Vital Godliness: A Treatise on
Experimental and Practical Piety
By William S. Plumer
In closing this work, attention is asked to a few general observations.
These may aid in rightly understanding and applying the weighty truths
I. The Symmetry of Christian Character.
Whoever has one Christian grace is sure to have others.
In the genuine child of God, all the elements of piety are united. He who
has strong hope, and no holy fear of God, will soon become presumptuous. He
who has strong fears, but no hope in God, will be desperate. Without
reverence, love degenerates into fondness; and without love, dread
degenerates into aversion. Faith that is not humble can never lay hold of
the most precious truths of the gospel; and humility that does not rely on
God is but abjectness. Joy that is not chastened with mourning for sin
becomes giddy and trifling; while sorrow for sin that joys not in God works
death. Peace which, when called to contend for the faith, refuses to stand
up for the truth, would betray the cause of Christ; while he who loves
contention and hates peace, is carnal and odious. Meekness without courage
is but childishness; and courage without meekness is brutality.
There is a close connection between all the qualities
that form the Christian character. The elements of one good trait contain
the germ of others. Paul speaks of Christian character as a unit: "The fruit
of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith,
meekness, temperance." John says the same: "everyone who loves the Father
loves whoever has been born of him" No man can love the Father without
loving the Son, who was sent by him. He who loves the image of God in the
Son, loves the image of God whenever discerned in the humblest Christian. It
cannot be otherwise. Anything contrary to this makes hypocrisy and formalism
as precious as true piety.
The great defect in all who make a spurious profession of
religion is, not that they have not some things about them that look well,
but all is out of proportion. They have zeal, but not gentleness; they have
boldness, but not meekness. They pretend to more than they actually
experience. With all their ardor they display vain-glory and
self-sufficiency. Sometimes they excuse iniquity—and smile at sin. Their
charity does not "bear all things." They incline to censoriousness. To some
they behave crudely; to others they will not speak a civil word; to others
they have real hatred. In the beatitudes Jesus Christ described but one
character. Where poverty of spirit, mourning for sin, meekness, hungering
and thirsting for righteousness, mercifulness, purity of heart, and love of
peace are genuine—they are found together. Circumstances will call one grace
into more vigorous exercise than another. But if we have truly passed from
death unto life, God will enable us in due time to exhibit every Christian
temper. Human features out of all proportion are hideous. The same is true
of any of the Christian graces.
II. A Holy Life Alone, Proves Piety Genuine.
'Words are cheap.' Edwards.
'Actions speak louder than words.' Proverbs.
'Practice is the life of piety.' Thomas Watson.
'Even a child is known by his doings.' Solomon.
'Everyone that does righteousness is born of him.' John.
'As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without
works is dead also.' James.
'If you love me, keep my commandments.' Jesus Christ.
1. No man is better than his life proves him to be. The
best part of mankind are slow in making professions, because they know how
hard it is to perform what we promise. The last to engage is often the first
to fulfill. The very existence of such words as truth, frankness, honesty,
integrity, faithfulness; and their opposites, falsehood, deception, fraud,
and faithlessness—shows that the judgment of mankind on these points is
harmonious. All men know that words are mere breath, and deeds only are
realities. Profession is not principle. Practice is the best expounder of
2. God constantly guards men against the sin of not
performing their promises. Joshua warned the Israelites on this subject
Josh. 24:16, 19. Indeed in so many words Solomon says, "Be not rash with
your mouth, and let not your heart be hasty to utter anything before God."
Eccles. 5:2. See context. Compare Matt. 7:21-27, and 1 John 3:18, 19.
3. As holiness is not natural to man, the Scriptures say
explicitly that whoever does righteousness is born of God. 1 John 2:29. He
has a new nature, obtained in regeneration. He has the life of God in his
soul. Only that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. When we see a man
working righteousness, warring against sin, and heartily doing the will of
God, we know that an almighty power has changed his nature. He is a new
4. Whatever does not lead to a holy life is worthless in
the sight of God. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at
the heart. David walked before God in truth and righteousness, and in
uprightness of heart. All religious profession which ends in mere show, is
at the best Pharisaism dressed up in evangelical attire. If the heart is not
swayed by it, the heart is unchanged. "Little children, don't let anyone
deceive you. The person who practices righteousness is righteous, just as he
is righteous. The person who practices sin belongs to the evil one, because
the devil has been sinning since the beginning." (1 John 3:7-8). All
pretenses to piety which do not lead to a godly life are utterly vain. Men
people do not obey God—because they do not love God. They hearken
not—because their ears are uncircumcised. There is no folly greater than
double-dealing with God. "A hypocrite is hated by the world for pretending
to be a Christian; and hated of God for not being one."
All external religious acts may be performed without a
spark of love to Christ. "To attend upon public worship is a form complied
with, by thousands of the unconverted." How few heartily engage in the work
of mortifying sin. When men are this moment devout, and the next carnal;
when today they are all zeal for God, and tomorrow all zeal for politics;
when they have not respect unto all God's commandments, but seek laxity;
when their religious raptures are followed by fleshly frolics—then their
religion is vain. Men should therefore be very careful lest they deceive
themselves respecting both the reality and the strength of their own piety.
The daily business of a Christian is to resist the devil,
deny himself, overcome the world, crucify the flesh with its affections and
lusts, imitate Christ, walk with God, and strive to enter in at the
strait gate. It is the heartless who turn back in the day of battle. "The
Christian gains no victories without combat." On the other hand, he whose
life is holy has the fabric of his peace built upon a rock. God cannot deny
him, for that would be denying his own work in the man's soul. Although
we do not enter heaven for our good works, yet we do not enter heaven
without good works.
III. True Christians Are Greatly Blessed.
As the greatest curses are spiritual, so the greatest
blessings are also spiritual. Our great needs must be supplied out of God's
treasury, or we must suffer eternal loss and undoing. Paul uses no better
designation of the privileges of believers, than when he speaks of spiritual
blessings. God's mercies to his children are sometimes catalogued. In Psalm
103, David puts forgiveness of sins as the first and pre-eminent blessing.
It is entitled to that place. Without pardon we are under an awful curse.
God never bestows saving good, on souls left in the chains of condemnation.
In more than one place Paul seems to favor the same arrangement. With
forgiveness is always connected acceptance in the Beloved. Eph. 1:6. So that
believers are no more aliens, strangers, foreigners—but sons, heirs,
fellow-citizens. We are brought near by the blood and righteousness of
Christ, and so "have right to the tree of life." Rev. 22:14. From our
justification flows peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom
also we have access into all needed grace, joy, hope, triumph in
tribulation, patience, experience, boldness, the love of God, the indwelling
of the Holy Spirit, and salvation full and complete.
Peter gives a catalogue in which he mentions "faith,
virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness,
charity." Well does he add, "If these qualities are yours and are
increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the
knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." Blessed treasury of spiritual good
things! Who can tell its value? It is the proof of a godlike temper—and a
godlike destiny! Sure of spiritual blessings, men may live in poverty—yet
they make many rich. They may have nothing—yet they possess all things. They
may be sorrowful—yet they are always rejoicing. They may be dying daily—yet
behold, they live. They may be chastened—but they are not killed. Their
affections are set on things which do not perish in the using. Their crown
is not the less bright or imperishable because it is seen by faith alone.
They are sure of wearing it in due season, if they faint not.
Any spiritual blessing is worth more than the most costly
temporal good. A devout thought, a pious desire, a holy purpose—is better
than a great estate or an earthly kingdom. In eternity it will amount to
more, to have given a cup of cold water with right motives to a humble
servant of God, than to have been flattered by a whole generation. God
often gives the larger portion of His common bounties to the unconverted.
Spiritual blessings are put into elect vessels only. God's people share
the good things of this world with the wicked; but the world has no lot nor
part in spiritual good things. The unbelieving sinner has never been
pardoned, renewed, sanctified, or savingly taught of God.
The good things of time will soon be gone forever. The
very memory of them will embitter the future existence of all who die in
their sins. But spiritual blessings will last eternally. Though faith will
give way to vision, and hope to fruition, yet fruition and vision are the
legitimate consequences of hope and faith. Temporal blessings come in the
channel of nature; but spiritual blessings in the channel of grace. The
former are of the earth, earthy; the latter are from heaven. God bestows
temporal blessings on those who hate him all their days; but spiritual
blessings come to believers only, through our Lord Jesus Christ. They cost
his life, his toil, his sweat, his agony.
We may form some estimate of the value of spiritual
blessings by the promises of the covenant which secures them. Long after his
ascension to heaven, Jesus Christ promised to him who overcomes, that he
should eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of
God; that he should be clothed in white raiment; that he should be a pillar
in the temple of God, and go no more out; that he should sit with him in his
throne; that he should eat of the hidden manna; that He should give him a
white stone. How soon our faculties are overcome by attempting to comprehend
the fullness of such promises. Let us dwell a moment on the last, "I will
give him a white stone."
Blunt thus explains it: "It is generally thought by
commentators that this refers to an ancient judicial custom of dropping a
black stone into an urn when it is intended to condemn, and a white stone
when the prisoner is to be acquitted; but this is an act so distinct from
that described, 'I will give you a white stone,' that we are disposed to
agree with those who think it refers rather to a custom of a very different
kind, and not unknown to the classical reader, according with beautiful
propriety to the case before us. In primitive times, when traveling was
rendered difficult from lack of places of public entertainment, hospitality
was exercised by private individuals to a very great extent; of which indeed
we find frequent traces in all history, and in none more than the Old
Testament. People who partook of this hospitality and those who practiced
it, frequently contracted habits of friendship and regard for each other;
and it became a well-established custom among the Greeks and Romans to
provide their guests with some particular mark, which was handed down from
father to son, and insured hospitality and kind treatment whenever it was
presented. This mark was usually a small stone or pebble cut in half, and
upon the halves of which the host and the guest mutually inscribed their
names, and then interchanged them with each other. The production of this
stone was quite enough to insure friendship for themselves or descendants
whenever they traveled again in the same direction; while it is evident that
these stones required to be privately kept, and the names written upon them
carefully concealed, lest others should obtain the privileges instead of the
people for whom they were intended. How natural then the allusion to this
custom in the words, 'I will give him to eat of the hidden manna!' and
having done so—having make himself partaker of my hospitality, having
recognized him as my guest, my friend, I will present him with the white
stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows, but he who
receives it. I will give him a pledge of my friendship sacred and
inviolable, known only to himself."
IV. Unbelievers are poor indeed.
It is a dreadful thing to lack bread. Yet man shall not
live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of
God. It is sad to see a human being without reason. Yet some godly people
have become insane, and never waked up in their right mind until they were
in the presence of the Lamb. But in his unregenerate state, man's case is
far more pitiable. Of all such, Paul says they are without Christ. They have
no Savior, no infallible Teacher, no atoning High-priest, no Advocate with
God, no King ruling in righteousness over them and their enemies. Without
Christ, sinners are nothing. He is all and in all. Well did an ancient say,
"I had rather fall with Christ than reign with Caesar." Nonexistence is not
so dreadful as a Christless state. "We are captives, and cannot be delivered
without the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. Fools as we all are, we
cannot be instructed without wisdom, and all the treasures of wisdom are
hidden in Christ Jesus. All plans and hopes not built on him must fall, for
there is no other foundation. All working without him, will be cast into the
fire, where it will be consumed. Without him, all riches make themselves
wings and fly away. A dungeon with Christ is a throne; and a throne
without Christ, hell."
He is life and light, and the delights of the sons of
men. Yet unconverted sinners are without him. They are also aliens from the
commonwealth of Israel. They have no lot in Jacob. Christ's cause may
advance, but it brings no joy to them. His kingdom may be set up in a whole
nation, but they care not for that. His honor may be great, but they have no
share in it. His praise may be sung in high anthems and hallelujahs, but to
them it is as the voice of foreign minstrels. Prayer may be offered for him,
but they never heartily join in it. They are not at home in secret devotion,
in public worship, or in the celebration of the ordinances. They would be
even less at home in the adorations of heaven. They have no inheritance in
the church. They are outcasts, castaways, reprobate silver. They are not
sons of God. They are not heirs. Their prospects for eternity are no better
than if God had no church at all. And so they are strangers from the
covenants of promise. They have nothing to rely upon for time, nothing for
eternity; nothing for this life, nothing for that which is to come. Their
heavens are never spanned by the rainbow of a rich variety of promises,
divinely girt together by the faithful word and unimpeachable oath of Him
who cannot lie.
One of the most gifted among them, even while living in a
gospel land, said, "The present is a fleeting moment, the past is no more,
and our prospect of futurity is dark and doubtful." Such men are lost. They
have no heavenly guide, no safe rules of conduct, no sure word abiding
forever. Of course they are without hope. They may have false dreams of
future good, but these will all vanish like the mist. Their delusive
expectations are constantly failing. They indulge them only to awake to a
keen sense of agonizing misery. They are like the vine of Sodom and the
fruit of Gomorrah. To hope, as an anchor to the soul; sure and steadfast; to
hope, as entering within the veil; to hope, that does not mock our miseries;
to hope, that shall not perish—they are utter strangers. One half hour's
exercise of such hope as animates the believer would bring more that
deserves the name of happiness, than all the poor sinner has ever enjoyed.
Now without gospel hope, at any moment he may be in total and absolute
Such are also without God in the world. A godless man is
an undone man, and has a rueful eternity before him, whether he is a godless
tyrant, a godless slave, or a godless noble; whether he glitters in gold or
crawls in debasement. He has no communion with his Maker, no confidence in
Jehovah, no blessing from the Lord, and no righteousness from the God of
salvation. When nature is falling headlong, or is smitten with affliction,
the believer exults, and shouts, "My Lord and my God!" The poor sinner
cannot do this. He has no God; he knows no God; he loves no God; he trusts
in no God; he has no hope in God.
How poor and wretched and miserable and lost is an
unconverted sinner! How rich and free and undeserved is the mercy which
saves sinners! How loud is the call, and how great is the obligation—to do
all we can to save dying sinners! How inconceivably, dreadful it will be to
go to eternity an unrenewed sinner! How infinite is the debt we owe to him
who has given us access to God by his own most precious blood! Were there
ever such needs among mortals as the needs of a perishing soul? Oh, sinner,
turn and live!
V. Is there not a low state of piety among professing
We must answer the question in the affirmative. It cannot
be called a distorted view of things to say that piety is in a low state
generally, and that in many places truth is fallen in the streets. Among the
causes of this state of things, we may notice,
1. The commotions among the nations. "Wars and rumors of
wars" mightily distract public attention from all the concerns of eternity.
Piety must have time for contemplation. We cannot profitably wait upon God
unless we can do so without distraction.
2. Politics. Andrew Fuller says that many "have
sacrificed their souls, to take an eager and deep interest in political
disputes." He speaks of some whose "whole heart has been engaged in this
pursuit. It has been their food and their drink; and this being the case, it
is not surprising that they have become indifferent to piety; for these
things cannot consist with each other." This is sound speech that cannot be
3. Love of money. This root has struck very deep into
many hearts. Nor are its evil consequences even yet fully seen. The worst is
probably yet to come. Without checking any sober, lawful endeavor to secure
competence and independence, it must yet be said that a people eagerly
pursuing wealth cannot be a very pious people. "If any man loves the world,
the love of the Father is not in him." "You cannot serve God and mammon."
4. Fanaticism. Nothing is more opposed to true piety than
a wild, heated, ignorant, and furious zeal. It has brought vast discredit on
true religion, and has driven many into infidelity and practical atheism. It
is like a flame driven by fierce winds through a forest. It consumes
whatever it meets. Its unhappy effects are seen and felt for half a century.
It brings true religion into disrepute. It awakens distrust of experimental
piety. It clothes with suspicion every extraordinary endeavor to promote the
knowledge and love of God. It creates a necessity for most painful acts of
church discipline, and its whole tendency is to disorder and impiety. To be
zealously affected always in a good thing is a great attainment; but a
fanatical, fiery, bitter zeal is always followed by evil consequences.
5. The attention of pastors and churches has been unduly
withdrawn from their chief work. Pastors are often overworked. Consequently
they come not to their work with joyous elasticity of mind. And churches
sometimes meddle with things quite out of their line; so that a minister who
labors in word and doctrine, who gives himself entirely to prayer and the
ministry of the word, is regarded as not up to the times.
6. A low standard of evidence of Christian character. It
is our duty to "feed the lambs" and to "comfort the feeble-minded." But the
lambs should grow to be sheep. A word to the weary is excellent, if it be in
season; but the church should never be so addressed as to make her rest
satisfied with low attainments. If the babes are fed on milk all their days
and never get a taste of strong meat, they will never be strong men, full of
vigor. Scriptural marks of a change of heart should be clearly stated.
7. The neglect of social prayer and godly conference.
Have not Christians too much forsaken the assembling of themselves together,
that they might speak often one to another?
8. But our greatest lack is in fervent, importunate,
united prayer. Oh for a spirit of strong crying unto God! Would the heavens
in so many places be as brass if they were pierced by the hearty cries of
God's people? There is no substitute for fervent prayer. Let that cease—and
religion must decline.
VI. Time and eternity.
Formerly it was customary at public executions to bring
an hour-glass to the scaffold with the sand all at one end, and when the
prisoner had taken his position, to set the glass before him inverted, and
the sands of the last hour of his life began to run. Sometimes the
executioner would say to the unhappy man, "Your sands are almost run out!"
From this the phrase was transferred to the pulpit, and men were exhorted to
speedy repentance because their sands were almost run out. Oh that men would
candidly look at the nearness of death and lay hold on eternal life while it
is called today.
An old writer says, "I stopped in Clerkenwell churchyard
to see a grave-digger at work. He had dug pretty deep, and was come to an
old coffin which was quite rotten. In clearing away the moldering wood, the
grave-digger found an hour-glass close to the left side of the skull, with
the sand in it." This was telling the dead that to them time was no longer.
How much more fit to put the hour-glass before the living, and remind them
that their hours will soon all be gone. Why will not men be warned? Why will
not the living lay to heart the things which belong to their peace? Between
the longest human life and eternity, there is no proportion whatever. "I
have lost a day" is a dreadful sound in the ears of one who has a tender
conscience. Nothing but a slighted Savior seems to press so heavily on dying
sinners as 'murdered time'.
God of mercy, give us grace to improve each hour, so to
number our days as to apply our hearts unto wisdom, and to be always doing
some good. Let madness no longer reign within us. The night comes—when no
man can work.
All the souls that God has made are in heaven, earth, or
hell. We who are in earth know something about it. Oh that we may never know
by experience, the nature of the woes of the pit! If we would be saved, we
must learn as we can something of heaven, must breathe something of its
spirit, must long for its blessings.
Heaven is a place. Jesus so calls it. It is a
city. It is a heavenly country. It is a better country than any known on
earth. It has locality. Of its position in relation to the sun, moon, and
planets, we have no information; and we need none; but heaven exists in
reality, not merely in imagination.
Heaven is also a state, exceedingly pure, holy,
excellent. Angels themselves have never attained to a better state. The
spirits of just men made perfect, can rise no higher.
The inhabitants of heaven have large measures of clear
and certain knowledge of the most excellent things. They see God.
They see Jesus. They know as they are known. They do not see through a glass
darkly, but face to face. They are not liable to errors, mistakes, or
misapprehensions. The Lamb himself feeds them, and leads them to fountains
of living waters.
The inhabitants of heaven are happy. They are full
of joy. They never sin, and they never sigh; they never pity one another,
nor envy one another, nor grieve at one another, nor are mortified by each
other's follies or weaknesses. Their warfare is ended, their turmoils are
over, and their conflicts past. They weep no more. Jesus wipes tears from
off all faces of his redeemed, and the holy angels never did weep.
Heaven is full of variety. It is not all one
house; there are many mansions and many holy characters there. The dwellers
therein praise much, they exult much, they admire much. They have rest; they
never leave; they serve God day and night. In heaven fellowship is perfect,
though constantly receiving new and desirable accessions. All unite in
loving the Lamb that was slain. Yet there is a great variety in the history
and character of its inhabitants. There are angels, who have great power and
wisdom and experience. There are patriarchs and prophets and apostles and
martyrs and confessors and reformers and kings and shepherds and
feeble-minded folk and little children. There the choirs of those redeemed
by atoning blood are arrayed in linen white and clean. Choice spirits are
constantly joining this throng above.
Let a few words be said of two who have lately passed
from earth. One was a dear, talented little creature. Before her departure
she said, "I am not afraid to die. I have committed all to Christ. There is
in the Bible no phrase so precious to me as, 'the Lord our righteousness.'
My pastor is partial to me. Let him not praise me at my burial; let him
exalt the Lord's righteousness. When I committed myself to Christ, I did it
wholly and unreservedly. I never doubted him since. I may be self-deceived,
but of Christ I have no doubt. When I appear at the judgment-bar of God, if
I should hear the word, 'Depart,' I would turn with astonishment to Christ,
and say, 'Dear Savior, there must be a mistake here. Did I not commit all to
you?' Again she said, "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly." Her last words were,
"While I have voice and memory left, I wish to say—the Lord our
righteousness. It is sufficient for you all. It is all you need."
In the year 1839, a family was made glad by the birth of
a little daughter. Father, mother, two elder sisters, and a large circle of
friends rejoiced together. The babe was a bud, promising beauty and
fragrance. Early in life, by her charm and warmth of affection, she attached
many to her. In her teens, her schoolmates saw her worth, admired and
imitated. Her education at school being finished, she noiselessly began to
move in the best circles of pious fellowship. Here she attracted the love of
aged men and women, and of those pressed with the cares of middle life, no
less than of the young. Without a dash of forwardness, she was often the
companion of people thrice her age. Before long divine grace began its
blessed work, and on this lovely stock engrafted the Rose of Sharon. Still
artless and natural, the work of God's Spirit heightened in her all that was
previously charming, and sweetly chastened the exultant joyousness of her
youth. Elder sisters married and left the paternal roof. She remained
greatly to honor father and mother, and light up the boyhood of a younger
brother. On a visit to a friend, she began the ailment that removed her from
earth. Her constitution being good, she buffeted disease for a while; but at
last she was shut within doors. Her kind and skillful medical attendant for
a season thought the danger slight; but God's will was to take her to
himself. Alarming symptoms appeared, and about eight o'clock in the morning
of a blessed Sabbath day, her good physician found her sinking, and in the
sweetest manner told her that she was entering upon her eternal rest.
Surprised, but not terrified, she calmly inquired when the change had taken
place. At once the work of life rose before her mind. She thought of the
Industrial school and of the Sabbath-school. She said, "I have so much work
to do; but God knows best." To her brother, who has since followed her, she
made the kindest little address. Then turning to her father, she said, "It
is sad for you all." On his assenting, and saying, "Yes, my child, but I
feel I shall soon meet you in heaven," she said in a clear, audible voice,
"I hope so," and gently fell asleep as the Sabbath bells began to ring. One
of her pastors says, "This coincidence reminds us of Bunyan's expression
respecting what followed the entrance of Christian and Hopeful into the
heavenly Jerusalem: 'Then I heard in my dream that all the bells in the city
rang again for joy, and that it was said unto them, Enter into the joy of
your Lord.' The last earthly sound which echoed in the ear of this dying
believer was that of the church-bell; the first which met her ransomed
spirit on high was the peal of welcome from the blood-washed throng before
Dear child, until the heavens be no more, we shall not
again see your charming face; but you shall see the face of Jesus. Our
hearts were knit together. I love your memory. I love your sincerity. I love
the paths marked by your footsteps. "I heard a voice from heaven saying unto
me—Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. Yes, says the Spirit,
that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." The
names of these young heroes of the cross need not be given. They are written
in the Lamb's book of life.
Into the lips of a glorified spirit in heaven Matthew
Henry puts these words: "Would you know where I am? I am at home in my
Father's house, in the mansion prepared for me there. I am where I would be,
where I have long and often desired to be; no longer on a stormy sea, but in
a safe and quiet harbor. My work in time is done, I am resting; my sowing
time is done, I am reaping; my joy is as the joy of harvest. Would you know
how it is with me? I am made perfect in holiness; grace is swallowed up in
glory; the top-stone of the building is brought forth. Would you know what I
am doing? I see God; I see him as he is; not as through a glass darkly, but
face to face; and the sight is transforming; it makes me like him. I am in
the sweet employment of my blessed Redeemer, my Head and my Husband, whom my
soul loved, and for whose sake I was willing to part with all. I am here
bathing myself at the spring-head of the heavenly pleasure, and joy
unutterable; and therefore weep not for me. I am here singing hallelujahs
incessantly to him who sits upon the throne, and I rest not day or night
from praising him. Would you know what company I have? Blessed company,
better than the best on earth. Here are holy angels and the spirits of just
men made perfect. I am set down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the
kingdom of God, with blessed Paul and Peter and James and John and all the
saints; and here I meet with many of my old acquaintances that I fasted and
prayed with, who got here before me. And lastly, would you consider how long
this is to continue? It is a garland that never withers; a crown of glory
that fades not away; after millions of millions of ages it will be as fresh
as it is now—and therefore weep not for me."
Grace is glory begun; but glory is grace matured,
completed, crowned with the fullness of beatific vision. Now unto the king
eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever
and ever! Amen!