God, says Bernard, has not cast us out of paradise to seek another paradise in this world.
No, we are born to labor. Why do you seek the living among the dead? Why do you seek for living comforts, when you must expect to die daily? It is only heaven that is above all winds, storms, and tempests; rest must be after labor. Our rest is the crown of our labor; to seek it here is to seek it preposterously.
Why do you require that in one place (says Ambrose) which is due in another? Why would you preposterously have the crown before you have overcome? Imagine the most settled condition you can in this world, and even if you had it, yet it would be but vanity. So says the psalmist in Ps 39:5; “Man in his best estate is vanity.” The original is, “In his settled estate he is vanity;” not only vain, but vanity itself. …
Let us take heed that we be not too hasty in seeking our rest, pleasure and delight; we may perhaps have a little for a while to the flesh, and because we will not be content with that condition that God hath appointed for His people, here we may lose our part in that glorious eternal rest which God has prepared for His people hereafter.
Seek for that which you do, namely for rest, but do not seek for it where you do.
If we seek our rest in this world even though we meet with so many troubles in it, what would we do if the Lord should let us prosper? Behold (saith an ancient), the world is troublesome, and yet it is loved; what would it be if it were peaceable? You embrace it though it is filthy; what would you do if it were beautiful? You cannot keep your hands from the thorns, how earnest would you be in gathering the flowers?
—Jeremiah Burroughs, 1599 – 1647