How excellent a change will death make upon the soul’s leaving the body, if it pass into a glorious paradise, and hear a voice from Him that sits upon the throne, “Enter into thy Master’s joy” (Matthew 25:21). Poor Lazarus was lately very miserable at the rich man’s door; now very happy in Abraham’s bosom. Lately covered with sores and ulcers; now clothed with glory. Lately pining with hunger; now all his wants are supplied. His extreme poverty made him the other day despised by the rich man; he could find no entrance at his gates, no admission, no relief. But now he is envied for his happiness. The difference which departed souls will feel of their happy state, from what they lately were, and the sense they have of the evils they are delivered from, will give an account of their happiness. The fresh remembrance of what they were in this world will help their joyful sense of the happy change. And to compare their own condition with that of lost, miserable souls; to think of the hell they deserved, and others suffer; and they themselves did sometimes fear; and compare it with the rest, and peace, and joy, and glory that they now partake of, will add to their felicity. And who can tell how great that is, even before the resurrection?
Heaven and Hell (London: J. Heptinstall, 1700), 10-11.
Let God be the supreme object of our esteem and affections; and whatsoever evils we sustain, will be made light and easy to us. The apostle assures us, “That all things,” even the most afflicting, “work for the good of those that love God.” Rom. 8:28. That heavenly affection is not only the condition that intitles us to that promise, that by special privilege makes all the evils of this world advantageous to the saints; but it is the qualification by which it is accomplished. By love we enjoy God, and love will make us willing to do or suffer what he pleaseth, that we may have fuller communion with him. In God all perfections are in transcendent eminence, they are always the same and always new. He gives all things without any diminution of his treasures: he receives the praises and services of the angels, without any advantage or increase of his felicity. By possessing him, all that is amiable and excellent in the creatures, may be enjoyed in a manner incomparably better than in the creatures themselves. His infinite goodness can supply all our wants, satisfy all our desires, allay all our sorrows, conquer all our fears. One beam of his countenance can “revive the spirit dead in sorrow, and buried in despair.”
The Whole Works of the Rev. William Bates (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1990), 2:188–189.
[Obedience to God’s will would], they say, be a burden too heavy for Christians! As if we could think of anything more difficult than to love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength! Compared with this law, everything ought to be considered easy—whether the requirement to love our enemy or to banish all desire for revenge from our hearts. All these are indeed hard and difficult for our feebleness, even to the least detail of the law [cf. Matt. 5:18; Luke 16:17]. It is the Lord in whom we act virtuously. … To be Christians under the law of grace does not mean to wander unbridled outside the law, but to be engrafted in Christ, by whose grace we are free of the curse of the law, and by whose Spirit we have the law engraved upon our hearts [Jer. 31:33].