Guest Post on Sabbath Observance

One of the most influential books I have ever read (and re-read) is Human nature in its Fourfold State, by Thomas Boston. Originally published in 1720, by this Scottish Puritan, my copy is a paperback published in 1964. It is much dog-eared and notated. This is a goldmine which must be absorbed in short draughts.

I publish here a piece from Boston’s section on regeneration, wherein he claims that the unregenerate would not enjoy heaven – nor could they. The section quoted below, while dealing with sabbath observance directly only in the last two sections (in red print), the rest of the excerpt is just too good to be left out and adds to our understanding of what Boston is explaining.

Enjoy this wonthderful “guest blog” from a Puritan preacher and scholar.

The unregenerate would find fault with heaven on several accounts. As,

(1.) That it is a strange country. Heaven is the renewed man’s native country: his Father is in heaven; his mother is Jerusalem, which is above, Gal. 4:26. He is born from above, John 3:3. Heaven is his home, 2 Cor. 5:1; therefore, he looks on himself as a stranger on this earth, and his heart is homeward, Heb. 11:16, “They desire a better country, that is, a heavenly country.” But the unregenerate man is the man of the earth, Psalm 10:18; written in the earth, Jer. 17:13. Now, “Home is home, be it ever so homely:” therefore, he minds earthly things, Phil. 3:19. There is a peculiar sweetness in our native soil; and with difficulty are men drawn to leave it, and dwell in a strange country. In no case does that prevail more than in this; for unrenewed men would forfeit their pretensions to heaven, were it not that they see they cannot make a better bargain.

(2.) There is nothing in heaven that they delight in, as agreeable to the carnal heart, Rev. 21:27, “For there shall never enter into it anything that defiles.” When Mahomet explained his paradise to be a place of sensual delights, his religion was greedily embraced; for that is the heaven men naturally choose. If the covetous man could get bags full of gold there, and the voluptuous man could promise himself his sensual delights, they might be reconciled to heaven, and fitted for it too; but since it is not so, though they may utter fair words about it, truly it has little of their hearts.

(3.) Every corner there is filled with that which of all things they have the least liking for; and that is holiness, true holiness, perfect holiness. Were one who abhors swine’s flesh, bidden to a feast where all the dishes were of that sort of meat—but variously prepared, he would find fault with every dish at the table, notwithstanding all the art used to make them palatable. It is true, there is joy in heaven—but it is holy joy; there are pleasures in heaven—but they are holy pleasures; there are places in heaven—but it is holy ground: that holiness which in every place, and in everything there—would mar all to the unregenerate.

(4.) Were they carried there, they would not only change their place, which would be a great heart-break—but they would change their company too. Truly, they would never like the company there, who care not for communion with God here; nor value the fellowship of his people, at least in the vitals of practical godliness. Many, indeed, mix themselves with the godly on earth, to procure a name to themselves, and to cover the sinfulness of their hearts; but that trade cannot be managed there.

(5.) They would never like the employment of heaven, they care so little for it now. The business of the saints there would be an intolerable burden to them, seeing it is not agreeable to their nature. To be taken up in beholding, admiring, and praising him that sits on the throne, and the Lamb, would be work unsuitable, and therefore unsavoury to an unrenewed soul.

(6.) They would find this fault with it, that the whole is of everlasting continuance. This would be a killing ingredient in it to them. How would such as now account the Sabbath day a burden, brook the celebration of an everlasting Sabbath in the heavens!

pp. 247-248 in 1964 paperback edition from The Banner of Truth Trust.

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