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To die is gain.—Phil. i. 21.
I COME to the benefit of death, ‘To die is gain.’ Some refer it to martyrdom, as if the gain would be to Christ. In his life he would glorify him by preaching, in his death by martyrdom. It is true, in this sense, ‘to die is gain,’ no loss to the church, but an advantage, and making for her increase. Sanguis martyrum est semen ecclesiae—The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. And God’s honour is thereby promoted: John xxi. 19, ‘Signifying by what death he should glorify God.’ It is so said concerning Peter’s martyrdom. It is for the glory of the truth, when they are ready to seal it with their blood, and to stand to the defence even to the death. It is an evidence of the 188truth of God’s promise, when they can hazard all in hope of the accomplishment of them; and it commendeth God’s service when we are willing to please him, though with the loss of all. But this cannot be meant, for it is not usual to call anything we do or suffer for God gain to him; and it suiteth not with the context, where his service in the gospel and his eternal interests are put in competition; not the glory that Christ had by his life, and the glory Christ might have by his death, those are not the things that come in competition, but his service and glorious estate in heaven; his own unspeakable joy and comfort, that is the gain he meaneth.
Doct. Whosoever dedicate their lives to Christ will find death itself to be great gain and advantage to them.
Death is theirs, because they are Christ’s, devoted to his use and service, 1 Cor. iii. 22. It is theirs, that is, it conduceth to their use and benefit; their gain, and not their terror; an enemy to nature, but a friend to grace. In this sense it is said, Eccles. vii. 1, ‘The day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.’ It is meant of those that leave a good name and a good savour behind them; for so the whole verse runs, ‘A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of one’s death better than the day of one’s birth.’ The name of the wicked rotteth, but the name of the godly is a sweet perfume; when the matter of the perfume is burnt, the scent remaineth behind them; for so when the person is gone, the savour of a good name liveth and remaineth behind them. Now to these is the day of their death better than the day of their birth, not only in that respect of name and reputation which increaseth after death, when their failings are ‘buried with them,’ and removed out of sight; but generally it is better with them, in regard both of sin and misery. In regard of sin, they are born in sin: Ps. li. 5, ‘Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me;’ but die in the Lord; are laid to sleep in the bosom of Jesus: 1 Thes. iv. 13, 14, ‘I would not have you ignorant concerning them that are asleep; but if you believe that Jesus died, and rose again, so also they that sleep in Jesus,’ &c. Born unclean, but die perfect. In regard of misery, birth lets us into troubles: ‘Man is born to troubles, as the sparks fly upward,’ Job v. 7. It is natural to us, as the ascending of light bodies and the descending of weighty and heavy bodies; but death delivereth us out of them. In the grave there is rest: Job iii. 13, ‘I shall lie still and be quiet; I shall sleep and be at rest.’ Not only a privative rest, or a cessation of troubles, but a positive rest, a blessed enjoyment of God: Rev. xiv. 13, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.’ These scriptures confirm the point.
In the illustration of it I shall perform three things—
1. Show that presently upon dying, man is capable of this gain, or of a blessed estate.
2. I shall show you what this gain is.
3. That it is proper and peculiar only to those that dedicate their lives to Christ.
I. This is strongly implied, if not expressly asserted in this place, that as soon as he dieth man is capable of great gain, for otherwise the whole reasoning would fall to the ground, which is mainly built 181upon supposition of his gain. There are a sort of men in the world so drowned in sense that they cannot believe things to come, either questioning the immortality of the soul, or else, which is a step to it, asserting the sleep of it, and all because they so fancy it to be tied to the body as that it cannot exercise its functions and operations with out it. Those that deny the being of the soul, or abiding of it after the body is dissolved, I shall deal with them in another place. I shall only speak now to those that grant the abiding of the soul, but in a deep sleep, without any sense or feeling of good or evil. I must show the falsehood of this opinion, or else all I shall speak will be to no purpose.
First, That the soul is distinct from the body, and is not merely the vigour of the blood, appeareth by scripture, reason, and experience.
1. In scripture we read that when man’s body was organised and framed, God ‘breathed into him the spirit of life,’ Gen. ii. 7. The life of man is a distinct thing from this mass of flesh that is proportioned into hands and feet, head and belly, arms and legs, bones and sinews; and this life of man, whatever it be, it is such a life as implieth reason, and a faculty of understanding, and willing or choosing: ‘In him was life, and this life was the light of men,’ John i. 5. It doth riot only enliven this flesh, but discourse and choose things at its own pleasure; a life that hath light in it. It is distinct from the body in its nature, being a substance immaterial, and not capable of being divided into parts, as the body is; for it is a spirit, not created of matter, as the body was. The body was framed out of the dust of the ground, and therefore can be resolved into it again, but the spirit was immediately created by God himself out of nothing; therefore the scripture saith, Eccles. xi. 7, ‘Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it;’ where the body, that was dust in its composition, shall be dust in its dissolution. There is described the first and last condition of the body in regard of its material cause, and the soul is described in the kind of its being; it is a spirit, or an immaterial substance; its author, God, gave it. He framed the body too, but not so immediately. In ordinary generation, our natural fathers are distinguished from the Father of our spirits, Heb. xii. 9. And by its disposal; when the body returneth to dust, the soul returneth to God. The saints resign it: Acts vii. 59, ‘They stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’
2. It is distinct in its supports. The body is supported by outward means and the help of the creature, but the soul is supported without means, by the immediate hand and power of God himself. The body is patched up with daily supplies from without; as it was made out of the earth, so is its food brought out of the earth: Ps. civ. 14, ‘He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man, that he may bring forth fruit out of the earth.’ And its clothing; but the soul needeth none of these things.
3. It is distinct in its operations. There are certain operations of the soul wholly independent upon the matter; as understanding and willing, for they agree to God and angels, who have no bodies: and there is no proper instrument in the body by which they should be 190exercised, as sight by the eye, hearing by the ear. Nay, it understands not only corporeal things, which are received by the ministry of the senses, but spiritual things, as God and angels, who have no bodies; and it can reflect upon itself; therefore it hath operations proper and peculiar to itself, so that it doth not depend upon the body.
4. It is distinct from the body.
[1.] As to weakness and perfection. The soul perisheth and decayeth not with the body. When the body droopeth and languisheth, the soul is well, yea, best, and better than it was before. There are distinct periods of time beyond which it is impossible to add a cubit or hair’s breadth to one’s stature; but the soul is ever growing forward to its perfection; and multitude of years, though they bring on much weakness, yet increase wisdom, Job xxxii. 7. Yea, the soul is strongest when the body is weakest. Dying christians have manifested the highest excellency under bodily infirmities; and when least of the life of nature, most glorious expressions of the life of grace: 2 Cor. iv. 16, ‘For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.’
[2.] As to pleasure and pain, joy and comfort. When all the joy of the body is gone, the joys of the soul are enlarged; as when the bodies of the martyrs on the rack were under torturings, their souls have been filled with inward triumphings, and their consolations: 2 Cor. i. 5, ‘For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation aboundeth by Christ.’ When the flesh is scorched, their souls are refreshed.
5. They are distinct in the commands God hath given about it Christ hath commanded us to ‘take no thought for the body,’ Mat. vi. 25, but he never commanded us to take no thought for the soul, rather the contrary: Deut. iv. 9, ‘Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently.’ The great miscarriage of men is, because they pamper their bodies and neglect their souls. All their care is to keep up their bodies in due plight, but never regard their souls, which were more immediately given them by God, and carry the most lively character of his image, and are capable of his happiness.
Secondly, The soul is not only distinct from the body, but can live and exercise its operations apart from the body. There are many arguments from reason to prove the immortality of the soul; but let us consider scripture, which should be reason enough to christians. That it can do so appeareth by that expression of Paul, 2 Cor. xii. 2, ‘I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I cannot tell, or whether out of the body, I cannot tell, God knoweth), such an one caught up to the third heaven.’ If Paul had been of this opinion, that the soul separated from the body is void of all sense, he must then have known that certainly his soul remained in his body during this’ rapture, because, according to this supposition, in that state alone could he see and hear those things which he saw and heard. And that argument is not contemptible to prove the possibility, where among other things it is said, ‘Death cannot separate us from the love of God in Christ.’ Therefore the soul liveth in a state to enjoy him, and in a sense of God’s love to us, and our love to him.
Thirdly, That the souls of the saints not only can live apart from 191the body, but actually do so, appeareth from scripture. First take a passage next the text: Phil. i. 23, ‘For I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.’ Ἀναλύσαι is to be dissolved; it giveth us the right notion of death; it is not a destruction of the godly, but the separation of the soul from the body, dissolving of things before conjoined, when the soul is set at liberty from the fetters and captivity wherein it remained in the body. That was it he desired, to set sail for heaven. But how can it be πολλῶ μᾶλλον κρεῖσσον, by ‘much more the better,’ if the soul were deprived of all sense and feeling, and did remain in a dead sleepy estate? Is it not better for a gracious man to wake than to sleep, to work than to be idle and sit still, to use the faculties granted us by God than to lie in a senseless condition? What profit is it to be with. the Lord, and not to enjoy his company? or not to know where we are? Oh, it is better to have our present knowledge of Christ and service to him, and those sips and tastes of spiritual comfort which the present state will admit, than to lie in such a stupid lethargy, without all understanding or spiritual sense. It would be a loss of happiness for Paul to be dissolved, when his body should lie rotting in the grave, and his soul without all fruition of God. What can be imagined to be a happiness, but to be eased of present labours? God’s people are wont to reckon much of their present service and enjoyment of God, though accompanied with afflictions. Surely Paul would never be in a strait, if to be only reduced into a condition of stupid sleep, without the enjoyment of God, wherein we do nothing, feel nothing. God’s people, I say, are wont to prefer the most afflicted condition with God’s presence above the greatest contentment in his absence: ‘If thou go not up with us, carry us not up hence,’ Exod. xxxiii. 15. Better be with God in the wilderness than in Canaan without him. So that this drowsy doctrine, which puts the soul in such an inactive estate, cannot be endured, wherein souls departed enjoy no more happiness than stocks and stones, or inanimate creatures, till the resurrection. So 2 Cor. v. 1, 2, ‘For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens: for in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.’ Surely if the soul slept till the resurrection, they should not say, when this house is dissolved, but when this body is raised, and this tabernacle is restored. When they desire to part with the body, it is not for want of love to their bodies, but out of love to their souls. Paul could have wished mortality to be swallowed up of life, that the mortal body might have gone to life with the immortal soul. It were absurd to long for the dissolution of that state in which we feel the love of God and Christ to us with joy unspeakable and glorious, only for an estate where there is no sense of God, or Christ, or itself, or celestial and heavenly things. It followeth afterwards, ver. 6, ‘Therefore we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.’ We should rather be absent from him when out of the body, and have no understanding, no love, no communion with him. The next place is Luke xxiii. 43, ‘This day shalt thou be with me in paradise,’ saith Christ to the good thief. By paradise is meant heaven. See 2 Cor. xii. 4. What he calls the 192third heaven, ver. 2, he calls paradise, ver. 4; an allusion, not to ordinary gardens, as Eden, or that garden which Adam dressed in innocency. Christ saith he was in paradise in regard of his soul, for his body was to be laid in the sepulchre. His divine nature is not intended, for so he was always in heaven: John iii. 13, ‘No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man who is in heaven.’ Now this soul of Christ, when separated from the body, was it destitute of all sense, yea or no? Can any christian think so of their blessed Lord and Saviour? Surely then it is not contrary to nature that the soul act or feel out of the body. He promiseth the penitent thief he shall be with him. Surely he speaketh it to comfort him, and this comfort was not to commence till sixteen or seventeen hundred years afterwards, if the soul slept till the resurrection. To evade the place, they refer σήμερον, ‘to-day,’ to λέγω, ‘I say, I say to-day;’ but the pointing in the Greek copies showeth otherwise. The sense is otherwise, for it is Christ’s answer to his desire, ‘Remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.’ But now Christ, to encourage him, promiseth more than was asked, as God usually doth abundantly above what we can ask or think: I will not defer thy desire so long. None can imagine the words to be a denial, or that Christ would put him off to some hundred years after. Christ’s hodie, ‘to-day ‘answereth his quando, ‘when,’ in that parable, which must be supposed to speak according to the current of those times: Luke xvi. 22, ‘The beggar died, and was carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom;’ in the twinkling of an eye, or the turning of a thought. A great comfort when you come to die; in a moment angels will carry you to Christ, and Christ to God. Agonies of death are terrible, but there are joys just ready; as soon as you are loose from the prison of the body, you enter into your eternal rest; the soul flieth hence to Christ to be where he is. In short, men are in their final estate as soon as they die; they go to their own place: wicked men to the prison of hell, 1 Peter iii. 19; good men to ‘the spirits of just men made perfect,’ Heb. xii. 23. Would those things be said of them if they did lie only in a dull sleep without any life, light, joy, or act of love to God? Now present sleep is a burden to the saints, as it is an interruption to their service.
II. I shall show what that gain is which blessed spirits departed do enjoy. I confess we should rather labour to obtain it than scrupulously to define it. When we get up thither, we shall understand it better.
Here I shall show you—(1.) What this blessed state is; (2.) The comfortable adjuncts of it; (3.) That we lose nothing but what is made up.
1. What it is.
(1.) A freedom from all misery. Death is a haven of rest after storms and tempests: Rev. xiv. 13, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord; they rest from their labour.’ Here the church’s name is ‘O thou afflicted and tossed with tempests!’ but there is our haven. Here, alas! are tossings and shakings: Job xiv. 1, ‘Man, that is born of a woman, is of few days, and full of trouble.’ It is well they are few, because so full of trouble. A tired man would fain go to rest. Nay, it is for our 193profit that there are troubles (it being so natural to us to be led by sense), to imbitter our present estate; but there are no more then: here there are not only outward afflictions, molestations, death of friends and dear relations, sorrow, crying, sighing, pains; but then ‘God will wipe away all tears from our eyes,’ Rev. xxi. 21. But also there are inward troubles by reason of doubts, temptations, corruptions, defects, and weaknesses. How many cloudy days doth a christian pass over in the world! What damps of heart, conflicts with Satan! But there we enter into our master’s joy, Mat. xxv. 21. There is no serpent in the upper paradise.
(2.) Freedom from sin: then sin shall be wholly subdued when they die, for death is the last enemy, 1 Cor. xv. 26. If sin continued after death, death would not be the last enemy. There we are brought to God as a proof of Christ’s death: Eph. v. 27, ‘That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such, thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish;’ Jude 24, ‘And to present you faultless before the presence of his glory;’ Col. i. 22, ‘To present you holy, and unblamable, and unreprovable, in his sight.’ Alas! what a trouble have we with sin! Rom. vii. 24, ‘wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ If any man had cause to complain of afflictions, Paul had; in perils often, whipped, scourged, imprisoned, stoned. Oh, but this body of death! His lusts troubled him more than scourges, and this captivity to the law of sin more than prisons. We are sinning here while others glorify God. Here we are born in sin, and after the new birth much corruption still remains in us. Dejectum, non ejectum; sin is cast down, not cast out. But death works a perfect cure; it puts off all our sins at once.
(1.) The vision of God: 1 Cor. xiii. 12, ‘But now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face: now I know in part, but then I shall know even as also I am known;’ 1 John iii. 2, ‘But we know when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.’ Here we know little of him, only his track, shadow, picture; but there face to face. In the church there is only hearing of him by the ear, but in heaven there will be seeing. Now we know God only by hearsay, but see him not; still τὸ θεῖον is ἀκατάληπτον, the divine nature is incomprehensible; angels clap their wings, and cover their faces. Finite cannot comprehend infinite, no more than a cockle-shell can the ocean.
(2.) The full fruition of God. Here, 2 Cor. iii. 18, ‘But we all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory;’ but there much more: 1 John iii. 2, ‘We shall be. like him, for we shall see him as he is;’ by it we become like him. In a stamp impressed, the wax receiveth only the form and figure, without any real quality, as a golden seal leaveth no tincture of gold, nor a brazen seal the property of brass. In a glass, besides figure and proportion, there is a representation of motion, but no other real qualities. But here, as iron in the fire seemeth to be fire, we are like him in holiness and happiness. There is in God τὸ μακάριον καὶ τὸ ἀγαθον, happiness and holiness; these are communicated to us.194
(1st.) In holiness; we love him everlastingly, as God loveth himself. Moses, by conversing with God, his face shone. We love little because we know little. To love God out of a participation of the same nature, the lowest is to love him out of interest, the highest out of a principle of holiness; not because good and bountiful, but because holy. While sight is weak, holiness is weak; and while holiness is weak, love is imperfect; for holiness is nothing in effect but love. We wander after other things, but this love is expressed by receiving, delighting, lauding, praising him for evermore.
(2d.) In happiness; for there is as much fruition of God as we are capable of: Rom. viii. 18, ‘Glory revealed in us.’ There God is all, here there is no room to receive him, no faculties to behold his glory, no means to convey it.
2. The comfortable adjuncts of it.
[1.] The place, which is very glorious. The pavement and nether part, we cannot look upon it without wonder; but the seat of the blessed is much more glorious, as the holiest of all exceeded the out ward court. Here we are in the place of our service; how pleasant soever our seat be, there is inconvenience, a mixture of winter and summer, sickness and health, life and death; it is a middle place between heaven and hell, and hath a mixture of both. The best contentments are mixed with dregs, but there is pure contentment without any sorrow at all.
[2.] The company: Heb. xii. 22, 23, ‘But ye are come to mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,’ Besides God, and Christ’s human nature, there are an innumerable company of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect. Heaven is no solitude; there is company enough, good and blessed company. What a joy will it be to behold Christ’s glory, angels and archangels ministering to him; to see the first parents of mankind, Adam and Eve, and the blessed patriarchs! Mat. viii. 11, ‘They shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Enoch and Elias, the two persons that were translated into heaven in an extraordinary way. See Paul with his crown of righteousness upon his head; our friends with whom we mingle souls. Between this blessed company there is great love; every one is loving, and every one is lovely. The apostle telleth us that when faith and hope cease, love remaineth; not only as terminated on God, but as terminated on the saints. They shall not only love God above all, but love one another with a most pure and perfect love. They shall love God more than themselves, and others as themselves. As the loops of the tabernacle did couple the curtains one to another, so dear love unites the glorified saints. No more strife between Luther and Zuinglius, Hooper and Ridley, Calvinists and Lutherans; not to come nearer home, and mention those invidious names which are set up as flags of defiance to divide us into several herds and factions. And as mutual love, so there will be mutual honouring one another, and rejoicing in one an other without envy, according to the honour God puts on them. Their will is perfectly conformable to God’s, rejoicing in each other as their 195own. Those two querulous words, mine and thine, will no more set us at variance; for one hath not the less comfort because another hath more; as a great multitude hear a speech, one hears not the less because another hears it with him; or the sun shines on a multitude, every one hath all; or as in a chorus of voices, every one is partaker of another’s voice as well as his own: Neither are they set together as mute spectators and mere strangers. There is a communion between the blessed spirits. Paul when he was rapt into the third heaven, heard ἄῤῥητα ῥήματα, unutterable words, words not fit to be uttered, 2 Cor. xii. 4, which is not lawful or possible. He doth not speak so much of what he saw, but heard. God revealed himself to Moses by sight, Exod. xxiii., to Paul by hearing. We cannot intrude into those secrets, to know what and how this communion is maintained; but somewhat we may guess at; holy and gracious conferences concerning the wisdom of God, his decrees, the works of his power, the riches of his grace, the fruits of Christ’s death; as in Christ’s transfiguration, Luke ix. 31, ‘They appeared in glory, and spake of his decease, which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.’ To meet with holy prophets, and tell them now all is come to pass, now all hazards and dangers are over, certainly a sweet communion it will be; as travellers when they come into their inn talk of the dirtiness of the way. Only here now I shall inquire whether the saints know one another in heaven, fathers their children, and children their fathers, husbands their wives, friends their acquaintance; yea, those that never saw one another’s faces?
Ans. Yes, but not after the flesh, in a carnal natural way: Mat. xxii. 30, ‘They neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.’ But they rejoice in one another in a spiritual way, as they are related to Christ. Though it be a double contentment to see that our relations do increase the number of blessed spirits, it is not to be imagined there will be a perfect oblivion of all things. Memory is not abolished, but perfected; for those that never knew one another in the flesh shall then know one another. Adam knew Eve in the state of integrity, though he never saw her before: Gen. ii. 23, ‘And Adam said, This is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.’ So when restored to a perfect state; the disciples knew Moses and Elias, though they had never seen them, Mat. xvii. 3. We shall be suddenly enlightened to know them in that great council of souls; being of the same company, we shall know our fellows. In that parable of Dives and Lazarus, Luke xvi., there is a representation of the everlasting estate. Abraham knew Lazarus, and the rich glutton knew him in Abraham’s bosom. Ministers shall have knowledge of souls they have gained to Christ: 1 Thes. ii. 19, ‘For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?’ Such as were converted, edified by him. Such believers are welcomed to heaven by the poor whom they have relieved: Luke xvi. 9, ‘Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail they may receive you into everlasting habitations.’ Angels do not only know themselves, but all the elect whom they are to gather from the four winds, Mat. xiii. 41. It is more probable they shall know one another.
III. That we shall lose nothing but what shall be made up.196
1. Do we lose friends? There are better in heaven; our best friends love us not so dearly as every one doth there. This is the true communion of saints; we have communion not only with one or two, but all; now two or three berries on the top of the uppermost bough. It is well if two or three mortified humble christians can meet together, and breathe out their souls in supplications: ‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name.’ There is an innumerable company; there is none but such. Here saints and hypocrites are mixed and blended together in promiscuous herds, there none but the wheat is gathered into the barn. There will need no fears and suspicions, no unclean enters there. Christ, that giveth entrance into heaven, cannot be deceived; there they are perfect. Our communion is often interrupted by our infirmities; here full of contention or clashing, there all agree in the same aim and the same work; and this union and communion is constant without end; now often diverted by present weaknesses and intervenient occasions; we must break off company and societies, if not affections; there we shall never part, but always be praising God.
2. Is it ordinances we lose? There the Lamb shall be the light of the new temple. We shall study divinity in Christ’s face; that will be our bible, there we shall drink of the fruit of the vine new with Christ, Mat. xxvi. 29.
3. Communion with God. Then ‘we shall ever be with the Lord,’ 1 Thes. iv. 17. There will be no cloud on that day.
4. Service and opportunities of glorifying God. We shall be more active to his praise. The instrument will be perfectly in tune. Here we often jar, there will be no spot or blemish, Eph. v. 27.
5. Comforts of this world, they are of use in our passage and we must possess as if we possessed not, 1 Cor. vii. 31; but there we are free from all needs. No man complains, when he is recovered out of a disease, that he has no more need of physic.
Use 1. To commend Christ’s service to you. If you have dedicated your life to the flesh, then death will be bitter: Gal. vi. 8, ‘For he that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption.’ A man should consider all things with respect to his latter, end, that he may have the same notion of things living and dying. But Christ’s servant, what comfort shall he have when he goeth hence to his master? John xii. 16, ‘If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be.’ Oh, follow him; you will not repent of it at last. Believe this that is spoken; if you did believe, surely you could not be so slack in his service: John xi. 26, ‘Whosoever liveth and believeth in me, though he die yet shall he live. Believest thou this?’ Did we strongly consider and soundly believe these truths, Christ would have more servants than he hath. Oh, then, there is a great deal of profit in Christ’s service as to present comfort and final reward.
Use 2. A meditation for the dying. We should hear for the time to come, and not only hear, to learn to live by the word, but learn to die. To make you willing to die, consider, death is not a loss, but a gain. You leave earth for heaven, misery for complete happiness, a temporal life for an eternal; a shed is taken down that a palace 197may be raised up in its stead; you exchange a lease for an inheritance, and hard service for perfect freedom. Death is terrible upon a natural and legal account, as it puts an end to our present comforts; and upon a legal account, as it is attended with sin: 1 Cor. xv. 56, ‘The sting of death is sin.’
Use 3. To confute their fondness that would divide these two. Many would have death to be gain, but do not take care to live to Christ. Alas! that is a foolish thought. You would have comfort, but you deny duty; you would live to the flesh, yet die in the Lord. God might have customers more than enough for heaven upon these terms. To die to you will be loss: ‘Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things.’ You cannot expect to go from Delilah’s lap to Abraham’s bosom. No; you go from pleasure to pain, from your friends to devils, from opportunities of grace to torments and inflicting of punishments, from your house to the prison of hell.
Use 4. Comfort concerning departed friends. Will you envy at their preferment, whine and murmur at their gain? If you loved them indeed, you would be glad when it is well with them; and where can it be better for them than in heaven, in the bosom of Jesus Christ? The soul is there. You leave the body in the grave, but Christ will not leave it there: ‘Thou fool! that which thou sowest lives not except it die.’ Oh, then comfort you one another with these words.198
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