A String of Pearls

The Best Things Reserved Until Last

by Thomas Brooks, June 8, 1657

The REASONS why God reserves the best blessings for believers until they come to heaven.

Reason 1. Because it is his good will and pleasure to reserve the best things for his people until last. Luke 12:32, "Fear not, little flock—for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." As it is God's good pleasure to give you a kingdom, so it is his pleasure not to give you the kingdom until last, 2 Tim. 4:7-8. Our heavenly Father does now give a kingdom of grace, and will at last also give a kingdom of glory—to those who walk uprightly, Psalm 84:11. But,

Reason 2. That he may keep the hearts of his people in a longing and in a waiting frame, for the enjoyment of those great and glorious things that he has reserved for them until last. Heb. 13:14, "Here on earth we have no continuing city—but we seek one to come." The greater and better the things are which are laid up for us—the more we should long and wait for the happy enjoyment of them. Abraham waited long for a son, and Hannah waited long for a child, and Joseph waited long for his advancement, and David waited long for the crown, the kingdom; and they had all a most happy outcome.

The longer we wait, the better we shall speed; as that emperor's son said, the longer the cooks are preparing the meat—the better will be the feast; meaning, the longer he waited for the empire—the greater it would be. The longer we wait for happiness, the more at last we shall have of happiness. The great things of eternity are worth nothing, if they are not worth a longing and a waiting for. But,

Reason 3. God has reserved the best and greatest things for his people until last—and that because else they were above all men in the world the most miserable. 1 Cor 15:19, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." Usually none outside of hell—are so much afflicted, tempted, oppressed, scorned, despised, and neglected—as they are. Here on earth they have their hell—they have need of a heaven to come. Here on earth they are clothed with shame—they had need hereafter to be crowned with honor, or else they would be the unhappiest men in all the world. Here on earth the life of a believer is filled with many and multiplied miseries—with miseries of body, with miseries of mind. Multiplied miseries attend him, at bed and board, at home and abroad. Every condition is full—and every relation is full—of miseries and calamities! Therefore one says well, How can this life be loved, which is so full of loathsome bitterness? Yes, how can it be called a life, which brings forth so many deaths? Yet he is a fool, says one, who looks upon a godly man under trouble and sorrow, and thinks him to be unhappy; because he sees only what he suffers, and does not see what is reserved for him in heaven. If the best things were not reserved for believers until last, they would have the saddest portion of all men, namely—a hell here on earth, and a hell hereafter! And so the ungodly would have but one hell, and saints two—which would be blasphemy to affirm. But,

Reason 4. God reserves the best things for his people until last, for the greater terror and horror, conviction and confusion of wicked and ungodly people, who now revile them, and judge them to be the unhappiest men in all the world. Oh! but when the Lord shall in the sight of all the world gloriously own them, and put royal robes upon their backs, and golden crowns upon their heads—then, Oh! what shame, what covering of the face, what terror, what trembling—will possess the hearts of wicked men! The great honor and glory which God will put upon his people at last, will be to wicked men what the handwriting upon the wall was to Belshazzar, "His face turned pale with fear. Such terror gripped him that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way beneath him!" Dan. 5:1-8. Oh! it will make their countenance to change, their thoughts to be terrified, the joints of their loins to be loosed, and their knees dashed one against another!

Now that word shall be eminently made good: "The godly will see these things and be glad, while the wicked are stricken silent!" Psalm 107:42. Oh! what trouble of mind, what horror of conscience, what distraction and vexation, what terror and torment, what weeping and wailing, what crying and roaring, what wringing of hands, what tearing of hair, what dashing of knees, what gnashing of teeth—will there be among the wicked, when they shall see the saints in all their splendor, dignity, and glory! "When they shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God—and they themselves shut out forever!" Luke 13:28.

Then shall the wicked lamentingly say, Lo! these are the men whom we counted fools, madmen, and miserable. Oh but now we see that we were deceived and deluded! Oh that we had never despised them! Oh that we had never reproached them! Oh that we had never trampled upon them! Oh that we had been one with them! Oh that we had imitated them! Oh that we had walked as they, and done as they, that so we might now have been as happy as they! Oh but this cannot be! Oh this may not be! Oh this shall never be! Oh that we had never been born! Oh that now we might be unborn! Oh that we might be turned into a bird, a beast, a toad, a stone! Oh that we were anything but what we are! Oh that we were nothing! Oh that now our immortal souls were mortal! Oh that we might so die, that we may not eternally exist! But it is now too late. Oh we see that there is a reward for the righteous! and we see, that by all the contempt which we have cast upon these glorious shining saints, whose splendor and glory does now darken the very glory of the sun, Dan. 12:3; we have but treasured up wrath against the day of wrath, Romans 2:4-7; we have but added fuel to those burning coals, to those everlasting flames, in which we must now lie forever, Psalm 140:10. "And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life." Matthew 25:46. "And they cried to the mountains and the rocks—Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!" Revelation 6:16.

Reason 5. The Lord has reserved the best things for his people until they come to heaven, that so he may save his honor and secure his glory. Would it make for the honor and glory of God, to put his children, his servants, upon doing hard things, and upon suffering great things—and at last to put them off with nothing? Surely it would not! And therefore the Lord, to save the honor of his great name, has reserved the best wine until last—the best and choicest favors for his people until they come to heaven, John 2:10. The sweetest honey lies at the bottom. I cannot see how God would save his glory, if he would put his children always upon sowing—and never allow them to reap, 2 Cor. 9:6-7; that they should still be sowing in tears—if at last they would not reap in joy, Psalm 126:4-6. Men who love but their names and honor in the world, will not be served for nothing, and will God? Will God, who is infinitely more tender of his name and honor, than any created being can be of theirs? Isaiah 42:8, 48:11.

I have read of Alphonsus, a king of Spain, who when a knight falling into poverty and being arrested for debt, there was a petition to the king to support him, Ay, said the King, since he had spent his estate for me, it is reason why he shall be provided for by me. Men of honor will provide for those who spend themselves in their service; and will not God? Will not God do as much, yes more, for those who spend themselves in his service? Surely he will! Heb. 11:16. "They were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a heavenly city for them!" As if he had said, Had not God prepared for them a city, had he not made some blessed provision for them—who left so much for him, who did so much for him, and who suffered such great and bitter things for him—they might well have complained that they had but a bad bargain of it, and that God was a hard master; so God would have been ashamed. Had not God made such happy and blessed provision for those who had run through so many dangers and deaths for his sake, had he not provided and laid up for them, according to his promise, and suitable to his greatness and goodness, his dignity and glory, it would have put God to the blush, to speak after the manner of men.

I have read concerning Dionysius of Sicily, that being extremely delighted with a minstrel who sang well, he promised to give him a great reward; and that raised the imagination of the man, and made him play better. But when the music was done, and the man waited for his reward, the king dismissed him empty, telling him that he should carry away as much of the promised reward as himself did of the music, and that he had paid him sufficiently with the pleasure of the promise, for the pleasure of his song. But it will not stand with the honor of the King of kings to put off his servants so poorly, whose prayers, praises, and tears, have been most sweet and delightful music to him? No, he will act like himself at last—and that his children know. It encouraged a martyr at the stake—that he was going to a place where he should ever be a-receiving wages, and do no more work. But,

Reason 6. That he may make his children temptation-proof, he has reserved for them the best things until they come to heaven. The great things which God has reserved for believers in heaven, was that which made those worthies, of whom this world was not worthy, temptation-proof. The pleasures, the treasures, the dignities and glories which are reserved for believers in heaven—make them bravely and nobly to resist all those temptations which they meet with from a tempting world or a tempting devil.

Augustine blessed God—that his heart and the temptation did not meet together. By the precious things that are reserved for believers in heaven—God keeps their hearts and temptations asunder. When Basil was tempted with money and preferment, says he, Give me money that may last forever, and glory that may eternally flourish! Satan made a bow of Job's wife, of his rib, as Chrysostom speaks, and shot a temptation by her at Job, thinking to have shot him to the heart, "Curse God and die!" But Job's sincerity and integrity, and his hopes of immortality and glory, were a breastplate which made him temptation-proof. Ah Christians! do not you daily find, that the glorious things reserved for you in heaven—do mightily arm you against all the temptations which you meet with on earth? I know you do. But,

Reason 7. God has reserved the best things for his people, until they come to heaven, because they are not in this mortal and frail condition able to bear, they are not able to take in the glory that is reserved for them. "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!" 2 Cor. 4:17. Glory is such a great, such an exceeding, such an excessive, such an eternal weight—that no mortal is able to bear it. We must have better and larger hearts, and we must have stronger and broader backs—before we shall be capable of bearing that excellent, exceeding, and excelling weight of glory, which is reserved in heaven for us! Nay, glory is such a weight, that when the saints shall enter into it—if then the Lord should not put his everlasting arms under them and bear them up by his almighty power—it would be impossible they should be able to bear it themselves!

In this our frail mortal state, we are not able to bear the appearance, the presence, the glory of one angel—Ah! how much less then are we able to bear the weight of all that glory which is reserved for us, and of which I have given you some glimpses in what I have already said. But,

Reason 8. The Lord has reserved the best things for his people until they come to heaven, because while they are in this world they have not come to full age. Here on earth saints are in their infancy—but when they come to heaven, then they come to their full age, and then they shall have the inheritance by the Father of mercies, freely and fully settled upon them. Those in their childhood are under tutors and governors—but when they come to full age, then is the inheritance settled upon them. So here on earth, it is not for us in our infancy, to mount into the clouds, to pierce this fullness of light, to break into this bottomless depth of glory, or to dwell in that unapproachable brightness. This is reserved until we come to full age.

And thus I have given you the REASONS why God has reserved the best and greatest things for his people until they come to heaven.

We shall now come to the use and APPLICATION of this point to our own souls, remembering that close application is the very life and soul of teaching. And as a man does not attain to health by the mere reading and knowing Hippocrates remedies—but by the practical application of them to remove the disease; so no man will attain to true happiness by hearing, reading, or commending what I have spoke or written—but by a close application and bringing home of all to his own soul. The opening of a point is the drawing of the bow; but the application of the point is the hitting of the mark, the bulls-eye; and therefore,

(1.) If God has reserved the best things for believers until last, then by the rule of contraries—the worst things are reserved for unbelievers until last. Here on earth wicked men have their heaven, hereafter they shall have their hell. The time of this life is the day of their joy and triumph; and when this short day is ended, then everlasting lamentations, mournings, and woes follow. "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony." Luke 16:22-25

Ah sinners! sinners! that day is hastening upon you, wherein you shall have punishment without pity, misery without mercy, sorrow without support, pain without pleasure, and torments without end! Psalm 11:6, "On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot." Psalm 140:10, "Let burning coals fall upon them; may they be thrown into the fire, into miry pits, never to rise."

Ah, sinners! sinners! what a dishonor would it be to God, to Christ, to angels, to saints, to heaven—if such wretches as you are should be admitted into that royal palace, that heavenly paradise above!

Ah! your portion is below, and you are already adjudged to those torments which are endless, easeless, and remediless, where the worm never dies, and the fire never goes out, Rev. 14:11. The day is coming upon you, sinners, when all your sweet shall be turned into bitter; all your glory into shame; all your plenty into scarcity; all your joys into sorrows; all your recreations into vexations; and all your momentary comforts into everlasting torments!

Now you reign as kings, you look big, you speak proudly, you behave arrogantly, you walk contemptuously; but there is an after-reckoning a-coming which will appall you—and torture you forever!

The time of this life is your summer; but there is a winter a-coming upon you, which shall never have end. God could not be just if your worst were not yet to come; neither could he be just if the saints' best were not yet to come. The time of this life is the saints' hell, and the sinners' heaven; but the next life will be the saints' heaven, and the sinners' hell. But,

(2.) If the best things are reserved for believers until they come to heaven—patiently wait for the enjoyment of those great things that are reserved for you in heaven. Men will wait, and wait long, for some outward good; and will not you for the best and greatest good? Are there not many things which speak out the greatness of that glory that is reserved for you? as the price that Christ has paid for it, and the great and glorious things by which it is shadowed out to us? as Canaan, Jerusalem, paradise; and the dignity of the inhabitants, there being none admitted under the degree of a king; and the great and glorious pledge of the Spirit; and the great care, cost, and charge that God has been at to prepare and fit souls for the enjoyment of it. What do all these things speak out—but that the glory which is reserved for believers is great glory; and is it not then worth a waiting for? Let not Satan's slaves wait more patiently for a few ounces of gold, than you do for the kingdom of heaven!

Again, as the things reserved for you in heaven are great, and therefore wait, so they are certain and sure; and therefore wait. Oh patiently wait for the enjoyment of them! Heb. 6:16-19. When the beggar at the door is sure of succeeding, he will wait patiently, he will wait unweariedly. The glorious things reserved in heaven for you, they are made sure and certain to you by word, by covenant, by oath, by blood, by the pledge, by the first-fruits, and by Christ's taking possession of them in your place, in your stead, Eph. 2:6, John 14:1-4; therefore patiently wait for the enjoyment of them.

O Christians! it is but a very short time which God has proposed to be between grace—and glory; between our title to the crown—and our wearing the crown; between our right to the heavenly inheritance—and our possession of the heavenly inheritance. Ah, Christians! bear up bravely, bear up sweetly, bear up patiently—for it will be but a little, little, little while, before he who shall come will come, and will not tarry, Heb. 10:35-37. And when he does come, he will not come empty-handed; no, when he comes, he brings his reward with him, Rev. 22:12; when he comes, he will reward you for every prayer that you have made, and for every sermon that you have heard, and for every tear that you have shed, and for every hour that you have patiently waited; and therefore wait patiently until the promised crown be set upon your head. But,

(3.) If the best things are reserved for believers until they come to heaven—oh then, let no believer envy nor be troubled at the outward prosperity and felicity of the men of the world. What is darkness compared to light, chaff to wheat, dross to gold, gall to honey, pebbles to pearls, earth to heaven? No more is all the glory and felicity that wicked men have in this poor world—compared to those great and glorious things that saints have in reversion; and therefore, O believer, let not wicked men's prosperity be your calamity!

It is the justice of envy to kill and torment the envious. Envy—it tortures the affections, it vexes the mind, it inflames the blood, it corrupts the heart, it wastes the spirits; and so it becomes man's tormentor and man's executioner at once. Take heed, Christians, take heed of an envious eye, for that usually looks upon other men's enjoyments through a multiplying glass, and so makes them appear greater and bigger than they are; and this increases torment, this often makes a hell.

It is reported of Panormitanus, that a question being asked before king Frederick, what was good for the eye-sight, and the physicians answering some one thing, some another, Sannizarius answered, that envy was very good; at which the company smiling, he gave this reason for it, because that envy makes all things appear bigger than they are.

Ah, Christians! envy is a serpent, a devil—which should be abhorred and shunned more than hell itself. O Christian! with what heart can you envy wicked men's prosperity and worldly felicity—if you do but look up to your own glory, and seriously consider of their sad reckoning and future calamity? Dives was one day rustling in his purple robes, riches, and worldly glory—and the next day he was rolling and roaring in the flames of hellish misery; and how soon this may be the portion of those you envy, who can tell? and therefore rather pity them than envy them. None need more prayer and pity than those who have neither skill nor will to pity themselves, to pray for themselves; and such are wicked men under their outward prosperity and worldly glory, Job 21:7-20. But,

(4.) If the best things are reserved for believers until they come to heaven—oh then let all believers be contented, though they have but small portions in this world! He who is an heir to a great estate, though in his childhood he is kept poor—yet this comforts and contents him, that though things are now poor with him, it will be but a little while before the inheritance is settled upon him, and this makes him bear up sweetly and contentedly under all his needs and straits, Philip. 4:12-14, 1 Tim. 6:6-8. Ah, Christians! Christians! though for the present your needs may be many, and God may cut you short in many desirable enjoyments—yet it will not be long before the crown, the inheritance, be fully settled upon you, and then you shall never know more what need means; therefore be content with your present condition, with your present portion, though it be ever so little, ever so lowly. Heb. 13:5, "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have." At this time the Hebrews had been plundered of all their goods, and goodly things, chapter 10:34, and so had nothing left—yet they must be content with present things. When they had changed their raiment for rags, their silver for brass, their plenty for scarcity, their houses for holes and caves, and dens—yet then they must be contented with present things.

When men cannot bring their means to their minds, then they must bring their minds to their means, and, when this is done, then a little will serve the turn. A man needs very little of this world's goods to carry him through his pilgrimage, until he comes to his home, until he comes to heaven. A little will satisfy the demands of nature, less will satisfy grace, though nothing will satisfy a man's lusts! "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need." Philippians 4:11-12

I have read of one Didymus, a godly preacher, who was blind; Alexander, a godly man, being with him, asked him whether he was not much troubled and afflicted for lack of his sight? Oh yes! said Didymus, the lack of my sight is a very great grief and affliction to me; whereupon Alexander chid him, saying, Has God given you the excellency of an angel, of an apostle, and are you troubled for the lack of that which rats, and mice, and brute beasts have?

And so Augustine, upon the 12th Psalm, brings in God rebuking a discontented Christian thus: Have I promised you these earthly things? what! were you made a Christian that you should flourish here in this world? So may I say to Christians who are discontented, disquieted, and disturbed about the lack of this or that worldly comfort: Why are you troubled about the lack of this or that worldly enjoyment? you who have a saving interest in God, an interest in the covenant, a right to Christ, a title to heaven! You who have so much in hand and more in hope; you who have so much in expectation and so much in reversion—why do you sit sighing for the lack of this outward comfort, and complaining for the lack of that outward contentment, considering what great and glorious things are reserved in heaven for you?

It was said of the great Duke of Guise, that though he was poor, as to his present possessions—yet he was the richest man in France in bills, bonds, and obligations; because he had engaged all the noblemen in France unto himself by advancing of them. A Christian, though a Lazarus at Dives's door; yet, in respect of his propriety in God and his interest in the covenant, he is the richest and the happiest man in all the world; and why then should he not be content. Well! remember, Christian, that the shortest way to riches and all worldly contentments is by their contempt. It is great riches, it is the best riches—not to desire riches; and God usually gives him most—who covets least.

God often gives the most—to those who seek the least. Solomon begs a wise heart, and God gives him that, and abundance of gold and silver and honor, and what not, into the bargain. The best way to have much, is to be contented with a little.

I have read of Dionysius, how he took away from one of his nobles almost his whole estate, and seeing him nevertheless continue as cheerful and well contented as ever, he gave him that again, and as much more. This is a common thing with God, as Job and many thousands can witness; the best way to have a pound is to be contented with a penny, the best way to have hundreds is to be contented with pounds, and the best way to have thousands is to be contented with hundreds. Ah! you unquiet and discontented Christian, can you read over that saying of Cato, a heathen, and not blush? I have neither house, nor plate, nor garments of value in my hands. What I have, I can use. What I do not have—I am content to be without; some blame me, because I lack things, and I blame them, because they are discontent. How many thousand Christians in these knowing and professing days might this heathen put to the blush! O Christians! Christians! let the remembrance of the crown, the kingdom, the treasures, pleasures, and glories—which are reserved in heaven for you, make you bear up sweetly and contentedly under all your outward needs in this world. But,

(5.) If the best and greatest things are reserved for believers until they come to heaven—then make not a judgment of the saints' condition by their present state. If you do, you will "condemn the generation of the just." What though they are now in rags—it will not be long before they are clothed in their royal robes! What though they are now abased—it will not be long before they shall in the sight of all the world be highly advanced! What though they are now under many needs—it will not be long before they shall be filled with all fullness! What though they are now under many trials and afflictions—yet it will not be long before all tears shall be wiped away from their eyes, and their sighing turned into singing, "and everlasting joys shall be upon their heads!"

Therefore do not judge of their condition by their present state. If you will needs be judging, then look that you judge righteous judgment, John 7:24; then look more at the latter end of a Christian than the beginning. Remember the patience of Job, James 5:11, and consider what end the Lord made with him. Look not upon Lazarus lying at Dives's door—but lying in Abraham's bosom. Look not to the beginning of Joseph, who was so far from his dream, that the sun and moon should reverence him, that for two years he was cast where he could neither see sun nor moon—but behold him at last made ruler over all Egypt, and reigning eighty years like a king, Gen. 37:9, 41:40-46. Look not upon David, as there was but a step between him and death, nor as he was envied by Saul, and hated by his courtiers—but behold him seated in his royal throne, where he reigned forty years gloriously, and died in his bed of honor, and his son Solomon, and his nobles about him.

When Israel was dismissed out of Egypt, it was with gold and ear-rings, Exod. 11; and when the Jews were dismissed out of Babylon, it was with great gifts, jewels, and all necessary utensils, Ezra 1. "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; the end of that man is peace," Psalm 37:37. Whatever the needs, the straits, the troubles, the trials of the saints are in this world—yet their end shall be peace, their end shall be glorious; the best things are reserved for them until last! Therefore do not, oh do not judge of their condition by their present state—but rather judge of them by their future condition, by that glory which is reserved for them in heaven. But,

(6.) If the greatest and choicest things are reserved for believers until they come to heaven—then let believers keep up in their own souls a lively, hopeful expectation of enjoying these great and glorious things which are laid up for them. The keeping up of those hopes will be the keeping up of your hearts. The keeping up of these hopes will be the bettering of your hearts. The keeping up of these hopes will make every bitter sweet, and every sweet more sweet. The keeping up of these hopes will make you bear much for God, and do much for God.

When Alexander went upon a hopeful expedition, he gave away his gold; and when he was asked what he kept for himself, he answered, The hope of greater and better things.

Ah! Christians, there is no work so high and noble, there is no work so hard and difficult, there is no work so low and contemptible—but the hopes of the great things reserved in heaven for you will put you upon it.

Galen speaks of a fish called uranoscopus, which has but one eye, and that is so placed that it is always looking upwards towards heaven; and so should a Christian's eye of hope be always fixed on God, on promises, on heaven, on the inheritance of the saints in light, and on all those precious and glorious things which are laid up for them in that royal palace where Christ is all in all.

A devout pilgrim traveling to Jerusalem, and by the way visiting many brave cities, with their rare monuments, and meeting with many friendly entertainments, would often say, I must not stay here—this is not Jerusalem, this is not Jerusalem; so says a Christian in the midst of all his worldly delights, comforts, and entertainments—oh these are not the delights, the comforts, the contentments which my soul looks for, which my soul expects and hopes to enjoy. I look and hope for choicer delights, for sweeter comforts, for more satisfying contentments, and for more durable riches. "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them." Hebrews 11:13, 16

Ah, saints! ah, souls! Shall the great heirs of this world live upon their hopes, and keep up their hopes—that their inheritances shall in time be settled respectively upon them? And will not you, will not you live upon your hopes, and keep up your hopes of enjoying all the treasures, pleasures, and glories which are reserved in heaven for you? A Christian's motto always is, or always should be, I hope for better things; I hope for better things than any the world can give to me, or than any that Satan can take from me. A Christian is always rich in hope, though he has not always a penny in hand. But,

(7.) If there be such great and glorious things reserved for you in heaven—then do nothing unworthy of your dignity, nor of that glory which is laid up for you. Your calling is high, your honor is great, your happiness is matchless; you have so much in promises, so much in expectation, and so much in reversion, as cannot be conceived, as cannot be expressed! Therefore, do not stoop to sin, nor bow down to Satan, nor comply with the world!

When Alexander was urged to race with some people of inferior rank, he refused, saying, It was not fit for Alexander to run in a race with any but princes and nobles. Ah, Christians! are you not more nobly born? are you not better bred? have you not more royal hopes than to stoop to lust—or to do as the men of the world do?

Antigonus, being invited to dinner where a notable harlot was to be present, asked counsel of Menedemus, his tutor, what he should do, and how he should behave himself? His tutor bade him remember that he was a prince, that he was the son of a king, and this would preserve him. Ah! Christians! nothing will preserve you from being base, like the remembrance of your present dignity, and of that future glory which is laid up for you.

Ah, Christians! you are kings elected, you are heirs-apparent of a crown, of a glorious crown, of a weighty crown, of an incorruptible crown, of an everlasting crown of glory! Oh why then should you be crowning yourselves with rosebuds? why then should you take up in the low enjoyments and poor contentments of this world?

It was a noble speech of that heathen Themistocles, who, noticing something which seemed to be a pearl, scorned to stoop for it—but bade another stoop, saying, You stoop for this pearl, for you are not Themistocles. Oh let the men of the world stoop and take up the world, oh let those whose practice speaks them out to be of the world, and to be worshipers of that golden calf—the world—let these dance about it, bow down to it, and take up in it; but let the heirs of heaven divinely scorn to bow down to earth, or to take up in it, or to be much taken with it. It was a good saying of Seneca, I am too great, and born to greater things—than that I should be as a slave to my body.

Ah, Christians! you are too great, and born to greater things—than that you should be slaves to your bodies, or slaves to your lusts, or slaves to the world! Can you seriously consider of the great things which are reserved in heaven for you, and not set your feet upon those things that the men of the world set their hearts upon? Can you look up to your future glory, and not blush to be taken with the glory of this world?

Alexander the Great said to one of his captains who was named Alexander, Remember the name of Alexander, and see that you do nothing unworthy of the name of Alexander. So say I, Remember, O Christian your name; remember your dignity and glory, and see that you do nothing unworthy of the one or the other. But,

(8.) If the best and greatest things are reserved for the saints until they come to heaven—then let them desire and long to be possessed of those blessed things which are reserved in heaven for them. Oh, how do the heirs of this world long to have their estates in their own hands! how do they long to have their inheritances settled upon them! some of them wishing their relations dead, who stand between them and their inheritances. And others, of a little better nature, wishing them in the bosom of Abraham, that they might come to inherit, and that they might suck the sweet, and take up their rest, in their worldly inheritances. And shall not the saints desire and long to be in a full and happy possession of that crown, of that inheritance, of those jewels which are reserved in heaven for them? O Christians! how is it, why is it, that your heavenly Jerusalem, your mansions above, your glorious treasures, are not taken by storm, in respect of your earnest wishes and burning desires after them?

The primitive Christians did so hunger and thirst, look and long, wish and desire after this heavenly kingdom, this glorious inheritance, that the Roman State had a jealousy of them—as if they had impacted their kingdom and their worldly glory. But where is that spirit now to be found? Most men live now as if there were no heaven, or else as if heaven were not worth a seeking, worth a desiring; as if heaven were a poor, despised, contemptible thing.

But ah, Christians! you have learned better; and therefore be much in desiring and longing to get into that glorious city, where streets, walls, and gates are all gold, yes, where pearl is but as mire and dirt, and where are all pleasures, all treasures, all delights, all comforts, all contentments—and that forever. This word "forever" is a bottomless depth, a conception without end; it is a word which sweetens all the glory above, and that indeed makes heaven to be heaven. I can hardly call him a Christian, who does not long after spiritual realities, and after the great things that are reserved in heaven for the saints. But,

(9.) If the best and greatest things are reserved for the saints until they come to heaven—then, Oh let not the men of the world envy the saints, while they are here in this wilderness.

Ah! sinners, sinners, the people of God have but little in hand; though they have much in hope; they have but little in the bag whatever they may have in the bank; they have but little in the cistern whatever they may have in the fountain; they have but little in possession whatever they may have in reversion; and therefore do not envy them, James 2:5. Who but monsters will envy the child in his cradle—though he be an heir to a great estate, inasmuch as it is out of his hand, and he is not in the possession of it? and yet such monsters this world affords, who are filled with envy against Christ's precious ones, though their estates are out of their hands.

Old Jacob speaking of his son Joseph, says, that "the archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him," Gen. 49:23; and Jerome, expounding the words, notes, that here envy is brought in with bow and arrows shooting at that which is immaculate, and where there is no spot to be a mark for it! or else, as an archer sets up some white thing to be the mark at which he shoots, so it is the whiteness of some good thing or other, against which envy shoots. Such is the wrath, the rage, the hatred, the envy of wicked men against the saints, that they will still be envying of them upon one score or another. Such was Saul's envy to David, that David chooses rather to live under king Achish, an enemy, than to live under Saul's envy; nay, such was Saul's envy against David, that when David played on his harp, to cure him of the evil spirit which haunted him, that he threw his spear at him to destroy him, choosing rather to be tormented with an evil spirit, than that David should live. And such was Cain's envy to Abel, that though he had but one brother, nay, though there was but one brother in all the world—yet enraged envy will wash her hands in that brother's blood!

Chrysologus notes of the rich glutton, who would have Lazarus to be sent to him—that being still cruel and envious towards Lazarus, he would have him to be sent to hell from the bosom of Abraham, to the bottomless gulf from the highest throne of glory, to the gnashing and grinding of torments from the holy rest of the blessed. The truth is, envy sticks so close to the heart of wicked men, that courtesies to others provoke it; love and respect to others swell it; and an eminency in gifts and graces in others enrages it. No man of worth has ever escaped envy. Envy is like certain flies called cantharides, which eat on the fairest crops, and most beautiful flowers. Neither my accusers, nor my crimes, says Socrates, can kill me—but envy only, which has, and does, and will destroy the worthiest that ever were. And therefore, Socrates wishes that envious men had more eyes and more ears than others—that so they might be tormented more than others, by beholding others' happiness.

Well! sinners, if, notwithstanding all that has been said, you will still be envious against those gracious souls who have but little in hand, though they have much in hope; if you will be envious against those who stand between you and wrath, between you and hell; if you will be envious against those to whom, as instruments, you are indebted for all the mercies, comforts, and contentments, which you enjoy in this world, then know, that your envy will torture you, your envy will slay you, your envy will prepare the hottest, darkest, and lowest place in hell for you! But,

(10.) If the best things are reserved for believers until they come to heaven, then let not any outward losses trouble you, nor deject you. What is your loss of a house made with hands—compared to one eternal in the heavens? What is your loss of rags—compared to the royal robes above? What is your loss of earth—compared to the gain of heaven? What is your loss of husband, wife, child, friends—compared to the enjoyment of God, Christ, angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect? 2 Cor. 5:1; Rev. 6:11, Rev. 7:9, 13, 14.

When Paulinus Nolanus' city was taken from him by the barbarians, he prayed thus to God: Lord! let me not be troubled at the loss of my gold, silver, honor, etc.; for you are all, and much more than all of these, unto me.

When Demetrius asked Stilpo what loss he had sustained when his wife, his children, and country were all burned, he answered, that he had lost nothing, counting that only his own which none could take from him, namely, his virtues. What an unlovely, what an inappropriate, thing would it be to see a rich heir, upon the loss of a ribbon out of his hat—to stand sighing and grieving, vexing and lamenting! Or to see a prince, upon the burning up of his stables and outhouses—to stand wringing his hands and beating his breasts, and to cry out, Undone, undone! when his royal palace is safe, his crown safe, his treasures safe!

As unlovely, yes, a more unlovely and inappropriate thing, it is to see a saint upon the account of losing wife, child, friend, etc., to cry out, Undone, undone! no sorrow to my sorrow! no loss to my loss! when his GREAT ALL is safe—when his crown, his heaven, his happiness, his blessedness, is safe. But,

(11.) If the best things are reserved for believers until they come to heaven—then let believers live cheerfully and walk comfortably up and down in this world. [Psalm 33:1; Isaiah 41:16; Joel 2:23; Zech. 10:7; Philip. 3:1, 4:4.] Ah! how cheerfully and merrily do many great heirs live! Though for the present, things go hard with them—the hopes of a good inheritance makes them sing care and sorrow away. It is not for the honor of Christ, nor for the glory of the gospel—to see the heirs of heaven look so sadly and walk so mournfully and dejectedly—as if there were no heaven, or as if there was nothing laid up for them in heaven. It does not befit the sons of glory, with Rachel, to be so much weeping, as to refuse to be comforted, Neh. 8:10. Do you not remember, O Christian, that the joy of the Lord is your strength—your doing strength, your bearing strength, your prevailing strength. What! have you forgotten that "the joy of the Lord is your strength" to live—and your strength to die? If not, why with Cain do you walk up and down with a dejected countenance, with a cast-down countenance?

A beautiful face is at all times pleasing to the eye—but then especially when there is joy manifested in the countenance. Joy in the face puts a new beauty upon a person, and makes that which before was beautiful to be exceedingly beautiful. Joy puts a new luster upon beauty; so does joy put a luster and a beauty upon a Christian; and upon all his words, his ways, his works. It was this which made the faces of several martyrs to shine as if they had been the faces of angels. One observes of Chispina, that she was cheerful when she was apprehended, and joyful when she was led to the judge, and merry when she was sent into prison; likewise when she was bound, when she was brought forth, when she was lifted up in a cage, when she was heard, when she was condemned. In all these things she rejoiced!

When Caesar was sad, he used to say to himself, remember—you are Caesar. Ah, Christians! when you are sad and dejected, think of your dignity and glory; think of all those precious and glorious things that are reserved in heaven for you.

It does not befit Christians, who have so much in reversion, to be like Angelastus, who never laughed in all his life but once; nor like Anaxagoras, who was never seen to laugh or smile from the day of his birth to the day of his death. Christians, I desire to leave that serious and solemn word upon your hearts: Deut. 28:47-48, "Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity; therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the Lord sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you." Sad souls! it will be your wisdom to make this scripture your daily companion, and to ponder it seriously in your hearts, as Mary did the saying of the angel.

God takes it so unkindly at his people's hands—that they are sad and sighing, lamenting and mourning—when they should be a-rejoicing and delighting themselves in the Lord for the abundance of his mercies—that he threatens to pursue them with all sorts of miseries and calamities to the very death. A sad, dejected spirit—opens many foul mouths which God would have stopped; and saddens many precious souls whom God would have gladdened; and discourages many weak Christians and young beginners whom God would have encouraged and animated! Therefore we need not wonder if God should deal so sadly and severely with such sad souls, who make little of saddening many at once, namely, God, Christ, the Spirit, and many precious ones, "of whom this world is not worthy."

Surely there is infinitely more in the great and glorious things which are reserved for believers in heaven, to gladden and rejoice them—than there can be in all the troubles and trials, afflictions and temptations, which they meet with in this world, to sadden, grieve, and deject them. Ah, Christians! the great and glorious things which are reserved in heaven for you, will afford you such an exuberancy of joy—as no good can match—and as no evil can overmatch! Witness the joy of the martyrs, both ancient and modern. Oh how my heart leaps for joy, says one martyr, that I am so near the entering into eternal bliss!

(12.) If the best and greatest things are reserved for believers until they come to heaven—then let not believers be unwilling to die; yes, let them rather court death, and when it comes, sweetly welcome it! 1 Cor. 5:1-2, 7, Philip. 1:21. There is no way to paradise—but by this flaming sword. There is no way to those heavenly treasures—but through this dark entry. There is no way to life, immortality, and glory—but by death. There is no coming to a clear, full, and constant fruition of God—but by dying.

Augustine upon those words, Exod. 33:20-21, "You cannot not see my face and live," makes this short but sweet reply, "Then, Lord, let me die, that I may see your face!" "Shall I die ever?" says one. "Yes; why then, Lord, if ever, why not now, why not now!" So Andrew, saluting the cross on which he was crucified, cried out, Take me from men, and restore me to my Master! Likewise, Lawrence Sanders, when he was come to the stake at which he was to be burnt, kissed it, saying, "Welcome the cross of Christ, welcome everlasting life!" [Likewise Moses, Jacob, and old Simeon, Cowper, Nazianzen, Faninus, Cyprian, young Lord Harrington, and others, etc.]

Ah, Christians! can you read over those instances, and not blush, and not be troubled that these worthies should be so ready and so willing to die, that they might come to a happy fruition of those glorious things that were reserved in heaven for them—while you are unwilling to die; while your desires are rather, with Peter, to build tabernacles here, than to be in a full fruition of God, and in a happy possession of your heavenly mansions! Mat. 17:4, John 14:2-3.

Ah, Christians, Christians! how justly may that father be angry with his child who is unwilling to come home; and that husband be angry with his wife who is unwilling to ride to him in a rainy day, or to cross the seas to enjoy him? And is not this your case? is not this your case? I know it is. Well, Christians! let me a little expostulate the case with you, that if it be possible I may work your hearts into a willingness to die, yes, to desire death, to long for death—so that you may come to a full fruition of all that is reserved in heaven for you! (Twenty motives for Christians to be willing to die--continued in the next chapter).