A String of Pearls
The Best Things Reserved Until Last
by Thomas Brooks, June 8, 1657
"An inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and which fades not away,
reserved in heaven for you." 1 Peter 1:4.
DOCTRINE. God reserves the best and greatest favors and
blessings for believers until they come to heaven.
Now, I shall prove this proposition by an induction of particulars; and then
give you the reasons of it. I will begin with the inheritance spoken of in the
I. The best INHERITANCE is reserved for believers until they come to
heaven. This is clear and fair in the text,
yet I shall make this further out to you thus:
(1.) First, The inheritance reserved for believers until they come to heaven,
is a pure, undefiled,
and incorruptible inheritance. It is an
inheritance that can neither be defiled nor blemished with abuse one way or
another. Other inheritances may, and often are, defiled with oaths, cruelty,
blood, deceit, etc.
The Greek word signifies a precious stone, which, though it be ever so much
soiled, yet it cannot be blemished nor defiled; yes, the oftener you cast it
into the fire, and take it out, the more clear, bright, and shining it is. All
earthly inheritances are gardens of Adonis, where we can gather nothing
but trivial flowers, surrounded with many briers, thorns, and thistles, Gen.
3:18, Isaiah 23:9. Oh the hands, the hearts, the thoughts, the lives—which have
been defiled, stained, and polluted with earthly inheritances! Oh the impure
love, the carnal conscience, the vain boastings, the sensual joys, which earthly
inheritances have filled and defiled poor souls with! All earthly inheritances,
they are no better than the cities which Solomon gave to Hiram, which he called
Cabul, 1 Kings 9:13, that is to say, displeasing or dirty. The world does
but dirt and dust us. But,
(2.) Secondly, It is
a sure, a secure, inheritance:
"To an inheritance reserved in heaven for you." The
Greek word which is here rendered "reserved," signifies to keep solicitously, to
keep as with watch and ward. This inheritance is kept and secured to us by
promise, by power, by blood, by oath; and therefore must needs be sure. (If this
inheritance were not kept for us--it might perhaps go the same way paradise
sin, nor Satan, nor the world can put a Christian out his inheritance. Christ
has already taken possession of it in their names and in their stead; and so it
is secure to them. If weakness can overcome strength, impotency omnipotency,
then may a Christian be kept out of his inheritance—but not until then. But
earthly inheritances, they are not sure, they are not secure. How often does
might overcome right, and the weakest suffer injustice! How many are kept out,
and how many are cast out, of their inheritances, by power, policy, craft,
cruelty. It was a complaint of old, our inheritance is turned to strangers, our
houses to aliens, Lam. 5:2.
(3.) Thirdly, It is
a permanent, a lasting, inheritance:
"To an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and which
fades not away." The Greek word is the proper name of a flower, which is
still fresh and green after it has a long time hung up in the house. It is an
inheritance which shall continue as long as God himself continues. Of this
inheritance there shall be no end. Though other inheritances may be lasting—yet
they are not everlasting. Though sometimes it is long before they have an
end—yet they have an end. Where is the glory of the Chaldean, Persian, Grecian,
and Roman kingdoms? But the glory of believers shall never fade nor wither; it
shall never grow old nor rusty: 1 Pet. 5:4, "And when the chief Shepherd shall
appear, you shall receive a crown of glory, which fades not away." A believer's
inheritance, his glory, his happiness, his blessedness—shall be as fresh and
flourishing after he has been many thousand thousands of years in heaven—as it
was at his first entrance into it.
Earthly inheritances are like tennis-balls, which are bandied up and down
from one to another, and in time worn out, 1 Tim. 6:17. The creature is all
shadow and vanity; it is like Jonah's gourd. Man can sit under its shadow but a
little, little while; it soon decays and dies; it quickly fades and withers.
There is a worm at the root of all earthly inheritances, which will consume them
in time. All earthly comforts and contentments are but like a fair picture which
is drawn upon the ice, which continues not; or like the morning cloud, which
soon passes away. But a believer's inheritance endures forever. When this world
shall be no more, when time shall be no more—the inheritance of the saints
shall be fresh, flourishing, and continuing. What will that life be, or rather
what will not that life be, since all good is in such a life? Light,
which place cannot comprehend; voices and music, which time cannot
ravish away; fragrances, which are never dissipated; a feast,
which is never consumed; a blessing, which eternity bestows—but eternity
shall never see at an end. So this, all this, is the heritage of all God's
(4.) Fourthly, It is
the freest inheritance. It is an
inheritance that is free from all vexation and molestation. There shall be no
sin to molest the soul, nor any devil to vex the soul. "There shall be no
pricking brier nor grieving thorn unto the house of Israel," Ezek. 28:24; there
shall be no Jebusites to be "as pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides,"
Num. 33:55. There shall be no crying, Oh my bones! oh the deceit of this man! oh
the oppression of that man! etc. No; they shall have a crown without thorns, a
rose without prickles, and an inheritance without the least encumbrance. This
inheritance flows from free love, and is freely offered, though the soul has
neither money nor money-worth. There is nothing, there is not the least thing
about this inheritance that is purchased or paid for by us, Isaiah 55:1-2. It is
all gratis, it is all free, it is all of grace.
Here is such an inheritance which no eye ever saw, which no
mortal ever possessed—and all freely given! It is freely offered, and it is
freely given: Acts 20:32, "And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the
word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance
among all those who are sanctified." All is mercy, all is of free mercy—that God
alone may have the glory. Other inheritances they have their encumbrances. Oh
the vexations, the molestations which attend them! Oh the debates, the disputes,
the law-suits—which are about earthly inheritances, such as have made many a man
to go with a heavy heart, an empty purse, and a thread-bare coat.
(5.) Fifthly, It is
an inheritance which is universally communicable,
to Jews, to Gentiles; to bond, to free; to rich, to poor; to high, to low; to
male, to female: Gal. 3:28-29, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither
bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ
Jesus." "And if you be Christ's, then are you Abraham's seed, and heirs
according to the promise," Romans 8:17. Among men, all sons and daughters are
not heirs; yet all God's children, be they sons, be they daughters, be they bond
or free, etc.—they are all heirs, without exception. Jehoshaphat gave his
younger sons "great gifts of silver and gold, and of precious things, with
fenced cities—but the kingdoms gave he to Jehoram, because he was the
first-born," 2 Chron. 21:3. And Abraham gave gifts to the rest of his sons—but
only Isaac had the inheritance, Gen. 25:5-6.
In some countries all children are not heirs—but sons only; and in other
countries not all sons—but the eldest son alone. Usually men divide their
earthly inheritances. If all the sons be heirs, some inherit one place, others
others. But the whole heavenly inheritance is enjoyed by every child; here every
child is an heir to all, and has right to all. In earthly inheritances, the more
you divide, the less is everyone's part; but this inheritance is not diminished
by the multitude of possessors, nor impaired by the number of co-heirs; it is as
much to many as to a few, and as great to one as to all. Not a room, not a
mansion, not a walk, not a flower, not a jewel, not a box of myrrh—but what is
common to all; not a smile, not a good word, not a sweet look, not a robe, not a
dish, not a delicacy, not a pleasure, not a delight—but is universally
communicable, and universally fit for all the millions of thousands who are
heirs of this inheritance. If there be a thousand together, everyone sees as
much of the sun, hears as much of the sound, smells as much of the sweet, as he
would do, if there were no more than himself alone; so here.
(6.) Sixthly, and lastly, It is
a soul-satisfying inheritance.
He who has it, shall sit down and say, "I have enough, I have all." As one
master satisfies the servant, and as one father satisfies the child, and as one
husband satisfies the wife, so one God, one Christ, one inheritance, satisfies
the believing soul: Psalm 16:5-6, "Lord, You are my portion and my cup of
blessing; You hold my future. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant
places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance." Will an inheritance of glory
satisfy them? Why this they shall have, 1 John 3:3, Col. 3:4. Will an
inheritance of power and dominion satisfy them? Why, this they shall
have, 1 Cor. 3:21, "All things are yours," etc. Mat. 19:28, 1 Cor. 6:2-3, etc.
Will Abraham's bosom satisfy you? Why—this you shall have, Luke 16:22. The
bosom is the place where love lodges all her children; the bosom is the place of
delight and satisfaction, and this you shall have; nay, you shall have a better,
a choicer, a sweeter bosom to solace your souls in than Abraham's—namely, the
bosom of Jesus Christ, which will be a paradise of pleasure and delight to you.
Will Christ's best robe, will his own signet put upon you, satisfy you? Why!
this you shall have. Will it satisfy you to be where Christ is, and to fare as
Christ fares, and wear as Christ wears, and enjoy as Christ enjoys? Why! this
you shall have: John 12:26, "Where I am, there shall also my servant be; if any
man serves me, him will my Father honor."
If all these things will satisfy souls, then surely the inheritance reserved
in heaven for them will satisfy them; for that inheritance takes in these
things, and many more. The good things that this inheritance is made up of are
so many—that they exceed number; so great—that they exceed
measure; so precious—that they are above all estimation; and therefore
it must needs be a soul-satisfying inheritance.
But all other inheritances they cannot satisfy the heart of man: Eccles.
5:10, "Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never
satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless." If you please, you may read
the words nearer the original thus: "He who loves money, shall not be satisfied
with money; and he who loves it, in the multitude of it, shall not have fruit."
It is the love of money, which is the mischief of it; it is the love of money,
which makes men unsatisfied with money. Such a man will still be adding house to
house, land to land, bag to bag, and heap to heap—and yet after all be still
Bernard compares such a man to one that, being very hungry, gapes continually
for wind, with which he may be puffed—but cannot be filled and satisfied; and so
the same author elsewhere says well, the reasonable soul may be busied about
other things—but it cannot be filled with them. They can no more fill up the
soul than a drop of water can fill up the huge ocean; they can no more satisfy
the desires of the soul than a few drops of water can satisfy the thirst of a
man inflamed with a violent fever; nay, as oil increases the flame of the
fire—so the more a man has of the world, the more his heart is inflamed after
it. When Alexander had conquered the known part of the world, he sat
down and wished for another world to conquer. Charles the Fifth, emperor of
Germany, whom of all men the world judged most happy, cried out with detestation
to all his honors, pleasures, trophies, riches, get you hence, let me hear no
more of you! They could not satisfy him, they could not quiet him.
Such things that a fancy, a conceit, an ungrounded fear will rob a man of the
comfort of, can never satisfy him; but such are all worldly enjoyments. One man
will not live because his Delilah will not love; another with Ahab will be sick,
and die because he cannot get his neighbor's inheritance, 1 Kings 21; another
wishes himself dead because his commodities lie dead on his hands; another with
Haman can find no sweetness in all his enjoyments, because Mordecai sits at the
king's gate, Esther 5:9-14.
Those things which delude a man can never satisfy him. But the world deludes
a man, and puts cheats upon him; it promises a man pleasure—and pays him with
pain. It promises profit, "all this will I give you"—and pays him with loss:
loss of God, of Christ, of peace of conscience, of comfort, of heaven, of
happiness, of all. It promises contentment, and fills him with torment—and
therefore can never satisfy the soul of man, etc.
But the inheritance reserved in heaven—that will satisfy! It will afford
nothing that may offend the soul, it will yield everything that may delight the
soul, that may quiet and satisfy the soul; by all which it is most evident, that
the best inheritance is reserved for the saints until they come to heaven.