A String of Pearls
The Best Things Reserved Until Last
A sermon preached in London, June 8, 1657, at the funeral
that triumphant saint Mrs. Mary Blake, by Thomas Brooks,
her much endeared friend, spiritual father, pastor, and
brother, in the fellowship of the Gospel.
We have but added fuel to those burning coals!
"And they will go away into eternal punishment, but
the righteous will go into eternal life." Matthew 25:46
Oh! what trouble of mind,
what horror of conscience,
what distraction and vexation,
what terror and torment,
what weeping and wailing,
what crying and roaring,
what wringing of hands,
what tearing of hair,
what dashing of knees,
what gnashing of teeth
will there be among the wicked—when they shall
see the saints in all their splendor, dignity, and
glory—and themselves forever shut out of heaven!
Then shall the wicked lamentingly say, "Lo! these
are the men whom we counted fools, madmen, and
miserable! Oh but now we see that we were deceived
and deluded! Oh that we had never despised them!
Oh that we had never reproached them!
Oh that we had never trampled upon them!
Oh that we had been one with them!
Oh that we had imitated them!
Oh that we had walked as they, and done as they
—that so we might now have been as happy as they!
Oh but this cannot be!
Oh this may not be!
Oh this shall never be!
Oh that we had never been born!
Oh that now we might be unborn!
Oh that we might be turned into a bird, a beast, a toad, a stone!
Oh that we were anything but what we are!
Oh that we were nothing!
Oh that now our immortal souls were mortal!
Oh that we might die—so that we may not eternally exist!
But it is now too late!
Oh we see that there is a reward for the righteous!
And we see, that by all the contempt which we have
cast upon these glorious shining saints, whose splendor
and glory does now darken the very glory of the sun,
that we have but treasured up wrath against the day
of wrath! We have but added fuel to those burning
coals, to those everlasting flames—in which we must
now lie forever! "And they cried to the mountains and
the rocks—Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One
who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb!"
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
No mind has imagined
Surely there is no believer but who finds that sometimes
sin interrupts his joy, and sometimes Satan disturbs his
joy, and sometimes afflictions eclipse his joy. Sometimes
the cares of the world, and sometimes the snares of the
world, and sometimes the fears of the world—mar his joy.
Here on earth, our joy is mixed with sorrow; our
rejoicing with trembling. The most godly have . . .
sorrow mixed with their joy,
water mixed with their wine,
vinegar mixed with their oil,
pain mixed with their ease,
winter mixed with their summer, etc.
But in heaven, they shall have . . .
joy without sorrow,
light without darkness,
sweetness without bitterness,
summer without winter,
health without sickness,
honor without disgrace,
glory without shame, and
life without death.
"In His presence is fullness of joy, and at His right
hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11
for quality—there are pleasures;
for dignity—at God's right hand;
And millions of years multiplied by millions, do
not make up one minute of this eternity of joy
which the saints shall have in heaven! In heaven
there shall be no sin to take away your joy, nor
any devil to take away your joy, nor any man
to take away your joy!
As they shall have in heaven pure joy, so they shall
have in heaven fullness of joy. Here on earth all joy
is at an ebb—but in heaven is the flood of joy! Here
shall be joy above joy, joy surmounting all joy. Here
shall be such great joys—as no geometrician can
measure; so many joys—as no arithmetician can
number; and such wonderful joys—as no rhetorician
can utter, had he the tongue of men and angels!
Sometimes great crosses, sometimes hard losses, and
sometimes unexpected changes—turn a Christian's
harping into mourning.
Here shall be joy within you, and joy without you,
and joy above you, and joy beneath you, and joy
about you. Joy shall spread itself over all the members
of your bodies, and over all the faculties of your souls.
your knowledge shall be full,
your love full,
your visions of God full,
your communion with God full,
your enjoyment of God full,
and your conformity to God full;
and from thence will arise fullness of joy.
If all the earth were paper, and all the plants of the
earth were pens, and all the sea were ink, and if every
man, woman, and child, had the pen of a ready writer;
yet they would not able to express the thousandth part
of those joys which saints shall have in heaven!
All the joy which we have here in this world is but
pensiveness—compared to that joy which we shall
have in heaven. All the pleasure which we have
here in this world is but heaviness—compared to that
joy which we shall have in heaven. All sweetness
which we have here in this world is but bitterness—
compared to that joy which we shall have in heaven.
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind
has imagined what God has prepared for those
who love Him." 1 Corinthians 2:9
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This is not your resting-place
This life is full of trials, full of troubles, and full of changes.
Sin within, and Satan and the world without, will keep a
Christian from rest, until he comes to rest in the bosom of
Christ. The life of a Christian is a race—and what rest have
those who are still a-running their race? The life of a Christian
is a warfare—and what rest have those who are still engaged
in a constant warfare? The life of a Christian is the life of a
pilgrim—and what rest has a pilgrim, who is still a-traveling
from place to place? The fears, the snares, the cares, the
changes, etc., which attend believers in this world, are such
that will keep them from taking up their rest here. A Christian
hears that word always sounding in his ears, "Arise, for
not your resting-place, because it is polluted." Micah 2:10.
A man may as well expect to find heaven in hell—as expect to
find rest in this world! Rest is a jewel very desirable on earth;
but we shall not wear it in our bosoms until we come to heaven.
Man's sorrows begin when his days begin, and his
sorrows are multiplied as his days are multiplied;
his whole life is but one continued grief:
labor wears him,
care tears him,
fears toss him,
losses vex him,
dangers trouble him,
crosses disquiet him,
nothing pleases him.
The rest reserved in heaven for
believers is a universal rest—
a rest from all sin;
a rest from all sorrow;
a rest from all afflictions;
a rest from all temptations;
a rest from all oppression;
a rest from all vexations;
a rest from all labor and pains;
a rest from all trouble and travail;
a rest from all aches, weaknesses, and diseases.
"Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on.
Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they
will rest from all their toils and trials!" Rev. 14:13
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The saints' hell—and the sinners' heaven
"And they will go away into eternal punishment,
but the righteous will go into eternal life."
This present life is the saints' hell—and
the sinners' heaven.
The next life will be the saints' heaven
—and the sinners' hell.
Here on earth wicked men have their heaven,
hereafter they shall have their hell. The time
of this life is the day of their joy and triumph;
and when this short day is ended—then eternal
lamentations, mournings, and woes follow!
Ah sinners! sinners! that day is hastening
upon you, wherein you shall have . . .
punishment without pity,
misery without mercy,
sorrow without support,
pain without pleasure, and
torments without end!
Ah, sinners! sinners! Ah! your portion is below,
and you are already adjudged to those torments
which are endless, easeless, and remediless; where
the worm never dies, and the fire never goes out!
The day is coming upon you, sinners, when . . .
all your sweet shall be turned into bitter;
all your glory into shame;
all your plenty into scarcity;
all your joys into sorrows;
all your recreations into vexations; and
all your momentary comforts into everlasting torments!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The secret of being content
A man needs very little of this world's goods to
carry him through his pilgrimage, until he comes
to his home—until he comes to heaven.
A little will satisfy the demands of nature;
though nothing will satisfy a man's lusts!
"I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances
I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how
to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned
the secret of being content—whether
well-fed or hungry,
whether in abundance or in need." Philippians 4:11-12
A Christian, in the midst of all his worldly delights, comforts,
and entertainments, says, "Oh these are not the delights, the
comforts, the contentments which my soul looks for, which
my soul expects and hopes to enjoy. I look and hope . . .
for choicer delights,
for sweeter comforts,
for more satisfying contentments,
for more durable riches!
A Christian's motto always is, or always should be, "I hope
for better things! I hope for better things than any the world
can give to me, or than any that Satan can take from me!"
"They admitted that they were aliens and strangers on
earth. Instead, they were longing for a better country
—a heavenly one." Hebrews 11:13, 16
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The happy exchange
I heartily wish that all who are concerned in
this sad loss, were more taken up in minding
the happy exchange which Mary has made,
than with your present loss.
She has exchanged:
a wilderness—for a paradise,
a prison—for a palace,
a house made with hands—for one eternal in the heavens,
the society of sinful mortals—for the company of God,
a bed of weakness—for a bed of spices,
her brass—for silver,
her pennies—for gold,
her earthly contentments—for heavenly enjoyments,
an imperfect, transient enjoyment of God—for a more
clear, full, perfect, and permanent enjoyment of God.
And as I desire that one of your eyes may be fixed upon
her happiness—so I desire that your other eye may be
fixed upon Christ's fullness. Though your brook be dried
up, yet Christ the fountain of light, life, love, grace, glory,
comfort, joy, goodness, sweetness and satisfaction—is still
at hand—and always full and flowing—yes, overflowing!
As the worth and value of many pieces of silver is contracted
in one piece of gold—so all the sweetness, all the goodness,
all the excellencies which are in husbands, wives, children,
friends, etc., are concentrated in Christ! Yes, all the whole
volume of perfections which is spread through heaven and
earth—is epitomized in Christ!
Oh, that your hearts and thoughts were thus busied about
Christ, and taken up with Christ, and with those treasures
of wisdom, knowledge, grace, goodness, sweetness, etc.,
which are in Him! This would very much allay your grief and
sorrow, and keep your hearts quiet and silent before the Lord.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A smooth silken way
In duty, Mary had learned the holy art of living above duty;
in the business of acceptance with God, and justification
before God, and reconciliation to God, and salvation by God;
she knew no duty but Jesus. She was as happy in denying
religious self as she was resolute in denying of sinful self.
Duties trusted to will undo you. When trusted to, duties
are but a smooth silken way to hell.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A poor, despised, contemptible thing
Most professors live as if there were no heaven,
or else as if heaven were not worth a seeking,
worth a desiring; as if heaven were a poor,
despised, contemptible thing.
But ah, Christians! be much in desiring and longing
to get into that glorious city, where streets, walls,
and gates are all gold—yes, where pearl is but as
mire and dirt; and where are . . .
and that forever!
This word "forever" is a bottomless depth, a conception
without end; it is a word which sweetens all the glory
above, and that indeed makes heaven to be heaven!