THE GREAT PREPARATIVES FOR  THE SAINTS’ REST

 Taken and adapted from, “THE SAINTS’ EVERLASTING REST”
Written by Richard Baxter

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There are four things which principally prepare the way to enter into it; particularly…

1. The glorious appearing of Christ;
2. The general resurrection;
3. The last judgment; and,
4. The saints’ coronation.

THE passage of paradise is not now so blocked up as when the law and curse reigned. Wherefore finding, beloved Christians, a new and living way consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, the flesh of Christ, by which we may with boldness enter into the holiest, I shall draw near with fuller assurance; and, finding the flaming sword removed, shall look again into the paradise of our God. And because I know that this is no forbidden fruit, and withal that it is good for food, and pleasant to the spiritual eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one truly wise and happy; I shall, through the assistance of the Spirit, take and eat thereof myself, and give to you, according to my power, that you may eat. The porch of this temple is exceeding glorious, and the gate of it is called Beautiful. Here are four things as the four corners of this porch.

1. The most glorious coming and appearing of the Son of God may well be reckoned in his people’s glory. For their sake he came into the world, suffered, died, rose, ascended; and for their sake it is that he will return. To this end will Christ come again to receive his people unto himself, that where he is, there they may be also. The bridegroom’s departure was not upon divorce. He did not leave us with a purpose to return no more. He hath left pledges enough to assure us to the contrary. We have his word, his many promises, his ordinances, which show forth his death till he come; and his Spirit, to direct, sanctify, and comfort till he return. We have frequent tokens of love from him, to show us he forgets not his promise, nor us. We daily behold the forerunners of his coming, foretold by himself. We see the fig-tree puts forth leaves, and therefore know that summer is nigh. Though the riotous world say, My Lord delays his coming; yet let the saints lift up their heads, for their redemption draws nigh. Alas! fellow-Christians, what should we do if our Lord should not return? What a case are we here left in! What! leave us in the midst of wolves, and among lions, a generation of vipers, and here forget us! Did he buy us so dear, and then leave us sinning, suffering, groaning, dying daily; and will he come no more to us? It cannot be. This is like our unkind dealing with Christ, who, when we feel ourselves warm in the world, care not for coming to him; but this is not like Christ’s dealing with us. He that would come to suffer, will surely come to triumph. He that would come to purchase, will surely come to possess. Where else were all our hopes? What were become of our faith, our prayers, our tears and our waiting? What were all the patience of the saints worth to them? Were we not left of all men the most miserable? Christians, hath Christ made us forsake all the world, and to be forsaken of all the world? to hate all, and be hated of all? and all this for him, that we might have him instead of all? And will he, think you, after all this, forget us and forsake us himself? Far be such a thought from our hearts! But why staid he not with his people while he was here? Why? Was not the work on earth done? Must he not take possession of glory in our behalf? Must he not intercede with the Father, plead his sufferings, be filled with the Spirit to send forth, receive authority, and subdue his enemies? Our abode here is short. If he had staid on earth, what would it have been to enjoy him for a few days and then die? He hath more in heaven to dwell among; even the spirits of many, generations. He will have us live by faith, and not by sight.

O fellow-Christians, what a day will that be, when we, who have been kept prisoners by sin, by sinners, by the grave, shall be brought out by the Lord himself! It will not be such a coming as his first was, in poverty and contempt, to be spit upon, and buffeted, and crucified again. He will not come, O careless world! to be slighted and neglected by you any more. Yet that coming wanted not its glory. If the heavenly host, for the celebration of his nativity, must praise God; with what shouting will angels and saints at that day proclaim glory to God, peace and good-will toward men! If a star must lead men from remote parts, to come to worship the child in the manger; how will the glory of his next appearing constrain all the world to acknowledge his sovereignty! If, riding on an ass, he enter Jerusalem with hosannas; with what peace and glory will he come toward the New Jerusalem! If, when he was in the form of a servant, they cry out, “What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?” what will they say when they shall see him coming in his glory, and the heavens and the earth obey him? “Then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn.” To think and speak of that day with horror doth well become the impenitent sinner, but ill the believing saint. Shall the wicked behold him, and cry, “Yonder is he whose blood we neglected, whose grace we resisted, whose counsel we refused, whose government we cast off!” and shall not the saints, with inconceivable gladness, cry, “Yonder is he whose blood redeemed us, whose Spirit cleansed us, whose law governed us; in whom we trusted, and he hath not deceived our trust; for whom we long waited, and now we see we have not waited in vain! O cursed corruption! that would have had us turn to the world and present things, and say, Why should we wait for the Lord any longer? Now we see, Blessed are all they that wait for him.” And now, Christians, should we not put up that petition heartily, “Thy kingdom come? The Spirit and the bride say, Come: and let him that hears,” and reads, “say, Come.” Our Lord himself says, “Surely I come quickly. Amen: even so, come! Lord Jesus.”

2. Another thing that leads to paradise; is that great work of Jesus Christ, in raising the body from the dust and uniting it again unto the soul. A wonderful effect of infinite power and love! “Yea wonderful indeed,” says Unbelief, “if it be true. What, shall all these scattered bones and dust become a man?” Let me with reverence plead for God, for that power whereby I hope to arise. What sustains the massive body of the earth? What limits the vast ocean of the waters? Whence is that constant ebbing and flowing of the tides? How many times larger than all the earth is the sun, that glorious body of light? Is it not as easy to raise the dead as to make heaven and earth, and all of nothing? Look not on the dead bones, and dust, and difficulty, but at the promise. Contentedly commit these bodies to a prison that shall not long contain them. Let us lie down in peace and take our rest; it will not be an everlasting night, nor endless sleep. If unclothing be the thing you fears, it is that you may have better clothing. If to be turned out of doors be the thing you fears, remember that, when “the earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved, you hast a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Lay down cheerfully this lump of corruption; you shalt undoubtedly receive it again in incorruption. Lay down freely this terrestrial, this natural body; you shalt receive it again a celestial, a spiritual body. Though you lay it down with great dishonor, you shalt receive it in glory. Though you art separated from it through weakness it shall be raised again in mighty power; “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” “The dead in Christ shall rise first. Then they who are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.” Triumph now, O Christian, in these promises; you shalt shortly triumph in their performance. This is the day which the Lord will make; we shall rejoice and be glad in it. The grave that could not keep our Lord, cannot keep us. He arose for us, and by the same power will cause us to arise. “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, them also who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” Let us never look at the grave, but let us see the resurrection beyond it. Yea, let us be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for inasmuch as we know our labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

3. Part of this prologue to the saints’ rest is the public and solemn process at their judgment, where they shall first themselves be acquitted and justified, and then with Christ judge the world. Young and old, of all estates and nations, that ever were from the creation to that day, must here come and receive their doom. O terrible! O joyful day! Terrible to those that have forgotten the coming of their Lord! joyful to the saints, whose waiting and hope was to see this day! Then shall the world behold the goodness and severity of God; on them who perish, severity; but to his chosen, goodness. Every one must give an account of his stewardship. Every talent of time, health, abilities, mercies, afflictions, means, warnings, must be reckoned for. The sins of youth, those which they had forgotten, and their secret sins, shall all be laid open before angels and men. They shall see the Lord Jesus, whom they neglected, whose word they disobeyed, whose ministers they abused, whose servants they hated, now sitting to judge them. Their own consciences shall cry out against them, and call to their remembrance all their misdoings. Which way will the wretched sinner look? Who can conceive the terrible thoughts of his heart? Now the world cannot help him; his old companions cannot; the saints neither can nor will. Only the Lord Jesus can; but there is the misery, he will not. Time was, sinner, when Christ would, and you would not; now, fain would you, and he will not. All in vain is it to “cry to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sits upon the throne;” for you hast the Lord of mountains and rocks for thine enemy, whose voice they will obey, and not thine. I charge thee, therefore, before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing, and his kingdom, that you set thyself seriously to ponder these things. But why tremble you, O humble, gracious soul? He that would not lose one Noah in a common deluge, nor overlook one Lot in Sodom; nay, that could do nothing till he went forth; will he forget thee at that day? “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment, to be punished.” He knows how to make the same day the greatest terror to his foes, and yet the greatest joy to his people. “There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect?” Shall the law? “The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made them free from the law of sin and death.” Or shall conscience’? “The Spirit itself bears witness with their spirit, that they are the children of God. It is God that justifies, who is he that condemns?” If our Judge condemn us not, who shall? He that said to the adulterous woman, Hath no man condemned thee? neither do I; will say to us, more faithfully than Peter to him, Though all men deny thee, or condemn thee, I will not. Having confessed me before men, thee “will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven.”

What inexpressible joy, that our dear Lord, who loves our souls and whom our souls love, shall be our Judge! Will a man fear to be judged by his dearest friend? or a wife by her own husband? Christian, did Christ come down and suffer, and weep, and bleed, and die for thee, and will he now condemn thee? Was he judged, condemned, and executed in thy stead, and now will he himself condemn thee? Hath he done most of the work already, in redeeming, regenerating, sanctifying and preserving thee, and will he now undo all again? Well then, let the terror of that day be never so great, surely our Lord can mean no ill to us in all. Let it make the devils tremble, and the wicked tremble, but it shall make us leap for joy. It must affect us deeply with the sense of our mercy and happiness, to see the most of the world tremble with terror, while we triumph with joy; to hear them doomed to everlasting flames, when we are proclaimed heirs of the kingdom; to see our neighbors, that lived in the same town, came to the same congregation, dwelt in the same houses, and were esteemed more honorable in the world than ourselves, now, by the Searcher of hearts, eternally separated. This, with the great magnificence and dreadfulness of the day, the apostle pathetically expresses: “It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe, in that day.”

Yet more: we shall be so far from the dread of that judgment, that ourselves shall become the judges. Christ will take his people, as it were, into commission with himself, and they shall sit and approve his righteous judgment. “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” Nay, “know ye not that we shall judge angels?”–1 Corinthians 6:2, 3. Were it not for the word of Christ that speaks it, this advancement would seem incredible, and the language arrogant. Even Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied this, saying, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Thus shall the saints be honored, and “the upright shall have dominion in the morning.” O that the careless world “were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!” that they would be now of the same mind as they will be when they shall see the heavens pass away with a great noise, and the elements melt with fervent heat, and the earth also, and the works that are therein, burnt up! when all shall be on fire about them, and all earthly glory consumed. “For the heavens and the earth which are now, are reserved unto fire against the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men. Seeing, then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?”

4. The last preparative for the saints’ rest is their solemn coronation and receiving the kingdom. For as Christ, their head, is anointed both King and Priest, so under him are his people made unto God both kings and priests, to reign, and to offer praises for ever. The crown of righteousness, which was laid up for them, shall by the Lord, the righteous Judge, be given them at that day. They have been faithful unto death, and therefore he will give them a crown of life. And according to the improvement of their talents here, so shall their rule and dignity be enlarged. They are not dignified with empty titles, but real dominion. Christ will grant them to sit with him on his throne, and will give them power over the nations, even as he received of his Father; and he “will give them the morning star.” The Lord himself will give them possession, with these applauding expressions: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter you into the joy of thy Lord.”

And with this solemn and blessed proclamation shall he enthrone them: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Every word is full of life and joy. “Come “ — this is the holding forth of the golden scepter, to warrant our approach unto this glory. Come now as near as you will; fear not the Bethshemites’ judgment; for the enmity is utterly abolished. This is not such a “Come” as we were wont to hear, “Come, take up your cross and follow me.” Though that was sweet, yet this is much more. “Ye blessed” — blessed indeed, when that mouth so pronounce us! For though the world hath accounted us accursed, and we have been ready to account ourselves so; yet, certainly, those that he blesses are blessed; and those only whom he curses are cursed; and his blessing cannot be reversed. “Of my Father“ — blessed in the Father’s love, as well as the Son’s; for they are one. The Father hath testified his love in their election, donation to Christ, and in the sending of Christ, and accepting his ransom, as the Son hath also testified his. “Inherit” — no longer bondsmen, nor servants only, nor children under age, who differ not in possession, but only in title, from servants; but now we are heirs of the kingdom, and joint-heirs with Christ. “The kingdom” — no less than the kingdom! Indeed, to be King of kings and Lord of lords is our Lord’s own proper title; but to be kings, and reign with him, is ours. The enjoyment of this kingdom is as the light of the sun; each has the whole, and the rest none the less. “Prepared for you” — God is the Alpha as well as the Omega of our blessedness. Eternal love hath laid the foundation. He prepared the kingdom for us, and then prepared us for the kingdom. This is the preparation of his counsel and decree, for the execution whereof Christ was yet to make a further preparation. “For you” — not for believers only, in general, who, without individual persons, are nobody; but for you personally. “From the foundation of the world” — not only from the promise after Adam’s fall, but from eternity. Thus we have seen the Christian safely landed in paradise, and conveyed honorably to his rest. Now let us a little further, in the next chapter, view those mansions, consider their privileges, and see whether there be any glory like unto this glory.

The Christian’s Rest

Taken from, “The Saint’s Everlasting Rest”
Written by Richard Baxter,

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“There remaineth therefore a rest unto the people of God.”

–Hebrews 4:9.

IT was not only our interest in God, and actual enjoyment of him…

…which was lost in Adam’s fall, but all spiritual knowledge of him, and true disposition towards such a felicity. When the Son of God comes with recovering grace, and discoveries of a spiritual and eternal happiness and glory, he finds not faith in man to believe it. As the poor man, that would not believe any one had such a sum as a hundred pounds, it was so far above what he himself possessed, so men will hardly now believe there is such a happiness as once they had, much less as Christ hath now procured. When God would give the Israelites his Sabbaths of rest, in a land of rest, it was harder to make them believe it, than to overcome their enemies, and procure it for them. And when they had it, only as a small intimation and earnest of an incomparably more glorious rest through Christ, they yet believe no more than they possess, but say, with the epicure at the feast, Sure there is no other heaven but this! or, if they expect more by the Messiah, it is only the increase of their earthly felicity. The apostle aims most of this Epistle against this obduracy, and dearly and largely proves that the end of all ceremonies and shadows is to direct them to Jesus Christ, the substance; and that the rest of Sabbaths, and Canaan, should teach them to look for a further rest, which indeed is their happiness. My text is his conclusion after divers arguments; a conclusion which contains the ground of all the believer’s comfort, the end of all his duty and sufferings, the life and sum of all gospel promises and Christian privileges.

What more welcome to men under personal afflictions, tiring duties, disappointments, or sufferings, than rest? It is not our comfort only, but our stability. Our liveliness in all duties, our enduring of tribulation, our honoring of God, the vigor of our love, thankfulness, and all our graces; yea, the very being of our religion and Christianity depend on the believing, serious thoughts of our rest. And now, reader, whoever thou art, young or old, rich or poor, I entreat thee, and charge thee, in the name of thy Lord, who will shortly call thee to a reckoning, and judge thee to thy everlasting, unchangeable state, that thou give not these things the reading only, and so dismiss them with a bare approbation; but that thou set upon this work, and take God in Christ for thy only rest, and fix thy heart upon him above all. May the living God, who is the portion and rest of his saints, make these our carnal minds so spiritual, and our earthly hearts so heavenly that loving him, and delighting in him, may be the work of our lives; and that neither I that write, nor you that read this book, may ever be turned from this path of life; “lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest,” we should “come short of it,” through our own unbelief or negligence.

The saints’ rest is the most happy state of a Christian; or, it is the perfect endless enjoyment of God by the perfected saints, according to the measure of their capacity, to which their souls arrive at death, and both soul and body most fully after the resurrection and final judgment.

There are some things necessarily presupposed in the nature of this rest: as, that mortal men are the persons seeking it. For angels and glorified spirits have it already, and the devils and damned are past hope:

That they [God’s chosen children] choose God only for their end and happiness. He that takes any thing else for his happiness is out of the way the first step:

That they are distant from this end. This is the woeful case of all mankind since the fall. When Christ comes with regenerating grace, he finds no man sitting still, but all posting to eternal ruin, and making haste toward hell; till, by conviction, he first brings them to a stand, and then, by conversion, turns their hearts and lives sincerely to himself. This end, and its excellency, is supposed to be known, and seriously intended. An unknown good moves not to desire or endeavor. And not only a distance from this rest, but the true knowledge of this distance, is also supposed. They that never yet knew they were without God, and in the way to hell, never yet knew the way to heaven. Can a man find he hath lost his God and his soul, and not cry, I am undone? The reason why so few obtain this rest, is, they will not be convinced that they are, in point of title, distant from it and, in point of practice, Contrary to it. Who ever sought for that which he knew not he had lost’? “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick:”

The influence of a superior moving Cause is also supposed; else we shall all stand still, and not move toward our rest. If God move us not, we cannot move.

It is a most necessary part of our Christian wisdom, to keep our subordination to God, and dependence on him. “We are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.” “Without me,” says Christ, “ye can do nothing.”

It is next supposed, that they who seek this rest have an inward principle of spiritual life. God does not move men like stones, but he endows them with life, not to enable them to move without him, but in subordination to himself, the first mover.

And further, this rest supposes such an actual tendency of soul toward it as is regular and constant, earnest and laborious. He that hides his talent shall receive the wages of a slothful servant. Christ is the door, the only way to this rest. “But strait is the gate and narrow is the way;” and we must strive, if we will enter; for “many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able; which implies, “that the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence.” Nor will it bring us to the end of the saints, if we begin in the spirit and end in the flesh. He only “that endureth to the end shall be saved.” And never did a soul obtain rest with God whose desire was not set upon him above all things else in the world. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart he also.” The remainder of our old nature will much weaken and interrupt these desires, but never overcome them. And, considering the opposition to our desires, from the contrary principles in our nature, and from the weakness of our graces, together with our continued distance from the end, our tendency to that end must be laborious, and with all our might. All these things are pre-supposed, in order to a Christian’s obtaining an interest in heavenly rest.

Now we have ascended these steps into the outward court, may we look within the veil? May we show what this rest contains, as well as what it pre-supposes? Alas! how little know of that glory! The glimpse which Paul had, contained what could not, or must not, be uttered. Had he spoken the things of heaven in the language of heaven, and none understood that language, what the better? The Lord reveal to me what I may reveal to you! The Lord open some light, and show both you and me our inheritance! Not as to Balaam only, whose eyes were opened to see the goodliness of Jacob’s tents, and Israel’s tabernacles, where he had no portion, and from whence must come his own destruction; not as to Moses, who had only a discovery instead of possession, and saw the land which he never entered; but as the pearl was revealed to the merchant in the Gospel, who rested not till he had sold all he had, and bought it; and as heaven was opened to blessed Stephen, which he was shortly to enter, and the glory showed him which should be his own possession.

If men and angels should study to speak the blessedness of that state in one word, what could they say beyond this, that it is the nearest enjoyment of God?

O the full joys offered to a believer in that one sentence of Christ, “Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me!” Every word is full of life and joy. If the queen of Sheba had cause to say of Solomon’s glory, “Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, who stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom;” then, surely, they that stand continually before God, and see his glory, and the glory of the Lamb, are more than happy. To them will Christ give to eat of the tree of life, and to eat of the hidden manna; yea, he will make them pillars in the temple of God, and they shall go no more out; and he will write upon them the name of his God, and the name of the city of his God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from his God, and he will write upon them his new name; yea, more, if more may be, he will grant them to sit with him in his throne. “These are they who came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple, and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. The Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of water and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” O blind, deceived world! can you show us such a glory? This is the city of our God, where the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them and be their God. The glory of God shall lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And there shall be no more curse; but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him, and they shall see his face, and his name shall be in their foreheads. These sayings are faithful and true, and the things which must shortly be done.

And now we say, as Mephibosheth, let the world take all, forasmuch as our Lord will come in peace. Rejoice, therefore, in the Lord, O ye righteous! and say, with his servant David, “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance: the lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth; my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life; in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” What presumption would it have been, once, to have thought or spoken of such a thing, if God had not spoken it before us! I durst not have thought of the saints’ preferment in this life, as Scripture sets it forth, had it not been the express truth of God. How unbecoming to talk of being sons of God — speaking to him — having fellowship with him — dwelling in him and he in us — if this had not been God’s own language! How much less durst we have once thought of shining forth as the sun — of being joint heirs with Christ — of judging the world — of sitting on Christ’s throne — of being one in him and the Father — if we had not all this from the mouth, and under the hand of God! But hath he said, and shall he not do it? Hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? — Yes, as the Lord God is true, thus shall it be done to the man whom Christ delighteth to honor.

Be of good cheer, Christian; the time is at hand when God and thou shalt be near, and as near as thou canst well desire. Thou shalt dwell in his family. Is that enough?

It is better to be a door-keeper in the house of God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. Thou shalt ever stand before him, about his throne, in the room with him, in his presence-chamber. Wouldst thou yet be nearer? Thou shalt be his child, and he thy Father; thou shalt be an heir of his kingdom; yea, more, the spouse of his Son. And what more canst thou desire? Thou shalt be a member of the body of his Son; he shall be thy head; thou shalt be one with him, who is one with the Father, as he himself hath desired for thee of his Father: “that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; and the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.”

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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Richard Baxter (1615 – 1691) was an English Puritan church leader, poet, hymn-writer, theologian, and controversialist. Dean Stanley called him “the chief of English Protestant Schoolmen”. After some false starts, he made his reputation by his ministry at Kidderminster, and at around the same time began a long and prolific career as theological writer. After the Restoration he refused preferment, while retaining a non-separatist Presbyterian approach, and became one of the most influential leaders of the Nonconformists, spending time in prison.

Baxter also found himself as a peacemaker during the English Civil Wars. He believed in monarchy, but a limited one. He served as a chaplain for the parliamentary army, but then helped to bring about the restoration of the king. Yet as a moderate, Baxter found himself the target of both extremes. He was still irritated with the episcopacy in 1660, when he was offered the bishopric of Hereford, so he declined it. As a result, he was barred from ecclesiastical office and not permitted to return to Kidderminster, nor was he allowed to preach. Between 1662 and 1688 (when James II was overthrown), he was persecuted and was imprisoned for 18 months, and he was forced to sell two extensive libraries. Still, he continued to preach: “I preached as never sure to preach again,” he wrote, “and as a dying man to dying men.”
Baxter became even better known for his prolific writing. His devotional classic The Saints’ Everlasting Rest was one of the most widely read books of the century. When asked what deviations should be permitted from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, he created an entirely new one, called Reformed Liturgy, in two weeks. His Christian Directory contains over one million words. His autobiography and his pastoral guide, The Reformed Pastor, are still widely read today.

A Solemn Warning to Ministers: Let us consider, what it is to take heed to ourselves…

Taken and adapted from, “THE REFORMED PASTOR.” Written by Richard Baxter.

images (2)See that the work of saving grace be thoroughly wrought in your own souls.

Take heed to yourselves, lest you be void of that saving grace of God which you offer to others, and be strangers to the effectual working of that gospel which you preach; and lest, while you proclaim to the world the necessity of a Savior, your own hearts should neglect him, and you should miss of an interest in him and his saving benefits. Take heed to yourselves, lest you perish, while you call upon others to take heed of perishing; and lest you famish yourselves while you prepare food for them. Though there is a promise of shining as the stars, to those ‘who turn many to righteousness,’ that is but on supposition that they are first turned to it themselves. Their own sincerity in the faith is the condition of their glory, simply considered, though their great ministerial labors may be a condition of the promise of their greater glory.

Many have warned others that they come not to that place of torment, while yet they hastened to it themselves…

Many a preacher is now in hell, who hath a hundred times called upon his hearers to use the utmost care and diligence to escape it. Can any reasonable man imagine that God should save men for offering salvation to others, while they refuse it themselves; and for telling others those truths which they themselves neglect and abuse? Many a tailor goes in rags, that makes costly clothes for others; and many a cook scarcely licks his fingers, when he hath dressed for others the most costly dishes. Believe it, brethren, God never saved any man for being a preacher, nor because he was an able preacher; but because he was a justified, sanctified man, and consequently faithful in his Master’s work. Take heed, therefore, to ourselves first, that you he that which you persuade your hearers to be, and believe that which you persuade them to believe, and heartily entertain that Savior whom you offer to them. He that bade you love your neighbors as yourselves, did imply that you should love yourselves, and not hate and destroy yourselves and them.

It is a fearful thing to be an unsanctified professor, but much more to be an unsanctified preacher.

Doth it not make you tremble when you open the Bible, lest you should there read the sentence of your own condemnation? When you pen your sermons, little do you think that you are drawing up indictments against your own souls! When you are arguing against sin, that you are aggravating your own! When you proclaim to your hearers the unsearchable riches of Christ and his grace, that you are publishing your own iniquity in rejecting them, and your unhappiness in being destitute of them! What can you do in persuading men to Christ, in drawing them from the world, in urging them to a life of faith and holiness, but conscience, if it were awake, would tell you, that you speak all this to your own confusion? If you speak of hell, you speak of your own inheritance: if you describe the joys of heaven, you describe your own misery, seeing you have no right to ‘the inheritance of the saints in light.’ What can you say, for the most part, but it will be against your own souls O miserable life! That a man should study and preach against himself, and spend his days in a course of self-condemnation! A graceless, inexperienced preacher is one of the most unhappy creatures upon earth and yet he is ordinarily very insensible of his unhappiness; for he hath so many counters that seem like the gold of saving grace, and so many splendid stones that resemble Christian jewels, that he is seldom troubled with the thoughts of his poverty; but thinks he is ‘rich, and increased in goods, and stands in need of nothing, when he is poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked.’ He is acquainted with the Holy Scriptures, he is exercised in holy duties, he lives not in open disgraceful sin, he serves at God’s altar, he reproves other men’s faults, and preaches up holiness both of heart and life; and how can this man choose but be holy?

Oh what aggravated misery is this, to perish in the midst of plenty!

To famish with the bread of life in our hands, while we offer it to others, and urge it on them! That those ordinances of God should be the occasion of our delusion, which are instituted to be the means of our conviction and salvation! And that while we hold the looking-glass of the gospel to others, to show them the face and aspect of their souls, we should either look on the back part of it ourselves, where we can see nothing, or turn it aside, that it may misrepresent us to ourselves! If such a wretched man would take my counsel, he would make a stand, and call his heart and life to an account, and fall a preaching a while to himself, before he preach any more to others. He would consider, whether food in the mouth, that goes not into the stomach, will nourish; whether he that ‘names the name of Christ should not depart from iniquity,” whether God will hear his prayers, if ‘he regard iniquity in his heart,” whether it will serve the turn at the day of reckoning to say, ‘Lord, Lord, we have prophesied in thy name,’ when he shall hear these awful words, ‘Depart from me, I know you not,” and what comfort it will be to Judas, when he has gone to his own place, to remember that he preached with the other apostles, or that he sat with Christ, and was called by him, ‘Friend.’ When such thoughts as these have entered into their souls, and kindly worked a while upon their consciences, I would advise them to go to their congregation, and preach over Origen’s sermon on Psalm 50. 16, 17. ‘But unto the wicked God says, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou should take my covenant into thy mouth seeing thou hates instruction, and casts my words behind thee.’ And when they have read this text, to sit down, and expound and apply it by their tears; and then to make a full and free confession of their sin, and lament their case before the whole assembly, and desire their earnest prayers to God for pardoning and renewing grace; that hereafter they may preach a Savior whom they know, and may feel what they speak, and may commend the riches of the gospel from their own experience.

Alas! it is the common danger and calamity of the Church, to have unregenerate and inexperienced pastors…

…and to have so many men become preachers before they are Christians; who are sanctified by dedication to the altar as the priests of God, before they are sanctified by hearty dedication as the disciples of Christ; and so to worship an unknown God, and to preach an unknown Christ, to pray through an unknown Spirit, to recommend a state of holiness and communion with God, and a glory and a happiness which are all unknown, and like to be unknown to them forever. He is like to be but a heartless preacher, that hath not the Christ and grace that he preaches, in his heart. O that all our students in our universities would well consider this! What a poor business is it to themselves, to spend their time in acquiring some little knowledge of the works of God, and of some of those names which the divided tongues of the nations have imposed on them, and not to know God himself, nor exalt him in their hearts, nor to be acquainted with that one renewing work that should make them happy!

They do but ‘walk in a vain show’

…and spend their lives like dreaming men, while they busy their wits and tongue about abundance of names and notions, and are strangers to God and the life of saints. If ever God awaken them by his saving grace, they will have cogitations and employments so much more serious than their unsanctified studies and disputations, that they will confess they did but dream before. A world of business they make themselves about nothing, while they are wilful strangers to the primitive, independent, necessary Being, who is all in all. Nothing can be rightly known, if God be not known; nor is any study well managed, nor to any great purpose, if God is not studied. We know little of the creature, till we know it as it stands related to the Creator: single letters, and syllables uncomposed, are no better than nonsense. He who overlooks him who is the ‘Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending,’ and sees not him in all who is the All of all, doth see nothing at all. All creatures, as such, are broken syllables; they signify nothing as separated from God.

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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  Richard Baxter (12 November 1615 – 8 December 1691) was an English Puritan church leader, poet, hymn-writer, theologian, and controversialist. Dean Stanley called him “the chief of English Protestant Schoolmen”. After some false starts, he made his reputation by his ministry at Kidderminster, and at around the same time began a long and prolific career as theological writer. After the Restoration he refused preferment, while retaining a non-separatist Presbyterian approach, and became one of the most influential leaders of the nonconformists, spending time in prison.

A Passionate and Compassionate Warning…To Come to Christ!

Taken from, “Compassionate warning and advice to all, especially to young persons.” 
Written by Richard Baxter, first published in 1708.

Edited for thought and sence.

5631188-L[There are very few times that I have had to labor so diligently to bring out a post, and so very few times I felt to myself, how worthwhile the labor! In the following thoughts, we find the Puritan, Richard Baxter, at his finest. Here he makes an impassioned plea for youth to look at what they are doing, as well as getting it right with God. While theologians feel that Baxter’s doctrine of justification is rather shaky, his capacity to reach out with understanding and compassion and talk to the soul of the person makes him my favorite Puritan for counseling. The following thoughts are frank and direct, they pull no punches and they compromise not one wit… they are the closest words that I have found to my mother’s numerous lectures.-MWP]

All your time and life is given you by God for one end and life, and all is little enough, and will you alienate the very beginning, and be a rebel so soon?

Young person you have not assurance of life for a day, or an hour. Thousands go out of the world in youth. Alas, the flesh of young men is corruptible, liable to hundreds of diseases, as well as the old. How quickly may a vein break, and Cold seize on your Head and Lungs, and turn to an incurable tuberculosis? How quickly may a fever, an inflammation, an abscess, or one of a thousand accidents, turn your bodies to corruption ? And O that I knew how to make you sensible how dreadful a thing it is to die in an unholy State, and in the guilt of any unpardoned Sin! An unsancified soul, that hath lived here but to the flesh and the World, will be but fuel for the Fire of Hell, and the wrathful justice of the most Holy God.

And though in the course of undisturbed Nature, young men may live longer than the old, yet nature hath so many disturbances and crosses, that our Lives are still like a candle in a broken lantern, which a blast of wind may soon blow out. To tell you that you are not certain in an unsanctified state, to be one day or hour more out of hell, I expect will not move you so much as the weight of the case deserves, because mere possibility of the greatest hurt does not affect men when they think there is no probability of it. You have long been well, and long you hope to be so: But did you think how many hundred veins, arteries, nerves, must be kept constantly in order, and all the blood and chemistry in due balance, and how the problems of one vein, or imbalance of the blood, may quickly end you, it would rather teach you to admire the merciful Providence of God that such a body should be kept alive one year.

But were you sure to live to maturity of age, alas, how quickly will it come? What haste makes time? How fast do days and years roll on? Had I done no service for God, that I could now look back upon, I should seem as if I had not lived. A thousand years, and one hour, are all one (that is, nothing); when they are past, and every year, day and hour of your lives hath its proper work: and how will you answer for it? Every day offers you more and more Mercies,and will you despise and lose them? If you were heirs to land, or had an annuity which amounted but to a hundred pounds a year, and you were every day to receive a proportion of it, or lose it; would you lose it through neglect, and say, I will begin to receive it when I am old? Poor labourers will work hard all the day, that at night they may have their wages : And will you contemptuously lose your every day’s mercies, your safety, your communion with God, your daily blessings and his grace, which you should daily beg, and may daily receive?

Either you will repent and live to God, or not, if not, you are undone forever. Oh how much less miserable is a dog, or a toad, than such a sinner! But if God will shew you so great mercy, oh how will it grieve you to think of the precious Time of youth which you madly cast away in sin! Then you will think, O what knowledge, what Holiness might I then have got! What a comfortable Life might I have lived! O what days and years of mercy did I cast away for nothing! Yea, when God has given you the pardon of your sin, the taste of his Love, and the hopes of Heaven, it will wound your hearts to think that you should so long, so unthankfuly, so heinously offend so Good a God, and neglect so merciful a saviour, and trample upon Infinite Divine Love, for the Love of so base and fleshly a pleasure, That ever you should be so bad, as to find more pleasure in sinning, than in living unto God.

downloadbe it known to you, if God in mercy convert and save you, yet the bitter fruit of your youthful folly may follow you in this world to the grave.

If you waste your estate in youth, you may be poor at age: If by drinking gluttony, idleness, or filthy lust, you contract any incurable diseases in youth, repentance may not cure them till Death. All this might easily have been prevented, if you had but had foreseeing Wisdom. And if ever you think to be men of any great Wisdom and usefulness in the world, to your selves or others, your preparations must be made in youth. Great Wisdom is not obtained in a little time.

And O what a dreadful danger is it that your youthful sin becomes incurable, and custom hardens you, and deceivers blind you, and God forsakes you, for your willful resistance of his grace! God may convert old hardened Sinners: But how ordinarily do we find that age doth but answer the preparations of youth, and the vessel ever after favors the liquor which first thoroughly tainted it: And men are but such as they learned to be and do at first. If you will be perfidious breakers of your Baptismal Vows, it is a just God to leave you to yourselves, to a deluded understanding, to think evil good, and good evil, to a seared conscience, and a hardened heart, and past feeling, to work uncleanness with greediness, Eph.3:18, and to fight against grace and your own salvation, till death and hell convince you of your madness. O sport not with the justice of a sin-hating God! Play not with sin, and with the unquenchable Fire! Forsaking God is the way to be forsaken of him. And what is a forsaken soul but a miserable slave of Satan?

Yea, did you but know of what moment it is to prevent all the heinous sins that else you will commit, you would make haste to repent, though you were sure to be forgiven. Forgiveness makes not Sin to be no Sin, or to be no evil, no shame, no grief, to the soul that hath committed it. You will cry out, O that I had never known it!

To look back on such an ill-spent Life, will be no pleasant thought. Repentance, though a healing work, is bitter: Make not work for it, if you love your Peace.

And is it a small thing to you that you are all this while doing hurt to others?

And drawing them to sin, and plunging them into that dangerous Guilt, which can no way be pardoned but by the blood of Christ upon true conversion? And when they have joined with you in lust and fleshly pleasure, it is not in your power to turn them, that they may join with you in found repentance; “and if not, they must lie in Hell forever: And can you make a sport of your own and other men’s damnation? But this leads me to the Second Point. I hope I have shewed you what vast concern it is to yourself to begin a holy Life.

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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  Richard Baxter (12 November 1615 – 8 December 1691) was an English Puritan church leader, poet, hymn-writer, theologian, and controversialist. Dean Stanley called him “the chief of English Protestant Schoolmen”. After some false starts, he made his reputation by his ministry at Kidderminster, and at around the same time began a long and prolific career as theological writer. After the Restoration he refused preferment, while retaining a non-separatist Presbyterian approach, and became one of the most influential leaders of the nonconformists, spending time in prison.

Fear? Directions against fear

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By, Richard Baxter, Puritan

Fear is a necessary passion in man, which is planted in nature for the restraining of us from sin, and driving us on to duty, and preventing misery. It is either God, or devils, or men, or inferior creatures, or ourselves, that we fear. God must be feared as he is God; as he is great, and holy, and just, and true; as our Lord, and King, and Judge, and Father; and the fear of him is the beginning of wisdom. Devils must be feared only as subordinate to God, as the executioners of his wrath; and so must men, and beasts, and fire, and water, and other creatures be feared, and not otherwise. We must so discern and fear a danger as to avoid it. Ourselves we are less apt to fear, because we know that we love ourselves. But there is no creature that we have so much cause to fear, as our folly, weakness, and willfulness in sin.

Fear is sinful [when],

1. When it proceedeth from unbelief, or a distrust of God.

2. When it ascribeth more to the creature than is its due: as when we fear devils or men, as great, or bad, or as our enemies, without due respect to their dependence upon the will of God: when we fear a chained creature, as if he were unchained.

3. When we fear God upon mistake or error, or fear that in him which is not in him, or is not to be feared. As when we fear lest he will break his promise; lest he will condemn the keepers of his covenant; lest he will not forgive the penitent that hate their sin; lest he will despise the contrite; lest he will not hear the prayers of the humble, faithful soul; lest he will fail them, and forsake them; lest he will not cause all things to work together for their good; lest he will forsake his church; lest Christ will not come again; lest our bodies shall not be raised; lest there be no life of glory for the just, or no immortality of souls: all such fears as these are sinful.

4. When our fear is so immoderate in degree, as to distract us, or hinder us from faith and prayer, and make us melancholy: or when it hindereth love, and praise, and thanks, and necessary joy; and tendeth not to drive us to God, and to the use of means to avoid the danger, but to drive us from God, and kill our hope, and make us sit down in despair.

Directions Against Sinful Fear of God.

Direct. I. Know God in his goodness, mercifulness, and truth, and it will banish sinful fears of him: for they proceed from the ignorance or unbelief of some of these; or not considering and applying them to the cause that is before you. Psalm 9:10, “They that know thy name, will put their trust in thee.”

Direct. II. Know God in Jesus Christ the Mediator, and come to him by him. And then you many have “access with boldness and confidence,” Eph. 3:12. We have “boldness to enter into the holiest by his blood, by the new and living way which he hath consecrated us, through the veil, that is to say, for his flesh. And having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,” Heb. 10:19-22. The sight of Christ by faith should banish immoderate fear. Matt. 14:27, “Be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid.”

Direct. III. Understand the intention of the gospel, and the freeness of the covenant of grace, and then you will there find abundant encouragement against the matter of inordinate fears.

Direct. IV. Employ yourselves as much as possible in love and praise: for love expelleth tormenting fear; there is no fear in love, 1 Jn. 4:18.

Direct. V. Remember God’s particular mercies to yourselves: for those will persuade you that he will use you kindly, when you find that he hath done so already. As when Manoah said, “We shall surely die because we have seen God;” his wife answered, “If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received an offering at our hands, neither would he have showed us all these things,” Judges 13:22-23.

Direct. VI. Labour to clear up your title to the promises and special interest in Christ. Otherwise the doubts of that will be still feeding and justifying your fears.

Direct. VII. Consider what a horrible injury it is to God, to think of him as you do of the devil, as an enemy to humble, willing souls, and a destroyer of them, and an adversary to them that diligently seek him; of whom he is a lover and rewarder, Heb. 11:6. And so to think of God as evil, and fear him upon such misapprehensions.

Direct. VIII. Observe the sinfulness of your fear in the effects; how it driveth you from God, and hindereth faith, and love, and thankfulness, and discourageth you from prayer, and sacraments, and all duty. And therefore it must needs be pleasing to the devil, and displeasing to God, and no way to be pleaded for or justified.

Direct IX. Mark how you contradict the endeavours of God, in his word, and by his ministers. Do you find God driving any from him, and frightening away souls that would fain be his? Or doth he not prepare the way himself, and reconcile the world to himself in Christ, and then send his ambassadors in his name and stead to beseech them to be reconciled unto God, and to tell them that all things are ready, and compel them to come in.(2 Cor. 5:19-20; Luke 14:17; Matt. 22:8.)

Direct. X. Consider how thou wrongest others, and keepest them from coming home to God. When they see thee terrified in a way of piety, they will fly from it as if some enemies or robbers were in the way. If you tread fearfully, others will fear there is some quicksand. If you tremble when you enter the ship with Christ, others will think he is an unfaithful pilot, or that it is a leaking vessel. Your fear discourageth them.

Direct. XI. Remember how remediless, as to comfort, you leave yourselves, while you inordinately fear him, who alone must comfort you against all your other fears. If you fear your remedy, what shall cure the fear of your disease? If you fear your meat, what shall cure your fear of hunger? If you fear him that is most good and faithful, and the friend of every upright soul, what shall ease you of your fear of the wicked and the enemies of holy souls? If you fear your Father, who shall comfort you against your foes? You cast away all peace, when you make God your terror.

Direct. XII. Yet take heed lest under this pretense you cast away the necessary fear of God; even such as belongeth to men in your condition, to drive them out of their sin and security unto Christ, and such as the truth of his threatenings require. For a senseless presumption and contempt of God, are a sin of a far greater danger.

Directions Against Sinful Fear of the Devil

Direct. I. Remember that the devil is chained up, and wholly at the will and beck of God. He could not touch Job, nor an ox, nor an ass of his, till he had permission from God, Job 1:1-22. He cannot appear to thee nor hurt thee unless God give him leave.

Direct. II. Labour therefore to make sure of the love of God, and then thou art safe; then thou hast God, his love and promise, always to set against the devil.

Direct. III. Remember that Christ hath conquered the devil in his temptations, on the cross, by his resurrection and ascension. He “destroyed through death him that had the power of death, even the devil, that he might deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage,” Heb. 2:14-15. The prince of this world is conquered and cast out by him, and wilt thou fear a conquered foe?

Direct. IV. Remember that thou art already delivered from his power and dominion, if thou be renewed by the Spirit of God. And therefore let his own be afraid of him, that are under his power, and not the free-men and redeemed ones of Christ. God hath delivered thee in the day that he converted thee, from a thousand-fold greater calamity than the seeing of the devil would be; and having been saved from his greatest malice, you should not over-fear the less.

Direct. V. Remember what an injury it is to God, and to Christ that conquered him, to fear the devil, while God is your protector (any otherwise than as the instrument of God’s displeasure): it seemeth as much as to say, I fear lest the devil be too hard for God; or lest God cannot deliver me from him.

Direct. VI. Remember how you honour the devil by fearing him, and pleasure him by thus honouring him. And will you not abhor to honour and please such an enemy of God and you? This is it that he would have; to be feared instead of God he glorieth in it as part of his dominion: as tyrants rejoice to see men fear them, as those that can destroy them when they will, so the devil triumpheth in your fears as his honour. When God reprehendeth the idolatry of the Israelites, it is as they feared their idols of wood and stone. To fear them, showed that they took them for their gods, 2 Kings 17:38-39; Dan. 6:26.

Direct. VII. Consider that it is a folly to be inordinately fearful of that which never did befall thee, and never befalleth one of many hundred thousand men: I mean any terrible appearance of the devil. Thou never sawest him; nor hearest credibly of but very few in an age that see him (besides witches). This fear therefore is irrational, the danger being utterly improbable.

Direct. VIII. Consider that if the devil should appear to thee, yea, and carry thee to the top of a mountain, or the pinnacle of the temple, and talk to thee with blasphemous temptations, it would be no other than what thy Lord himself submitted to; who was still the dearly beloved of the Father, Matt. 4:1-25. One sin is more terrible than this.

Direct. IX. Remember that if God should permit him to appear to thee, it might turn to thy very great advantage; by killing all thy unbelief, or doubts, of angels, and spirits, and the unseen world. It would sensibly prove to thee that there is indeed an unhappy race of spirits, who envy man and seek his ruin; and so would more convince thee of the evil of sin, the danger of souls, the need of godliness, and the truth of Christianity. And it is like this is one cause why the devil no more appeareth in the world, not only because it is contrary to the ordinary government of God, who will have us live by faith and not by sight; but also because the devil knoweth how much it would do to destroy his kingdom, by destroying infidelity, atheism, and security, and awakening men to faith, and fear, and godliness. The fowler or the angler must not come in sight, lest he spoil his game by frightening it away.

Direct. X. If it be the spiritual temptations and molestations only of Satan which you fear, remember that you have more cause to fear yourselves, for he can but tempt you; and if you do not more against yourselves, than all the devils in hell can do, you will never perish. And if you are willing to accept and yield to Christ, you need not inordinately fear either Satan or yourselves. For it is in the name and strength of Christ, and under his conduct and protection, that you are to begin and finish your warfare. And the Spirit that is in us, is greater and stronger than the spirit that is in the world, and that molesteth us, 1 Jn. 4:4. And the “Father that giveth us to Christ is greater than all, and none can pluck us out of his hands,” John 10:29. “And the God of peace will tread down Satan under our feet,” Rom. 16:20. If it were in his power he would molest us daily, and we had never escaped so far as we have done: our daily experience telleth us that we have a Protector.

Directions Against the Sinful Fear of Men, and Sufferings by Them.

Direct. I. Ground thy soul and hopes on Christ, and lay up thy treasure in heaven; be not a worldling that liveth in hope of happiness in the creature; and then thou art so far above the fear of men, as knowing that thy treasure is above their reach, and thy foundation and fortress safe from their assaults. It is a base, hypocritical, worldly heart that maketh you immoderately afraid of men. Are you afraid lest they should storm and plunder heaven? Or lest they cast you into hell? Or lest they turn God against you? Or lest they bribe or overawe your Judge? No, no! These are none of your fears! No; you are not so much as afraid lest they hinder one of your prayers from prevailing with God; nor lest their prison walls and chains should keep out God and his Spirit from you, and force you from your communion with him! You are not afraid lest they forcibly rob you of one degree of grace, or heavenly-mindedness, or hopes of the life to come! (If it be lest they hinder you from these by tempting or affrighting you into sin, (which is all the hurt they can do your souls,) then you are the more engaged to cast away the fears of their hurting your bodies, because that is their very temptation to hurt your souls.) No; it is their hurting of your flesh, the diminishing your estates, the depriving you of your liberty or worldly accommodations, or of your lives, which is the thing you fear. And doth not this show how much your hearts are yet on earth? And how much unmortified worldliness and fleshliness is still within you? And how much yet your hearts are false to God and heaven? Oh how the discovery should humble you! To find that you are yet no more dead to the things of the world, and that the cross of Christ hath yet no more crucified it to you! To find that yet the fleshly interest is so powerful in you, and the interest of Christ and heaven is so low! that God seemeth not enough for you, and that you cannot take heaven alone for your portion, but are so much afraid of losing earth! O presently search into the bottom of this corruption in your hearts, and lament your worldliness and hypocrisy, and work it out, and set your hearts and hopes above, and be content with God and heaven alone, and then this inordinate fear of man will have nothing left to work upon.

Direct. II. Set God against man, and his wisdom against their deceit, and his love and mercy against their malice and cruelty, and his power against their impotency, and his truth, and omniscience, and righteousness against their slanders and lies, and his promises against their threatenings; and then if yet thou art inordinately afraid of man, thou must confess that in that measure thou believest not in God. If God be not wise enough, and good enough, and just enough, and powerful enough to save thee, so far as it is best for thee to he saved, then he is not God: away with atheism, and then fear not man.

Direct. III. Remember what man is that thou art afraid of. He is a bubble raised by Providence, to toss about the world, and for God to honor himself by or upon. He is the mere product of his Maker’s will: his breath is in his nostrils! He is hastening to his dust, and in that day his worldly hopes and thoughts do perish with him. He is a worm that God can in one moment tread into the earth and hell. He is a dream, a shadow, a dry leaf or a little chaff, that is blown awhile about the world. (Job 13:25; Psalm 1:5-6; 68:2; 73:20; Job 20:8) He is just ready, in the height of his pride and fury, to drop into the grave; and that same man, or all those men, whom now thou fearest, shall one of these days most certainly lie rotting in the dust, and he hid in darkness, lest their ugly sight and stink be an annoyance to the living. Where now are all the proud ones that made such a bustle in the world but awhile ago? In one age they look big, and boast of their power, and rebel, and usurp authority, and are mad to be great and rulers in the world, or persecute the ministers and people of the Lord; and in the next (or in the same) they are viler than the dirt; their carcasses are buried, or their bones scattered abroad, and made the horror and wonder of beholders. And is this a creature to he feared above God, or against God? See Isa. 51:7, “Hearken to me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.” Isa. 2:22, “Cease ye from man whose breath is in his nostrils, for wherein is he to be accounted of?” Psalm 146:3, 4, “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help: his breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” When Herod was magnified as a god, he could not save himself from being devoured alive by worms. When Pharaoh was in his pride and glory, he could not save his people from frogs, and flies, and lice. Saith God to Sennacherib, “The virgin, the daughter of Zion, hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn,—and hath shaken her head at thee: whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed, and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice and lifted thine eyes on high?” Oh what a worm is man that you are so afraid of!

Direct. IV. Remember that men as well as devils are chained, and dependent upon God, and have no power but what he giveth them, and can do nothing but by his permission. And if God will have it done, thou hast his promise that it shall work unto thy good, Rom. 8:28. And are you afraid lest God should do you good by them? If you see the knife or lancet in an enemy’s hand only, you might fear it; but if you see it in the surgeon’s or in a father’s hand, though nature will a little shrink, yet reason will forbid you to make any great matter of it, or inordinately to fear. What if God will permit Joseph’s brethren to bind him, and sell him to the Amalekites; and his master’s wife to cause him to be imprisoned? Is he not to be trusted in all this, that he will turn it to his good? What if he will permit Shimei to curse David; or the king to cast Daniel into the lions’ den; or the three confessors into the furnace of fire? Do you believe that your Father’s will is the disposer of all? And yet are you afraid of man? Our Lord told Pilate when he boasted of his power to take away his life or save it, “Thou couldst have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above,” John 19:1-42 :II.

Objection: We Fear Them Only as God’s Instruments.

I know you will say that it is only as God’s instruments that you fear in them, and that if you were certain of his favour, and were not first afraid of his wrath, you should not fear the wrath of men.

Answer. By this you may see then what it is to be disobedient, and to cherish your fears of God’s displeasure, and to hinder your own assurance of his love, when this must be the cause of, or the pretense for, so many other sins. But if really you fear them but as the instruments of God’s displeasure;

1. Why then did you no more fear his displeasure before, when the danger from men did not appear? You know God never lacks instruments to execute his wrath or will.

2. And why fear you not the sin which doth displease him more than the instruments, when they could do you no hurt were it not for sin?

3. And why do you not more fear them as tempters than as afflicters? and consequently why fear you not their flatteries, and enticements, and preferments, and your prosperity, more than adversity, when prosperity more draweth you away to sin?

4. And why fear you not hell more than any thing that man can do against you, when God threateneth hell more than human penalties?

5. And why do you not apply yourselves to God chiefly for deliverance, but study how to pacify man? Why do you with more fear, and care, and diligence, and compliance, apply yourselves to those that you are afraid of if you fear God more than them? Repent and make your peace with God through Christ, and then be quiet, if it be God that you are afraid of: your business then is not first with the creature, but with God.

6. And if you fear them only as God’s instruments, why doth not your fear make you the more cautiously to fly from further guilt, but rather make you to think of stretching your consciences as far as ever you dare, and venturing as far as you dare upon God’s displeasure, to escape man’s? Are these signs that you fear them only as the instruments of God’s displeasure? or do you see how deceitful a thing your ear is?

Indeed man is to be feared in a full subordination to God,

1. As his officers, commanding us to obey him;

2. As his executioners, punishing us for disobeying him;

3. But not as Satan’s instruments, (by God’s permission,) afflicting us for obeying him, or without desert. Rom. 13:3, 4, “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same; for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil.” Would you have the fuller exposition of this? It is in 1 Peter 3:10-15, “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile; let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye; and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness, and fear. Having a good conscience, that whereas they speak evil of you, as of evil-doers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing.” See also 1 Peter 4:13-15.

Direct. V. Either you fear suffering from men as guilty or as innocent; for evil-doing, or for well-doing, or for nothing. If as guilty and for evil-doing, turn your fears the right way, and fear God, and his wrath for sin, and his threatenings of more than men can inflict; and acknowledge the goodness of justice both from God and man: but if it be as innocent or for well-doing, remember that Christ commandeth you exceedingly to rejoice; and remember that martyrs have the most glorious crown: and will you be excessively afraid of your highest honour, and gain, and joy? Believe well what Christ hath said, and you cannot be much afraid of suffering for him. Matt. 5:10-12, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” And will you fear the way of blessedness and exceeding joy? Matt. 10:17-19, “Beware of men, for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues, and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them—But take no thought,” &c. You are allowed to beware of them, but not to be over-fearful or thoughtful of the matter. Verse. 22, 23, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake; but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, fly to another.”—Fly, but fear them not, with any immoderate fear: verse. 39, “He that findeth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Luke 18:29-30, “Verily I say unto you, there is no man hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come, life everlasting.” Can you believe all this, and yet be so afraid of your own felicity? Oh what a deal of secret unbelief is detected by our immoderate fears! 1 Peter 4:12-16, 19, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial, which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as an evil-doer. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him glorify God on that behalf—Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” There is scarce any point that God hath been pleased to be more full in, in the holy Scriptures, than the encouraging of his suffering servants against the fears of men; acquainting them that their sufferings are the matter of their profit and exceeding joy and therefore not of too great fear.

Direct. VI. Experience telleth us that men have never so much joy on earth as in suffering for the cause of Christ; nor so much honour as by being dishonored by men for him. How joyfully did the ancient Christians go to martyrdom! many of them lamented that they could not attain it: and what comfort have Christ’s confessors found, above what they could ever attain before! And how honourable now are the names and memorials of those martyrs, who died then under the slanders, scorn, and cruelty of men! Even the papists that bloodily make more, do yet honour the names of the ancient martyrs with keeping holidays for them, and magnifying their shrines and relics; for God will have it so, for the honour of his holy sufferers, that even that same generation that persecute the living saints, shall honour the dead, and they that murder those they find alive, shall honour those whom their forefathers murdered: Matt. 23:29-31, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous: and say, if we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them of the blood of the prophets.” Comfort and honour attend the pain and shame of the cross. Acts 5:41, “They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.” Acts 16:25, “Paul and Silas sang praises to God at midnight in the prison and stocks,” when their backs were sore with stripes. It is written of some of the Christians that were imprisoned by Julian, that they would not forbear in the emperor’s hearing as he passed by, to sing, “Let God arise, and his enemies shall be scattered.”

Direct. VII. Love better the holy image of God upon your souls, and then you will be glad of the great helps to holiness which sufferings do afford. Who findeth not that adversity is more safe and profitable to the soul than prosperity? especially that adversity which Christ is engaged to bless to his servants, as being undergone for him? Rom. 10:3-5, “We glory in tribulation also knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed.” God “chasteneth us for our profit that we may be partakers of his holiness: now no chastisement for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby,” Heb. 12:10-11. Moses “esteemed the very reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: and therefore rather chose to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season,” Heb. 11:25-26. It is but “now for a season, and if need be, that we are in heaviness through manifold temptations, that the trial of our faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, might be found unto praise, and honour, and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ,” 1 Peter 1:6-7. Who is it that knoweth himself, that feeleth not a need of some afflictions? To awake us from our drowsiness, and quicken us from our dullness, and refine us from our dross, and wean us from the world, and help us to mortify the flesh, and save us from the deceits of sin?

Direct. VIII. Remember that sufferings are the ordinary way to heaven. Love heaven better, and your sufferings will seem lighter, and your fear of them will be less. Christ hath resolved on it, that “if any one come to him, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be his disciple: and whoever doth not bear his cross and follow him, cannot be his disciple: and whoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be his disciple,” Luke 14:26-27, 33. “In the world we shall have tribulation, but peace in him,” John 16:33. “Through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God,” Acts 14:22. “If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us,” Rom. 8:17-18. “Therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God,” 1 Tim. 4:10. In preaching the gospel, Paul saith, he “suffered as an evil-doer even unto bonds, but the word of God is not bound,” 2 Tim. 2:9. “I suffer these things,” saith he, “nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day,” 2 Tim. 1:12. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution,” 2 Tim. 3:12. Our patience in sufferings is the joy of our friends, and therefore they are not too much to be feared. 2 Thess. 1:4-5, “So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God, for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer.” Therefore take the conclusion of all from God, Rev. 2:10, “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried: and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Phil. 1:25-30, “And in nothing terrified by your adversaries, which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God: for to you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.” And shall we fear so great a gift?

Direct. IX. Remember how small and short the suffering will be, and how great and long the glorious reward. It is but a little while, and the pain and shame will all be past; but the glory will be never past: what the worse now is Stephen for his stones, or John Baptist for being beheaded, or Paul for his bonds and afflictions, which did every where abide him, or any holy martyr for the torment and death which they underwent? Oh how the case is altered with them, now God hath wiped away all tears from their eyes Are we so tender that we cannot endure the grief that is but for a night, when we know that joy will come in the morning? Psalm 30:5. “For this cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal,” 2 Cor. 4:16-18. “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him,” Heb. 10:35-38.

Direct. X. When you are delivered from the power of the devil himself’ what cause have you to fear his instruments? Can they do more than he? If Goliath the champion and the general be overcome, the common soldiers are not like to overcome us.

Direct. XI. Are you better than your Lord? Look to him, and be confirmed. “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household,” Matt. 10:24. Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God; for consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied, and faint in your minds,” Heb. 12:1-3.

Direct. XII. Be of good cheer: our Lord hath overcome the world, John 16:33. And shall we fear inordinately a conquered world? Yea, he overcame it by suffering, to show us that by suffering we shall overcome it. He triumphed over principalities and powers (greater than mortals) “on the cross,” Col. 2:15. And therefore “all power in heaven and earth is given to him,” Matt. 28:19, and he is “Lord both of the dead and living,” Rom. 14:9, and “is made Head over all things to the church,” Eph. 1:21-22. And so, though “for his sake we be killed all the day long, and counted as sheep to the slaughter, yet in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us;” that is, we have a nobler victory than if we conquered them by the sword.

Direct. XIII. Think how little your suffering is in comparison of what your sin deserved, and your Lord hath freely saved you from. Should a man grudge at the opening of a vein for his health, who deserved to have lost his life? Can you remember hell which was your due, and yet make a great matter of any thing that man can do against you?

Direct. XIV. Remember that to sin through fear of suffering, is to leap into hell to escape a little pain on earth. Are you afraid of man? Be more afraid of God. Is not God more terrible? “It is a fearful thing to fall into his hands: for he is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 10:31, 10:26-27, 29; 12:29.) Hear your Lord. “And I say to you, my friends, be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do: but I will forewarn you whom you shall fear: fear him which after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, fear him,” Luke 13:4-5. If their fire be hot, remember that hell is hotter: and that God is the best friend, and the dreadfullest enemy.

Direct. XV. Remember that you shall suffer (and it is like as much) even here from God, if you escape by sin your suffering from men. If you sin to escape death, you shall die when you have done; and oh! how quickly! And how much more joyful it is to die in Christ, than a little after unwillingly to part with that life, which you denied to part with for your Lord! and what galls will you feel in your guilty conscience both in life and at your death! So that even in this life, your fear would drive you into greater misery.

Direct. XVI. Think of the dangerous effects of your immoderate fear. It is the way with Peter to deny your Lord: yea, the way to apostasy, or any wickedness which men shall drive you to by terrors. If you were where the Turk is now tyrannizing among Christians, if you overcome not your fear, he might overcome your fidelity, and make you turn from Jesus Christ: and that is the sin which the apostle so dreadfully describeth, Heb. 10:26-27, 29, “If we sin willfully, (that is, willfully renounce our Lord,) after the acknowledgment of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a fearful looking for of judgment, and fire which shall devour the adversary.” Oh how many have been drawn by the fear of men, to wound their consciences, neglect their duties, comply with sin, forsake the truth, dishonour God, and undo their souls. And often in this life they do as poor Spira did, who, by sinning through the fear of man, did cast himself into melancholy and self-murdering despair. Your fear is a more dangerous enemy to you than those that you fear are. “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe. Many seek the ruler’s favour, but every man’s judgment cometh of the Lord,” Prov. 29:25-26. Fear is given to preserve you: use it not to destroy you.

Direct. XVII. Believe and remember God’s special providence, extending to every hair of your head, and also the guard of angels which he hath set over you. “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father: but the very hairs of your head are numbered: fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows,” Matt. 10:29-30. Oh that this were well believed and considered! Psalm 34:7, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”

Direct. XVIII. Think what a vile dishonour it is to God to have his creature, even breathing dirt, to be feared more than him As if he were less powerful to do good or hurt to you than man, and were not able or willing to secure you, so far as to see that no man shall ever be a loser by him, or any thing which he suffereth for his cause (See Isa. 7:4; Isa. 35:4; 41:10, 41:13; 42:2, 8; 54:4; Jer. 5:22). Isa. 57:11, “And of whom hast thou been afraid or feared, that thou hast lied, and hast not remembered me, nor laid it to thy heart. Have I not held my peace even of old, and thou fearest me not?” How did Daniel and the three confessors honour God, but by fearing him more than the king and the flaming furnace: saying, “We are not careful to answer thee in this matter: if it be so, the God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of thy hand, O king: but if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods,” &c. (Dan_3:16-18). Daniel would not cease praying thrice a day openly in his house, for fear of the king, or of the lions. “Moses forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing him that is invisible,” Heb. 11:27. “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me,” Heb. 13:6.

Direct. XIX. Remember the dangers which you have been saved from already; especially from sin and hell. And is an uncircumcised Philistine more invincible than the lion and the bear?

Direct. XX. Remember the great approaching day of judgment, where great and small will be equal before God; and where God will right all that were wronged by men, and be the full and final avenger of his children! He hath promised, though “he bear long, to avenge them speedily,” Luk_18:7-8. Can you believe that day, and yet not think that it is soon enough to justify you fully and finally, and to make you of all your wrongs? Cannot you stay till Christ come to judge the quick and the dead? You will then be loth to be found with those that, as Saul, made haste to sacrifice, because he could not stay till Samuel came; whose soul, “drew back, because they could not live by faith.” Mat_10:26, “Fear them not therefore; for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, and hid that shall not be known.” 2 Thess. 2:6-10, “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance, &c. When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe.”

Direct. XXI. Remember that the fearful and unbelieving shall be shut out of heaven, Rev_21:8; that is, those that fear men more than God, and cannot trust him with their lives and all, but will rather venture upon his wrath by sin, than on the wrath of man.

Direct. XXII. Turn your fear of the instruments of the devil into pity and compassion to men in such lamentable misery; and pray for them as Christ and Stephen did: foresee now the misery that is near them. When you begin to be afraid of them, suppose that just now were the day of judgment, and you saw how they will then tremble at the bar of God (as conscience sometimes makes some of them do, at the hearing or remembering of it; as Felix before Paul): see them as ready to be sentenced to the fire prepared for the devil and his angels, as Matt. 25:1-46. Can you fear him that is near such endless misery, whom you should lament and pity (as the ancient martyrs used to do)? 1 Peter 4:17, “What shall the end” of the persecutors “be, and where shall the ungodly sinners appear, if judgment begin at the house of God, and the righteous be saved with so much ado?”

About the fear of death, I have written largely already in my “Treatise of Self-denial,” and in the “Saints’ Rest,” and in “The Last Enemy Death,” &c. and in “The Believer’s Last Work.” Therefore, I shall here pass it by

Great thoughts, observations and advice for Christians with depression! …By the Puritan, Richard Baxter

Delirious-Ideas-SchizophreniaBut if melancholy have got head already…

there must be, besides what is said, some other and proper remedies used; and the difficulty is great, because the disease makes them self-conceited, unreasonable, willful, and unruly, and they will hardly be persuaded that the disease is in their bodies, but only in the souls, and will not believe but they have reason for all what they think and do; or if they confess the contrary, they plead disability, and say, We can think and do no otherwise than we do.

But supposing that there is some use of reason left, I will give them yet some further counsel; and what they cannot do, their friends must help them to their power, which I shall add.

1. Consider that it should be easy for you in your confounding, troubling thoughts, to perceive that your understandings are not now so sound and strong as other men’s; and therefore be not willful and self-conceited, and think not that your thoughts are righter than theirs, but believe wiser men, and be ruled by them.

Answer me this question, Do you know any minister, or friend, that is wiser than yourself? If you say no, how foolishly proud are you? If you say yea, then ask the minister, or friend, what he thinketh of your condition, and believe him, and be ruled by him rather than by your infirm self.

2. Do you find that your troubles do you more good or hurt? Do they make you fitter or unfitter to believe and love God, and rejoice in him and praise him? If you feel that they are against all that is good, you may be sure that they are so far from the devil’s temptations, and are pleasing to him; and will you cherish or plead for the work of Satan, which you find is against yourselves and God?

3. Avoid your musings, and exercise not your thoughts now too deeply, nor too much. Long meditation is a duty to some, but not to you, no more than it is a man’s duty to go to church that hath his leg broken, or his foot out of joint: he must rest and ease it till it be set again, and strengthened. You may live in the faith and fear of God, without setting yourself to deep, disturbing thoughts.

Those that will not obey this counsel, their friends must rouse them from their musings, and call them off to something else.

4. Therefore you must not be much alone, but always in some pleasing, cheerful company: solitariness doth but cherish musings. Nor must such be long in secret prayer, but more in public prayer with others.

5. Let those thoughts which you have laid out on the most excellent things: pore not all on yourselves, and on your distempered hearts; the best may find there much matter of trouble. As millstones wear themselves if they go when they have no corn, so do the thoughts of such as think not of better things than their own hearts. If you have any power of your own thoughts, force them to think most of these four things:

1. The infinite goodness of God, who is fuller of love than the sun is of light.

2. Of the unmeasurable love of Christ in man’s redemption, and of the sufficiency of his sacrifice and merits.

3. Of the free covenant and offer of grace, which giveth pardon and life to all that do not prefer the pleasure of sin before it, and obstinately refuse it to the last.

4. Of the unconceivable glory and joy which all the blessed have with Christ, and which God hath promised with his oath and seal, to all that consent to the covenant of grace, and are willing to be saved and ruled by Christ. These thoughts will cure melancholy fears.

5. Do not yourselves often to a complaining talk, but talk most of the great mercies of God which you have received. Dare you deny them? If not, are they not worthier of your discourse than your present sufferings? Let not all men know that you are in your troubles: complaining doth but feed them, and it discourageth them to none but your secret counselors and friends. Use much to speak of the love of God, and the riches of grace, and it will divert and sweeten your sourer thoughts.

6. Especially, when you pray, resolve to spend most of your time in thanksgiving and praising God. If you cannot do it with the joy that you should, yet do it as you can. You have not the power of your comforts; but have you no power of your tongues? Say not that you are unfit for thanks and praises, unless you had a praising heart, and were the children of God; for every man, good and bad, is bound to praise God, and to be thankful for all that he hath received, and to do it as well as he can, rather than leave it undone: and most Christians are without assurance of their adoption; and must they, therefore, forbear all praise and thanksgiving to God? Doing it as you can is the way to be able to do it better. Thanksgiving stirreth up thankfulness in the heart, but by your objection you may perceive what the devil driveth at, and gets by your melancholy. He would turn you off from all thankfulness to God, and from the very mention of his love and goodness in your praises.

7. When vexatious or blasphemous thoughts are thrust into your mind by Satan, neither give them entertainment, nor yet be overmuch troubled at them: first, use that reason and power that is left you resolutely to cast them out, and turn your thoughts to somewhat else; do not say, I cannot. If you can no otherwise command and turn away your thoughts, rise up and go into some company or to some employment which will divert you, and take them up. Tell me what you would do if you heard a grumbling woman in the street reviling you, or heard an atheist there talk against God? Would you stand still to hear them, or would you talk it out again with them, or rather go from them, and disdain to hear them, or debate the case with such as they? Do you, in your case, when Satan casts in ugly, or despairing, or murmuring thoughts, go away from them to some other thoughts or business.

If you cannot do this of yourself, tell your friend when the temptation cometh; and it is his duty who hath the care of you to divert you with some other talk or words, or force you into diverting company.

Yet be not too much troubled at the temptation, for trouble of mind doth keep the evil matter in your memory, and so increase it, as pain of a sore draws the blood and spirits to the place. And this is the design of Satan, to give you troubling thoughts, and then to cause more by being troubled at those; and so, for one thought, and trouble to cause another, and that another, and so on, as waves in the sea do follow each other. To be tempted is common to the best. I told you to what idolatry Christ was tempted. When you feel such thoughts, thank God, that Satan cannot force you to love them, or consent.

8. Again, still remember what a comfortable evidence you carry about with you that your sin is not damning, while you feel that you love it not, but hate it, and are weary of it. Scarce any sort of sinners have so little pleasure in their sins as the melancholy, nor so little desire to keep them; and only beloved sins undo men.

Be sure that you live not idly, but in some constant business of a lawful calling, so far as you have bodily strength. Idleness is a constant sin, and labour is a duty. Idleness is but the devil’s home for temptation, and for unprofitable, distracting musings. Labour profiteth others, and ourselves: both soul and body need it. Six days must you labour, and must not eat the bread of idleness, Prov. 31. God hath made it our duty, and will bless us in his appointed way. I have known grievous, despairing melancholy cured, and turned into a life of godly cheerfulness, principally by setting upon constancy and diligence in the business of families and callings. It turns the thoughts from temptations, and leaveth the devil no opportunity: it pleaseth God if done in obedience, and it purifieth the distempered blood. Though thousands of poor people that live in penury, and have wives and children that must also feel it, one would think should be distracted with griefs and cares, yet few of them fall into the disease of melancholy, because labour keepeth the body sound, and leaveth them no leisure for melancholy musings: whereas, in London, and great towns, abundance of women that never sweat with bodily work, but live in idleness, especially when from fullness they fall into poverty, are miserable objects, continually vexed, and near distraction with discontent and a restless mind.

If you will not be persuaded to business, your friends, if they can, should force you to it.

And if the devil turn religious as an angel of light, and tell you that this is but turning away your thoughts from God, and that worldly thoughts and business are unholy, and fit for worldly men; tell him that Adam was in innocency to dress and keep his garden, and Noah that had all the world was to be husbandman, and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob kept sheep and cattle, and Paul was a tent-maker, and Christ himself is justly supposed to have worked at his supposed father’s trade, as he went on fishing with his disciples. And Paul saith, idleness is disorderly walking, and he that will not work let him not eat. God made soul and body, and hath commanded work to both.

And if Satan would drive you unseasonably upon longer secret prayer than you can bear, remember that even sickness will excuse the sick from that sort of duty which they are unable for, and so will your disease; and the unutterable groans of the spirit are accepted.

If you have privacy out of hearing, I would give you this advice, that instead of long meditation, or long secret prayer, you will sing a psalm of praise to God, such as the twenty-third, or the one hundred and thirty-third, &c. This will excite your spirit to that sort of holy affection which is much more acceptable to God, and suitable to the hopes of a believer, than your repining troubles are.