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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?

—John Shower
Heaven and Hell (London: J. Heptinstall, 1700), 10-11.

Some see pride as only that which manifests itself in costly apparel and bodily ornaments, beyond the degree and rank of the person. Some look no further than the treatment of one man towards another. Now consider with me that the greatest pride in the world is man’s undue esteem of himself toward God, and this is in the heart of everyone by nature. Everyone by nature lifts up himself against God, goes about to dethrone God, and to crown himself. Everyone takes counsel in his heart against the Lord, saying, “Let us break His bands asunder, and cast His cords from us” (Psalm 2:3). This is the voice of everyone that dares willfully to sin. This is the working of the pride of a man against God, to thrust God out of the throne of His majesty, and to set himself in. For what is God’s glory and respect among His creatures? Is it not that He, being the beginning and Author of all, should be likewise the end of all?

This is the very purpose for which God made man, that having received himself from God, he should have what he might freely give up to God. All man is, and all that he has, is to be offered to God, as the end and center of all. But a sinning creature brings God under to serve him, to provide for him. And though this pride of man against God is not always so easily noticed, it is the very daring sin of the world. …

Consider how far man’s pride is from his true excellency in his union with God. We must therefore distinguish between the high esteem that man is to have of himself, and pride. For man to look on himself as a noble being, of rank above all the natural world, is not pride, for in this way he is (being a spiritual understanding agent) in a capacity of being acquainted with God and of being united to God.

—James Janeway
Heaven upon Earth (London: Dilbourn, 1673), 38-39.

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.”

—William Bates
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].

—John Calvin
Institutes, 2.8.57.

Just so no one accuses me again of forbidding good works, let me say that one should with all seriousness be contrite and remorseful, confess and do good works. … After [the grace of God] we can do a lot of good [works]—to the glory of God alone and to the benefit of our fellow-men, and not in order that we might depend upon that as sufficient to pay for our sin. For God gives us his grace freely and without cost; so we should also serve him freely and without cost.

—Martin Luther
“Word and Sacrament I” in LW, 35:17.

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