The Practice of Piety—a Puritan
devotional manual, directing a Christian how to live, that he may please God
by Lewis Bayly (1611)
Meditations on the blessed state of those
reconciled to God in Christ
Now let us see how happy a godly man is in his state of
renovation, being reconciled to God in Christ.
The godly man whose corrupt nature is renewed by grace in
Christ and become a new creature, is blessed in a threefold respect—First,
in his life; Secondly, in his death; Thirdly, after death.
I. Meditations on the blessed state of a Christian during
This is but in part, and that consists in seven things—
1. Because he is born of the Spirit (Jn.
3:5)—not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man—but
of God (Jn. 1:13), who in Christ is his Father (Gal. 4:6,7; 2Cor. 9:8)—so
that the image of God his Father is renewed in him every day more and more
(Eph. 4:2,3,13; Col. 3:10.)
2. He has, for the merits of Christ's
sufferings—all his sins, original and actual, with the guilt and punishment
belonging to them (Rom. 4:8,25; 8:1,2; 1Pet. 2:24), freely and fully
forgiven him; and all the righteousness of Christ as freely and fully
imputed to him (Rom. 4:5,19); and so God is reconciled to him (2Cor. 5:19);
and approves him as righteous in his sight, on the merits of Christ (Rom.
3. He is freed from Satan's bondage (Act.
16:18; Eph. 2:2), and is made a brother of Christ (Jn. 20:17; Rom. 8:20), a
fellow-heir of his heavenly kingdom (Rom. 8:17), and a spiritual king and
priest (Rev. 1:6), to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God by Jesus Christ
(1Pet. 2:5; Mal. 3:17.)
4. God spares him as a man spares his own son
that serves him. And this sparing consists in,
(1.) Not taking notice of every fault—but bearing with
his infirmities (Ex. 34:6,7). A loving father will not cast his child away,
just because he is sick.
(2.) Not making his punishment, when he is chastened, as
great as his deserts (Ps. 103:10.)
(3.) Chastening him moderately when he sees that he will
not by any other means be reclaimed (2Sam. 7:14,15; 1Cor. 11:32).
(4.) Graciously accepting his endeavors, notwithstanding
the imperfection of his obedience; and so preferring the willingness of his
mind before the worthiness of his work (2Cor. 8:12.)
(5.) Turning the curses which he deserved to fatherly
corrections. Yes, turning all things, all calamities of this life, death
itself, yes, his very sins, to his good (Rom. 8:28; Ps. 89:31,33; 119:71;
Heb. 12:10; 2Cor. 12:7; 1Cor. 15:54,55; Heb. 2:14,15; Lk. 22:31,32; Ps.
51:13,14; Rom. 5:20,21.)
5. God gives him his Holy Spirit, who,
(1.) Sanctifies him by degrees throughout (1Th. 5:23), so
that he more and more dies to sin and lives to righteousness (Rom. 8:5,10.)
(2.) Assures him of his adoption, and that he is by grace
the child of God (Rom. 8:16.)
(3.) Encourages him to come with boldness and confidence
into the presence of God (Heb. 4:16; Eph. 3:12).
(4.) Moves him without fear to say unto him, 'Abba,
Father' (Gal. 4:6; Rom. 8:15,16.)
(5.) Pours into his heart the gift of sanctified prayer.
(6.) Persuades him that both he and his prayers are
accepted and heard of God, for Christ his mediator's sake.
(7.) Fills him with, 1st, Peace of conscience (Rom. 5:1;
14:17); 2nd, Joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17)—in comparison whereof all
earthly joys seem vain and vile to him.
6. He has a recovery of his sovereignty over
the creatures (Ps. 8:5; Heb. 2:7,8), which he lost by Adam's fall; and from
thence free liberty (Rom. 14:14; 1Tim. 4:2, &c.) of using all things which
God has not restrained (1Cor. 9:19,20), so that he may use them with a good
conscience (1Cor. 3:22,32; Heb. 1:7). For to all things in heaven and earth
he has a sure title in this life (1Cor. 3:22); and he shall have the
complete and peaceable possession of them in the life to come (Mt. 25:34;
1Pet. 1:4). Hence it is that all reprobates are but 'usurpers' of all that
they possess, and have no place of their own but hell (Acts 1:25).
7. He has the assurance of God's fatherly care
and protection day and night over him; which care consists in three things:
(1.) In providing all things necessary for his soul and
body, concerning this life (Mt. 6:32; 2Cor. 12:14; Ps. 23; 34:9,10), and
that which is to come; so that he shall be sure ever either to have enough,
or patience to be content with that he has.
(2.) In that God gives his holy angels, as ministers, a
charge to attend upon him always for his good (Heb. 1:14; Ps. 34:7; 91:11).
Yes, in times of danger to pitch their tents about him for his safety
wherever he be. Yes, God's protection shall defend him as a cloud by day,
and as a pillar of fire by night (Isa. 4:5;) and his providence shall hedge
him from the power of the devil (Job 1:10).
(3.) In that the eyes of the Lord are upon him, and his
ears continually open, to see his state (Ps. 34:15; Gen. 7:1), and to hear
his pleas for help, and in his good time to deliver him out of all his
troubles (Ps. 34:19).
Thus far of the blessed state of the godly and regenerate
man in this life.
Now of his blessed state in death.
II. Meditations on the blessed state of a Christian in
When God sends death as his messenger for the regenerate
man, he meets him half-way to heaven, for his thoughts and affections are in
heaven before him (Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:2). Death is never strange nor fearful
to him—not strange, because he died daily—not fearful, because while he
lived, he was dead, and his life was hidden with Christ in God (1Cor. 1:31;
Col. 3:3). To die, therefore, is to him nothing else in effect—but to
rest from his labor in this world, to go home to his Father's house,
unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable
company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, to
God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to
Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant (Rev. 14:13; 2Cor. 5:6; Jn. 14:2;
While his body is sick, his mind is sound; for God makes
his bed in sickness, and strengthens him with faith and patience, upon his
bed of sorrow (Ps. 41:3). And when he begins to enter into death—the way of
all the world—he gives (like Jacob, Moses, and Joshua) to his children and
friends, godly exhortations and counsels, to serve the true God, to worship
Him truly all the days of their life (Gen. 49). His blessed soul breaths
nothing but blessings, and such speeches as savor a sanctified spirit. As
his outward man decays, so his inward man increases, and waxes stronger;
when the speech of his tongue falters, the sighs of his heart speak
louder unto God; when the sight of the eyes fails, the Holy Spirit
illuminates him inwardly with abundance of spiritual light. His soul fears
not—but is bold to go out of the body, and to dwell forever with her Lord
(2Cor. 5:8). He sighs out with Paul, "I desire to depart—and to be with
Christ," Phil. 1:23. And with David, "As the deer pants after the
water-brooks, so my soul pants after you, O God. My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God—when shall I come and appear before God?" Ps. 42:2. He
prays with the saints, "How long, O Lord, holy and true?" Rev. 6:10. "Come,
Lord Jesus, come quickly," Rev. 22:10.
And when the appointed time of his death is come (Job
14:5), knowing that he goes to his Father and Redeemer in the peace of a
good conscience (Ps. 31:5), and the assured persuasion of the forgiveness of
all his sins, in the blood of the Lamb, he sings with blessed old Simeon his
Nunc dimittis, "Lord, now let you your servant depart in peace," (Lk. 2:29;
Ps. 37:37; Isa. 57:2), and surrenders up his soul, as it were, with his own
hands, into the hands of his heavenly Father, saying with David, "Into your
hands, O Father, I commend my soul, for you have redeemed me, O God of
truth," Ps. 31:5. And saying with Stephen, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,"
Acts 7:59. He no sooner yields up the Spirit—but immediately the holy angels
(Mt. 18:10; Acts 12:15; 27:23) who attended upon him from his birth to his
death, carry and accompany his soul into heaven, as they did the soul of
Lazarus into Abraham's bosom (Lk. 16:22), which is the kingdom of heaven,
where only good angels and good works do accompany the soul (Mt. 8:11; Lk.
13:28; Acts 15:10,11; Eph. 1:10; Heb. 11:9,10,16; 12:22,23; Lk. 19:9; 9:31;)
the one to deliver their charge (Ps. 91:11; Heb. 1:14); the other to receive
their reward (Rev. 14:13; 22:12).
The body, in convenient time, as the sanctified
temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 6:19), the members of Christ (1Cor. 6:15),
nourished by his body (Mt. 26:26), the price of the blood of the Son of God
(1Cor. 6:20; 1Pet. 1:19), is by his fellow-brethren reverently laid to sleep
in the grave as in the bed of Christ (1Th. 4:14; Acts 7:6; 8:2), in an
assured hope to awake in the resurrection of the just, at the last day, to
be partaker, with the soul, of life and glory everlasting (Dan. 12:2; Jn.
5:28,29; Lk. 14:14; 1Th. 4:16,17; Rev. 14:13). And in this respect not only
the souls—but the very bodies of the faithful also are termed blessed.
Thus far of the blessedness of the soul and body of the
regenerate man in death—Now let us see the blessedness of his soul and body
III. Meditations on the blessed state of a Christian AFTER DEATH.
This state has three degrees—
1. From the day of death—to the resurrection.
2. From the resurrection—to the pronouncing of the
3. After the sentence—which lasts eternally.
1. From the day of death—to the resurrection.
As soon as ever the regenerate man has yielded up his
soul to Christ, the holy angels take her into their custody, and
immediately carry her into heaven (Luke 16:22), and there present her before
Christ—where she is crowned with a crown of righteousness and glory; not
which she has deserved by her good works—but which God has promised of his
free goodness to all those who, of love, have in this life sincerely served
him, and sought his glory (Heb. 1:14; 12:24; 2Tim. 4:8; Rev. 2:10; 1Pet.
Oh, what joy will it be to your soul, which was
accustomed to see nothing but misery and sinners on earth—now to behold the
face of the God of glory! Yes, to see Christ welcoming you, as soon as you
are presented before him by the holy angels, with a "Well done! Welcome good
and faithful servant! Enter into your Master's joy!" And what joy will this
be, to behold thousand thousands of cherubim, seraphim, angels, thrones,
dominions, principalities, powers! (Col. 1:6; Eph. 1:21) All the holy
patriarchs, priests, prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, and all the
souls of your Christian friends, parents, husbands, wives, children, and the
rest of God's saints, who departed before you in the true faith of
Christ—standing before God's throne in bliss and glory!
If the Queen of Sheba, beholding the glory and majesty of
Solomon, was ravished therewith, and broke out and said, "Happy are your
men, happy are these your servants, which stand ever before you, and hear
your wisdom," (1Ki. 10:8), how shall your soul he ravished to see herself,
by grace, admitted to stand with this glorious company, to behold the
blessed face of Christ, and to hear all the treasures of his divine wisdom!
How shall you rejoice to see so many thousand thousands welcoming you into
their heavenly society (Lk. 15); for as they all rejoiced at your
conversion—so will they now be much more joyful to behold your
coronation—and to see you receive your crown, which was reserved for
your coming (1Tim. 4:8).
There the crown of martyrdom shall be put on the
head of the martyr, who for Christ's gospel's sake endured torments. The
crown of piety shall be put on the head of the head of them who
sincerely professed Christ. The crown of good works shall be put on
the head of the good alms-giver's head, who liberally relieved the poor. The
crown of incorruptible glory shall be put on the head of the head of
those who by their preaching and good example have converted souls from the
corruption of sin, to glorify God in holiness of life. Who can sufficiently
express the rejoicing of this heavenly company, to see you thus crowned with
glory (Rev. 7:9), arrayed with the shining robes of righteousness, and to
behold the palm of victory put into your hand!
O what thanks and praise will you have, that, by God's
grace, you have escaped all the miseries of the world, all the snares of the
devil, all the pains of hell—and received eternal rest and happiness!
For there everyone rejoices as much in another's happiness as in his own,
because he shall see him as much loved of God as himself; yes, they have as
many distinct joys as they have copartners of their joy. And in this joyful
and blessed state, the soul rests with Christ in heaven until the
resurrection; when the number of her fellow-servants and brethren shall have
been fulfilled, which the Lord terms 'but a little season' (Rev. 7:9.)
II. The second degree of man's blessedness
after death, is from the resurrection—to the
pronouncing of the final sentence. For at the last day:
1. The elementary heavens, earth, and all
things therein, shall be dissolved, and purified with fire (2Pet.
2. At the sound of the last trumpet, or voice
of Christ, the Archangel—the very same bodies which the elect had before
(though turned to dust and earth) shall arise again (1Cor. 15:52; 1Th. 4:16;
Jn. 5:28; Ezek. 37:7,8, &c.). And in the same instant, every man's soul
shall re-enter into his own body, by virtue of the resurrection of Christ,
their head (Rom. 8:11; Phil. 3:10,11; 1Th. 4:14), and be made alive and rise
out of their graves, as if they did but awake out of their beds of sleep
(Rom. 5:17; 1Cor. 15:22). And howsoever tyrants bemangled their bodies in
pieces, or consumed them to ashes—yet shall the elect find it true at that
day, that not a hair of their head has perished (Mt. 19:30.)
3. They shall come forth out of their graves,
like so many Josephs out of prison; or Daniels out of the lion's den; or
Jonahs out of the whale's belly; (1Th. 4:14; Dan. 6:23).
4. All the bodies of the elect being
thus made alive, shall arise in that perfection of nature whereunto they
would have attained by their natural temperament, if no impediment had
hindered (Isa. 65:20); and in that vigor of age that a perfect man is—at
about thirty-three years old, each in their proper gender. To which divines
think the apostle alludes when he says, "Until we all come unto a perfect
man, unto the measure of the age (or stature) of the fullness of Christ,"
Eph. 4:13. Whatever imperfection was before in the body (as blindness,
lameness, crookedness) shall then be done away. Jacob shall not halt, nor
Isaac be blind, nor Leah weak-eyed, nor Mephibosheth lame. For if David
would not have the blind and lame to come into his house, much less will
Christ have blindness and lameness to dwell in his heavenly habitation.
Christ made all the blind to see, the mute to speak, the deaf to hear, the
lame to walk—who came to him to seek his grace on earth—much more will he
heal all their imperfections whom he will admit to his glory in heaven!
Among those tribes, there is not one feeble; but the lame man shall leap as
a deer, and the mute man's tongue shall sing (Ps. 105:37; Isa. 35:6). And it
is very probable, that seeing God created our first parents, not infants, or
old men—but of a perfect age or stature—the new creation from death, shall
every way be more perfect than the first frame of man, from which he fell
into the state of the dead. Neither is it like that time of infancy—being
imperfection; or of old age—being corruption—which are not consistent with
the state of a perfect glorified body.
5. The bodies of the elect being thus raised,
shall have four most excellent and supernatural qualities. "So it is with
the resurrection of the dead: Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption;
sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in
power; sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body." (1 Corinthians
(1.) They shall be raised in power, whereby they
shall forever be freed from all wants and weakness, and enabled to continue,
without the use of food, drink, sleep, and other former helps (1Cor. 15:43).
(2.) In incorruption, whereby they shall never be
subject to any manner of imperfections, blemish, sickness, or death (1Cor.
15:41; Isa. 65:20.)
(3.) In glory, whereby their bodies shall shine as
bright as the sun in the skies (Mt. 13:43; Lk. 9:31;) and which being made
transparent, their souls shall shine through far more glorious than their
bodies (1Th. 4:17).
There are three glimpses of which glory were seen—first,
in Moses' face (Ex. 34:29); secondly, in the Transfiguration (Mt. 17:2);
thirdly, in Stephen's countenance (Acts 6:15). These are three instances and
assurances of the glorification of our bodies at that glorious day. Then
shall the mourner lay aside his mourning garments, and put on the robe of
the King's Son, Jesus. Then every true Mordecai (who mourned under the
sackcloth of this corrupt flesh) shall be arrayed with the King's royal
apparel (Est. 6:4), and have the royal crown set upon his head, that all the
world may see what shall be done to him whom the King of kings delights to
honor. If now the rising of one sun makes the morning so glorious, how
glorious shall that day be, when innumerable millions of millions of bodies
of saints and angels shall appear more glorious than the brightness of the
sun—the body of Christ in glory surpassing all!
(4.) In agility, whereby our bodies shall be able
to ascend, and meet the Lord at his glorious coming in the air, as eagles
flying unto their blessed homes. To this agility of the glorious bodies of
the saints the prophet alludes, saying, "They shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary;
they shall walk, and not faint," Isa. 40:31. And to this state may that
saying of Wisdom be referred—"In the time of their vision they shall shine,
and run to and fro, as sparks among the stubble."
And in respect of these four qualities, Paul calls the
raised bodies of the elect spiritual (1Cor. 15:46)—for they shall be
spiritual in qualities—but the same still in substance.
And howsoever sin and corruption make a man, in this
state of mortality, lower than angels, yet surely, when God shall thus crown
him with glory and honor (Ps. 8:5), man shall be superior to angels. For are
they spirits? So is man also in respect of his soul—yes, more than this,
they shall have also a spiritual body, fashioned like unto the glorious body
of the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:21)—an honor which he never gave to
angels—and in this respect man has a prerogative above them. Nay, they are
but spirits appointed to be ministers unto the elect (Heb. 1:14; Ps. 91:11);
and as many of them, who at the first disdained this office, and would not
keep their first estate, were for their pride hurled into hell (Jude, verse
6; 2Pet. 2:4). This lessens not the dignity of angels—but extols the
greatness of God's love to his redeemed people.
But as for all the elect, who at that second and sudden
coming of Christ shall be found still living—when the fire that shall burn
up the corruption of the world, and the works therein—shall in a moment, in
the twinkling of an eye, burn up the dross and corruption of their
mortality, and make them immortal bodies. This change shall be unto them,
instead of death.
Then shall the soul with joyfulness greet her
body, saying—O we meet again, my dear sister! How sweet is your voice!
How lovely is your countenance—even after having lain hidden so long in the
clefts of the rocks, and in the secret places of the grave! (Song 2:14). You
are indeed a habitation fit, not only for me to dwell in—but such as the
Holy Spirit thinks fit to reside in—as his temple, forever. The winter of
our affliction is now past; the storm of our misery is blown over and gone.
The bodies of our elect brethren appear more glorious than the lily-flowers
on the earth; the time of singing hallelujah is come, and the voice of the
trumpet is heard in the land. You have been my associate in the Lord's
labors, and companion in persecutions and wrongs, for Christ and his
gospel's sake. Now shall we enter together into our Master's joy. As you
have borne with me the cross—so shall you now wear with me the crown. As you
have with me sowed plenteously in tears—so shall you reap with me abundantly
in joy. O blessed, ever blessed be that God, who, when yonder reprobates
spent their whole time in pride, fleshly lusts, eating, drinking, and
profane vanities—gave us grace to join together in watching, fasting,
praying, reading the scriptures, keeping his commandments, hearing sermons,
receiving the holy communion, relieving the poor, exercising, in all
humility, the works of piety to God, and walking uprightly in all our duties
towards men. You shall, henceforth, hear no mention of your sins—for they
are forgiven and covered (Ps. 32:1). But every good work which you have done
for the Lord's sake—shall be rehearsed and rewarded.
Cheer up your heart, for your Judge is flesh of your
flesh, and bone of your bone (Dan. 9:21). Lift up your head, behold these
glorious angels, like so many Gabriels, flying towards us, to tell us that
the day of our redemption has come (Lk. 21:28), and to convey us in the
clouds to meet our Redeemer in the air. behold, they are at hand! Arise,
therefore, my dove, my love, my lovely one—and come away (Song 2:1,3). And
so, like young deer (verse 17), they run with angels towards Christ, over
the trembling 'mountains of division'.
6. Both living and dead being thus revived and
glorified, shall instantly, by the ministry of God's holy angels (Lk.
17:34,35,36), be gathered from all the quarters and parts of the world, and
caught up together in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air (1Th. 4:17),
and so shall come with him, as a part of his glorious retinue—to judge the
reprobates and evil angels (1Cor. 6:1,3). The twelve apostles shall sit upon
twelve thrones (next Christ) to judge the twelve tribes, who refused to hear
the gospel preached by their ministry. And all the saints, in honor and
order, shall stand next to them, as judges also, to judge the evil angels,
and earthly-minded men (1Cor. 6:2,3). And as some of them received grace in
this life to be more zealous for his glory, and more faithful in his
service, than others—so shall their glory and reward be greater than others
in that day (Rev. 22:12; 2Cor. 5:6.)
The place where they shall be gathered unto
Christ, and where Christ shall sit in judgment, shall be in the air
(1Th. 4:17), over the valley of Jehoshaphat, by Mount Olivet, near to
Jerusalem, eastward from the temple, as it is probable, for four reasons—
1. Because the holy scripture seems to intimate so much
in plain words—"I will gather all nations into the valley of Jehoshaphat and
plead with them there. Cause your mighty one to come down, O Lord—let the
heathen be awakened and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there will
I sit to judge all the heathen round about," Joel 3:1,2,11,12. Jehoshaphat
signifies, 'the Lord will judge'. And this valley was so called from the
great victory which the Lord gave Jehoshaphat and his people over the
Ammonites, Moabites, and inhabitants of Mount Seir (2Chr. 20); which victory
was a type of the final victory which Christ, the Supreme Judge, shall give
his elect over all their enemies in that place at the last day, as also the
Jews interpret it—(see Zech. 14:4,5; Ps. 51:1,2)—all agreeing that the place
shall be thereabouts.
2. Because that as Christ was thereabouts crucified and
put to open shame, so over that place his glorious throne should be erected
in the air, when he shall appear in judgment to manifest his majesty and
glory. For it is fit that Christ should in that place judge the world with
righteous judgment—where he himself was unjustly judged and condemned.
3. Because that seeing the angels shall be sent to gather
together the elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other,
it is most probable that the place where they shall be gathered to shall be
near Jerusalem and the valley of Jehoshaphat; which geographers describe to
be in the midst of the surface of the earth.
4. Because the angels told the disciples that as they saw
Christ ascend from Mount Olivet (Acts 1:11), which is over the valley of
Jehoshaphat, so he shall in like manner come down from heaven.
5. Lastly, When Christ is set in his glorious throne, and
all the many thousands of his saints and angels, shining more bright than so
many suns in glory, sitting around him (Mt. 25:31; Jude, verse 14; Rev.
20:11,12), and the body of Christ in glory and brightness surpassing them
all; the reprobates being separate, and remaining beneath upon the earth
(for the right hand signifies a blessed, the left hand a cursed estate),
Christ will first pronounce the sentence of bliss upon the elect (Mt.
19:28;) and he will thereby increase the grief of the reprobate who shall
hear it, and he will show himself more prone to mercy than to judgment (Ps.
145:9; Isa. 28:21). And thus, from his throne of majesty in the air, he
will, in the sight and hearing of all the world, pronounce unto his elect,
"Come you who are blessed by my Father—inherit the kingdom prepared for you,
from the beginning of the world! For I was hungry, etc." Mt. 25:34.
Come you. Here is our blessed union with Christ, and,
by him, with the whole Trinity.
Blessed. Here is our absolution from all sins, and
our complete endowment with all grace and happiness.
By my Father. Here is the author from whom proceeds
Inherit. Here is our adoption.
The kingdom. Behold our birth-right and possession.
Prepared. See God's fatherly care for his chosen
From the foundation of the world. O the free,
eternal, unchangeable election of God!
How much are those souls bound to love God, who of his
mere good will and pleasure chose and loved them before they had done either
good or evil (Rom. 9:3).
For I was hungry, etc. O the goodness of Christ, who
takes notice of all the good works of his children to reward them! How great
is his love to poor Christians, who takes every work of mercy done to them
for his sake, as if it had been done to himself!
Come you to Me, in whom you have believed before you saw
me (Jn. 20:29; 1Pet. 1:8), and whom you have loved and sought for, with so
much devotion, and through so many tribulations. Come now from labor to
rest; from disgrace to glory; from the jaws of death to the joys of eternal
life! For my sake you have been railed upon, reviled, and cursed (Mt. 5:11);
but now it shall appear to all those cursed Esaus, that you are the true
Jacobs that shall receive your heavenly Father's blessing; and blessed shall
you be. Your fathers, mothers, and nearest kindred, forsook and cast you off
for my truth's sake which you maintained (Ps. 27:10; Mt. 19:29); but now my
Father will be unto you a father, and you shall be his sons and daughters
forever (Jn. 20:17; 2Cor. 6:18). You were cast out of your lands and
livings, and forsook all for my sake and the gospel's—but that it may appear
that you have not lost your gain—but gained by your loss, instead of an
earthly inheritance and possessions, you shall possess with me the
inheritance of my heavenly kingdom; where you shall be for love—sons; for
birth-right—heirs; for dignity—kings; for holiness—priests; and you may be
bold to enter into the possession of it now, because my Father prepared and
kept it for you ever since the first foundation of the world was laid!
Immediately after this sentence of absolution of sin and
benediction of blessings, every believer receives his crown, which Christ
the righteous Judge puts upon their heads, as the reward which he has
promised, of his grace and mercy—to the faith and good works of all those
who loved his appearing (2Tim. 4:8; 1Pet. 5:4). Then everyone taking his
crown from his head, shall lay it down, as it were, at the feet of Christ;
and prostrating themselves, shall with one heart and voice, in a heavenly
manner and harmony, say, "Praise, and honor, and glory, and power, and
thanks, be unto you, O blessed Lamb, who sits upon the throne! You were
killed, and have redeemed us to God by your blood—out of every kindred, and
tongue, and people, and nation—and have made us unto kings and priests our
God, to reign with you in your kingdom for evermore. Amen." (Rev. 4:10)
Then shall they sit upon their thrones as judges of the
reprobates, and evil angels (1Cor. 6:1,2,3, &c.; Mt. 19:13), by approving,
and giving testimony to the righteous sentence and judgment of Christ the
After the pronouncing of the reprobates' sentence and
condemnation, Christ will perform two solemn actions—
1. The presenting of all the elect unto his Father.
"Behold, O righteous Father, these are they whom you have given me—I have
kept them, and none of them is lost. I gave them your word, and they
believed it, and the world hated them, because they were not of the world,
even as I was not of the world. And now, Father, I desire that those whom
you have given me, be with me where I am—that they may behold my glory,
which you have given me; and that I may be in them, and you in me, that they
may be made perfect in unity—that the world may know that you have sent me,
and that you have loved them—as you have loved me." (Jn. 17:12,14,23,24.)
2. Christ shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the
Father. That is, he shall cease to execute his office of mediatorship
(1Cor. 25:24); whereby, as he is King, Priest, Prophet, and Supreme Head of
the Church, he suppressed his enemies, and ruled his faithful people by his
spirit, word, and sacraments—so that his kingdom of grace over his church in
this world ceasing—he shall rule directly in his kingdom of glory evermore.
Not that the dignity of his manhood shall be anything diminished; but that
the glory of his Godhead shall be more manifested—so that as he is God, he
shall from thenceforth in all fullness, without all external means—rule all
From this tribunal-seat, Christ shall arise, and with all
his glorious company of elect angels and saints, he shall go up
triumphantly, in order and array, unto the heaven of heavens, with such a
heavenly noise and music, that now may that song of David be truly verified,
"God is gone up with a triumph, the Lord with the sound of the trumpets.
Sing praises to God, sing praises, sing praises to our King, sing
praises—for God is the King of all the earth, he is greatly to be exalted."
(Ps. 47:4,5,6,8) And that marriage-song of John, "Let us be glad and
rejoice, and give honor to him; for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and
his wife has made herself ready. Hallelujah; for the Lord God Omnipotent
reigns." (Rev. 19:6,7)
The third and last degree of the blessed state of a
regenerate man after death, begins after the pronouncing of the sentence,
and lasts eternally without all end.
III. Meditations of the blessed state of a Regenerate Man
Here my meditation dazzles, and my pen falls out of my
hand; the one being not able to conceive, nor the other to describe, that
most excellent bliss, and eternal weight of glory (2Cor. 4:17; Rom.
8:18)—whereof all the afflictions of this present life are not worthy to be
compared—which all the elect shall with the blessed Trinity enjoy, from that
time that they shall be received with Christ, as joint-heirs (Rom. 8:17)
into that everlasting kingdom of joy.
Notwithstanding, we may take a glimpse thereof. The holy
scriptures thus set forth (to our capacity) the glory of our eternal and
heavenly life after death, in four respects—
1. Of the place of heaven.
2. Of the object of heaven.
3. Of the privileges of the elect in heaven.
4. Of the effects of these privileges.
1. The PLACE of heaven.
The place is the heaven of heavens, or the third heaven,
called paradise (Ps. 19:5; 2Cor. 12:24); where Christ (in his human nature)
ascended far above all visible heavens. The bridegroom's chamber (Ps. 19:6;
Mt. 25:10), which by the skies, as by an azured curtain spangled with
glittering stars, and glorious planets, is hidden, that we cannot behold it
with these corruptible eyes of flesh. The Holy Spirit condescending to our
weakness, describes the glory of that place (which no man can estimate) by
such things as are most precious in the estimation of man; and therefore
likens it to a great and holy city, named the heavenly Jerusalem (Rev. 21),
where only God and his people who are saved, and written in the Lamb's book
(verses 24 & 27), do inhabit. This heavenly city is all built of pure gold,
like unto clear glass or crystal (verses 11,18,19,20); the walls of
jasper-stone—the foundations of the walls garnished with twelve kinds of
precious stones, having twelve gates, each built of one pearl (verse
21)—three gates towards each of the four corners of the world (verse 13),
and at each gate an angel (verse 12), as so many guards, that no unclean
thing should enter into it (verse 27). The city is laid out in a square
(verse 16), therefore perfect—the length, the breadth, and height of it are
equal, 12,000 furlongs every way; therefore glorious and spacious. Through
the midst of her streets ever runs a pure river of the water of life, as
clear as crystal (Rev. 22:1); and on the other side the river is the tree of
life (verse 2), ever growing, which bears twelve kinds of fruits, and gives
fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree are health to the nations.
There is therefore no place so glorious by creation, so
beautiful with delectation, so rich in possession, so comfortable for
habitation. For there, the king is Christ—the law is love—the honor is
verity—the peace is felicity—the life is eternity. There is light without
darkness, mirth without sadness, health without sickness, wealth without
want, credit without disgrace, beauty without blemish, ease without labor,
riches without rust, blessedness without misery, and consolation that never
knows an end. How truly may we cry out with David, of this city, "Glorious
things are spoken of you, O you city of God!" Ps. 87:3. And yet all these
things are spoken but according to the weakness of our capacity. For heaven
exceeds all this in glory, so far, as that no tongue is able to express, nor
heart of man to conceive, the glory thereof, as witnesses Paul (2Cor. 12:4;
1Cor. 2:5), who was in it, and saw it. O let us not then dote so much upon
our present wooden cottages, and houses of moldering clay, which are but the
tents of ungodliness, and habitation of sinners; but let us look rather, and
long for this heavenly city, whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:10);
which he, who is not ashamed to be called our God, has prepared for us (Heb.
2. The OBJECT of heaven.
The blissful and glorious object of all intellectual and
reasonable creatures in heaven is the Godhead, in Trinity of Persons,
without which there is neither joy nor felicity; but the very fullness of
joy consists in enjoying the same.
This object we shall enjoy two ways—
1. By a beatific vision of God.
2. By possessing an immediate communion with this divine
The beatifical vision of God is that alone, which can
content the infinite mind of man. For everything tends to its center. God is
the center of the soul—therefore, like Noah's dove, she cannot rest nor joy
until she return and enjoy him.
All that God bestowed upon Moses could not satisfy his
mind, unless he might see the face of God (Ex. 3:13)—therefore the whole
church prays so earnestly, "God be merciful unto us, and cause his face to
shine upon us." (Ps. 67:1, and 80:1). When Paul once had seen this blessed
sight, he ever after counted all the riches and glory of the world (in
respect of it) to be but rubbish (Phil. 3:8,11); and all his life after was
but a sighing out, "I desire to be dissolved, and to be with Christ." (Phil.
1:23). And Christ prayed for all his elect in his last prayer, that they
might obtain this blessed vision—"Father, I will that those whom you have
given me be where?—even where I am. To what end?—that they may behold my
glory." (Jn. 17:14).
If Moses' face did so shine, when he had been with God
but forty days, and seen but his back parts (Ex. 34:29; 33:31), how shall we
shine, when we shall see him face to face forever, and know him as we are
known, and as he is! (1Cor. 13:12; 2Cor. 3:18; 1Jn. 3:2) Then shall the soul
no longer be termed Marah, bitterness—but Naomi, beautifulness; for the Lord
shall turn her short bitterness to an eternal beauty and blessedness (Ruth
The second means to enjoy this object is, by having an
immediate and an eternal communion with God in heaven. This we
have—first, by being, as members of Christ, united to his manhood, and as by
the manhood, personally united to the Word, we are united to him, as he is
God; and, by his Godhead, to the whole Trinity. Reprobates at the last day
see God, as a just Judge, to punish them; but, for lack of this communion,
they shall have neither grace with him, nor glory from him. For lack of this
communion, the devils, when they saw Christ, cried out, "What have we to do
with you, O Son of the most high God?" (Mk. 5:7) But, by virtue of this
communion, the penitent soul may boldly go and say unto Christ, as Ruth unto
Boaz (Ruth 3:9), "Spread, O Christ, the wing of the garment of your mercy
over your handmaid; for you are my kinsman." This communion God promised
Abraham, when he gave himself for his great reward (Gen. 15:1) And Christ
prays for his whole church to obtain it (Jn. 17:20,21). This communion Paul
expresses in one word, saying, that God shall be all in all to us (1Cor.
15:28). Indeed, God is now all in all to us; but by means, and in a small
measure. But in heaven, God himself immediately, in fullness of measure,
without all means, will be unto us all the good things that our souls and
bodies can wish or desire. He himself will be salvation and joy to our
souls, life and health to our bodies, beauty to our eyes, music to our ears,
honey to our mouths, perfume to our nostrils, light to our understandings,
contentment to our wills, and delight to our hearts.
And what can be lacking, where God himself will be the
soul of our souls? Yes, all the strength, wit, pleasures, virtues, colors,
beauties, harmony, and goodness, that are in men, animals, fish, fowls,
trees, herbs, and all creatures—are nothing but sparkles of those things
which are in infinite perfection in God. And in him we shall enjoy them in a
far more perfect and blessed manner. He himself will then supply their
use—nay, the best creatures which serve us now shall not have the honor to
serve us then. There will be no need of the sun nor of the moon to shine in
that city; for the glory of God does light it (Rev. 21:23). No more will
there be any need or use of any creature, when we shall enjoy the Creator
When, therefore, we behold anything that is excellent in
any creatures, let us say to ourselves—How much more excellent is he who
gave them this excellency! When we behold the wisdom of men, who
overrule creatures stronger than themselves; outrun the sun and moon in
discourse, prescribing many years before in what courses they shall be
eclipsed; let us say to ourselves—how admirable is the wisdom of God, who
made men so wise! When we consider the strength of whales and
elephants, the tempest of winds, and terror of thunder, let us say to
ourselves—how strong, how mighty, how dreadful is that God, who makes these
mighty and fearful creatures! When we taste things that are delicately
sweet, let us say to ourselves—O how sweet is that God from whom all
these creatures have received their sweetness! When we behold the admirable
colors which are in flowers and birds, and all the lovely beauty
of nature, let us say—How beautiful is that God that made these so
And if our loving God has thus provided us so many
excellent delights, for our passage through this Bochim (Jud. 2:5), or
valley of tears, what are those pleasures which he has prepared for us, when
we shall enter into the palace of our Master's joy! How shall our souls be
there ravished with the love of so lovely a God! So glorious is the object
of heavenly saints—so amiable is the sight of our gracious Savior!
3. Of the PRIVILEGES which the Elect shall enjoy in
By reason of this communion with God, the elect in heaven
shall have four superexcellent privileges:
1. They shall have the kingdom of heaven for their
inheritance (Mt. 25; 1Pet. 1:4), and they shall be free citizens
of the heavenly Jerusalem (Eph. 2:19; Heb. 12:22). Paul, by being a free
citizen of Rome (Acts 21:26), escaped whipping; but they who are once free
citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, shall ever be freed from the whips of
eternal torments. For this freedom was bought for us, not with a great sum
of money (Acts 22:28)—but with the precious blood of the Son of God (1Pet.
2. They shall all be kings and priests (Rev.
5:10; 1Pet. 2:9; Rom. 16:10)—spiritual kings, to reign with Christ, and to
triumph over Satan and the world; and spiritual priests, to offer to God the
spiritual sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for evermore (1Pet. 2:5; Heb.
13:15). And therefore they are said to wear both crowns and robes. O what a
comfort is this to poor parents that have many children! If they breed them
up in the fear of God, and to be true Christians, then are they parents to
so many kings and priests.
3. Their bodies shall shine as the brightness of the sun
in the skies, like the glorious body of Christ (Mt. 13:43), which
shined brighter than the sun at noon, when it appeared to Paul (Phil. 3:21;
Acts 12:6). A glimpse of which glorious brightness appeared in the bodies of
Moses and Elijah, transfigured with our Lord in the holy mount (Lk. 9:30;
Mk. 9:5). Therefore, says the apostle, it shall rise a glorious body; yes, a
spiritual body, not in substance—but in quality (1Cor. 15:43,44)—preserved
by spiritual means, and having (as an angel) agility to ascend or descend. O
what an honor is it, that our bodies (falling more vile than carrion) should
thus arise in glory, like unto the body of the Son of God! (1Th. 4:1)
4. Lastly, They (together with all the holy angels) there
keep, without any labor to distract them, a perpetual Sabbath, to the glory,
honor, and praise of God, for the creating, redeeming, and sanctifying the
church; and for his power, wisdom, justice, mercy, and goodness,
in the government of heaven and earth. When you hear a sweet concert of
music, meditate how happy you shall be, when, with the choir of heavenly
angels and saints, you shall sing a part in that spiritual Hallelujah, in
that eternal blessed Sabbath, where there shall be such variety of
pleasures, and satiety of joys—as neither know tediousness in doing, nor end
4. The EFFECTS of those privileges which the Elect shall
enjoy in Heaven.
From these privileges there will arise to the elect in
heaven, five notable effects—
1. They shall know God with a perfect KNOWLEDGE
(1Cor. 1:10), so far as creatures can possibly comprehend the Creator. For
there we shall see the Word, the Creator; and in the Word, all creatures
that by the Word were created. The most excellent creatures in this life,
are but as a dark veil (1Cor. 23:12; 2Cor. 3:16) drawn between God and us;
but when this veil shall be drawn aside, then shall we see God face to face,
and know him as we are known. We shall know the power of the Father, the
wisdom of the Son, the grace of the Holy Spirit, and the indivisible nature
of the blessed Trinity. And in him we shall know, not only all our friends
who died in the faith of Christ—but also all the faithful that ever were, or
shall be. For,
(1.) Christ tells the Jews that they shall see Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God (Lk. 13:28);
therefore we shall know them,
(2.) Adam in his innocency knew Eve to be bone of his
bone, and flesh of his flesh (Gen. 2:23), as soon as he awakened; much more
then shall we know our kindred, when we shall awake perfected and glorified
in the resurrection.
(3.) The apostles knew Christ after his resurrection, and
the saints which rose with him, and appeared in the holy city (Mt. 27:53).
(4.) Peter, James, and John, knew Moses and Elijah in the
transfiguration (Mt. 17:4); how much more shall we know one another, when we
shall be all glorified?
(5.) Dives knew Lazarus in Abraham's bosom (Lk. 16:23;)
much more shall the elect know one another in heaven.
(6.) Christ says that the twelve apostles shall sit upon
twelve thrones (Mt. 19:28), to judge (at that day) the twelve tribes (1Cor.
6:2,3); therefore they shall be known, and consequently the rest of the
(7.) Paul says, that at that day we shall know as we are
known of God (1Cor. 13:11); and Augustine out of this place comforts a
widow, assuring her, that as in this life she saw her husband with external
eyes, so in the life to come she should know his heart, and what were all
his thoughts and imaginations. Then, husbands and wives, look to your
actions and thoughts; for all shall be made manifest one day (See 1Cor.
(8.) The faithful in the Old Testament, are said to be
gathered to their fathers (Gen. 25:35; 2Ki. 22); therefore the knowledge of
our friends remains.
(9.) Love never fails (1Cor. 13:8); therefore knowledge,
the ground thereof, remains in another life.
(10.) Because the last day shall be a declaration of the
just judgment of God, when he shall reward every man according to his works
(Rom. 2:5; Rev. 22:12; Eccl. 12:14; Rom. 2:16); and if every man's work be
brought to light, much more the worker. And if wicked men shall account for
every idle word (Mt. 12:36), much more shall the idle speakers themselves be
known. And if the people be not known, in vain are the works made manifest.
"Therefore," says the apostle, "every man shall appear, to give an account
for the work that he has done in his body," 1Cor. 5:10. Though the respect
of diversities of degrees and callings in magistracy, ministry, and business
shall cease; yes, Christ shall then cease to rule, as he is Mediator (1Cor.
15:14,28), and rule all in all, as he is God equal with the Father and the
The greatest knowledge that men can attain to in this
life (1Cor. 13:11) comes as far short of the knowledge which we shall have
in heaven, as the knowledge of a child that cannot yet speak plain, comes of
the knowledge of the greatest philosopher in the world. They who thirst for
knowledge, let them long to be students of this university. For all the
light by which we know anything in this world, is nothing but the very
shadow of God; but when we shall know God in heaven, we shall in him know
the manner of the work of the creation, the mysteries of the work of our
redemption; yes, so much knowledge as a creature can possibly conceive and
comprehend of the Creator and his works. But while we are in this life, we
may say with Job, "How little a portion hear we of him?" Job 26:14.
2. They shall LOVE God with as perfect and absolute a
love as possibly a creature can do.
The manner of loving God, is to love him for himself (1Cor. 13:12);
the measure is to love him without measure. For in this life (knowing
God but in part) we love him but in part; but when the elect in heaven shall
fully know God, then they will perfectly love God—and for the infinite
causes of love, which they shall know to be in Him, they shall be infinitely
ravished with the love of Him.
3. They shall be filled with all kinds of divine
PLEASURES. "At your right hand,"
says David, "there are pleasures for evermore," Ps. 16:11; "Yes, they shall
drink," says he, "out of the river of pleasures," Ps. 36:8. For as soon as
the soul is admitted into the actual fruition of the beatifical essence of
God, she has all the goodness, beauty, glory, and perfection of all
creatures, in all the worlds united together, and at once presented to her
in the sight of God. If any delight in beauty, the fairest beauty is but a
dusky shadow compared to that. He that delights in pleasures shall there
find infinite varieties, without either interruption of grief, or
distraction of pain. He that loves honor shall there enjoy it, without the
disgrace of cankered envy. He that loves treasure shall there possess it,
and never be beguiled of it. There they shall have knowledge void of all
ignorance, health that no sickness shall impair, and life that no death can
determine. How happy, then, shall we be, when this life is changed, and we
4. They shall be replenished with an unspeakable JOY.
"In your presence," says David, "is the fullness of joy." (Ps. 16:11)
And this joy shall arise chiefly from the vision of God, and partly from the
sight of all the holy angels, and blessed souls of just and perfect men, who
are in bliss and glory with them; but especially from the blissful sight of
Jesus, the Mediator of the New Testament, our Emmanuel, God made man. The
sight of Jesus will be the chief cause of our bliss and joy. If the
Israelites in Jerusalem so shouted for joy, that the earth rang again, to
see Solomon crowned, how shall the elect rejoice in heaven, to see Christ,
the true Solomon, adorned with glory! If John the Baptist, at his presence,
did leap in his mother's womb for joy, how shall we exult for joy, when he
will be with us in heaven! If the wise men rejoiced so greatly to find him a
babe, lying in a manger, how great shall the joy of the elect be, to see him
sit, as a king, in his celestial throne! If Simeon was glad to see him an
infant, in the temple, presented by the hands of the priest, how great shall
our joy be to see him a king, ruling all things, at the right hand of his
Father! If Joseph and Mary were so joyful to find him in the midst of the
doctors in the temple, how glad shall our souls be, to see him sitting, as
Lord, among angels in heaven! This is that joy of our Master, which, as the
apostle says, "the eye has not seen, the ear has not heard, nor the heart of
man can conceive." (1Cor. 2:5; Mt. 25:21); which, because it cannot enter
into us—we shall enter into it.
5. Lastly, They shall enjoy this blissful and glorious
state FOREVER—therefore it is termed everlasting life (Jn. 17:3).
And Christ says, that our joy shall no man take from us. All other joys, be
they ever so great, have an end. Ahasuerus' feast lasted an hundred and
eighty days (Est. 1:3)—but he, and it, and all his joys are gone. For mortal
man to be assumed to heavenly glory, to be associated to angels, to be
satiated with all delights and joys—but for a time, were much—but to enjoy
them forever, without intermission or end, who can hear it, and not admire?
All the saints of Christ, as soon as they felt once but a true taste of
these eternal joys, counted all the riches and pleasures of this life to be
but loss and rubbish, in comparison to that (Phil. 3:8). And therefore, with
incessant prayers, fasting, alms-deeds, tears, faith, and holy living, they
labored to ascertain themselves of this eternal life; and for the love of
it, they willingly either sold or parted with all their earthly goods and
possessions (Acts 2:45).
Christ calls Christians merchants (Lk. 14), and eternal
life a precious pearl, which a wise merchant will purchase, though it cost
him all that he has (Mt. 13).
Alexander hearing the report of the great riches of the
eastern country, divided immediately among his captains and soldiers, all
his kingdom of Macedonia. Hephæstion asking him,
What he meant in so doing? Alexander answered, That he preferred the riches
of India (whereof he hoped shortly to be master) before all that his father
Philip had left him in Macedonia. And should not Christians, then, prefer
the eternal riches of heaven, so greatly renowned (which they shall enjoy
before long), before the corruptible things of this world, which last but
for a season?
Abraham and Sarah left their own country and possessions,
to look for a city whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:10,15,16); and
therefore bought no land, but only a place of burial. David preferred one
day with God, more than a thousand elsewhere; yes, to be a door-keeper in
the house of God, rather than to dwell in the richest tabernacles of
wickedness (Ps. 134:10). Elijah earnestly besought the Lord to receive his
soul into his kingdom (1Ki. 19:4), and went willingly, though in a fiery
chariot, there (2Ki. 2:11). Paul, having once seen heaven, continually
desired to be dissolved, that he might be with Christ (Phil. 1:23). Peter,
having espied but a glimpse of that eternal glory on the Mount, wished that
he might dwell there all the days of his life, saying, "Master, it is good
for us to be here." (Mt. 17:4) How much better does Peter now think it to be
in heaven itself! Christ, a little before his death, prays his Father to
receive him into that excellent glory (Jn. 17:5). And the apostle witnesses,
that "for the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross, and
despised the shame." Heb. 11:2. If a man did but once see those heavenly
joys (if it were possible), he would endure an hundred deaths to enjoy that
happiness but one day.
Augustine says, that he would be content to endure the
torments of hell to gain this joy, rather than to lose it. Ignatius, Paul's
scholar, being threatened, as he was going to suffer, with the cruelty of
torments, answered, with great courage of faith, "Fire, gallows, beasts,
breaking of my bones, quartering of my members, crushing of my body, all the
torments of the devil together—let them come upon me, so I may enjoy my Lord
Jesus, and his kingdom." The like constancy showed Polycarp, who could not
by any terrors of any kind of death, be moved to deny Christ in the least
measure. With the like resolution Basil answered his persecutors, when they
would terrify him with death—"I will never," said he, "fear death, which can
do no more than restore me to him that made me."
If Ruth left her own country, and followed Naomi, her
mother-in-law, to go and dwell with her in the land of Canaan (which was but
a type of heaven), only upon the fame which she heard of the God of Israel
(though she had no promise of any portion in it), how should you follow
Christ into the heavenly Canaan, where God has given you an eternal
inheritance, assured by an holy covenant, made in the word of God, signed
with the blood of his Son, and sealed with his Spirit and sacraments! This
shall be your eternal happiness in the kingdom of heaven, where your life
shall be a communion with the blessed Trinity; your joy, the
presence of the Lamb; your exercise, singing; your song,
hallelujah; your companions, saints and angels—where youth
flourishes—and never becomes old; where beauty lasts—and never fades; where
love abounds—and never cools; where health continues—and never slacks; and
life remains—and never ends!
Meditations directing a Christian how to apply to himself
without delay, based on the above knowledge of God and himself.
You see, therefore, O man, how wretched and cursed your
state is, by corruption of nature, without Christ! Insomuch, that as the
scriptures liken wicked men to lions, bears, bulls, horses, dogs, and such
like savage creatures, in their lives—it is certain that the condition of an
unregenerate man is in his death more vile than a dog, or the filthiest
creature in the world. For the beast, being made but for man's use, when he
dies, ends all his miseries with his death; but man, endued with a
reasonable and an immortal soul, made after God's image, to serve God, when
he ends the miseries of this life, must account for all his misdeeds, and
begin to endure those miseries that never shall know end. No creature but
man is responsible to yield at his death—an account for his life. The brute
creatures, not having reason, shall not be required to make any account for
their deeds—and good angels, though they have reason, yet shall they yield
no account, because they have no sin. And as for evil angels, they are
without all hope already condemned, so that they need not make any further
accounts—man only in his death must be God's accountant for his life.
On the other side you see, O man, how happy and blessed
your state is, being truly reconciled to God in Christ; in that, through the
restoration of God's image, and your restitution into your sovereignty over
other creatures, you are in this life little inferior to the angels, and
shall be in the life to come equal to the angels—yes, in respect of your
nature, exalted by a personal union to the Son of God, and by him to the
glory of the Trinity, superior to the angels, a fellow-brother with angels
in spiritual grace and everlasting glory.
You have seen how glorious and perfect God is, and how
that all your chief bliss and happiness consists in having an eternal
communion with him.
Now, therefore, O impenitent sinner! in the affections of
Christ Jesus I entreat you, nay, I implore you, as you desire your own
salvation, seriously to consider with me, how false, how vain, how vile—are
those things which still retain and chain you in this wretched and cursed
state wherein you live, and which hinder you from the favor of God, and the
hope of eternal life and happiness!