A String of Pearls

The Best Things Reserved Until Last

by Thomas Brooks, June 8, 1657
 

The best society, the best company, is reserved until last.

It is reserved until believers come to heaven: Heb. 12:22-24, "You have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to thousands of angels in joyful assembly. You have come to the assembly of God's firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge of all people. And you have come to the spirits of the redeemed in heaven who have now been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which graciously forgives instead of crying out for vengeance as the blood of Abel did."

Here we shall be citizens of heaven, fellows of angels, co-heirs with Christ, citizens with saints, and of the household of God. Oh blessed sight, to behold the King of angels, the holy of holies, the God of heaven, the Ruler of the earth, the Father of the living! Woe to me, says one, who am not where the holy saints are; for their life is out of all gun-shot and danger of death, their knowledge without error, their love without offence, and their joy without any annoyance.

The dignity and diversity of the inhabitants of heaven does much set forth the glory of heaven. This earth, this world, is full of sinnersóbut heaven is full of saints; this world is full of menóbut heaven is full of angels; this world is full of friends and enemiesóbut in heaven there shall be only friends and sons. Here on earth the nobility and majesty of the guest casts a great deal of honor and splendor upon the royal palace where they meet. No company so noble, so sweet, so desirable, so delightsome, so comfortable, so suitable as this.

[1.] Here all shall be of one mind, of one judgment. In heaven there shall be no discord, no wrangling, no quarreling, no dividing. Here all shall think the same things, and speak the same things, and do the same things. Now, Turks and pagans can agree, and bears and lions, wolves and tigers, can agree; nay, a legion of devils can better agree in one body, than a handful of saints can agree in one city, in one nation, etc. There was a temple of Concord among the heathen; and yet how rare is it to find a temple of concord among those who are the temple of the Holy Spirit? While there was a contest among the birds about a rose found in the way, a mischievous owl came in the night and carried the flower away; you know how to apply it.

But in heaven there shall be no arguments, no contests, no debates, no disputesóbut as the curtains of the tabernacle were all looped together, so all the saints in heaven shall be all looped together in one mind, in one judgment, and in one way.

[2.] All the saints in heaven shall be of a sweet golden disposition. Grace in a harsh unhewn nature, is like a diamond set in iron. Here on earth the different dispositions of saints does much hinder that sweetness of communion which otherwise would be among them. Here on earth some are of a sour disposition, or of a cross and rugged temperóbut in heaven all saints shall be of a sweet, a soft, a silken disposition; which will exceedingly sweeten that royal communion. Here on earth, grace in a man of a harsh disposition is like a brass ring upon a leprous finger; and grace in a man of a sweet disposition is like a gold ring upon an alabaster hand. Now in heaven all the saints shall be of a golden disposition, yes, of a God-like disposition, which is the sweetest, the noblest, the choicest. But,

[3.] In heaven the saints shall have a constant enjoyment of one another. As they shall ever be with the Lord, so they shall ever be one with another. Here on earth they meet and partóbut in heaven they shall meet and never part. Now it is their life to meet and their death to part; now it is their heaven to meet, and their hell to part. But in heaven they shall be always in one another's eye, and in one another's arms. 1 Thes. 4:17-18.

Themistocles, having a piece of ground to sell, appointed the crier to proclaim, that whoever would buy it, would have a good neighbor. The saints in heaven shall be always sure of good neighborhood, they shall never lack good company. In this world Abraham and Lot must live asunderóbut there they shall always live together. Diogenes of old searched for an honest man with a candle, because of the scarcity of them; but heaven shall be always full of such saints, as shall shine as so many stars, yes, as so many suns in glory.

[4.] The saints shall have a real, a personal, a particular knowledge of one another in heaven. Here on earth we know but a few saintsóbut in heaven we shall know all; there shall be no stranger in heaven. Now this truth I shall make good by some arguments brought to hand, and by the addition of others. Take them thusó

(1.) Adam, when he was in his innocency, knew Eve to be bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, as soon as he saw her, though he had never seen her before, Gen. 2:23. Now certainly our knowledge in heaven shall be more ample, full, and perfectóthan ever Adam's was in innocency. Therefore without all question, the saints shall know one another in heaven. Luther, the night before he died, discoursing with his Christian friends, the question was put, Whether the saints should know one another in heaven? Luther held the affirmative, and this was one of the reasons he gave to prove it, that Adam knew Eve as soon as ever he saw her, and that not by discourseóbut by divine revelation, and so shall all the saints know one another in heaven. But,

(2.) The disciples, Peter, James, and John, being in the mount at Christ's transfiguration, though they had but a taste, a glimpse of the glory of heavenóyet they knew Moses and Elijah, though they were dead many hundred years before, Mat. 17:1-4. Now if the disciples, in an unglorified condition, knew Moses and Elijah, then certainly when saints shall be in a full glorified condition, they shall know them and all the rest of that royal family. Here they knew Moses from Elijah, and Elijah from Moses, whom they never saw before; and therefore we need not doubt but in that state of blessedness, wherein God shall be all in all, and wherein we shall know as we are knownówe shall have a particular and personal knowledge of one another.

Chrysostom says, that in heaven we shall point out the saints, and say, Lo, yonder is Peter, and that is Paul; lo, yonder is Abraham, the great believer, and yonder is Jacob, who as a prince prevailed with God; lo, yonder is Moses, who was the meekest man in all the world, and there is Job, who was the patientest man in all the world; lo, there is Joshua and Caleb, who followed the Lord fully, and there is Jeremiah, who was once in the dungeon; lo, there is Jonah, who was once in the whale's belly, and there is Daniel, who was once in the lions' den; lo, yonder is John the beloved disciple, who used to lie in the bosom of Christ; and there is Mary, who has chosen the better part. But,

(3.) The saints shall rise with the same bodies that now they lay down in the grave; and if so, then doubtless they shall know one another in heaven: the husband the wife, the wife the husband; the father the child, and the child the father; the pastor his people, and the people their pastor; the master his servant, and the servant his master. Now that the saints shall rise with the very same individual body is clear: "But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!" Job 19:25-27. Job did fully believe that the same physical body, would rise again.

Paul says, "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality," 1 Cor. 15:53. The apostle did, as it were, lay his hand upon his own body; and then says he, this corruptible body, and not another, this mortal, and not another, shall be raised when the trumpet sounds. It cannot stand with the unspotted justice and holiness of God, that one body should sowóand another body should reap, which never sowed; that one body should labor, toil, sweat, sufferóand another body which has done none of this should carry the reward.

Tertullian says, that the same body will rise again, for the resurrection is not of another bodyóbut of the same that dies; not a new creationóbut a raising up; the self-same body shall certainly rise again, else were it a raising up of a new, rather than a raising again of the old. It cannot stand with equity and right, that one body should sin and another body should suffer. No righteous judge will allow a victorious person to die, and another who never fought to have the crown of his deservings. It is but justice that those very eyes which have dropped many a tear before Godóshould be wiped by God. I say those very eyes, and not another pair of new-made eyes. It is but justice that that very tongue which has blessed God, should be blessed by God. It is but justice that those very hands which have been much in doing for Christ, and those very lips which have been much in praising of Christ, and those very backs which have been laded with many heavy burdens for Christ, and those very feet which have been in the stocks for Christ, and which have run in the ways of Christóshould at last be raised and crowned by Christ.

This truth you may see clear in the glorious resurrection of Christ from the dead; that very same body which was wounded, crucified, and slainóthat very same body did rise again. Christ could very easily, if he had pleased, in three days, nay, in three hours, ay, in three moments, have cured his woundsóbut he would not; to confirm his disciples, and to show that he had the very same body which was wounded and crucified for their sins, for their sakes. Therefore he bids Thomas to reach his finger, and behold his hands, and to reach his hand to thrust it into his side, John 20:27; Luke 24:36-47; whereby Christ made it evident, that that very same body of his which was wounded, crucified, and buriedówas raised, and not another; and therefore as in the head the same body which died rose again, so shall it be with all his members in the great day of the resurrection. Now seeing that we shall rise again with the very same individual or physical bodies which we lay down in the grave, we need not question but that we shall know one another in heaven. But,

(4.) That knowledge which may most increase the joy and comfort of the saints, shall certainly be in heavenóbut that is a perfect personal knowledge of each other; therefore there shall be a particular personal knowledge of one another in heaven; the husband shall know the wife, the wife the husband, the father the child, and the child the father, etc.

I have read a story of Augustine, how that a widow grieving for the loss of her husband, to comfort her, he told her that it was but a short time that they were parted, and that of all people, she would enjoy her husband most in heaven; nay, says he, you shall not only know your husbandóbut all the elect shall know you, and you shall know all them. The personal knowledge of the saints on earth, does exceedingly increase our joy and comfort; it makes this wilderness to be a paradise. "Those who fear you will be glad when they see me," says the Psalmist, Psalm 119:74. Yes Seneca, the heathen, saw so much excellency that morality put upon a man, that he says, that the very looks of a good man delight me.

Ah! how often are the saints delighted, warmed, and gladdened by hearing well of other saints, whose faces they have never seen! and when God gives them the honor to see their faces, and to enjoy their presence, oh how does this advance their joy, and increase their comfort. What a heaven does this make on this side heaven to their souls! Oh, then, what tongue can express, what heart can conceive, what pen can describe, the unspeakable joy and comfort which will be raised in the hearts of the saintsóupon that perfect, particular, personal knowledge that the saints shall have one of another in heaven? Heaven would be but an uncomfortable place, if the saints there should be strangers one to another. The faces, the words, the ways, the works of strangers, are very little pleasing and delightful to us here on earth; what would they then be in heaven? But,

(5.) The saints, in the day of account, shall know those wicked men, who shall be indicted, arraigned, condemned, and judged by Jesus Christ. This great day will be a declaration of the just judgment of God. In this great day, every wicked work, and every wicked worker, shall be brought to light; and indeed it would be but in vain to bring evil works to light, if the evil worker is not also brought to the light. In this great day the saints shall see and know Cain in his person, they shall be able to point at him, and say, Yonder stands that bloody Cain who slew his brother Abel, because he was more righteous than he. And there stands Pharaoh, the great oppressor of God's Israel, who stood it out against heaven itself; and look, there stands bloody Saul, who lost his crown, his kingdom, his soul, his all, by disobedience; and there is Haman, who was feasted with the king one day, and made a feast for crows the next; lo, there stands Pilate, who condemned Christ; and there is Judas who betrayed Christ. In this great day that word shall be made good, every man shall appear to account for the works that he has done in his body, 2 Cor. 5:10; so that both wicked works and wicked workers shall plainly appear before our Lord Jesus and all his saints, who with him shall judge the world. Now certainly, if the saints shall know the wicked in that great day, they shall then much more know one another; when they shall all sit as fellow judges round about Jesus Christ the righteous judge, to pass a righteous sentence upon all unrighteous souls. But,

(6.) Christ tells the Jews that they shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God. All the saints shall have communion with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God; they shall have communion with them, not only as godly menóbut as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The phrase of seeing Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, does doubtless import thus much, that they shall be known personally and distinctly from all other people in the kingdom of heaven. Saints in heaven shall be able to point at Abraham, and say, There is Abraham, who was the great pattern for believing; and there is Isaac, who was a sweet pattern for meditating; and there is Jacob, who had the honor and happiness of prevailing with God. The saints' happiness in heaven shall be greatly increased by mutual communion, and by their personal knowledge of one another in that blessed state. But,

(7.) Lastly, In heaven the saints shall know as they are known, 1 Cor. 13:12, Exod. 33:12. Now God knows all the saints, personally, particularly, corporally, yes, he knows them all by name; and so doubtless all the saints in heaven shall know one another personally, and by nameóelse how shall they know as they are known? Here in this world we know one another many times only by report, or by writing, or by faceóbut in heaven we shall know one another by name. As God knows us nowóso we shall know one another in heaven; and this is none of the least parts of glory, that we shall know one another in glory; yes, that we shall know one another personally, and by name; the serious consideration of which may much support us, and comfort us under the sad losses of our friends and relations in the Lord.




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