Heaven upon earth begun

April 25th, 2010

Richard Sibbes shows that in the Christian life, grace comes first subjectively as well as objectively.

Again, if we would be thankful, as Paul here, and begin heaven upon earth, labour to be assured of salvation, and perseverance in the Christian course. The papists, that speak against assurance and perseverance, kill prayer and praising of God. Shall a man praise God for that which he doubts of? I cannot tell whether God will damn me or not; perhaps I am but fitted as a sheep to the slaughter, &c. How shall a man praise God for any blessing he enjoys, when these thoughts are still with him? How shall a man praise God for salvation, when perhaps he shall not come to it? How shall a man praise God for that which perhaps he may fall from before he die? when perhaps he is God’s to-day, and may be the devil’s to-morrow? How can there be a hearty thanks, but when a man can say, ‘The Lord will deliver me from every evil work,’ that by mine own weakness and Satan’s malice, I may occasionally fall into, betwixt this and heaven? Therefore, if we would praise God as we should, let us work our hearts to labour after assurance of God’s favour; let us redeem our precious time, and every day set some time apart to strengthen our evidences for heaven, which will set us in a continual frame to every good work.

Richard Sibbes, The Saints’ Safety in Evil Times, Manifested by St. Paul, from his Experience of God’s Goodness in Greatest Distress (Works, v.1)

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