The Saints Everlasting Rest
Saints Everlasting Rest:
Of the Blessed State of the SAINTS
in their enjoyment of GOD in Glory.
Wherein is shewed its Excellency and Certainty;
the Misery of those that lose it, the way to Attain it,
and Assurance of it, and how to live in the continual
delightful Forecasts of it, by the help of Meditation.
Written by the Author for his own use, in the
time of his languishing, when God took him off
from all Publike Imployment; and afterwards
Preached in his weekly Lecture:
And now published by Richard Baxter, Teacher
of the Church of Kederminster in Worcestershire.
My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for
ever, Psal. 73. 26.
If in this life onely we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable, 1 Cor. 15. 19.
Set your affections on things above, and not on things on the Earth. For ye are dead, and
your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who in our life, shall appear, then shalll
ye also appear with him in glory, Col. 3. 2, 3, 4.
Because I live, ye shall live also, John 14. 19.
Jan. 15. 1649. Imprimatur, Joseph Caryl.
London, Printed by Rob. White for Thomas Underhil and Francis Tyton,
and are to be sold at the Blue Anchor and Bible in Pauls Church-yard, near the
little North-door, and at the three Daggers in Fleetstreet, near
the Inner-Temple gate. 1650.
PUBLISHED BY Rob White
PUBLISHED FOR Thomas Underhil
PUBLISHED FOR Francis Tyton
We must be thankful if Joseph sustain our lives, by relieving us in our Famine with his Provisions, till we come to see his own face. There's joy in these remote receivings; but the fulness is in his own presence. O Christians, you will then know the difference, betwixt the Creature and Creator, and the content that each of them affords. We shall then have Light without a Candle; and a perpetual day without the Sun: For the City hath no need of the Sun, neither of the Moon to shine in it; for the glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof, Revel. 21.23. Nay, There shall be no night there, and they need no candle, nor light of the Sun; for the Lord God giveth them light, and they shall reign for ever and ever, Revel. 22.5. We shall then have rest without sleep, and be kept from cold without our cloathing, and need no Fig-leaves to hide our shame: For God will be our Rest, and Christ our cloathing, and shame and sin will cease together. We shall then have health without Physick, and strength without the use of food; for the Lord God will be our strength, [Page 91] and the light of his countenance will be health to our souls, and marrow to our bones. We shall then (and never till then) have enlightened understandings without Scriptures, 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; his own will shall be our Law, and his own face shall be our light for ever. Then shall we have joy, which we drew not from the promises, nor was fetcht us home by Faith or Hope: Beholding and possessing, will exclude the most of these. We shall then have Communion without Sacraments, when Christ shall drink with us of the fruit of the Vine new, that is, Refresh us with the comforting Wine of immediate fruition, in the Kingdom of his Father. To have necessities, but no supply, is the case of them in Hell; to have necessity supplied by the means of Creatures, is the case of us on Earth; to have necessity supplied immediately from God, is the case of the Saints in Heaven; to have no necessity at all, is the prerogative of God himself. The more of God is seen and received with, and by the means, and Creature here, the neerer is our state like that in glory. In a word, We have now our Mercies, as Benjamin had Josephs cup; Gen. 44. 12 we finde them at a distance from God, and scarcely know from whence they come, and understand not the good will intended in them, but are oft ready to fear they come in wrath, and think they will but work our ruine. But when we shall feed at Josephs own house, yea, receive our portion from his own hand; when he shall fully unbowel his love unto us, and take us to dwell in Goshen by him; when we shall live in our Fathers house and presence, and God shall be All, and in All; then are we indeed at home in Rest.
2. SECT. XII.
4.From temptations of the World and Flesh. WE shall Rest also from all our Temptations which we now undergo from the world and the flesh, as well as Satan: And that is a number unexpressible, and a weight (were it not that we are beholding to supporting grace) utterly intollerable. O the hourly dangers that we poor sinners here below walk in! Every sense is a snare: Every member a snare: Every creature a snare: Every mercy a snare: And every duty a snare to us. We can scarce open our eyes, but we are in danger: If we behold them above us, we are in danger of envy: If them below us, we are in danger of contempt: If we see sumptuous buildings, pleasant habitations, Honour and Riches, we are in danger to be drawn away with covetous desires; If the ragges and beggery of others, we are in danger of self-applauding thoughts and unmercifulness. If we see beauty, its a bait to lust; if deformity, to loathing and disdain. We can scarcely hear a word spoken, but containes to us matter of temptation. How soon do slanderous reports, vain jests, wanton speeches by that passage creep into the Heart? How strong and prevalent a Temptation is our appetite? and how constant and strong a watch doth it require? Have we comliness 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 hard is it not to be pufft up? 2 Cor. 11. 3. & 1. 12, &c. To seek our selves? To hunt after applause? To despise our brethren? To mislike the simplicity that is in Christ? Both in the matter and manner of Scripture? In Doctrine, in Discipline, in Worship, and in the Saints? to affect a pompous, specious, fleshly service of God? and to exalt Reason above Faith? Are we unlearned, and of shallow heads, and slender parts? How apt then to despise what we have not? And to undervalue [Page 111] that which we do not know? and to erre with confidence, because of our Ignorance? and if conceitedness and pride do but strike in, to become a zealous enemy to Truth? and a leading troubler of the Churches peace, under pretences of truth and holiness? Are we men of eminency, and in place of Authority? How strong is our Temptation to slight our brethren? to abuse our trust? to seek our selves? to stand upon our honour and priviledges? To forget our selves, our poor brethren, and the publick good? How hard to devote our power to his Glory, from whom we have received it? How prone to make our wills our law? and to cut out all the enjoyments of others, both religious and civil, by the cursed rules and model of our own interest and policy? Are we Inferiors and subject? How prone to grudg at others preheminence? and to take liberty to bring all their actions to the bar of our incompetent Judgment? and to censure, and slander them, and murmure at their proceedings? Are we rich, and not too much exalted? Are we poor, and not discontented? and make our worldly necessities a pretence for the robbing God of all his service? If we be sick, O how impatient? If in health, how few and stupid are our thoughts of eternity? If death be near, we are distracted with the fears of it: If we think it far off, how careless is our preparation? Deut. 12. 30. & 7. 25. Hosea 9. 8. Psal. 69. 22. Prov. 20. 25. & 22. 25. & 29. 6, 25. 1 Tim. 6. 9. Job 8. 8, 10. Do we set upon duty? Why, there are snares too: either we are stupid and lazy; or rest on them, and turn from Christ; or we are customary, and notional only: In a word, not one word that falls from the mouth of a Minister or Christian, but is a snare: not a place we come into; not a word that our own tongues speake; not any mercy we possess; not a bit we put into our mouths, but they are snares: Not that God hath made them so; but through our own corruption they become so to us. So that what a sad case are we poor Christians in? And especially they that discern them not? for its almost impossible they should escape them? It was not for nothing that our Lord cryes out, What I say to one, I say to all; Watch. We are like the Lepers at Samaria, if we go into the City, there's nothing but famine: if we sit still we perish.
4. 4. Of the need of Chirist, and his sufficiency, and worth.
Quest. Are not all the forementioned works common, till this last?
Answ. No. The fourth thing that the Soul is convinced and sensible of, is, The Absolute Necessity, the Full Sufficiency, and Perfect Excellency of Jesus Christ. It is a great Question, Whether all the forementioned works are not common, and onely preparations unto this? They are preparatives, and yet not common: Every lesser work is a preparative to the greater; and all the first works of Grace, to those that follow: so Faith is a preparative to our continual living in Christ, to our Justification, and Glory. There are indeed common Convictions, and so there is also a common Believing: But this as in the former terms explained, is both a sanctifying and saving work; I mean a saving act of a sanctified Soul, excited by the Spirits special Grace. That it precedes Justification, contradicts not this; for so doth Faith it self too: Nor that it precedes Faith is any thing against it; for I have shewed before, that it is a part of Faith in the large sense; and in the strict sense taken Faith is not the first gracious act, much less that act of fiducial recumbency, which is commonly taken for the justifying act: Though indeed it is no one single act, but many that are the condition of Justification.
1. Of the necessity of Christ. This Conviction is not by meer Argumentation, as a man is convinced of the verity of some inconcerning consequence by dispute; but also by the sense of our desperate misery, as a man in famine of the necessity of food, or a man that hath read or heard his sentence of condemnation, is convinced of the absolute necessity of pardon; or as a man that lies in prison for debt, is convinced of the necessity of a surety to discharge it. Now the sinner findes himself in another case, then ever he was before aware of; he feels an insupportable burden upon him, and sees there is none but Christ can take it off; he perceives that he is under the wrath of God, and that the Law proclaims him a Rebel and Out-law, and none but Christ can make his peace; he is as a man pursued by a Lyon, that must perish if he finde not present sanctuary; he feels the curse doth lie upon him, and upon all he hath for his sake, and [Page 153] Christ alone can make him blessed; he is now brought to this Dilemma; either he must have Christ to justifie him, or be eternally condemned; he must have Christ to save him, or burn in Hell for ever; he must have Christ to bring him again to God, or be shut out of his presence everlastingly. And now no wonder, if he cry as the Martyr Lambert, None but Christ, none but Christ. It is not Gold but Bread, that will satisfie the hungry; nor any thing but pardon that will comfort the condemned. Phil. 3 7,8,9. All things are now but dross and dung; and what we accounted gain, is now but loss, in comparison of Christ. For as the sinner seeth his utter misery, and the disability of himself, and all things to relieve him; so he doth perceive, that there is no saving mercy out of Christ: The truth of the threatning, and tenor of both Covenants, do put him out of all such hopes. Revelations 5. 3, 4, 5, 6. There is none found in Heaven or Earth, that can open the sealed Book, save the Lamb; without his blood there is no Remission; Heb. 9. 22. & 13. 12. and without Remission there is no Salvation. Could the sinner now make any shift without Christ, or could any thing else supply his wants, and save his soul; then might Christ be disregarded: Actis 4. 13. But now he is convinced, that there is no other name, and the necessity is absolute.
4. SECT. III.
3.ANother help to sweeten thy soul with the foretasts of Rest, is this; Labor to apprehend how neer it is, Think seriously of its speedy approach That which we think is neer at hand, we are more sensible of, then that which we behold at a distance. When we hear of war or famin in another country, it troubleth not so much: or if we hear it prophesied of a long time hence, so if we hear of plenty a great way off, or of a golden age that shall fall out, who knows when; this never rejoyceth us. But if Judgments or Mercies begin to draw neer, then they affect us, If we were sure we should see the golden Age, then it would take with us. When the plague is in a Town but twenty miles off, we do not fear it; nor much prehaps, if it be but in another street: but if once it come to the next door, or if it seaze on one in our own family; then we begin to think on it more feelingly; It is so with mercies as well as Judgments. When they are far off, we talk of them as marvells; but when they draw close to us, we rejoyce in them as Truths. This makes men think on Heaven so insensibly, because they conceit it at too great a distance: They look on it as twenty, or thirty, or fourty yeers off; and this is it that duls their sense. As wicked men are fearless and senseless of judgment, because the sentence is not speedily executed, Eccles. 8.11. So are the godly deceived of their comforts, by supposing them further off then they are. This is the danger of putting the day of death far from us; when men will promise themselves longer time in the world, then God hath promised them; and judg of the length of their lives by the probabilities they gather from their Age, their health, their constitution and temperature; this makes them look at heaven as a great way off. Luk. 12. 17, 18, 19, 20. If [...]the rich fool in the [Page 674] Gospel had not expected to have lived many yeers, he would sure have thought more of providing for Eternity, and less of his present store and possessions; And if we did not think of staying many yeers from Heaven, we should think on it with far more piercing thoughts. This expectation of long life, doth both the wicked and the godly a great deal of wrong. 2 Cor. 1. 8, 9, 10. How much better were it to receive the sentence of death in our selves, and to look on Eternity as neer at hand? Surely, Reader, thou standest at the door, and hundreds of diseases are ready waiting, to open the door and let thee in. Is not the thirty, or fourty years of thy life that is past quickly gone? Is it not a very little time when thou lookest back on it? And will not all the rest be shortly so too? Do not dayes and nights come very thick? Dost thou not feel that building of flesh to shake? and perceive thy house of clay to totter? Look on thy glass, and see how it runs: Look on thy watch, how fast it getteth? what a short moment is between us and our Rest? what a step is it from hence to Everlastingness? While I am thinking, and writing of it, it hasteth neer; and I am even entring into it before I am aware. While thou art reading this, it p steth on and thy life will be gone as a tale that is told. Mayst thou not easily foresee thy dying time? and look upon thy self as ready to depart? Its but a few dayes till thy friends shall lay thee in the grave, and others do the like for them. If you verily believed you should dye to morrow, how seriously would you think of Heaven to night? The condemned prisoner knew before that he dye, and yet he was then as Jovial as any: but when he hears the sentence, and knows he hath not a week to live, then how it sinkes his heart within him? So that the true apprehensions of the neerness of Eternity doth make mens thoughts of it to be quick and piercing; and put life into their fears and sorrowes, if they are unfitted, and into their desires and Joyes if they have assurance of its glory. When the Witches Samuel had told Saul, By to morrow this time thou shalt be with me; this quickly worked to his very heart, and laid him down as dead on the earth. 1 Sam 28. 19. And if Christ should say to a believing soul, By to morrow this time thou shalt be with me, this would be a working word indeed, and would bring him in spirit to Heaven before. As Melanchton was wont to say of his uncertain station, because of the persecution of his enemies, Ego jam sum hic, Dei beneficio, 40. annos et nunquam potui dicere aut certus [Page 675] esse, me per unam septimanam mansurum esse. i. e. I have now been here this fourty yeers, and yet could never say, or be sure, that I shall tarry here for one week: so may we all say of our abode on earth: As long as thou hast continued out of heaven, thou canst not say, thou shalt be out of it one week longer. Do but suppose that you are still entring in it, and you shall finde it will much help you more seriously to minde it.