« הקודםהמשך »
HEAVENLY Reft is a Subject, in its own Nature, o univerfaliy important and interesting, and at the fame Time to truly engaging and delightful, as fuffi. ciently accounts for the great Acceptance which this Book has met with; and partly allo for the uncommon Blessing which bas attended Mr. Baxter's Manner of treating the Subject, both froin the Pulpit, and the Press. Eor where are the Operations of divine Grace more reasonably to be expected, or where have they in Fact been more frequently difcerned, than in Concurrence with the best adapted Means? And should it appear, that Persons of distinguishing Judge ment and Piety, have expressly ascribed their firft religious Impressions to the hearing or reading the important Sentiments contained in this Book; or, afier a long Series of Years, have found it, both the Counterpart, and the Iniprovements of their own divine Life, will not this be thought 2 considerable Recommendation of the Book itself?.. nienti
AMONG the Instances of Persons that dated their true Conversion from hearing the Sermons on the Saints Refi, when Mr. Baxter first preached them, was the Rev. Mr. Thomas Dorlittle, M. A. who was a Native of Kidderminster, and at that Time a Scholar; about seventeen Years old ; whom Mr. Baxter himself afterwards sent to Pembroke-Hall, in Cambridge, where he took his Degree. Before his going to the University, he was upon Trial as an Attorney's Clerk, and under that Characler, being ordered by his Master to write something on a Lords Day, be obeyed with geat Reluctance, and the next Day returned home, with an earnest Desire that he might not apply him. filf to any Thing, as the Employment of Life, but serving Christ in the Ministry of the Gospel. His Praise is yet in the Churches, for his pious and useful Libours, as a Minister, a Tutor, and a Writer,
In the Life of the Rey Mr. Wohn: Janeway, Fellow of King's Colleges, Cambridge, who died in 1657, we are told, that his Converfion was, in a great Meafure, occasioned by his reading several Parts of the Saints Reft. And in a Letter which he afterwards wrote to a near Relative, speaking with a more im. mediate Reference to thar Part of the Book which treats of heavenly Contemplation, he fays, “ There is a “ Duty, which, if it were exercifed, would difpet all " Cause of Melancholy; I mean, heavenly Medita6 tion, and Contemplation of the Things which true " Christian Religion tends to. If we did but walk “ closely with God one Hour in a Day in this Duty,
oh, what Infuence would it have upon the whole " Day besides, and, duly performed, upon the whole
Life! This Duty, with its Usefulness, Manner, " and Directions, I knew in fome Measure before, " but had it more pressed upon me by Mr. Baxter's “ Saints everlasting Refi, [a Book] that can scarce 4 be over-valued, for which I have Cause for ever to “ bless God." This excellent young Minister's Life is worth reading, were it only to see how delightfully he was engaged in heavenly Contemplation, according to the Directions in the Saints Rest. : It was the Example of heavenly Contemplation, at the Clofe of this Book, which the Rev. Mr. Foseph Alleine, of Taunton, fo frequently quoted in Converfation, with this folemn Introduction, « Moft dia
vinely fays that Man of God, holy Mr. Baxteri".
DR. Bate, in his Dedication of his funeral Sermon for Mr. Baxter to Sir Henry Alhurji, Bart. tells that relia gious Gentleman, and most diftinguished Friend and Executor of Mr. Baxter, “ He was most worthy of * your highest Efteem and Love ; for the first Im-' " pressions of Heaven upon your Soul, were in reading -" his-jAvaluable Book of the Saints everlasting Refi?
· In the Life of the Rev. Mr, Matthew Henry, we have the following Character given us of Robert Wars burton, Esq; of Grange, the Son of the eminently religious Judge Warburton, and the Father of Mr. . Matthew Henry's second Wife, “ He was a Gentle« man that greatly affected Retirement and Privacy, « especially in the latter Part of his Life; the Bible, « and Mr. Baxter's Saints everlasting Refl, used to “ lie daily before him on the Table in his Parlour; " he spent the greateit Part of his Time in reading
a and Prayer.” 9. In the Life of that honourable and moft religious Knight, Sir Nathaniel Barnardiffon, we are told, a that he was constant in secret Prayer and of reading the Scriptures; afterwards he read other “ choice Authors: But not long before his Death he « took fingular Delight to read Mr. Baxter's Saints : u everlasting Reft, and Preparation thereunto; which 66 was esteemed a gracious Event of divine Provi. 6 dence, sending it as a Guide to bring him niore * fpeedily and dire&tly to that Reft.” . .
BESIDES Pcrfons of Eminence, to whom this Book has been precious and profitable, we håve an Instance, in the Rev. Mr. James Janeway's Token for Children, of a little Boy, whose Piety was fo discovered and promoted by reading it, as the most delightful Book to him next the Bible, that the Thoughts of everlasting Rest seemed, even while he continued in Health, to swallow up all other Thoughts; and he lived in a constant Preparation for it, and looked more like one that was ripe for Glory, than an Inhabitant of this lower World. And when he was in the Sickness of which he died, before he was twelve Years old, he faid, “ I pray, let me have Mr. Baxter's Book, that • I may read a little more of Eternity, before I go " into it.”..
Nor is it lefs observable, that Mr. Baxter himself, taking Notice, in a Paper found in his Study after his Death, what Numbers of Perfons were converted by reading his Call to the Unconverted, Accounts of which he had received by Letter every Week, exprefsly adds, “ This little Book (the Call to the Un-" « converted] God hath blessed with unexpeéted Suc“ cefs, beyond all that I have written, except the “ Saints Reg.". With an evident Reference to this Book, and even during the Life of the Author, the pivus Mr. Flavell affectionately says, 66 Mr. Baxter is « almost in Heaven; living in the daily Views, and “chearful Expe Station of the Saints everlafting Reft “ with God; and is left for a little while among us, " as a great Example of the Life of Faith"- And Mr. Baxter himfelf fays, in his Preface to his Treatise of Self-Denial," I must say, that of all the Books * which I have written, I peruse none ro often for 'as the Use of my own Soul in its daily Work, as my « Life of Faith, this of Self-Denial, and the last part “ of the Saint's Reft." On the whole, it is not without good Reason that Dr. Calamy remarks coneering it, « This is a Book, for which Multitudes " will have Cause to bless God for ever.” .
This excellent and useful Book now appears in the Form of an Abridgement; and therefore, it is prefumed, will be the more likely, under a divine Bleffing, to diffuse its falutary In Auence ainong those that would otherwise have wanted Opportunity or Inclination to read over the larger Volume. In reducing it to this finaller Siz?, I have been very desirous to do Justice to the Author, and at the same Time promote the Pleasure and Profit of the serious Reader. And, l-hope, thuse Ends are, in some Measure, answered; chiefly by dropping Things of a
digreffive, controversial, or metaphylical Nature; 'to gether with Prefaces, -Dedications, and various Allu. lions to some peculiar Circumstances of the last Age: and particularly, by throwing feveral Chapters into one, that the Number of them may better correspond with the Size of the Volume; and sometimes by altering the Form, but not the Sense, of a Period, for the sake of Brevity; and when an obsolete Phrase occurred, changing it for one more common and intelligible. I should never have thought of attempt. ing this Work, if it had not been fuggelled and urged by others; and by some very respectable Names, of whole Learning, Judgment, and Piety, I forbear to avail myself. . However defective this Performance may appear, the Labour of it (if it may be called a Labour) has been, I bless God, one of the most des lightful Labours of my Life.
CERTAINLY the Thoughts of everlasting Ref may be as delightful to Souls in the present Day, as they have ever been to those of past Generations. I am fure fuch Thoughts are as absolutely necessary now; nor are Temptations to neglect them, either fewer, or weaker, now than formerly. The Worth of everJafting Rest is not felt, because it is not considered; it is forgotten, because a thousand Trifles are preferred before it. But were the divine Reasonings of this Book duly attended to, (and oh that the Spirit and Grace of a Redeemer may make them fo!) then an Age of Vanity would become serious; Minds, snervated by Sensuality, would foon resume the Strength of Reason, and display the Excellence of Christianity; the delusive Names of Pleasure would be blotted out, by the glorious Reality of heavenly Joy upon Earth; every Station and Relation in Life would be filled up with the Propriety and Dignity of