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At Rest

July 20, 2017

A friend passed away last weekend. Thinking again about death reminded me of a couple quotes that I find especially compelling. Here are a thousand words worth far more than any picture.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:21

“How ominously these words follow each other in the text—“live,” “die.” There is but a comma between them and surely as it is in the words so is it in reality. How brief the distance between life and death! In fact there is none. Life is but death’s vestibule and our pilgrimage on earth is but a journey to the grave. The pulse that preserves our being beats our death march and the blood which circulates our life is floating it onward to the deeps of death.

Today we see our friends in health, tomorrow we hear of their decease. We clasped the hand of the strong man but yesterday and today we close his eyes. We rode in the chariot of comfort but an hour ago and in a few more hours the last black chariot must convey us to the home of all living.

But blessed be God, there is one place where death is not life’s Brother, where life reigns alone. “To live,” is not the first syllable which is to be followed by the next, “to die.” There is a land where death knells are never tolled, where winding-sheets are never woven, where graves are never dug. Blessed land beyond the skies! To reach it we must die. But if after death we obtain a glorious immortality, our text is indeed true—“To die is gain.”

O Death, why do you not spare the Church? Why must the pulpit be hung in black. Why must the missionary station be filled with weeping? Why must the pious family lose its priest and the house its head? O Death, what are you doing? Touch not earth’s holy things! Your hands are not fit to pollute the Israel of God. Why do you put your hand upon the hearts of the elect? Oh stop! Stop! Spare the righteous, Death, and take the evil! But no, it must not be. Death comes and smites the best of us all. The most generous, the most prayerful, the most holy, the most devoted
must die. Weep, weep, weep, O Church, for you have lost your martyrs. Weep, O Church, for you have lost your confessors. Your holy men are fallen. Howl, fir tree, for the cedar has fallen! The godly fail and the righteous are cut off.

But stay awhile. I hear another voice. Say you unto the daughter of Judah, spare your weeping. Tell the Lord’s flock, cease, cease your sorrow. Your martyrs are dead but they are glorified. Your ministers are gone but they have ascended up to your Father and to their Father. Your
Brethren are buried in the grave but the archangel’s trumpet shall awake them and their spirits are ever now with God. Hear the words of the text, by way of consolation, “To die is gain.” Not such gain as you wish for, you son of the miser. Not such gain as you are hunting for, you man of covetousness and self-love. A higher and a better gain is that which death brings to a Christian.

Why weep we, the saints to Heaven? Why do we need to lament? They are not dead, they are gone ahead. Stop, stop that mourning, refrain your tears, clap your hands, clap your hands!

What? Weep? Weep for heads that are crowned with garlands of Heaven? Weep? Weep for hands that grasp the harps of gold? What? Weep for eyes that see the Redeemer? What? Weep for hearts that are washed from sin and are throbbing with eternal bliss! What? Weep for men that are in the Savior’s bosom? No! Weep for yourselves, that you are here. Weep that the mandate has not come which bids you to die. Weep that you must tarry. But weep not for them. I see them turning back on you with loving wonder and they exclaim, “Why do you weep?” What? Weep for poverty that it is clothed in riches? Weep for sickness, that it has inherited eternal health? What? Weep for shame, that it is glorified? And weep for sinful mortality, that it has become immaculate?”
– Charles Spurgeon

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57

These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
John 11:11, 25-26

“A good Christian, when he dies, does but sleep: he rests from the labours of the day past, and is refreshing himself for the next morning. Nay, herein death has the advantage of sleep, that sleep is only the parenthesis, but death is the period, of our cares and toils. The soul does not sleep, but becomes more active; but the body sleeps without any toss, without any terror; not distempered nor disturbed. The grave to the wicked is a prison, and its grave-clothes as the shackles of a criminal reserved for execution; but to the godly it is a bed, and all its bands as the soft and downy fetters of an easy quiet sleep. Though the body corrupt, it will rise in the morning as if it had never seen corruption; it is but putting off our clothes to be mended and trimmed up for the marriage day, the coronation day, to which we must rise.”
– Matthew Henry

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