Taken and adapted from, “The Practice of Piety: Directing a Christian How to Walk, that He May Please God.”
Written by, Lewis Bayly
First published in 1842
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Immediately after this sentence of absolution and benediction…
…everyone receives his crown, which Christ the righteous Judge puts upon their heads, as the reward which he promised, of his grace and mercy to the faith and good works of all them that loved his appearing (2 Tim. 4:8; 1 Pet. 5:4.) Then every one taking his crown from his head, shall lay it down, as it were, at the feet of Christ; and prostrating themselves, shall with one heart and voice, in an heavenly sort and consort, say, “Praise, and honor, and glory, and power, and thanks, be unto thee, O blessed Lamb, who sittest upon the throne, was killed, and has redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, and has made us unto our God kings and priests, to reign with thee in thy kingdom for evermore. Amen.” (Rev. 4:10.)
Then shall they sit in their thrones and order, as the judges of the reprobates, and evil angels (1 Cor. 6:1-3, Matt. 19:13), by approving, and giving testimony to the righteous sentence and judgment of Christ the Supreme Judge.
After the pronouncing of the reprobates’ sentence and condemnation, Christ will perform two solemn actions—
1. The presenting of all the elect unto his Father; “Behold, O righteous Father, these are they whom you gave to me: I have kept them, and none of them are lost. I gave them thy word, and they believed it, and the world hated them, because they were not of the world, even as I was not of the world. And now, Father, I will that those whom you has given me, will be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which you have given me; and that I may be in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one: that the world may know that you has sent me, and that you has loved them as you has loved me.” (John 17: 12, 14, 23, 24.)
2. Christ shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, that is, shall cease to execute his office of mediatorship (1 Cor. 25: 24;) whereby, as he is King, Priest, Prophet, and Supreme Head of the Church, he suppressed his enemies, and ruled his faithful people by his spirit, word, and sacraments: so that his kingdom of grace over his church in this world ceasing, he shall rule immediately, as he is God, equal with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, in his kingdom of glory evermore. Not that the dignity of his manhood shall be any thing diminished; but that the glory of his Godhead shall be more manifested: so that as he is God, he shall from thenceforth in all fulness, without all external means, rule all in all.
From this tribunal-seat, Christ shall arise, and with all his glorious company of elect angels and saints, he shall go up triumphantly, in order and array, unto the heaven of heavens, with such a heavenly noise and music, that now may that song of David be truly verified, “God is gone up with a triumph, the Lord with the sound of the trumpets. Sing praises to God, sing praises, sing praises to our King, sing praises: for God is the King of all the earth, he is greatly to be exalted.” (Psalm 47:4, 5, 6, 8.) And that marriage-song of John, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. Allelujah; for the Lord God Omnipotent reigns.” (Rev. 19: 6, 7.)
The third and last degree of the blessed state of a regenerate man after death, begins after the pronouncing of the sentence, and lasts eternally without all end.
The place is the heaven of heavens, or the third heaven, called paradise (Psalm 19: 5; 2 Cor. 12: 24;) whither Christ (in his human nature) ascended far above all visible heavens. The bridegroom’s chamber (Psalm 19 5; Matt. 25:10), which by the firmament, as by an azured curtain spangled with glittering stars, and glorious planets, is hid, that we cannot behold it with these corruptible eyes of flesh. The Holy Ghost framing himself to our weakness, describes the glory of that place (which no man can estimate) by such things as are most precious in the estimation of man; and therefore likens it to a great and holy city, named the heavenly Jerusalem (Rev. 21: 2, &c.), where only God and his people who are saved, and written in the Lamb’s book (ver. 24 & 27), do inhabit; all built of pure gold, like unto clear glass or crystal (ver. 11, 18, 19, 20;) the walls of jasper-stone: the foundations of the walls garnished with twelve manner of precious stones, having twelve gates, each built of one pearl (ver. 21:) three gates towards each of the four corners of the world (ver. 13), and at each gate an angel (ver. 12), as so many porters, that no unclean thing should enter into it (ver. 27.)
It is four square (ver. 16), therefore perfect: the length, the breadth, and height of it are equal, 12,000 furlongs every way; therefore glorious and spacious. Through the midst of her streets ever runs a pure river of the water of life, as clear as crystal (Rev. 22: 1); and on the other side the river is the tree of life (ver. 2), ever-growing, which bears twelve manner of fruits, and gives fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree are health to the nations. There is therefore no place so glorious by creation, so beautiful with delectation, so rich in possession, so comfortable for habitation. For there, the king is Christ-—the law is love—the honor, verity—the peace, felicity—the life, eternity.
There is light without darkness, mirth without sadness, health without sickness, wealth without want, credit without disgrace, beauty without blemish, ease without labor, riches without rust, blessedness without misery, and consolation that never knows an end. How truly may we cry out with David, of this city, “Glorious things are spoken of thee, O thou city of God!” Psalm 87:3; and yet all these things are spoken but according to the weakness of our capacity. For heaven exceeds all this in glory, so far, as that no tongue is able to express, nor heart of man to conceive, the glory thereof, as witnesses St. Paul (2 Cor. 12: 4; 1 Cor. 2:5), who was in it, and saw it. O let us not then dote so much upon these wooden cottages, and houses of mouldering clay, which are but the tents of ungodliness, and habitation of sinners; but let us look rather, and long for this heavenly city, whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:10;) which he, who is not ashamed to be called our God hath prepared for us (Heb. 11: 6.)