by Nathanael Ranew
This text has been initially updated from EEBO-TCP by Project Puritas (Logan West, with David Jonescue and Alex Sarrouf.) www.puritansearch.org. Further revision and editing done by Monergism. Copyright Monergism via universal text usage permission from the above.
I Dare not suppose thee, in an Age of so much Light and Knowledge, to be ignorant of a future State and Condition, that doth abide thee and all Men after this Life; for this were to conceive of the contrary, not only to the sentiments of all Christians, but even of Heathens themselves. Neither can I think any to be so far blinded and hardened, as to believe that this State, which shall befall all Men after Death, to be the same unto all Persons, whether they be good or bad; for though the Wise Man tells us, in Eccles. 9.1, 2. That in this Life, All things come alike unto all Men, and there is one event to the Righteous and to the Wicked, to the Clean and to the Unclean. So that in the way of God's common Providential dealings with Men in this World, no Man knoweth Love or Hatred by all that is before them. Yet when Death and Judgment come, a discriminating Sentence shall pass upon all Men, According to what they have done in the Body, whether it be good or bad. And then as the Apostle speaks, All those, who have not obeyed the Truth, but have lived in Sin and Unrighteousness, shall receive Indignation and Wrath, Tribulation and Anguish upon every Soul of Man that hath thus done Evil; But to them, who by patient continuance in well-doing, have sought for Glory, and Honor, and Immortality, shall be Eternal Life. And of this none that live under the Light of the Gospel can be ignorant.
Now as to the former of these, that State of Woe and Misery, that is to be the Portion of Sinners in Hell, it is not my design in the following Discourse to say anything: Having confined my Thoughts and Meditations therein unto the latter, and that is that State of Bliss and Happiness that shall be the Portion of Holy Souls in Heaven.
All Men now will say they desire and seek after happiness, but few there are that attain thereunto; not that there is no such Thing or State attainable; for Holiness always lays a sure Foundation for Happiness: But Man being fallen from God, and sunk into the Creature, cannot without the help of Divine Grace, raise up his Soul, his Affections and Desires towards God, towards Heaven and Heavenly things; but takes up with what is suitable to his Earthly and Fleshly part; and so the World and the Enjoyments thereof, being adapted to the Inclinations of his present State and Condition here below; accordingly with the greatest eagerness, he pursues the Riches, the Honors, the Pleasures and Delights of this World; as those things which when attained, he vainly fancies will make him truly Happy; but when he comes to enjoy them, meets with Frustration and Disappointment: All Men being forced sooner or later to subscribe unto what the Wisest of Men faith, as a great Truth, concerning all things under the Sun, that they are but Vanity and Vexation of Spirit.
Wouldst thou not, Christian Reader, when thou comest to die, be eternally deceived in thy Hopes and Expectations of Happiness: Let not the World and the Enjoyments thereof, take up thy Thoughts and Affections now. God hath provided the good things thereof, and by his Care and Providence brings them to thee daily for thy use, that with this Gracious and Liberal Allowance of his; thou mayest serve him with the greater Cheerfulness and Delight of Soul, in thy Passage through this World: But he never intended, thou shouldst take up with them as thy Happiness. Believe it, God hath provided better things for holy Souls in another World; he intends himself to be their Portion, his Heaven to be their Habitation and Dwelling place, Angels, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, to be their Associates and Companions; where they shall live in the light of God's Countenance, see his Face, behold his Glory, and be filled with his Love to all Eternity. O blessed State of infinite Bliss and Happiness, beyond what words is able to express. Well may holy Souls with wonder and amazement cry out with the Apostle, and say, Eye hath not seen, Ear hath not heard, nor can it enter into the heart of Man to conceive what God hath provided for them that Love him.
And why mayest not thou who now castest thine Eyes upon these lines, make one of that great number of holy Souls, that shall be thus Eternally Happy and Blessed? God hath not Excluded thee out of Heaven, and why shouldest thou exclude and shut out thyself? God is now displaying before thee, the Excellencies and Glory of that Blessed State, and wherefore doth he do so, but to invite and draw Sinners to come and partake of this Happiness; not that God needs us, or anything that we can do; for he is as Happy without us, as he can possibly be with us: But we need him, and cannot be happy without him.
Now therefore since he is pleased to continue the offers of such rich Grace and Mercy, let none be found slighters and contemners thereof. Disappoint not, O Sinners, the design of God in seeking to bring Souls to Heaven. Frustrate not your own Expectations of Bliss and Happiness. Make not yourselves Eternally miserable, by choosing any sinful course, or walking in any allowed way of Wickedness: Nor yet provoke God by any sinful delays, or any sluggish and lazy desires and endeavors in seeking to obtain this Everlasting Happiness, to deal with you as obstinate despisers and contemners thereof, and swear in his Wrath that you shall never enter into his Rest.
If God may be Glorified, and Souls receive benefit hereby unto Eternal Life, the Author hath the desire of his Soul, and an abundant Reward for what he hath done in the ensuing Discourse; and that a Blessing from Heaven may make is thus Successful unto all that shall read it, is and shall be the Prayer of the Publisher.
Table of Contents
TO THE READER
CHAPTER I: The Introduction.
CHAPTER II: A more particular Consideration of the Happiness of Heaven.
CHAPTER III: Further Discoveries of the Saints Happiness in Heaven.
CHAPTER IV: Of the Resurrection of the Body, in order to the Saints Happiness in Heaven.
CHAPTER V. - Of the Efficient Cause of the Saints Happiness in Heaven.
CHAPTER VI: An Essay towards the Resolution of some Questions.