The Saint's Everlasting Rest A Treatise of the Blessed State of the Saints in their enjoyment of God in Heaven
Apparent typographical errors have been corrected. The use of hyphenshas been rationalised.
The references to the Gospel of John, in footnote 200, are unclear.
A TREATISE OF THE BLESSED STATE OF THE SAINTS
IN THEIR ENJOYMENT OF
GOD IN HEAVEN.
Written by the reverend, learned, and pious
MR. RICHARD BAXTER.
BY BENJAMIN FAWCETT. M. A.
I think it of great service to the souls of men, to call them to thenotice and use of such a Treatise as this; and to bring such old andexcellent writings out of oblivion and the dust.
Baxter's Preface to Scudder's Christian's Daily Walk.
PUBLISHED BY SAMUEL T. ARMSTRONG,
BOROUGH AND FOREIGN OF KIDDERMINSTER.
BOTH MAGISTRATES AND PEOPLE.
My dear Friends,
Thereare obvious reasons for prefixingyour names to this Book. It contains thesubstance of what was first preached in your parish-church,and was first published from the presswith a dedication to your worthy ancestors. Yourtrade and manufactures can never render yourtown so famous, as the name and writings of Mr.Baxter have already made it, both in this island,and in many remote parts of the Protestant world.His intimate and important relation to Kidderminster,and the years he abode in it, afforded him themost delightful reflection as long as he lived.
Long experience has enabled me to testify foryou, that, notwithstanding your share in thosecommon distinctions, which so unhappily dividefellow-protestants, you possess a most unusualdegree of candor and friendship for each other.Thus you shew, that Kidderminster has not totallylost the amiable spirit which it imbibedmore than a century ago.
There are no excellencies personal or relative,no species of domestic or public happiness, nobeauties of civil or religious life, but what will benaturally promoted by a care to secure to ourselvesan interest in the rest which remaineth to thepeople of God. They are the people for whomalone that rest is designed, both by the promisesof God, and by the purchase of the Son of God.A care to secure that rest to ourselves, is the onething needful. But neither this people, nor thiscare, you well know, are the peculiarities of anyage, or of any party. If the inhabitants of Kidderminsterformerly excelled in this care, youmust allow, that it was their greatest glory. Andthis, more than any improvements of trade, or increasingelegancies of life, will be the greatestglory of their successors.
To excite this care, is the noblest design of allreligious instruction. This, and nothing else, animatesthe following pages. Here, God and Christ,heaven and holiness, invite your most attentiveand affectionate regards. Here, you may peruse,what multitudes in the same town have heard andread before you to their everlasting joy, till yourblessings prevail above the blessings of your progenitors.Here, by the help of Divine grace, youmay learn the heavenly art of walking with Godbelow, of living in a constant view and foretasteof the glories of the New Jerusalem, and of makingall you say or do, suffer or enjoy, subservientto the brightening your immortal crown.Nothing has the compiler of this abridgment towish like such consequences as these; even, tosee the same holy and heavenly conversation inhimself, and in those around him, now, as Mr.Baxter saw in his day. This would be the greatestjoy, and shall be the constant and ferventprayer, of
By the Compiler of this Abridgment.
Mr.Richard Baxter, the author of theSaint's Rest, so well known to the world bythis, and many other excellent and useful writings,was a learned, laborious, and eminentlyholy divine of the last age. He was born nearShrewsbury in 1615, and died at London in 1691.
His ministry, in an unsettled state, was for manyyears employed with great and extensive success,both in London, and in several parts of the country;but he was no where fixed so long, or withsuch entire satisfaction to himself, and apparentadvantage to others, as at Kidderminster. Hisabode there was indeed interrupted, partly by hisbad health, but chiefly by the calamities of a civilwar, yet in the whole it amounted to sixteenyears; nor was it by any means the result of hisown choice, or that of the inhabitants of Kidderminster,that he never settled there again, after hisgoing from thence in 1660. Before his comingthither the place was overrun with ignorance andprofaneness; but, by a Divine blessing on his wiseand faithful cultivation, the fruits of righteousnesssprung up in a rich abundance. He at firstfound but a single instance or two of daily familyprayer in a whole street, and at his going away,but one family or two could be found in somestreets that continued to neglect it. And onLord's day, instead of the open profanation towhich they had been so long accustomed, a personin passing through the town, in the intervalsof public worship, might overhear hundreds offamilies engaged in singing psalms, reading theScriptures and other good books, or such sermonsas they had wrote down, while they heard themfrom the pulpit. His care of the souls committedto his charge, and the success of his laborsamong them, were truly remarkable; for thenumber of his stated communicants rose to sixhundred, of whom he himself declared, therewere not twelve concerning whose sincere pietyhe had not reason to entertain good hopes.Blessed be God the religious spirit which wasthus happily introduced, is yet to be traced inthe town and neighborhood in some degree;(O that it were in a greater!) and in a proportionas that spirit remains, the name of Mr.Baxter continues in the most honorable andaffectionate remembrance.
As a writer, he has the approbation of some ofhis greatest cotemporaries, who best knew him,and were under no temptations to be partial in hisfavor.—— Dr. Barrow said, "His practical writingswere never mended, and his controversialones seldom confuted."—— With a view to hiscasuistical writings, the honorable Robert Boyle,Esq. declared, "He was the fittest man of theage for a casuist, because he feared no man'sdispleasure, nor hoped for any man's preferment."—— BishopWilkins observed of him,"that he had cultivated every subject he had handled;that if he had lived in the primitive times,he would have been one of the fathers of thechurch; and that it was enough for one age toproduce such a person as Mr. Baxter."Archbishop Usher had such high thoughts of him,that by his earnest importunity he put him uponwriting several of his practical discourses, particularlythat celebrated piece, his Call to the unconverted.—— Dr.Manton, as he freely expressed it,"thought Mr. Baxter came nearer the apostolicalwritings than any man in the age." And itis both as a preacher, and a writer, that Dr. Batesconsiders him, when, in his funeral sermon forhim, he says, "In his sermons there was a rareunion of arguments and motives, to convincethe mind and gain the heart. All the fountainsof reason and persuasion were open tohis discerning eye. There was no resistingthe force of his discourses, without denyingreason and Divine revelation. He had a marvellousfacility and copiousness in speaking.There was a noble negligence in his style, forhis great mind could not stoop to the affectedeloquence of words; he despised flashy oratory;but his expressions were clear and powerful,so convincing the understanding, so enteringinto the soul, so engaging the affections, thatthose were as deaf as adders who were notcharmed by so wise a charmer. He was animatedwith the Holy Spirit, and breathed celestialfire, to inspire heat and life into deadsinners, and to melt the obdurate in their frozentombs. His books, for their number,(which it seems was more than one hundredand twenty,) and variety of matter in them,make a library. They contain a treasureof controversial, casuistical, and practical divinity.His books of practical divinity havebeen effectual for more numerous conversionsof sinners to God, than any printed in ourtime; and, while the church remains on earth,will be of continual efficacy to recover lostsouls. There is a vigorous pulse in them,that keeps the reader awake and attentive."To these testimonies may not improperly beadded that of the editors of his practical worksin four folio volumes; in the preface to whichthey say, "perhaps there are no writings amongus that have more of a true Christian spirit, agreater mixture of judgment and affection, ora greater tendency to revive pure and undefiledreligion; that have been more esteemed abroad,or more blessed at home, for the awakeningthe secure, instructing the ignorant, confirmingthe wavering, comforting the dejected, recoveringthe profane, or improving such as aretruly serious, than the practical works of thisAuthor." Such were the apprehensions ofeminent persons, who were well acquainted withMr. Baxter and his writings. It is thereforethe less remarkable that Mr. Addison, from anaccidental and very imperfect acquaintance, butwith his usual pleasantness and candor, shouldmention the following incident; "I once metwith a page of Mr. Baxter. Upon the perusalof it, I conceived so good an idea of theauthor's piety, that I bought the whole book."
Whatever other causes might concur, it mustchiefly be ascribed to Mr. Baxter's distinguishingreputation as a preacher and a writer, thatpresently after the restoration he was appointedone of the chaplains in ordinary to King CharlesII, and preached once before him in that capacity;as also, that he had an offer made him bythe Lord Chancellor Clarendon, of the bishopricof Hereford, which, in a respectful letter tohis Lordship, he saw proper to decline.
The Saint's Rest is deservedly esteemed oneof the most valuable parts of his practical works.He wrote it when he was far from home, withoutany book to consult but his Bible, and insuch an ill state of health, as to be in continualexpectation of death for many months; andtherefore, merely for his own use, he fixed histhoughts on this heavenly subject, "which (sayshe) hath more benefitted me than all the studiesof my life." At this time he could be littlemore than thirty years old. He afterwardpreached over the subject in his weekly lectureat Kidderminster, and in 1650 he published it;and indeed it appears to have been the first thatever he published of all his practical writings.Of this book Dr. Bates says, "It was writtenby him when languishing in the suspense oflife and death, but has the signatures of hisholy and vigorous mind. To allure our desires,he unveils the sanctuary above, and discoversthe glories and joys of the blessed in the Divinepresence, by a light so strong and lively,that all the glittering vanities of this worldvanish in that comparison, and a sincere believerwill despise them, as one of mature agedoes the toys and baubles of children. Toexcite our fears, he removes the screen, andmakes the everlasting fire of hell so visible,and represents the tormenting passions ofthe damned in those dreadful colors, that, ifduly considered, would check and controlthe unbridled licentious appetites of the mostsensual wretches."
Heavenly rest is a subject, in its own natureso universally important and interesting, and atthe same time so truly engaging and delightful,as sufficiently accounts for the great acceptancewhich this book has met with; and partly alsofor the uncommon blessing which has attendedMr. Baxter's manner of treating the subject,both from the pulpit, and the press. For whereare the operations of Divine grace more reasonablyto be expected, or where have they in factbeen more frequently discerned, than in concurrencewith the best adapted means? And shouldit appear, that persons of distinguishing judgmentand piety, have expressly ascribed theirfirst religious impressions to the hearing or readingthe important sentiments contained in thisbook; or, after a long series of years, havefound it, both the counterpart, and the improvement,of their own Divine life, will not this bethought a considerable recommendation of thebook itself?
Among the instances of persons that datedtheir true conversion from hearing the sermonson the Saint's Rest, when Mr. Baxter firstpreached them, was the Rev. Mr. ThomasDoolittle, M. A. who was a native of Kidderminster,and at that time a scholar, about seventeenyears old; whom Mr. Baxter himselfafterwards sent to Pembroke-Hall in Cambridge,where he took his degree. Before his going tothe university, he was upon trial as an attorney'sclerk, and under that character, being orderedby his master to write something on aLord's day, he obeyed with great reluctance,and