From the Archives: The Saint’s Everlasting Rest
In this Puritan classic, written in 1649, Baxter discusses how the “worldly—minded” pursue material possessions rather than God.
IF THERE BE SO CERTAIN AND GLORIOUS A REST for the saints, why is there no more industrious seeking after it? One would think if a man did but once hear of such unspeakable glory to be obtained, and believed what he heard to be true, he should be transported with the vehemency of his desire after it, and should almost forget to eat or drink, and should care for nothing else, and speak of and inquire after nothing else, but how to get this treasure. And yet people who hear of it daily, and profess to believe it as a fundamental article of their faith, do as little mind it, or labour for it, as if they had never heard of any such thing, or did not believe one word they hear . . .
The worldly-minded are so taken up in seeking the things below, that they have neither heart nor time to seek this rest. O foolish sinners, who hath bewitched you? The world bewitches men into brute beasts, and draws them some degrees beyond madness. See what riding and running, what scrambling and catching for a thing of nought, while eternal rest lies neglected! What contriving and caring to get a step higher in the world than their brethren, while they neglect the kingly dignity of the saints! What insatiable pursuit of fleshly pleasures, while they look on the praises of God, the joy of angels, as a tiresome burden! What unwearied diligence in raising their posterity, enlarging their possessions; perhaps for a poor living from hand to mouth; while judgment is drawing near; but how it shall go with them then, never puts them to one hour’s consideration! What rising early, and sitting up late, and labouring from year to year, to maintain themselves and children in credit till they die: but what shall follow after, they never think on! Yet these men cry. “May we not be saved without so much ado?” How early do they rouse up their servants to their labour! But how seldom do they call them to prayer, or reading the scriptures! What hath this world done for its lovers and friends, that it is so eagerly followed, and painfully sought after, while Christ and heaven stand by, and few regard them? or what will the world do for them for the time to come? The common entrance into it is through anguish and sorrow. The passage through it. is with continual care and labour. The passage out of it, is the sharpest of all. O unreasonable, bewitched men! will mirth and pleasure stick close to you? Will gold and worldly glory prove fast friends to you in the time of your greatest need? Will they hear your cries in the day of your calamity? At the hour of your death, will they either answer or relieve you? Will they go along with you to the other world, and bribe the Judge, and bring you off clear, or purchase you a place among the blessed? Why then did the rich man want a drop of water to cool his tongue? Or are the sweet morsels of present delight and honour of more worth than eternal rest? and will they recompense the loss of that enduring treasure? Can there be the least hope of any of these? Ah, vile, deceitful world! How oft have we heard thy most faithful servants at last complaining: “Oh, the world hath deceived me, and undone me? It pattered me in my prosperity, but now it turns me off in my necessity. If I had as faithfully served Christ, as I have served it, he would not have left me thus comfortless and hopeless.” Thus they complain: and yet succeeding sinners will take no warning.
By Richard Baxter
[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #14 in 1987]
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