HEAVEN ON EARTH
Thomas Brooks, 1667
A serious discourse concerning a well-grounded
assurance of men's everlasting happiness and blessedness. Discovering
the nature of assurance, the possibility of attaining it, the causes,
springs, and degrees of it; with the resolution of several weighty
"The greatest thing that we can desire—next to the glory
of God—is our own salvation; and the sweetest thing we can desire, is the
assurance of our salvation. In this life we cannot get higher, than to be
assured of that which in the next life is to be enjoyed. All saints shall
enjoy a heaven when they leave this earth; some saints enjoy a heaven while
they are here on earth. That saints might enjoy two heavens, is the
project of this book." Joseph Caryl.
"That their hearts might be comforted, being knit
together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of
understanding." Col 2:2.
To the Generals of the Fleets of the Commonwealth,
The better anything is, the more communicative it will. There are two sorts
of goods; there are goods of the throne, as God, Christ, grace, assurance,
etc.; and goods of the footstool, as honor, riches, etc. A man may have
enough of the goods of the footstool to sink him, but he can never have
enough to satisfy him. Man's happiness and blessedness, his felicity and
glory, lies in his possessing the goods of the throne, which that you may, I
humbly desire you seriously to view over the ensuing treatise.
It was an excellent saying of Lewis, emperor of Germany,
'Such goods are worth getting and owning, as will not sink nor wash away, if
a shipwreck happens; but will wade and swim out with us.' Such are the goods
that are here presented in this following discourse. In all storms,
tempests, and shipwrecks, they will abide with the soul, they will walk and
lie down with the soul, yes, they will go to the grave, to heaven, with the
soul: they will in the greatest storms be an ark to the soul.
I have observed in some terrible storms that I have been
in, that the mariners' and the passengers' want of assurance, and of those
other pearls of price that in this treatise are presented to public view,
has caused their countenance to change, their hearts to melt; it has made
them to "stagger and reel to and fro like drunken men, like men at their
wits' ends," Psalm 76:5; whereas others who have had assurance, and their
pardon in their bosoms, etc., have born up bravely, and slept quietly, and
walked cheerfully, and practically have said, as Alexander once did, when he
was in a great danger, "Now," says he, "here is a danger fit for the spirit
of Alexander to encounter with." So they now, here are storms and dangers
fit for assured, pardoned souls to encounter with, etc.
Gentlemen, This following discourse I do not present to
you as a thing which needs your protection, for truth stands in the open
fields, and it will make the lovers of it to stand, triumph, and overcome.
Great is truth, and shall prevail. But, upon these following grounds, I
render it to you:
First, You have honored the Almighty, by helping him
against the high and mighty; and he has honored you, by owning of you, by
standing by you, by acting for you, and by making of you prosperous and
victorious over a near enemy, a powerful enemy, an enraged enemy, a resolved
enemy, a subtle enemy, a prepared enemy, a lofty enemy; and therefore I
cannot but desire to honor you by dedicating the following treatise to the
service of your souls, 1 Sam 2:30, "I will honor those who honor Me, but
those who despise Me will be disgraced."
Secondly, Because you are my friends, and that cordial
love and friendship which I have found from you has stamped in my affections
a very high valuation of you.
The ancients painted friendship as a fair young
man, in a poor garment. His bosom was open, so that his heart might be seen,
whereupon was written 'a friend at hand and afar off.' Verily, your
undeserved love and respects have made me willing to open my bosom to you in
this epistle, and in the following treatise, as to friends that I love and
honor. Faithful friends are an invaluable treasure, and the rarity of
them does much enhance their worth.
Thirdly, Because of its exceeding usefulness and
suitableness to your conditions. I have been some years at sea, and through
grace I can say, that I would not exchange my sea-experiences for England's
riches. I am not altogether ignorant of the troubles, trials, temptations,
dangers, and deaths that do attend you. And therefore I have been the more
stirred in my spirit to present the following discourse to you, wherein is
discovered the nature of assurance, the possibility of attaining assurance,
the causes, springs, degrees, excellencies, and properties of assurance;
also the special seasons and times of God's giving assurance, with the
resolutions of several weighty questions touching assurance. Further, in
this treatise, as in a glass, you may see these ten special things clearly
and fully opened and manifested.
1. What knowledge that is, which accompanies
2. What faith that is, which accompanies
3. What repentance that is, which accompanies
4. What obedience that is, which accompanies
5. What love that is, which accompanies salvation.
6. What prayer that is, which accompanies
7. What perseverance that is, which accompanies
8. What hope that is, which accompanies salvation.
9. The difference there is between true assurance, and
that which is counterfeit.
10. The wide difference there is between the witness of
the Spirit, and the hissing of the old serpent.
Gentlemen and Friends, You have your lives in your hands,
there is but a short step between you and eternity. I would gladly have you
all happy forever; to that purpose, I humbly beseech you, spare so much
time, from your many great and weighty occasions, as to read this treatise,
that in all humility I lay at your feet, and follow this counsel that in all
love and faithfulness I shall now give unto you. For my design in all is
your happiness here, and your blessedness hereafter.
First, Get and keep communion
with God. Your strength to stand,
and your strength to withstand all assaults—is from your communion with God.
Communion with God is that which will make you stand fast, and triumph over
all enemies, difficulties, dangers, and deaths. Communion with God will make
a man as courageous and bold as a lion, yes, as a young lion which is in his
hot blood, and fearless of any creature, Prov 28:1. Now the proverb is, It
is more likely that deer will get victory with a lion as their leader; than
lions with a leading deer. Joshua, captain of the Lord's battles, must be of
a lion-like courage, and what will make them so, but communion with God? It
was the saying of the old Earl of Essex, that he was never afraid to
fight—except when he was conscious of some sin with which he had provoked
God and lost communion with God.
While Samson kept his communion with God, no enemy
could stand before him, he goes on conquering and to conquer, he lays heaps
upon heaps; but when he has fallen in his communion with God, he falls
presently, easily, and sadly before his enemies.
So long as David kept up his communion with God,
no enemies could stand before him; but when he was fallen in his communion
with God, he flies before the son of his affections.
Job keeps up his communion with God, and conquers
Satan upon the ash-heap.
Adam loses his communion with God, and falls before
Satan in paradise. Communion is the result of union.
Communion is a reciprocal exchange between Christ and a
gracious soul. Communion is Jacob's ladder, where you have Christ sweetly
descending down into the soul, and the soul by divine influences sweetly
ascending up to Christ. Communion with God is a shield upon land, and an
anchor at sea; it is a sword to defend you, and a staff to support you; it
is balm to heal you, and a cordial to strengthen you. High communion with
Christ will yield you two heavens, a heaven upon earth, and a heaven after
death. He enjoys nothing, who lacks communion with God; he lacks nothing,
who enjoys communion with God; therefore above all gettings, get communion
with Christ, and above all keepings, keep communion with Christ. All other
losses are not comparable to the loss of communion with Christ. He who has
lost his communion, has lost his comfort, his strength, his all, and it will
not be long before the Philistines take him, and put out his eyes, and bind
him with fetters of brass, and make him grind in a prison, as they did
Samson, Judg 16:20-21.
Secondly, Make a speedy and a
thorough improvement of all opportunities of grace and mercy.
Sleep not in harvest-time; do not trifle away your golden seasons; you have
much work to do in a short time. You have a God to honor, a Christ to rest
on, a race to run, a crown to win, a hell to escape, a heaven to obtain. You
have weak graces to strengthen, strong corruptions to weaken; you have many
temptations to withstand, and afflictions to bear; you have many mercies to
improve, and many services to perform, etc. Therefore take hold on all
opportunities and advantages, whereby you may be strengthened and bettered
in your noble part. Take heed of crying, 'Tomorrow, tomorrow!' when God
says: "Today, if you will hear my voice, harden not your hearts," Heb
Manna must be gathered in the morning, and the
orient pearl is generated of the morning dew. It is a very sad thing
for a man to begin to die before he begins to live. He who neglects a golden
opportunity, does but create to himself a great deal of misery, as Saul, and
many others, have found by sad experience. He who would to the purpose do a
good action, must not neglect his season.
The men of Issachar were famous in David's account for
wisdom, because they acted seasonably and opportunely, 1 Chron 12:32. God
will repute and write that man a wise man, who knows and observes his
seasons of doing. Such there have been, who by giving a glass of water
opportunely, have obtained a kingdom, as you may see in the story of
Thaumastus and king Agrippa.
'Time,' says Bernard, 'would be a precious commodity in
hell, and the use of it most gainful; where for one day a man would give ten
thousand worlds if he had them.'
One passing through the streets of Rome, and seeing many
of the women playing and delighting themselves with monkeys and baboons, and
such like trivial things, asked "whether they had no children to play and
delight themselves with?" So when men trifle away their precious time, and
golden opportunities, playing and toying with this vanity and that vanity,
we may ask whether these men have no God, no Christ, no Scripture, no
promises, no blessed experiences, no hopes of heavenly glories—to enjoy and
take delight in? Certainly, we should not reckon any time into the account
of our lives, but that which we carefully pass, and well spend.
I have read of one Barlaam, who, being asked how old he
was, answered, Forty-five years old; to whom Josaphah replied, "You seem to
be seventy." "True," says he, "if you reckon ever since I was born; but I
count not those years that were spent in vanity."
Most men spend the greatest part of their time on things
that are that are of little or no value; as Domitian, the Roman emperor,
spent his time in catching of flies; and Artaxerxes spent his time in making
handles for knives; and Archimedes spent his time in drawing lines on the
ground when that famous city Syracuse was taken; and Myrmecides spent more
time to construct a bee than some men do to build a house.
Sirs, I beseech you remember that it was Cato, a heathen,
who said "that account must be given not only of our labor, but also of our
leisure." And in affirming this, he affirms no more than what the Scripture
speaks. But oh what a sad account, then, have some to make! Well, as
Cleopatra said to Mark Antony, "It is not for you to be fishing for
gudgeons; but for towns, forts, and castles;" so say I, 'beloved, it is not
for you to spend your time about poor, low, contemptible things, but about
those high and noble things that make most for the interest of Christ.'
Chilo, one of the seven sages, being asked what was the hardest thing in the
world to be done, answered, 'To use and employ a man's time well.'
It was Titus, a pagan emperor, who uttered this memorable
and praiseworthy apophthegm, 'My friends, I have lost a day!' when he had
spent it in company, without doing good.
The Egyptians drew the picture of time with three heads,
to represent the three differences. The first of a greedy wolf, gaping for
time past, because it has ravenously devoured even the memory of so many
things past recalling; the second of a crowned lion, roaring for time
present, because it has the principality of all action, for which it calls
aloud. The third of a deceitful dog, fawning for time to come, because it
feeds fond men with many flattering hopes, to their own undoing.
I have read of a man who upon his dying bed would have
given a world for time, he still crying out day and night, "Call time again,
call time again." So Queen Elizabeth on her deathbed cried out, "Time, time,
a world of wealth for an inch of time."
One Hermanus, a great courtier in the kingdom of Bohemia,
being at point of death, did most lamentably cry out "that he had spent more
time in the palace than in the temple, and that he had added to the
riotousness and vices of the court, which he should have sought to have
reformed," and so died, to the horror of those who were about him.
I have been the longer upon this, because I have been a
sad spectator of men's misspending their time and trifling away golden
opportunities; and though I thus speak, yet "imitation hope better things of
you," to whom I dedicate it, "even such as do accompany salvation," Heb 6:9.
Thirdly, Take no truths upon
trust, but all upon trial. 1 John 4:1, "Dear friends, do not
believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from
God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." This age is
very full of impostors; therefore test the spirits, as jewelers do their
stones, or as goldsmiths do their metals. An imitation stone may look as
well as a genuine diamond, and many things glisten besides gold.
It was the glorious commendations of the Bereans, "that
they searched the Scriptures daily," whether those things that Paul and
Silas had delivered "were so;" and this act of theirs made them "more noble
than those of Thessalonica," Acts 17:10-11. Christian nobility is the best
and truest, where God himself is the top concern, and religion the root; in
regard whereof all other things are but shadows and shapes of nobleness.
A father who had three sons was desirous to test their
discernment, which he did by giving to each of them an apple that had some
part of it rotten. The first eats up his, rotten and all; the second throws
all his away, because some part of it was rotten; the third picks out the
rotten, and eats that which was good. The third was the wisest. Some in
these days swallow down everything, rotten and sound together; others throw
away all truth, because everything that is presented to them is not truth;
but surely they are the wisest that know how to choose the good and refuse
the evil, Isa 7:15.
Fourthly, Be exemplary to those
among whom you live, and over whom you command. A good leader
makes a good follower. Precepts may instruct, but examples persuade.
Truly, your examples will have a very great influence upon those who are
under you. It is natural to inferiors to mind more what their superiors do,
than what they say; therefore you had need be angelical in your walkings and
actings. You are lights upon a hill, and therefore every eye will be upon
you. Those who can find no ears to hear what you say, will find many
eyes to see what you do. Scripture and experience do abundantly
evidence that good men's examples have done a world of good in the world,
and truly the evil examples of great men especially are very dangerous. The
errors and evils of great men bring with them great perturbations and evils
to the places and persons where they live. Oh therefore, be exemplary both
in lip and life, in word and work, that others "seeing your good works, may
glorify your Father who is in heaven," Matt 5:16. Oh see that your lives
be a commentary upon Christ's life. Talk not of a good life, but let
your life speak, said the philosopher.
Alexander willed that the Grecians and the Barbarians
should no longer be distinguished by their garments, but by their manners;
so should Christians be distinguished from all others, by their lives and
by their examples; 2 Sam 23:3, "He who rules over men must be just,
ruling in the fear of the Lord." An excellent master is always better than
an excellent law. Let your laws be ever so good, if the lawmakers are bad,
all will come to nothing. The people's eyes are much upon that Scripture,
"Have any of the rulers believed on him?" John 7:48, etc. Abraham was an
example of righteousness in Chaldea, Lot was just in Sodom, Daniel was an
example of holiness in Babylon, Job was an example of uprightness in the
land of Uz, which was a land of much profaneness and superstition, Nehemiah
was an example of zeal in Damascus, and Moses was an example of meekness
among the muttering and murmuring Israelites. Above all examples, Christ was
exemplary in all piety and sanctity, in all righteousness and holiness, in
the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. And why then should not you
be exemplary among those poor creatures, among whom you live?
It was a good law that the Ephesians made, that men
should propound to themselves the best patterns, and ever bear in mind some
eminent man. The Arabians, if their king be sick or lame, they all feign
It was the saying of Trajanus, a Spaniard, the first
stranger that reigned among the Italians, 'subjects prove good, by a good
king's example.' So do soldiers, so do sailors, by the good examples of
their superior commanders. Such commanders as are examples of righteousness
and holiness to others, are certainly high in worth, and humble in heart;
they are the glory of Christ, and the honor of the Christian religion.
Fifthly, As you are in public places, so
lay out yourselves impartially for the common good
of all who have interest in you, or dependence upon you. So did
Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Nehemiah, Ezra, Daniel, but above all, Christ
himself. You are more for the people's sake, than the people are for yours.
Magistrates are rulers over the people, but they are servants
to the good of the people; as it is the duty of all to serve them, so it is
their office to serve all. It is no paradox to affirm, that rulers are the
greatest servants. The ancients were accustomed to place their statues of
their princes by their fountains, intimating that they were, or at least
should be, fountains of the public good.
The Counselor says, "That a man in public place should
give his will to God, his love to his master, his heart to his country, his
secrets to his friends, his time to business." It is a base and unworthy
spirit, for a man to make himself the center of all his actions. The
very heathen man could say, "A man's country, and his friends, and others,
deserve a great part of him." The sun, which is the prince of lights, does
impartially serve all, the peasant as well as the prince, the poor as well
as the rich, the weak as well as the strong; you must be like the sun. The
Sun of righteousness was of a brave public spirit: he healed others, but was
hurt himself; he filled others, but was hungry himself; he laid out himself,
and he laid down himself for a public good. "That navigator dies nobly,"
says Seneca, "who perishes in the storm with the helm in his hand." It is
really your praise among the saints, that you have ventured killing,
burning, drowning, and all to save the ship of the commonwealth from
Sirs! Be not weary of public work. It is honor enough
that God will make any use of you to carry on his design in the world. He is
a faithful paymaster; heaven at last will make amends for all. "You
shall reap, if you faint not," Gal 6:9. I do truly believe, God will make
use of you to do greater things on the sea, than yet have been done. The
Lord has now begun to set a foot upon the sea; let his enemies tremble. God
will not allow his glory to be buried in the deeps. He is shaking the
nations, and will not leave shaking them, until He who is the desire of all
nations come. The Lord has said, "That he will overturn, overturn, overturn,
until he comes, whose right it is to wear the crown, and the diadem, and he
will give it him," Ezek 21:25-27. Until then, there will be little else, but
plucking up and breaking down, Jer 45:4. Therefore be courageous, and follow
the Lamb wherever he goes. You need fear no enemies, who have Christ the
conqueror on your sides.
Sixthly, and lastly, Make it
more and more your chief work to make plentiful provisions for the eternal
welfare of your souls. Your souls are more worth than ten
thousand worlds. All is well, if your soul is well; if that be safe, all is
safe; if that is lost, all is lost—God, Christ, and glory is lost—if the
soul is lost. Though others play the courtiers with their souls, yet do not
you. The courtier does all things late: he rises late, and dines late, and
sups late, and repents late.
Sirs! Is it madness to feast the slave, and starve the
wife? and is it not greater madness to feast the body and starve the soul?
to make liberal provision for the body, and none for the soul? Do not they
deserve double damnation, who prefer their bodies above their souls?
Methinks our souls should be like to a ship, which is made little and narrow
downwards, but more wide and broad upwards. Before all, and above all, look
to your souls, watch your souls, make provision for your souls. When this is
done, all is done; until this is done, there is nothing done which will
yield a man comfort in life, joy in death, and boldness before the judgment.
Callenuceus tells us of a nobleman of Naples, that was
accustomed profanely to say, "he had two souls in his body, one for God, and
another for whoever would buy it." Truly, they will make but a bad bargain,
that, to gain the world, shall sell their souls.
Dear sirs, I had much more to say, but I am afraid that I
have already kept you too long from sucking of the honeycomb, from drinking
at the fountain. I have held you too long in the porch; and therefore I
shall only ask that you will bear with my plainness, and overlook my
weakness; remembering that other addresses would savor more of flattery than
of sincerity, more of policy than of piety, and would be both unkind in me,
and displeasing to you.
Now the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ bless you
and yours with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, and make you yet
more and more instrumental for his glory, and this nation's good, that your
names may be forever precious among his people, that they may bear you still
upon their hearts before the Lord. This is the earnest and constant prayer
of him who is,
Yours in all Christian service,
EPISTLE TO THE SAINTS
To all saints who hold to Christ the head, and who walk
according to the laws of the new creature; grace, mercy, and peace be
multiplied from God the Father, though our Lord Jesus Christ.
Beloved in our dearest Lord,
You are those worthies "of whom this world is not
worthy," Heb 11:38. You are the princes "who prevail with God," Gen 32:28.
You are those "excellent ones" in whom is all Christ's delight, Psalm 16:3.
You are his glory. You are his picked, culled, prime instruments which he
will make use of, to carry on his best and greatest work against his worst
and greatest enemies in these latter days. You are "a seal" upon Christ's
heart, you are "engraved on the palms of his hand;" your names are written
upon his heart, as the names of the children of Israel were upon Aaron's
breastplate; you are the "epistle of Christ;" you are the "anointed" of
Christ; you have "the spirit of discerning;" you have "the mind of Christ."
[Isa 4:5; Rev 17:14, and Rev 19:8,14; Song 8:6; Isa 49:16; Exod 28:29; 2 Cor
2:8; 1 John 2:27; 1 Cor 1:10,12,15-16]
You have the greatest advantages and the choicest
privileges to enable you to try truth, to taste truth, to apply truth, to
defend truth, to strengthen truth, to uphold truth, and to improve truth.
And therefore to whom should I dedicate this following discourse, but to
yourselves? You have the next place to Christ in my heart; your good, your
gain, your glory, your edification, your satisfaction, your confirmation,
your consolation, your salvation—has put me upon casting in my little,
little mite into your treasure.
Beloved, you know that in the time of the law, God did as
kindly accept of goats' hair and badgers' skins, of turtledoves and young
pigeons—they being the best things that some of his children had then to
offer—as he did accept of gold, jewels, silk, and purple from others. I hope
you will show out the same God-like disposition towards me, in a kind
accepting of what is offered in this treatise to your wise and serious
consideration. I could wish it better for your sakes, yet such as it is, I
do in all love and humility present you with, desiring the Lord to make it
an internal and eternal advantage to you.
I shall briefly acquaint you with the
REASONS which have moved poor me,
unworthy I,—who am the least of all saints, who am not worthy to be reckoned
among the saints, to present this following discourse to public view; and
they are these that follow:
First, To answer the desires,
and gratify the earnest and pious requests of several precious souls,
who long to have these things printed upon their hearts, by the hand of the
Spirit, which are printed in this book. God speaks aloud through the serious
and affectionate desires of the saints; and this has made me willing to
answer their desires. If great men's desires are to be looked upon as
commands, why should good men's desires be looked upon with a squint eye?
Seneca, a heathen, could say 'that the very looks of a good man delight me.'
How much more then should the desires and requests of a good man overcome
Secondly, The good acceptance which my labors of the like
nature have found among those who fear the Lord, especially that treatise
called "Precious Remedies against Satan's Devices," has encouraged me to
present this to public view, not doubting but that the Lord will bless it to
the good of many, as I know he has done the former. Which that he may, I
shall not cease to pray, that my weak service may be accepted of the saints,
and that their "love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all
discernment," Phil 1:9-11. That they may approve things that are excellent;
that they may be sincere, and without offence until the day of Christ; being
filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the
glory and praise of God.
Thirdly, It is exceeding useful
to the saints at all times, but especially in such changing times,
in times wherein everyone calls out, "Watchman, what of the night? watchman,
what of the night? and the watchman answers, The morning comes, and also the
night," Isa 21:11-12. Ah! Christians, the Lord is a-shaking heaven and
earth; he is a-staining the pride of all glory; he is a-staining his
garments with the blood of his enemies; [Joel 3:16; Hag 2:6; Isa 23:9; Isa
58:2-3] he is renting and tearing, he is burning and breaking, he is pulling
up and throwing down, Jer 45:4-5. Now in the midst of all these convolutions
and revolutions, thrice happy are those souls who have gained a
well-grounded assurance of celestial things, Heb 10:34. Such souls will not
faint, sink, nor shrink in an hour of temptation. Such souls will keep their
garments pure and white, and will follow the Lamb wherever he goes, Rev 3:4,
and Rev 14:4.
Assurance is a believer's ark, where he sits, Noah-like,
quiet and still in the midst of all distractions and destructions,
combustions and confusions. They are doubly miserable, who have neither
heaven nor earth, temporals, nor eternals, made sure to them in changing
times, Psalm 23:3-4; Rev 6:12.
The fourth ground of my presenting this treatise to
public view, is, that little well-grounded
assurance which is to be found among most Christians. Most
Christians living between fears and hopes, and hanging, as it were, between
heaven and hell, sometimes they hope that their state is good, at other
times they fear that their state is bad: now they hope that all is well, and
that it shall go well with them forever; anon they fear that they shall
perish by the hand of such or such a corruption, or by the prevalency of
such or such a temptation; and so they are like a ship in a storm, tossed
here and there, etc. Now that these weak souls may be strengthened, that
these unstable souls may be established, that these disconsolate souls may
be comforted, etc., I have presented this tract to the world, not doubting
but that if the Lord shall draw out their spirits to a serious perusal of
it, they shall find, through the blessing of Jehovah, that it will
contribute very much to their attaining of a full assurance of their
everlasting happiness and blessedness, as also to the keeping and
maintaining of that full and blessed assurance; which that it may, I shall
follow it with my prayers.
Fifthly, I have published this following discourse,
remembering that my life is but a vanishing vapor,
James 4:14, and that the time of my sojourn in this world will be but short,
Psalm 39:12. Man's life is so short, that Austin doubts whether to call it a
dying life, or a living death. Man's life is but the shadow of smoke, the
dream of a shadow. This present life is not life, but a motion, a journey
towards life (Bernard.) The life of a Christian is rather a step towards
life, than life. Yet do I believe that that is not a death, but life, that
joins the dying man to Christ; and that is not a life, but death, that
separates the living man from Christ.
I know I shall not speak long to friends, saints, or
sinners; therefore I was the more willing to take the opportunity of
preaching to you when I am dead. As Abel by his faith, he being dead,
yet speaks, Heb 11:4, so this treatise may speak and live, when I shall
return to my long home, and fall asleep in the bosom of Christ. [Eccles
12:5; Acts 7:60] The prophets and apostles, though they are now in
heaven—yet by their doctrines, examples, and writings, they still preach to
the saints on earth.
Zisca desired his skin might serve the Bohemians in their
wars, when his body could no more do it. Oh that poor I, who have been but a
little serviceable to the saints in my life, might by this, and my former
weak labors, be much serviceable to them after my death! BOOKS may
preach, when the author cannot, when the author may not, when
the author dares, yes, and which is more, when the author is
Sixthly, To testify my cordial
love and affection to all the true lovers of Christ, and to let
them know that they are all, though under different forms, precious in my
eyes, and very near and dear unto my heart. I bless God I am, and I desire
more and more to be, one with everyone who is one with Christ, Phil 4:21;
Col 1:4; 2 Thess 1:3. I would sincerely have as free, as large, and as sweet
a heart towards saints, as Christ has. For a wolf to worry a lamb is usual,
but for a lamb to worry a lamb is unnatural; for Christ's lilies to be among
thorns, is ordinary, but for these lilies to become thorns, to tear and
fetch blood of one another, is monstrous and strange. Ah, Christians! can
Turks and Pagans agree? can Herod and Pilate agree? can Moab and Ammon
agree? can bears and lions, can wolves and tigers agree? yes, which is more,
can a legion of devils agree in one body? and shall not the saints agree—who
must live together in heaven at last?
Pancirolus tells us, that the most precious pearl the
Romans had, was called 'union'. Oh the union of saints is an unvaluable
pearl! The heathen man, by the light of nature, could say, "That the
thickest wall of a city in peace, and the safest stronghold in war, is
unity. Truly all saints are one in Christ, all saints partake of the same
spirit, promises, graces, and privileges. All saints are fellow-members,
fellow-soldiers, fellow-travelers, fellow-heirs, fellow-sufferers, and
fellow-citizens; and therefore I cannot, dare not but love them all, and
prize them all; and to evidence it, I have dedicated this treatise to the
service of their souls.
Seventhly and lastly, To fence
and fortify the souls of real, serious Christians against those brainsick
notions, and those airy speculations, and imaginary revelations,
and enthusiastical fancies, etc., with which many are sadly deluded and
Thus have I given you a brief account of the reasons
which have prevailed with me to publish this treatise to the world, and to
dedicate it to yourselves. Let your hearts dwell on truth, as the bee
does upon the flower; every Scriptural truth being a flower of paradise,
which is more worth than a world.
Now the God of all grace fill your hearts and souls with
all the fruits of righteousness and holiness, that you may attain unto a
full assurance of your everlasting happiness and blessedness; which that you
may is the sincere, earnest, and constant desire of him who is your soul's
To be in a state of true grace, is to be miserable no
more; it is to be happy forever. A soul in this state is a soul near and
dear to God. It is a soul much beloved, and very highly valued by God. It is
a soul housed in God. It is a soul safe in God's everlasting arms. It is a
soul fully and eminently interested in all the highest and noblest
privileges. [Psalm 144:15; Mal 3:17; Rom 8:16-17; Deut 33:26-27; 1 Cor
3:22-23] The being in a state of grace makes a man's condition happy, safe,
and sure. But the seeing, the knowing of himself to be in such a state, is
that which renders his life sweet and comfortable. The being in a state of
grace will yield a man a heaven hereafter, but the seeing of himself in this
state will yield him both a heaven here and a heaven hereafter; it will
render him doubly blessed, blessed in heaven, and blessed in his own
Now assurance is a reflex act of a gracious soul,
whereby he clearly and evidently sees himself in a gracious, blessed, and
happy state; it is a sensible feeling, and an experimental discerning of a
man's being in a state of grace, and of his having a right to an eternal
crown of glory; and this rises from the seeing in himself the special,
peculiar, and distinguishing graces of Christ, in the light of the
Spirit of Christ, or from the testimony and report of the Spirit of God,
"the Spirit bearing witness with his spirit, that he is a son, and an
heir-apparent to glory," Rom 8:16-17.
It is one thing for me to have grace, it is another thing
for me to see my grace; it is one thing for me to believe, and another thing
for me to believe that I do believe; it is one thing for me to have faith,
and another thing for me to know that I have faith. Now assurance flows from
a clear, certain, evident knowledge that I have grace, and that I do
Now this assurance is the beauty and apex of a
Christian's happiness in this life. It is usually attended with the
strongest joy, with the sweetest comforts, and with the
greatest peace. It is a pearl that most want, a crown that few wear.
His state is safe and happy, whose soul is adorned with grace, though he
sees it not, though he knows it not.
Assurance is not of the essence of a Christian. It is
required to the well-being, to the comfortable and joyful being of a
Christian; but it is not required to the being of a Christian. A man
may be a true believer, and yet would give all the world, were it in his
power, to know that he is a believer. To have grace, and to be sure
that we have grace, is glory upon the throne, it is heaven on this side
Every unsettled Christian is a terror to himself, yes,
his life is a very hell; fears and doubts are his chief companions, and so
he judges himself unfit and unworthy to live, and yet he is afraid to die;
and truly this is the sad condition of most Christians.
A man may be God's, and yet not know it; his estate may
be good, and yet he not see it, Eph 1:13; 1 John 5:13; Gal 4:6. It is one
thing to be an heir, and another thing to know that one is an heir. The
child in the womb or in the arms, may be an heir to a crown, and yet
understands it not. But more of these things you will find in the following
discourse—to which I refer you.