were never mended, and his controversial ones seldom confuted." With a view to his casuistical writings, the honorable Robert Boyle declared, " He was the fittest man of the age for a casuist, because he feared
8 COMPILER'S PREFACE. no man's displeasure, nor hoped for any man's preferment." Bishop Wilkins observed of him, " that he had cultivated every subject he had handled ; that if he had lived in the primitive times, he would have been one of the fathers of the church ; and that it was enough for one age to produce such a person as Mr. Baxter." Archbishop Usher had such high thoughts of him, that by his earnest importunity he put him upon writing several of his practical discourses, particu- larly that celebrated piece, his Call to the Unconverted. Dr. Manton, as he freely expressed it, " thought Mr. Baxter came nearer the epos- tolical writings than any man in the age." And it is both as a preacher and awriter that Dr. Bates considers him, when, in his funeral sermon for him, he says, " In his sermons there was a rare union of arguments and motives, to convince the mind and gain the heart. All the foun- tains ofreason and persuasion were open to his discerning eye. There was no resisting the force of his discourses, without denying reason and divine revelation. He had a marvellous facility and copiousness in speaking. There was a noble negligence in his style, for his great mind could not stoop to the affected eloquence of words ; he despised flashy oratory, but his expressions were clear and powerful ; so con- vincing the understanding, so entering into the soul, so engaging the affections, that those were as deaf as adders who were not charmed by so wise a charmer. He was animated with the Holy Spirit, and breathed celestial fire, to inspire heat and life into dead sinners, and to melt the obdurate in their frozen tombs. His books, for their number, (which it seems was more than one hundred and twenty,) and variety of matter in them, make a library. They contain a trea- sure of controversial, casuistical, and practical divinity. His books of practical divinity have been effectual for more numerous conversions ofsinners to God, than any printed in our time ; and, while the church remains on earth, will be of continual efficacy to recover lost souls. There is a vigorous pulse in them, that keeps the reader awake and attentive." To these testimonies may not improperly be added that of the editors of his practical works in four folio volumes ; in the pre- face to which they say, " Perhaps there are no writings among us that have more of a true Christian spirit, a greater mixture of judgment and affection, or a greater- tendency to revive pure and undefiled religion; that have been more esteemed abroad, or more blessed at home, for awakening the secure, instructing the ignorant, confirming the wavering, comforting the dejected, recovering the profane, or improving such as are truly serious, than the practical works of this author." Such were the apprehensions of eminent persons, who were well acquainted with Mr. Baxter and his writings. It is therefore the less remarkable that Mr. Addison, from an accidental and very imper
COMPILER'S PREFACE. 9 feet acquaintance, but with his usual pleasantness and candor, should mention the following incident : " 1 once met with a page of Mr. Baxter. Upon the perusal of it, I conceived so good an idea of the author's piety, that I bought the whole book." Whatever other causes might concur, it must chiefly be ascribed to Mr. Baxter's distinguished reputation as a preacher and a writer, that, presently after the restoration, he was appointed one of the chaplains in ordinary to King Charles II. and preached once before him in that capacity ; as also that he had an offer made him by the Lord Chan- cellor Clarendon, of the bishopric of Hereford, which, in a respectful . letter to his lordship, he saw proper to decline. The Saints' Rest is deservedly esteemed one of the most valuable parts of his practical works. He wrote it when he was far from home, without any book to consult but his Bible, and in such an ill state of health, as to be in continual expectation of death for many months ; and therefore, merely for his own use, he fixed his thoughts on this heavenly subject, " which," says he, "hath more benefited me than all the studies of my life." At this time he could be little more than thirty years old. He afterwards preached over the subject in his weekly lecture at Kidderminster, and in 1650 he published it; and indeed it appears tohave been the first that ever he published of all his practical writings. Of this book Dr. Bates says, "It was written uy himwhen languishing in the suspense of life and death, but has the signatures of his holy and vigorous mind. To allure our desires, he unveils the sanctuary above, and discovers the glories and joys of the blessed in the Divine Presence, by a light so strong and lively, that all the glittering vanities of this world vanish in that comparison, and a sincere believer will despise them, as one of mature age does the toys and baubles of children.. To excite our fear, he removes the screen, and makes theeverlasting fire of hell so visible, and represents the tormenting passions of the damned in those dreadful colors, that, if duly considered, would check and control the unbridled, licentious appetites of the most sensual wretches," Heavenly rest is a subject in its own nature so universally important and interesting, and at the same time so truly engaging and delightful, as sufficiently accounts for the great acceptance which this book has met with ; and partly, also, for the uncommon blessing which has attended Mr. Baxter's manner of treating the subject, both from the pulpit and the press, For where are the operations of divine grace more reasonably to be expected, or where have they, in fact, been more frequently discerned, than in concurrence with the best adapted means ? And should it appear, that persons of distinguishing judgment and piety have expressly ascribed their first religious impressions to 1*
COMPILER'S PREFACE. the hearing or reading the important sentiments contained in this book; or, after a long series of years, have found it both the counter- part and the improvement of their own divine life ; will not this be thought a considerable recommendation of the book itself ? Among the instances of persons that dated their true conversion from hearing the sermons on the Saints' Rest, when Mr. Baxter first preached them, was the Rev. Thomas Doolittle, M. A. who was a native of Kidderminster, and.at that time a scholar, about seventeen years old; whom Mr. Baxter himself afterward sent to Pembroke Hall, in Cambridge, where he took his degree. Before his going to the university, he was upon trial as an attorney's clerk, and under that character, being ordered by his master to write somethingon a Lord's day, heobeyed with great reluctance, and the next day returned home, with an earnest desire that he might not apply himself to any thing, as the employment of life, but serving Christ in the ministry of the Gospel. His praise is yet in the churches, for his pious and useful labors as a minister, a tutor, and a writer. In the life of the Rev. John Janeway, Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, who died in 1657, we are told that his conversion was, in a great measure, occasioned by his reading several parts of the Saints' Rest. And in a letter which he afterward wrote to a near relative, speaking with a more immediate reference to that part of the book which treats of heavenly contemplation, he says, " There is a duty, which, if it were exercised, would dispel all cause of melancholy : I mean, heavenly meditation, and contemplation of the things which true Christian religion tends to. If we did but walk closely with God one hour in a day in this duty, O what influence would it have upon the whole day besides, and, duly performed, upon the whole life ! This duty, with its usefulness, manner, and directions, I knew in some measure before, but had it more pressed upon me by Mr. Baxter's Saints' Everlasting Rest, a book that can scarce be over- valued, for which I have cause for ever to bless God. This excellent young minister's life is worth reading, were it only to see how delight- fully he was engaged in heavenly contemplation, according to the directions in the Saints' Rest. It was the example of heavenly contemplation, at the close of this hook, which the Rev. Joseph Alleine, of Taunton, so frequently quoted in conversation, with this solemn introduction, " Most divinely says that man of God, holy Mr. Baxter." Dr. Bates, in his dedication of his funeral sermon for Mr. Baxter to Sir Henry Ashurst, tells that religious gentleman, and most distin- guished friend and executor of Mr. Baxter, " He was most worthy of your highest esteem and love ; for the first impressions of heaven É'>
COMPILER'S PREFACE. upon your soul were in reading his invaluable book of the Saints' Everlasting Rest." In the life of the Rev. Matthew Henry, we have the following character given us of Robert Warburton, Esq. of Grange, the son of the eminently religious Judge Warburton, and the father of Mr. MatthewHenry's second wife. " He was a - gentleman that greatly affected retirement and privacy, especially in the latter part of his life ; the Bible, and Mr. Baxter's Saints' Everlasting Rest, used to lie dailybefore him on the table in his parlor ; he spent the greatest part of his time in reading and prayer." In the life of that honorable and most religious knight, Sir Nathaniel Barnardiston, we are told that " he was constant in secret prayer and reading the Scriptures; afterward he read other choice authors; but not long before his death he took a singular delight to read Mr. Baxter's Saints' EverlastingRest, and preparations thereunto ; which was esteemed a gracious event of Divine Providence, sending it as a guide to bring him more speedily and directly to that rest." Besides persons of eminence, to whom this book has been precious and profitable, we have an instance, in the Rev. James Janeway's Token for Children, of a little boy, whose piety was so discovered and promoted by reading it, as the most delightful book to him, next the Bible, that the thoughts of everlasting rest seemed, even while he continued in health, to swallow up all other thoughts; and he lived in a constant preparation for it, and looked more like one that was ripe for glory, than an inhabitant of this lower world. And when he was in the sickness of which he died before he was twelve years old, he said, "I pray, let me have Mr. Baxter's book, that I may read a little more of eternity, before I go into it." Nor is it less observable, that Mr. Baxter himself, taking notice, in a paper found in'his study after his death, what numbers of persons were converted by reading his Call to the Unconverted, accounts of which he had received by letter every week, expressly adds, "This little book, the Call to the Unconverted, God hath blessed with unex- pected success, beyond all that I have written, except the Saints' Rest." With an evident reference to this book, and even during the life of the author, the pious Mr. Flavel affectionately says, " Mr. Baxter is almost in heaven living in the daily views and cheerful expectation of the saints' everlasting rest with God ; and is left for a little while among us, as a great example of the life of faith." And Mr. Baxter himself says, in his preface to his Treatise of Self -Denial, " I must say, that, of all the books which I have written, I peruse none so often for the use of my own soul in its daily work, as my Life of Faith, this of Self- Denial, and the last part of the Saints' Rest." On the whole, it is not
]9C' COMPILER'S PREFACE. without good reason that Dr. Calamy remarks concerning it, " This is a book, for which multitudes will have cause to bless God for ever," This excellent and useful book now appears in the form of an abridgment ; and therefore, it ispresumed, will be the morelikely, under the divine blessing, to diffuse its salutary influence among those that would otherwise have wanted opportunity or inclination to read over the larger volume. In reducing it to this smaller size, I have been very desirous to dojustice to the author, and at the same time promote the pleasure and profit of the serious reader. And, I hope, these ends are, in some measure, answered ; chiefly by dropping things of a digressive, controversial, or metaphysical nature ; together with pre- faces, dedications, and various allusions to some peculiar circumstances of the last age.; and particularly, by throwing several chapters into one, that the number of them may better correspond with the size of the volume; and sometimes by altering the form, but not the sense, of a period, for the sake of brevity; and when an obsolete phrase occurred, changing it for one more common and intelligible. I should never have thought of attempting this work, if it had not been sug- gested and urged by others ; and by some very respectable names, of whose learning, judgment, and piety I forbear to avail myself. How- ever defective this performance may appear, the labor of it (if it may be called a labor) has been, I bless God, one of the most delightful labors of my life. Certainly the thoughts of everlasting rest maybe as delightful to souls in the present day, as they have ever been to those of past generations. I am sure such thoughts are as absolutely necessary now ; nor are temptations to neglect them, either fewer or weaker now than formerly. The worth of everlasting rest is not felt, because it is not considered ; it is forgotten, because a thousand trifles are preferred before it. But were the divine reasonings of this book duly attended to, (and 0 that the Spirit and grace of a Redeemer may make them so !) then an age of vanity would become serious ; minds enervated by sensuality would soon resume the strength of reason, and display the excellence of Christianity ; the delusive names of pleasure would be blotted out by the glorious reality of heavenly joy upon earth ; every station ami relation in life would be filled up with the propriety and dignity of serious religion ; every member of society would then effectually contribute to the beauty and happiness of the whole ; and every soul would be ready for life or death, for one world or another, in a well- grounded and cheerful persuasion of having secured a title to that rest which remaineth to the people of God. B. F. ,Kidderminster, Dec. 25th, 1758.
THE SAINTS' EVERLASTING REST. HEBREWS, iV. 9. THERE REMAINETH THEREFORE A REST UNTO THE PEOPLE OF GOD CHAPTER I. THE INTRODUCTION TO THE WORK, WITH SOME ACCOUNT OF THE NA- TURE OF THE SAINTS' REST. The important design of the apostle in the text, to which the author earnestly bespeaks the attention of the reader. The saints' rest de- fined, with a general plan of the work. What this rest presupposes. The author's humble sense ofhis inabilityfully to show what this rest contains. It contains, 1. A ceasing frommeans ofgrace; 2. A per- fectfreedom from all evils; 3. The highest degree of the saints' per- sonal perfection, both in body and soul ; 4. The nearest enjoyment of God the chief good; 5. A sweet and constant action ofall the powers ofsoul and body in this enjoyment of God ; as, for instance, bodily senses, knowledge, memory, love, joy, together with amutual love and joy. IT was not only our interest in God, and actual enjoy- ment of him, which was lost in Adam's fall, but all spiritual knowledge of him, and true disposition toward such a felicity. When the Son of God comes with reco- vering grace, and discoveries of a spiritual and eternal happiness and glory, he finds not faith in man to believe it. As the poor man, that would not believe any one had such a sum as a hundred pounds, it was so far above what himself possessed, so men will hardly now believe there is such a happiness as once they had, much less as Christ bath now procured. When God would give the Is- raelites his Sabbaths of rest, in a land of rest, he had more ado to make them believe it, than to overcome their ene mies, and procure it for them. And when they had it, only as a small intimation and earnest of an incomparably more glorious rest through Christ, they yet believe no more
14 NATURE OF [Chap. 1. than they possess, but say, with the glutton at the feast, Sure there is no other heaven but this ! or, if they expect more by the Messiah, it is only the increase of their earth- ly felicity. The apostle bestows most of this Epistle against this distemper, and clearly and largely proves, that the end of all ceremonies and shadows is to direct them to Jesus Christ, the substance ; and that the rest of Sabbaths, and Canaan, should teach them to look for a further rest, which indeed is their happiness. My text is his conclu- sion after divers arguments; a conclusion which contains the ground ofall the believer's comfort, the end of all his dutyand sufferings, the life and sum of all gospel promises and Christian privileges. What more welcome to men, under personal afflictions, tiring duties, successions of suf- ferings, than rest? It is not our comfort only, but our sta- bility. Our liveliness in all duties, our enduring tribula- tion, our honoring of God, the vigor of our love, thank- fulness, and all our graces ; yea, the very being of our re- ligion and Christianity depend on the believing serious thoughts ofour rest. And now, reader, whatever thou art, young or old, rich or poor, I entreat thee, and charge thee, in the name of thy Lord, who will shortly call thee to a reckoning, and judge thee to thy everlasting, unchangea- ble state, that thou give not these things the reading only, and so dismiss them with a bare approbation; but that thou set upon this work, and take God in Christ for thy only rest, and fix thy heart upon him above all. May the living God, who is theportion and rest of his saints, make these our carnal minds so spiritual, and our earthly hearts so heavenly, that loving him, and delighting in him, may be the work of our lives; and that neither I that write, nor you that read, this book, may ever be turned from this path of life.; lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, weshould come short of it, through our ownunbe- lief, or negligence. The saints' rest is the most happy state of a Christian ; or, it is the perfect endless enjoyment of God by the per- fected saints, according to the measure of their capacity, to which their souls arrive at death, and both soul and body most fully, after the resurrection and final judgment. Ac- cording to this definition of the saints' rest, a larger account of its nature will be given in this chapter ; of its prepara-
Chap. 1.] THE SAINTS' REST. 15 tives, Chap. ii. ; its excellencies, Chap. iii.; and Chap. iv., the persons for whom it is designed. Further to il- lustrate the subject, some description will be given, Chap. v., of their misery who lose this rest ; and, Chap. vi., who also lose the enjoyments of time, and suffer the torments of hell. Next will be showed, Chap. vii., the necessity of diligently seeking this rest ; Chap. viii., how our title to it may be discerned; Chap. ix., that they who discern their title to it should help those that cannot ; and, Chap. x., that this rest is not to be expected on earth. It will then be proper to consider, Chap. xi., the importance of a heavenly life upon earth ; Chap. xii., how to live a heavenly life upon earth ; Chap. xiii., the nature of hea- venly contemplation, with the time, place, and temper fit- test for it; Chap. xiv., what use heavenly contemplation makes of consideration, affections, soliloquy and prayer; and likewise, Chap. xv., how heavenly contemplation may be assisted by sensible objects, and guarded against a treacherous heart. Heavenly contemplation will be ex= emplified, Chap. xvi., and the whole work concluded. There are some things necessarily presupposed in the nature of this rest; as, for instance, that mortal men are the persons seeking it. For angels and glorified spirits have it already, and the devils and damned are past hope. That they choose God only for their end and happiness. He that takes any thing else for his happiness, is out of the way the first step. That they are distant from this end. This is the woful case of all mankind since the fall. When Christ comes with regenerating grace, he finds no man sitting still, but all posting to eternal ruin, and making haste toward hell; till, by conviction, he first brings them to a stand, and then, by conversion, turns their hearts and lives sincerely to himself. This end, and its excellency, is supposed to be known,and seriously intended. An un- known good, moves not to desire or endeavor. And not only a distance from this rest, but the true knowledge of this distance, is also supposed. They that never yet knew they were without God, and in the way to hell, did never yet know the way to heaven. Can a man find he hath lost his God and his soul, and not cry, I am undone ? The rea- son why so few obtain this rest, is, they will not be con- vinced that they are, in point of title, distant from it; and,,
16 NATURE OF [Chap. 1. in point of practice, contrary to it. Who ever sought for that which he knew not he had lost ? " They that be whole need not a physician, but they that be .sick." The influence of a superior moving cause is also supposed; else we shall all stand still, and not move toward our rest. If God move us not, we cannot move. It is a most ne- cessary part of our Christian wisdom, to keep our subordi nation to God, and dependance on him. " We are not suf- ficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God." " Without me," says Christ, " ye can do nothing. " It is next supposed, that they who seek this rest have an inward principle of spiritual life. God does not move men like stones, but he endows them with life, not to enable them to move without him, but in subordination to himself, the first mover. And further, this rest supposes such an actual tendency of soul toward it, as is regular and "constant, earnest and laborious. He that hides his talent shall receive the wages of a slothful servant. Christ is the door, the only way to this rest. "But strait is the gate and narrow is the way;" and we must strive, if we will enter ; for " many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able ;"which implies, "that the king- dom of heaven suffereth violence." Nor will it bring us to the end of the saints, if we begin in the spirit and end in the flesh. He only "that endureth to the end shall be saved." And never did a soul obtain rest with God, whose desire was not set upon him above all things else in the world. " Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." The remainder of our old nature will much weaken and interrupt these desires, but never overcome them. And, considering the opposition to our desires, from the contrary principles in our nature, and from the weakness of our graces, together with our continued dis- tance from the end, our tendency to that end must be la- borious, and with all our might. All these things are pre- supposed, in order to a Christian's obtaining an interest in heavenly rest. Nowwe have ascended these steps into the outward court, may we look within the veil ? May we show what this rest contains, as well as what it presupposes ? Alas how little know I of that glory ! The glimpse which Paul had, contained what could not, or must not, be uttered.
Chap. 1.1 THE SAINTS/ REST. 17 Had he spoken th.: things of heaven in the language of heaven, and none understood that language, what the bet- ter ? The Lord reveal to me what I may reveal to you! The Lord open some light, and show both you and me our inheritance ! Not as to Balaam only, whose eyes were opened to see the goodliness of Jacob's tents, and Israel's tabernacles, where he had no portion, and fromwhence must come his own destruction ; not as to Moses, who had only a discovery instead of possession, and saw the land which he never entered ; but as the pearl was re- vealed to the merchant in the Gospel, who rested not till he had sold all he had, and bought it; and as heaven was opened to blessed Stephen, which he was shortly to enter, and the glory showed him which should be his own pos- session ! The things contained in heavenly rest are such as these : a ceasing frommeans of grace , a perfect free- dom from all evils ; the highest degree of the saints' per- sonal perfection, both of body and soul ; the nearest en- joyment of God, the chief good ;and a sweet and con- stant action of all the powers of body and soul in this en- joyment of God. 1. One thing contained in heavenly rest, is, the ceasing frommeans of grace. When we have obtained the haven, we have done sailing. When the workman receives his wages, it is implied he has done his work. When we are at ourjourney's end, we have done with the way. Whether prophecies, they shall fail ; whether tongues, they shall cease ; whether knowledge, it also, so far as it had thena- ture of means, shall vanish away. There shall be no more prayer, because no more necessity, but the full enjoyment of what we prayed for : neither shall we need to fast, and weep, and watch any more, being out of the reach of sin and temptations. Preaching is done; the ministry of man ceaseth; ordinances become useless; the laborers are called in, because the harvest is gathered, the tares burned, and the work finished; the unregenerate past hope, and the saints past fear, for ever. 2. There is in heavenly rest aperfectfreedomfromallevils; all the evils that accompanied us through our course, and which necessarily follow our absence from the chief good : besides our freedom from those eternal flames and restless miseries, which the neglecters of Christ and grace must fo..
18 NATURE OF [Chap. I. ever endure ; a wouul inheritance, which, both by birth and actual merit, was due to us as well as to them ! In heaven there is nothing that defileth or is unclean. All that remains without. And doubtless there is not such a thing as grief and sorrow known there : nor is there such a thing as a pale face, a languid body, feeble joints, una- ble infa..cy, decrepit age, peccant humors, painful or pin- ing sickness, griping fears, consuming cares, nor whatso- ever deserves the name of evil. We did weep and lament when the world did rejoice ; but our sorrow is turned to joy, and our joy shall no man take from us. 3. Another ingredient of this rest is, the highest degree of the saints' personal perfection, both ofbody and soul. Were the glory ever so great, and themselves not made capable of it, by a personal perfection suitable thereto, it would be little to them. " Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." For, the eye of flesh is not capable of seeing them, nor this ear of hearing them, nor this heart of understanding them: but, there the eye, and ear, and heart, are made capable; else, how do they enjoy them? The more perfect the sight is, the more delightful the beautiful object. The more perfect the ap- petite, the sweeter the food. The more musical the ear, the more pleasant the melody. The more perfect the soul, the more joyous those joys, and the more glorious, to us, is that glory. 4. The principal part of this rest is our nearest enjoyment of God, the chief good. And here, reader, wonder not if I be at a loss, and if my apprehensions receive but little of that which is in my expressions. If it did not appear to the beloved disciple what we shall be, but only, in ge- neral, " that when Christ shall appear we shall be like him," no wonder if I know little. When I know so little of God, I cannot much know what it is to enjoy him. If I know so little of spirits, how little of the Father of spirits, or the state of my own soul, when advanced to the enjoy- ment of him ! I stand and look upon a heap of ants, and see them all with one view; they know not me, my being, nature, or thoughts, though I am their fellow-creature ; how little, then, must we know of the great Creator, though he, with one view, clearly beholds us all ! Aglimpse, the
Chap. 1.] THE SAINTS' REST. 19 saints behold as in a glass, which makes us capable of some poor, dark apprehensions of what we shall behold in glory. If I should tell a worldling, what the holiness and spiritual joys of the saints on earth are, he cannot know ; for grace cannot be clearly known without grace; howmuch less could he conceive it, should I tell him of this glory ! But, to the saints I may be somewhat more encouraged to speak; for grace gives them a dark know- ledge and slight taste of glory. If men and angels should study to speak the blessedness of that state in one word, what could they say beyond this, that it is the nearest en- joyment of God ? 0 the full joys offered to a believer in that one sentence of Christ; " Father, I will that those whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me !" Every word is full of life and joy, If the queen of Sheba had cause to say of Solomon's glory, " Happy are thymen, happy are these thy servants, who stand continually be- fore thee, and hear thy wisdom ;" then, surely, they that stand continually before God, and see his glory, and the glory of the Lamb, are more than happy. To them will Christ give to eat of the tree of life, and to eat of the hidden manna; yea, he will make them pillars in the temple of God, and they shall go no more out; and he will write upon them the name of his God, and the name of the city of his God, which is New-Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from his God, and he will write upon them his new name; yea, more, if more maÿ be, he will grant them to sit with him in his throne. " These are they who came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple, and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. The Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of water; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." 0 blind, deceived world ! can you show us such a glory ? This is the city of our God, where the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. The glory of God shall lighten it, and the Lamb is the light
20 NATURE OF [Chap. 1. thereof. And there shall be no more curse ; but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him, and they shall see his face, and his name shall be in their foreheads. These sayings are faithful and true, and the things which must shortly be done. And now we say, as Mephibosheth, let the world take all, forasmuch as our Lord will come in peace. Rejoice, therefore, in the Lord, 0 ye righteous ! and say, with his servant David, " The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance : the lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. I have set the Lord always before me : because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore, my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth; my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life; in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." Whit pre- sumption would it have been, once, to have thought or spoken of such a thing, if God had not spoken it before us ! I durst not have thought of the saints' preferment in this life, as Scripture sets it forth, had it not been the ex- press truth of God. How indecent to talk of being sons of God speaking to him having fellowship with him--- dwelling in him, and he in us, if this had not been God's own language ! How much less durst we have once thought of shining. forth as the Sun of being joint heirs with Christ of judging the world -of sitting on Christ's throne of being one in him and the Father, if we had not all this from the mouth, and under the hand of God ! But he hath said, and shall he not do it? Hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good ? Yes, as the Lord God is true, thus shall it be done to the man whom Christ de- lighteth to honor. Be of good cheer, Christian; the time is near when God and thou shalt be near, and as near as thou canst well desire. Thou shalt dwell in his family. Is that enough ? It is better to be a door-keeper in the house of God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. Thou shalt ever stand before him, about his throne, in the room with him, in his presence-chamber. Wouldst thou yet be nearer? Thou shalt be his child, andhe thy Father; thou shalt be an heir of his kingdom; yea, more, the spouse of
Chap. 1.] THE SAINTS' REST. 21 his Son. And what more canst thou desire ? Thou shalt be a member of the body of his Son ; he shall be thy head; thou shalt be one with him, who is one with the Father, as he himself hath desired for thee of his Father; " that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; and the glorywhich thou gayest me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me." 5. We must add, that this rest contains a sweet and con- stant action of all the powers of the soul and body in this enjoyment of God. It is not the rest of a stone, which ceaseth from all motion when it attains the centre. This body shall be so changed, that it shall no more be flesh and blood, which cannot inherit the kingdom of God ; but a spiritual body. We sow not that body that shall be, but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. If grace makes a Christian differ so much from what he was, as to say, I am not the man I was ; howmuch more will glorymake us differ ! As much as a body spiritual, above the sun in glory, exceeds these frail, noisome, diseased lumps of flesh, so far shall our senses exceed those we now possess. Doubtless, as God advanceth our senses, and enlargeth our capacity, so will he advance the happiness of those senses, and fill up with himself all that capacity. Certainly the body should not be raised up and continued, if it should not share in the glory. As it hath shared in the obedience and sufferings, so shall it also in the blessedness. As Christ bought the whole man, so shall the whole partake of the everlasting benefits of the purchase. O blessed employment of a glo- rified body ! to stand before the throne of God and the Lamb, and to sound forth for ever, " Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor, and power. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing; for thou hast redeemed us to God, by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation ; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests. Alleluia ; salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord
22 NATURE OF [Chap. I. ourGod. Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth." 0, Christians ! this is the blessed rest; a rest, as it were, without rest; for " they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." And if the body shall be thus employed, 0 how shall the soul be taken up ! As its powers and capacities are greatest, so its actions are strongest, and its enjoyments sweetest. As the bodily senses have their proper actions, whereby they receive and enjoy their objects, so does the soul in its own actions enjoy its own objects, by knowing, remembering, loving, and delightful joying. This is the soul's enjoyment. By these eyes it sees, and by these arms it embraces. Knowledge, of itself, is very desirable. As far as the rational soul exceeds the sensitive, so far the delights of a philosopher, in discovering the secrets of nature, and knowing the mystery of sciences, exceed the delights of the glutton, the drunkard, the unclean, and of all volup- tuous sensualists whatsoever. So excellent is all truth. What, then, is their delight who know the God of truth ! How noble a faculty of the soul is the understanding ! It can compass the earth; it can measure the sun, moon, stars, and heaven; it can foreknow each eclipse to a minute, many years before. But this is the top of all its excellency, that it can know God, who is infinite, who made all these, a little here, and more, much more, here- after. O the wisdom and goodness of our blessed Lord ! He hath created the understanding with a natural bias and inclination to truth, as its object; and to the prime truth, as its prime object. Christian, when, after long gazing heaven -ward, thou hast got a glimpse of Christ, dost thou not sometimes seem to have been with Paul in the third heaven, whether in the body or out, and to have seen what is unutterable ? Art thou not, with Peter, ready to say, " Master, it is good to be here ?" " O that I might dwell in this mount ! 0 that I might ever see what I now see !" Didst thou never look so long upon the Sun of Righteous- ness, till thine eyes were dazzled with his astonishing glory ? And did not the splendor of it make all things below seem black and dark to thee? Especially in the day of suffering for Christ, when he usually appears most mani- festly to his people, didst thou never see one walking in
Chap. 1.] THE SAINTS' REST. 23 the midst of the fiery furnace with thee, like the Son of God ? Believe me, Christians, yea, believe God; you that have known most of God in Christ here, it is as nothing to what you shall know : it scarce, in comparison of that, de- serves to be called knowledge. For as these bodies, so that knowledge must cease, that a more perfect may suc- ceed. Knowledge shall vanish away. For we know in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but, when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now. we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then shall I know, even as also I am known. Marvel not, therefore, Chris- tian, how it can be life eternal to knowGod and Jesus Christ. To enjoy God and Christ is eternal life; and the soul's enjoying is in knowing. They that savor only of earth, and consult with flesh, think it a poor happiness to. know God. But we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness; and we know that the Sort of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know him that is true; and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. The memory will not be idle, or useless, in this blessed work. From that height the saint can look behind him, and before him. And to compare past with present things must needs raise in the blessed soul an inconceivable es- teem and sense of its condition. To stand on that mount, whence we can see the Wilderness and Canaan both at once to stand in Heaven and look back on earth, and weigh them together in the balance of a comparing sense and judgment, how must it needs transport the soul, and make it cry out, " Is this the purchase that cost so dear as the blood of Christ? No wonder. O blessed price ! and thrice blessed love, that invented, and condescended ! Is this the end of believing ? Is this the end of the'Spirit's workings ? Have the gales of grace blown me into such a harbor? Is it hither that Christ hath allured my soul ? O blessed way, and thrice blessed end ! Is this the glory which the Scriptures spoke of, and ministers preached of so much? I see the Gospel is indeed good tidings, even _allisonlibrary.regent-college.edu