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In the life of the Rev. Mr. John Janeway, Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, who died in 1657, we are told, that his conversion was, in a great measure, occasioned by his reading several parts of the Saint's Rest. And in a letter which he afterwards wrote to a near relative, speaking with a more immediate reference to that part of the book which treats of heavenly contemplation, he says, “ There is a duty, which, “ if it were exercised, would dispel all cause of me“ lancholy; I mean heavenly meditation, and con“ templation of the things which true Christian reli“ gion tends to. If we did but walk closely with God “ one hour in a day in this duty, oh what influence “ 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 some measure before, but had it more pressed “ upon me by Mr. Baxter's Saint's Everlasting Rest, “ [a book] that can scarce 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 Saint's
It was the example of heavenly contemplation, at the close of this book, which the Rev. Mr. Joseph Allein, of Taunton, so frequently quoted in conversation, with this solemn introduction, “ Most divinely “ says that man of God, holy Mr. Baxter.”
Dr. Bates in his dedication of his funeral sermon for Mr. Baxter to Sir Henry Ashurst, Bart. tells that religious gentleman, and most distinguished friend and executor of Mr. Baxter, “ He was most worthy “ of your highest esteem and love; for the first im“ pressions of heaven upon your soul were in read“ ing his invaluable book of the Saint's Everlasting “ Rest."
In the life of the Rev. Mr. Matthew Henry, we have the following character given us of Robert Warburton, Esq. of Grange, the son of the eminently religious Judge Warburton, and father of Mr. Matthew
"and Preparatir. Baxter's Saints took singular
Henry's second wife. “ He was a gentleman that “ greatly affected retirement and privacy, especially “ in the latter part of his life: the Bible, and Mr. “ Baxter's Saint's Everlasting Rest, used to lie daily “ before him on the table in his parlour; he spent the “ greatest part of his time in reading and prayer."
In the life of that, honourable and most religious knight, Sir Nathaniel Barnardiston, we are told, that “ he was constant in secret prayer and reading the “ scriptures; afterwards he read other choice authors: “ but not long before his death, he took singular de“ light to read Mr. Baxter's Saint's Everlasting Rest, “ and Preparations thereunto; which was esteemed a “ gracious event of Divine Providence, sending it as “ a guide to bring him more speedily and directly to " that rest.”
Besides persons of eminence, to whom this book has been precious and profitable, we have an instance, in the Rev. Mr. Janeway's Tokens for Children, of a little boy, whose piety was so 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 said, “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 less observable, that Mr. Baxter himself, taking notice, in a paper found in his study after his death, what numbers of persons were converted by reading his Call to the Unconverted, accounts of which be had received by letter every week, expressly adds, “ This little book [the Call to the Unconverted] God “ hath blessed with unexpected success, beyond all " that I have written, except the Saints Rest." With an evident reference to this book, and even during the life of the author, the pious Mr. Flavel affectionately says, “ Mr. Baxter is almost in heaven; living
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“ in the daily views, and cheerful expectation, of the “ Saint's everlasting Rest with God; and is left for a “ little while among us, as a great example of the life “ of faith.” And Mr. Baxter himself says, in his preface to his Treatise of Self-denial, “ I must say, that of all “ the books which I have written, I peruse none so “ often for 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 Rest.” On the whole, it is not without good reason that Dr. Calamy remarks concerning 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 abridgment, and therefore it is presumed will be the more likely, under a divine blessing, to diffuse its salutary influence among those that would otherwise have wanted opportunity or inclination to read over the large volume. In reducing it to this small size, 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, I hope, those ends are, in some measure, answered; chiefly by dropping things of a digressive, controversial, or metaphysical nature; together with prefaces, dedications, and various allusions to some peculiar circumstances of the last age; and particularly by throwing several 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 attempting this work, if it had not been suggested and urged by others; and by some very respectable names, of whose 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 delightful labours of my life.-Certainly the thoughts of everlasting rest may be as delightful to souls in the present day, as they have ever been to those of past
generations. I am sure such thoughts are as absolutely necessary now; nor are temptations to neglect them, either fewer or weaker now than formerly. The worth of everlasting 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 so !) then an age of vanity would become serious; minds enervated by sensuality, would soon 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 serious religion; every member of society would then effectually contribute to the beauty and happiness of the whole; and every soul would be ready for life or death, for one world or another, in a well-grounded and cheerful persuasion of having secured a title to that Test which remaineth to the people of God.