On Looking unto Death in Hope

Taken and adapted from, “The Practice of Piety: Directing a Christian How to Walk, that He May Please God.”
Written by Lewis Bayly, London: 1842.
Material sourced from The Dead Puritan Society, hosted by Paul D.

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“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”   Revelation 21:4 (ESV)

Death brings to the godly an end of sinning (Romans 6:7)…

…and of all the miseries which are due to sin; so that after death, “there shall be no more sorrow nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain; for God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Revelation 21:4.).  Yes, by death we are separated from the company of wicked men; and God “takes away merciful and righteous men from the evil to come” (Isaiah. 57:1).  So he dealt with Josiah: “I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be put into your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring to this place” (2 Kings 22:20).  And God “hides them for a while in the grave, until the indignation pass over” (Isaiah. 26:20).  So that as paradise is the haven of the soul’s joy, so the grave may be termed the haven of the body’s rest.

Whereas this wicked body lives in a world of wickedness, so that the poor soul cannot look out at the eye, and not be infected; nor hear by the ear, and not be distracted; nor smell at the nostrils, and not be tainted; nor taste with the tongue, and not be allured; nor touch by the hand, and not be defiled; and every sense, upon, every temptation, is ready to betray the soul.  By death the soul shall be delivered from this thraldom; and this “corruptible body shall put on incorruption, and this mortal immortality” (1 Corinthians 25:53).  O blessed, thrice blessed be that death in the Lord, which delivers us out of so evil a world, and frees us from such a body of bondage and corruption!

Death brings the godly man’s soul to enjoy an immediate communion with the blessed Trinity, in everlasting bliss and glory.  It translates the soul from the miseries of this world, the contagion of sin, and society of sinners, to the “city of the living God, the celestial Jerusalem, and the company of innumerable angels, and to the assembly and congregation of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the souls of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant” (Hebrews 12:22, 23, 24).  Death puts the soul into the actual and full possession of all the inheritance and happiness which Christ hath either promised to you in his word, and purchased for you by his blood.

This is the good and happiness to which a blessed death will bring you. And what truly religious Christian that is young, would not wish himself old, that his appointed time might the sooner approach, to enter into this celestial paradise? Where you may exchange thy brass for gold, your vanity for felicity, your vileness for honor, your bondage for freedom, your lease for an inheritance, and your mortal state for an immortal life. He that does not daily desire this blessedness above all things, of all others he is less worthy to enjoy it.

 

The Prerogatives Which the Elect Shall Enjoy in Heaven.

Taken and adapted from, “The Practice of Piety: Directing a Christian How to Walk, that He May Please God.”
Written by, Lewis Bayly, Circa 1631.

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By reason of this communion with God, the elect in heaven shall have four super-excellent  prerogatives…

1. They shall have the kingdom of heaven for their inheritance (Matt. 25; 1 Pet.1:4), and they shall be free denizens of the heavenly Jerusalem (Eph. 2:19; Heb. 12:22.) St. Paul, by being a free citizen of Rome (Acts 21:26), escaped whipping; but they who are once free citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, shall ever be freed from the whips of eternal torments. For this freedom was bought for us, not with a great sum of money (Acts 22:28), but with the precious blood of the Son of God (1 Pet.1:18.)

2. They shall all be kings and priests (Rev. 5:10; 1 Pet. 2:9; Rom. 16:10:) spiritual kings, to reign with Christ, and to triumph over Satan and the world; and spiritual priests, to offer to God the spiritual sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for evermore (1 Pet. 2:5; Heb. 13:15.) And therefore they are said to wear both crowns and robes. O what a comfort is this to poor parents that have many children! If they breed them up in the fear of God, and to be true Christians, then are they parents to so many kings and priests.

3. Their bodies shall shine as the brightness of the sun in the firmament, like the glorious body of Christ (Matt. 13:43), which shined brighter than the sun at noon, when it appeared to Paul (Phil. 3. 21; Acts 12: 6.) A glimpse of which glorious brightness appeared in the bodies of Moses and Elias, transfigured with our Lord in the holy mount (Luke 9:30; Mark 9:5.) Therefore, saith the apostle, it shall rise a glorious body; yea, a spiritual body, not in substance, but in quality (1 Cor. 15:43, 44:) preserved by spiritual means, and having (as an angel) agility to ascend or descend. O what an honour is it, that our bodies (falling more vile than carrion) should thus arise in glory, like unto the body of the Son of God! (1 Thess.4:1.)

4. Lastly, They (together with all the holy angels) there keep, without any labour to distract them, a perpetual Sabbath, to the glory, honour, and praise of God, for the creating, redeeming, and sanctifying the church; and for his power, wisdom, justice, mercy, and goodness, in the government of heaven and earth. When thou hearest a sweet concert of music, meditate how happy thou shalt be, when, with the quire of heavenly angels and saints, thou shalt sing a part in that spiritual Allelujah, in that eternal blessed Sabbath, where there shall be such variety of pleasures, and satiety of joys, as neither know tediousness in doing, nor end in delighting.

Immediately After the Moment When Everyone Receives his Crown…

Taken and adapted from, “The Practice of Piety: Directing a Christian How to Walk, that He May Please God.”
Written by, Lewis Bayly
First published in 1842

HEAVENLYTHRONE

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
–Matthew 25:34

Immediately after this sentence of absolution and benediction…

…everyone receives his crown, which Christ the righteous Judge puts upon their heads, as the reward which he promised, of his grace and mercy to the faith and good works of all them that loved his appearing (2 Tim. 4:8; 1 Pet. 5:4.) Then every one taking his crown from his head, shall lay it down, as it were, at the feet of Christ; and prostrating themselves, shall with one heart and voice, in an heavenly sort and consort, say, “Praise, and honor, and glory, and power, and thanks, be unto thee, O blessed Lamb, who sittest upon the throne, was killed, and has redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, and has made us unto our God kings and priests, to reign with thee in thy kingdom for evermore. Amen.” (Rev. 4:10.)

Then shall they sit in their thrones and order, as the judges of the reprobates, and evil angels (1 Cor. 6:1-3, Matt. 19:13), by approving, and giving testimony to the righteous sentence and judgment of Christ the Supreme Judge.

After the pronouncing of the reprobates’ sentence and condemnation, Christ will perform two solemn actions—

1. The presenting of all the elect unto his Father; “Behold, O righteous Father, these are they whom you gave to me: I have kept them, and none of them are lost. I gave them thy word, and they believed it, and the world hated them, because they were not of the world, even as I was not of the world. And now, Father, I will that those whom you has given me, will be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which you have given me; and that I may be in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one: that the world may know that you has sent me, and that you has loved them as you has loved me.” (John 17: 12, 14, 23, 24.)

2. Christ shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, that is, shall cease to execute his office of mediatorship (1 Cor. 25: 24;) whereby, as he is King, Priest, Prophet, and Supreme Head of the Church, he suppressed his enemies, and ruled his faithful people by his spirit, word, and sacraments: so that his kingdom of grace over his church in this world ceasing, he shall rule immediately, as he is God, equal with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, in his kingdom of glory evermore. Not that the dignity of his manhood shall be any thing diminished; but that the glory of his Godhead shall be more manifested: so that as he is God, he shall from thenceforth in all fulness, without all external means, rule all in all.

From this tribunal-seat, Christ shall arise, and with all his glorious company of elect angels and saints, he shall go up triumphantly, in order and array, unto the heaven of heavens, with such a heavenly noise and music, that now may that song of David be truly verified, “God is gone up with a triumph, the Lord with the sound of the trumpets. Sing praises to God, sing praises, sing praises to our King, sing praises: for God is the King of all the earth, he is greatly to be exalted.” (Psalm 47:4, 5, 6, 8.) And that marriage-song of John, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. Allelujah; for the Lord God Omnipotent reigns.” (Rev. 19: 6, 7.)

The third and last degree of the blessed state of a regenerate man after death, begins after the pronouncing of the sentence, and lasts eternally without all end.

The place is the heaven of heavens, or the third heaven, called paradise (Psalm 19: 5; 2 Cor. 12: 24;) whither Christ (in his human nature) ascended far above all visible heavens. The bridegroom’s chamber (Psalm 19 5; Matt. 25:10), which by the firmament, as by an azured curtain spangled with glittering stars, and glorious planets, is hid, that we cannot behold it with these corruptible eyes of flesh. The Holy Ghost framing himself to our weakness, describes the glory of that place (which no man can estimate) by such things as are most precious in the estimation of man; and therefore likens it to a great and holy city, named the heavenly Jerusalem (Rev. 21: 2, &c.), where only God and his people who are saved, and written in the Lamb’s book (ver. 24 & 27), do inhabit; all built of pure gold, like unto clear glass or crystal (ver. 11, 18, 19, 20;) the walls of jasper-stone: the foundations of the walls garnished with twelve manner of precious stones, having twelve gates, each built of one pearl (ver. 21:) three gates towards each of the four corners of the world (ver. 13), and at each gate an angel (ver. 12), as so many porters, that no unclean thing should enter into it (ver. 27.)

It is four square (ver. 16), therefore perfect: the length, the breadth, and height of it are equal, 12,000 furlongs every way; therefore glorious and spacious. Through the midst of  her streets ever runs a pure river of the water of life, as clear as crystal (Rev. 22: 1); and on the other side the river is the tree of life (ver. 2), ever-growing, which bears twelve manner of fruits, and gives fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree are health to the nations. There is therefore no place so glorious by creation, so beautiful with delectation, so rich in possession, so comfortable for habitation. For there, the king is Christ-—the law is love—the honor, verity—the peace, felicity—the life, eternity.

There is light without darkness, mirth without sadness, health without sickness, wealth without want, credit without disgrace, beauty without blemish, ease without labor, riches without rust, blessedness without misery, and consolation that never knows an end. How truly may we cry out with David, of this city, “Glorious things are spoken of thee, O thou city of God!” Psalm 87:3; and yet all these things are spoken but according to the weakness of our capacity. For heaven exceeds all this in glory, so far, as that no tongue is able to express, nor heart of man to conceive, the glory thereof, as witnesses St. Paul (2 Cor. 12: 4; 1 Cor. 2:5), who was in it, and saw it. O let us not then dote so much upon these wooden cottages, and houses of mouldering clay, which are but the tents of ungodliness, and habitation of sinners; but let us look rather, and long for this heavenly city, whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:10;) which he, who is not ashamed to be called our God hath prepared for us (Heb. 11: 6.)