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Better to Depart

From what our Savior said to the penitent thief on the cross, and from what we may gather from the parable concerning Lazarus, the immediate happiness of the souls of Christians in another state is affirmed, that they are not to tarry for their felicity till the resurrection. So when the body of Stephen fell asleep, the Lord Jesus received his spirit. And the apostle desires to be unclothed of this earthly tabernacle that his soul might enter into the house not made with hands, that he might be present with the Lord. He desired to be dissolved, that he might be with Christ, as what was far better (much better). And the same phrase, “being with Christ,” or being “present with Him,” is used for the happiness of the saints after the resurrection, intimating that it is the same sort of happiness, and is so much preferable to any present enjoyment of God in this world, that is called an “absence from Him.” We likewise read of the souls of the martyrs, who came out of great tribulation, and had washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, “That they are before the throne of God, serving Him in His temple” (Revelation 6:14). And that is interpreted of His immediate presence in another place, for the Lord God Almighty, and the Lamb are said to be the Temple (Revelation 21:22).

—John Shower
Heaven and Hell (London: Printed by J. Heptinstall for John Sprint, 1700), 9-10.