A String of Pearls

The Best Things Reserved Until Last

by Thomas Brooks, June 8, 1657

The perfection of GRACE is reserved for glory.

Though our graces are our best jewels—yet they are now imperfect, and do not give out their full luster; they are like the moon, which when it shines brightest, has a dark spot: 1 Cor. 13:9-10, "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." "Here we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags," Isaiah 64:6. Oh the stains, the spots, the blots, the blemishes, which attend our choicest graces and services! Our best personal righteousness is stained with much unrighteousness. Perfection of grace and holiness is reserved for heaven, Eph. 5:25-27; Jude 24; Eph. 4:13. In the work of conversion, God lays the foundation of grace in the souls of his people—but the putting on the top-stone is reserved for heaven. Grace here on earth is but a king in the cradle—but in heaven it will be a king upon its throne.

For the making this truth more fully out, I will only instance in the JOY of the saints, and that thus:

[1.] First, The joy of the saints in heaven shall be PURE joy. Here on earth--our joy is mixed with sorrow, our rejoicing with trembling. Psalm 2:11: Mat. 28:8, "The women departed from the sepulcher with fear and great joy." This composition of two contrary passions is frequently found in the best hearts. Here on earth the best have sorrow with their joy, water with their wine, vinegar with their oil, pain with their ease, winter with their summer, and autumn with their spring, etc. But in heaven, they shall have joy without sorrow, light without darkness, sweetness without bitterness, summer without winter, health without sickness, honor without disgrace, glory without shame, and life without death. "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will exist no longer; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away." Revelation 21:4 But,

[2.] Secondly, As they shall have in heaven pure joy, so they shall have in heaven FULLNESS of joy. Here on earth all joy is at an ebb—but in heaven is the flood of joy, there is fullness of joy: Psalm 16:11, "In his presence is fullness of joy, and at his right hand are pleasures for evermore." Here shall be joy above joy, joy surmounting all joy. Here shall be such great joys, as no geometrician can measure; so many joys, as no arithmetician can number; and so wonderful, as no rhetorician can utter, had he the tongue of men and angels. Here shall be joy within you, and joy without you, and joy above you, and joy beneath you, and joy about you. Joy shall spread itself over all the members of your bodies, and over all the faculties of your souls. In heaven, your knowledge shall be full, your love full, your visions of God full, your communion with God full, your enjoyment of God full, and your conformity to God full, and from thence will arise fullness of joy.

If all the earth were paper, and all the plants of the earth were pens, and all the sea were ink, and if every man, woman, and child, had the pen of a ready writer--yet they would not able to express the thousandth part of those joys which saints shall have in heaven. All the joy which we have here in this world is but pensiveness, compared to that joy which we shall have in heaven. All the pleasure which we have here in this world is but heaviness, compared to that joy which we shall have in heaven. All the sweetness which we have here in this world is but bitterness, compared to that joy which we shall have in heaven. "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him." 1 Corinthians 2:9. But,

[3.] Thirdly, The joy of the saints in heaven shall be a LASTING joy, an UNINTERRUPTED joy. Here on earth their joy is quickly turned into sorrow, their singing into sighing, their dancing into mourning. Our joy here on earth is like the farmer's joy in harvest, which is soon over, and then we must sow again in tears, before we can reap in joy. David's joy was soon interrupted: "When I felt secure, I said, "I will never be shaken." But when you hid your face, I was dismayed." Psalm 30:6-7. Now David had the oil of joy and gladness, and by and by the spirit of heaviness and sadness: "Restore to me the joy of your salvation," Psalm 51:12. Jacob had much joy at the return of his sons with grain from Egypt; but this joy was soon interrupted by his parting with his dear Benjamin.

I might show you this truth in other instances, as in Abraham, Job, and other saints. Surely there is no believer but who finds that sometimes sin interrupts his joy, and sometimes Satan disturbs his joy, and sometimes afflictions and sometimes desertions eclipse his joy; sometimes the cares of the world, and sometimes the snares of the world, and sometimes the fears of the world, mar his joy. Sometimes great crosses, sometimes hard losses, and sometimes unexpected changes--turn a Christian's harping into mourning, and his organ into the voice of those who weep. Some worm or other is always a-gnawing at the very root of our joy--like the worm which made Johan's gourd to wither.

Some say of Rhodes, that there is not one day in the year in which the sun shines not clearly on them. Surely there is hardly one day in the year, yes, I had almost said one hour in the day, wherein something or other does not fall in to interrupt a Christian's joy.

But now in heaven the joy of the saints shall be constant. Nothing shall come in to disturb or to interrupt their joy. Psalm 16:11, "In your presence is fullness of joy, and at your right hand are pleasures forever more." Mark, for quality--there are pleasures; for quantity--fullness; for dignity--at God's right hand; for duration--for evermore. And millions of years multiplied by millions, make not up one minute to this eternity of joy which the saints shall have in heaven! In heaven there shall be no sin to take away your joy, nor any devil to take away your joy, nor any man to take away your joy! John 16:22, "Your joy no man takes from you."

The joy of the saints in heaven is never ebbing—but always flowing to all contentment. The joys of heaven never fade, never wither, never die, nor are they ever are lessened or interrupted. The joy of the saints in heaven is a constant joy, an everlasting joy, in the root and in the cause, and in the matter of it and in the objects of it. Their joy lasts forever whose objects remains forever. Isaiah 35:10, "And the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joys upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall fly away."

In this world not only the joy of hypocrites and the joy of profane people—but also the joy of the upright, is oftentimes "as the crackling of thorns under a pot," or as the blaze of a brush faggot, now all in a flame, and as suddenly out again; or as the least ephemeron, which dies on the day it is born. But the joy of believers in heaven shall be like the fire on the altar, which never went out. When Caesar was sad, he used to say to himself, Remember--you are Caesar! So when your hearts are sad and sorrowful, oh! then think of these everlasting joys which you shall have in heaven. But I must hasten.