A String of Pearls

The Best Things Reserved Until Last

by Thomas Brooks, June 8, 1657

The best REST is reserved for believers until they come to heaven.

This life is full of trials, full of troubles, and full of changes. Sin within, and Satan and the world without, will keep a Christian from rest, until he comes to rest in the bosom of Christ. The life of a Christian is a race—and what rest have they that are still a-running their race? The life of a Christian is a warfare—and what rest have they that are still engaged in a constant warfare? The life of a Christian is the life of a pilgrim—and what rest has a pilgrim, who is still a-traveling from place to place? A pilgrim is like Noah's dove, which could find no rest for the sole of her foot. The fears, the snares, the cares, the changes, etc., which attend believers in this world, are such that will keep them from taking up their rest here on earth. A Christian hears that word always sounding in his ears, "Arise, for this is not your resting-place, because it is polluted." Micah 2:10. A man may as well expect to find heaven in hell, as expect to find rest in this world!

It was the complaint of Ambrose, What misery do we undergo in this life? What storms and tempests do we endure? with what troubles are we tossed? Who is spared? Man's sorrows begin when his days begin, and his sorrows are multiplied as his days are multiplied; his whole life is but one continued grief; labor wears him, care tears him, fears toss him, losses vex him, dangers trouble him, crosses disquiet him, nothing pleases him. In the day he wishes—Oh, that it were night; and in the night—Oh, that it were day! Before he rises he sighs; before he washes he weeps; before he feeds he fears; under all his abundance he is in wants, and "in the midst of his sufficiency he is in straits," Job 20:22; his heart, as Gregory Nyssene speaks, is not so much quieted in those things which it has, as it is tormented for those things which it has not.

In a word, all the rest we have in this world, is but a very short nap—compared to that glorious rest which is reserved in heaven for us: Heb. 4:9, "There remains therefore a rest to the people of God." There remains a rest to the people of God, or as the Greek has it, a sabbatism, a celestial rest, an eternal rest, a Sabbath that shall never have end. Rest is a jewel very desirable on earth—but we shall not wear it in our bosoms until we come to heaven. Rest is beyond this world; and it is beyond this world that the fruit of rest is to be had.

I shall show you, observing brevity, the excellency of that rest which is reserved for believers in heaven. As,

(1.) First, It is a SUPERLATIVE rest; a rest that infinitely exceeds all earthly rest. All other rest is not to be named in the day wherein this rest is spoken of. Some have purchased rest, for a time, with silver and gold—but this is a rest that all the gold and silver in the world can never purchase. Over this rest is written—not the price of gold, but the price of blood, yes, the price of the best and noblest blood that ever ran in veins. That rest we have here on earth, must needs be a poor, low-priced rest, where the health of the body is preserved with much watchfulness; being preserved, is also lost; being lost, is recovered with much labor; and yet being recovered, is always in danger and doubtfulness, what will become of it. Our estate in this world is not a fixed estate; what then is our rest? Our very living is but a passing away; our lives are full of troubles, and they fill our souls full of unquietness.

After the Trojans had been tossing and wandering in the Mediterranean Sea, as soon as they espied Italy, they cried out with exulting joy, "Italy! Italy!" and so when saints, after all their tossings and restlessness in this world, shall come to heaven, then, and not until then, they will cry out, Rest, rest, no rest to this rest! But,

(2.) Secondly, The rest reserved in heaven for believers is a UNIVERSAL rest, Rev. 14:13, a rest from all sin and a rest from all sorrow; a rest from all afflictions and a rest from all temptations; a rest from all oppressions, and a rest from all vexations; a rest from all labor and pains, from all trouble and travail, from all aches, weaknesses, and diseases. There is no crying out, O my bones! O my back! O my sides! O my head! O my heart! Our rest here in this world, is only in part and imperfect. Here on earth we have rest in one part and pain in another, quiet in one part and torment in another. Sometimes when the head is well, the heart is sick; and sometimes when there is peace in the conscience, there is pain in the bones. Here on earth many return us hatred for our love, and this hinders our rest. Here on earth we are apt to create cares and fears for ourselves, and this hinders our rest. Here on earth we are very apt to give offence, and as apt to take offence, though none be given—and this hinders our rest, 1 Cor. 10:32. Sometimes we have rest abroad and none at home; sometimes rest at home and none abroad, Job 7:13-16. Our rest here on earth is imperfect and incomplete—but our rest in heaven shall be most perfect and complete; there the inward and the outward man shall be both at rest, etc. But,

(3.) Thirdly, It is an UNINTERRUPTED rest; it is a rest which none can interrupt. Here on earth sometimes sin interrupts our rest. Sometimes temptations interrupt our rest. Sometimes divine withdrawings interrupt our rest. Sometimes the sudden changes and alterations which God makes in our conditions interrupt our rest. Sometimes the power, and sometimes the policy, and sometimes the cruelty of wicked men interrupts our rest. Sometimes the crossness of friends, sometimes the deceitfulness of friends, sometimes the loss of friends, and sometimes the death of friends interrupts our rest. One thing or another is still interrupting our rest!

Oh! but in heaven there shall be no sin, no devil, no sinner, no false friends; there shall be nothing, there shall not be the least thing that may interrupt a saint's rest; indeed, heaven could not be heaven, did it admit of anything that might interrupt a saint's rest. Heaven is above all winds and weather, storms and tempests, earthquakes and heartquakes. There is only that which is amiable and desirable; there is nothing to cloud a Christian's joy, or to interrupt a Christian's rest. When once a soul is asleep in the bosom of Abraham, none can awake him, none can molest or disturb him. Here in heaven—is joy without sorrow, blessedness without misery, health without sickness, light without darkness, abundance without want, beauty without deformity, honor without disgrace, ease without labor, and peace without interruption or perturbation. Here shall be—eyes without tears, hearts without fears, and souls without sin. Here shall be no evil to molest the soul; here shall be all good to cheer the soul, and all happiness to satisfy the soul! What then can possibly interrupt the rest of the soul? But,

(4.) Fourthly, As it is an uninterrupted rest, so it is a PECULIAR rest; it is a rest peculiar to sons, to saints, to heirs, to beloved ones. Psalm 127:2, "So he gives his beloved rest," or as the Hebrew has it, dearling, or dear beloved, quiet rest, without care or sorrows. The Hebrew word denotes the more quietness and rest. This rest is a crown which God sets only upon the head of saints. This rest is a gold chain that he only puts about his children's necks. This rest is a jewel which he only hangs between his beloveds' breasts. This rest is a flower which he only sticks in his darlings' bosoms. This rest is a tree of life which is proper and peculiar to the inhabitants of that heavenly country. This rest is children's bread—and shall never be given to dogs.

Here on earth wicked men have their good things; their peace, their rest, their quiet, etc., their heaven; while the people of God are troubled and disquieted on every side. But the day is a-coming wherein the saints shall have rest, and sinners shall never more have a good day, never have an hour's rest more; their torments shall be endless and ceaseless.

The old world had their resting-time—but at last God's patience and justice, tired and abused, put an end to their rest, by washing and sweeping them to hell with a flood; and then Noah, and those righteous souls who were with him, had their time of rest and peace; and so shall it be with sinners and saints at last, etc. But,

(5.) Fifthly, The rest reserved for the saints in heaven, as it is a peculiar rest, so it is a rest that is UNIVERSALLY COMMUNICABLE to all the sons and daughters of God. "And to you who are troubled, rest with us," says the apostle Paul; "rest with us," with us apostles, with us saints, and with all the family of heaven together, 2 Thess. 1:6-7. Here on earth some saints are at liberty, when others are in prison; here some sit under their own vines and drink the blood of the grape, while others have their blood poured out as water upon the ground, etc. But in heaven they shall all have rest together, the believing husband and the believing wife shall rest together; and believing parents and believing children shall rest together. Here on earth one has rest, when the other has not—but there they shall all rest together. There the painstaking preacher and the diligent hearer shall rest together; there the gracious master and the pious servant shall rest together, etc. Isaiah 57:2, "He shall enter into peace, they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness; they shall rest in their beds," or as some read it, they shall rest in their bee-hives, expressing the Hebrew by the Latin; cubile signifies a bee-hive, as well as a couch or bed. Look, as the poor wearied bees do rest all together in their bee-hives, in their honey-houses—so all the saints shall rest together in heaven, which is their bee-hive, their honey-house; and oh what a happy rest will that be, when all the saints shall rest together! But,

(6.) Sixthly and lastly, It is a PERMANENT, a CONSTANT rest. Of this rest there shall be no end. It is a rest that shall last as long as heaven lasts; yes, as long as God himself shall continue. Time shall be no more, and this world shall be no more—but this rest shall remain forever! Rev. 10:6, 2 Pet. 3:10, et seq.

The rest of the people of God in this world is transient, it is inconstant. Now they have rest, and at another time they have none; now a calm, presently a storm; now all is in quiet, at another time all is in an uproar. Their rest in this world is like a morning cloud and the early dew, which is soon dried up by the beams of the sun, Hosea 6:4. Since God has cast man out of paradise, out of his first rest—he can find but little rest in this world. Sometimes the unfitness of the creature troubles him. Sometimes the fickleness of the creature vexes him. Sometimes the treachery of the creature enrages him. And sometimes the lack of the creature distracts him. When in his heart he says, Now I shall have rest, now I shall be quiet, then troubles and changes come—so that his whole life is rather a dreaming of rest than an enjoying of rest. Oh! but in heaven the rest of the saints shall have no end; there shall be nothing that can put an end to their rest, there shall be everything that may conduce to the perpetuating of their rest. Heaven would be but a poor base thing—did it not afford a perpetual rest!