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Being cut down. Job xiv. 2.
1 Cor. xv. 55. The earthly tabernacle dissolved. 2 Cor. v. i. Putting off the body as a garment. 2 Cor. v. 3, 4.
Departing this life. * Phil. i. 23 ; 2 Cor. v. 8 ; 2 Tim. iv. 6.
Putting off this tabernacle. 2 Pet. i. 14.
“If thou expect Death as a friend (John xix. 41), prepare to entertain him; if as an enemy, prepare to overcome him (1 Cor. xv. 26). Death hath no advantage over us, but when he comes as a stranger.”—Quarles.
* “ Depart" is literally to “start on a voyage”—and “an abundant entrance” alludes to making port with all sail set. Clement of Alexandria first notices this.
XIII. TERMINATES OUR PROBATION.
Rev. xxii. II, 12. “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still : and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still : and he that is righteous, let him be righteons still : and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”
(Cf. Ecc. xi. 3; Job xiv. 7-12 ; Matt. vi. 20; Gal. vi. 7; Luke xvi. 26 ; 2 Cor. v. 10, etc.)
“ The notion of a state of trial after death is alike unscriptural and unreasonable. (1) God does not need to try men forever, to determine their moral character. Mortal life is long enough, at its shortest, for this purpose. (3) This world is adapted to such a probation (Rom. ii. 6-11). (4) Heaven is not adapted to it, because it is an endless reward. (5) Hell is not, because it is an everlasting punishment. (6) If the wicked are to be put on a second probation, why not the righteous also ? (7) Short as life is, sinners often finish virtually their state of trial long before they leave the present world. (Cf. Dr. Alexander's hymn, “There is a line by us unseen.") (8) There are those who quench the Holy Spirit, and so commit the unpardonable sin. (9) We are no longer authorized to pray for such persons (Jer. vii. 16; 1 John v. 16). (10) When is such a second probation to be expected ? No: between death and judgment (Heb. ix. 27). Not after judgment, for then Christ resigns his mediatorial office and kingdom (1 Cor. xv. 24-28). Finally (11) Christ says of that season of which death is the beginning, and eternity the continuance, ' The night cometh, when no man can work' (John ix. 4).”—— Pond.
Death is like the “fixing - solution” of the photog. rapher; it is the Medusa's head which turns our shifting
purposes and actions into stone. XIV. TO BE PREPARED FOR, TEMPORALLY.
2 Kings xx. 1. "Set thy house in order ; for thou shalt die, and not live.”
Perhaps, in giving this advice, Isaiah thought of Abraham, who was careful to settle his family affairs before his death (Gen. xxv. 5, 6). So should you do also. Making your will brings death no sooner. Let it be made justly; paying your debis and making restitution if you have wronged any one. Let it be made fairly; providing for your family without invidious distinctions. Let it be made in the fear of God; honoring Him with some part of your substance, by appropriating it to some pious and charitable use.
XV. TO BE PREPARED FOR, SPIRITUALLY.
Heb. xi. 7. “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house."
(Vide Ps. xxxix. 4, 13 ; xc. 12; Amos iv. 12.) (Cf. Mark xiii. 37; John vii. 6, and similar passages, €.g. Rev. iii. 2.)
“The accurate work of salvation, upon which hangs eternity, can hardly be done in the dinn-foul light of dying.”—Gauden.
“It is unadvisable to put off the providing of salvationgraces to a death-bed, seeing that it is so difficult then to exercise those that were provided before.”-Boyle.
“ Death-bed repentance. One case that we should not despair ; but one that we should not presume.”—Matt. Henry, on Penitent Thief.
IVI. TO BE PREPARED, ONE MUST BELIEVE ON CHRIST.
John xi. 25. “I am the Resurrection and the Life ; he that believeth on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live ; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”
Whether we consider preparation for death as habitual
(Matt. xxv. 4), or actual (as in Luke xii. 36), one thing is certain: no one is prepared for death who is not prepared for heaven. He must have faith (Mark xvi. 16). He must have repentance (Luke xiii. 3). He must be
" born again” (John iii. 3 ; 1 John v. 1). If he is born but once, he will die twice (Rev. xx. 14, 15; John viii. 24). If he is born twice, he will die but once (Rev. ii. 11).
FEAR OF DEATH-CAUSES AND CURE.
Heb. ii. 14, 15.
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same ; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil ; and deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their life-time subject to bondage.”
Analyzing this fear we find, as the first cause, the act of dying itself. No doubt God intended that death should be a remembrancer of human guilt, and therefore He made it what it is. Still, this consideration, of itself, ought not unduly to excite our fears. Physicians tell us that much of what we call the “ agony of death,” physiologically speaking, is less of agony than of insensibility. The hurried breathing, the “death-rattle,” and the turned-up eye-ball especially, are only signs that the sufferer has lost all consciousness. Thousands probably have suffered a much greater amount of pain, in illnesses from which they recovered, than in that of which they died. It is by no means a matter of course, that the “pariing struggle” should concentrate into it more of agony than that which has been endured at any previous period. And the popular feeling, perhaps, has more of superstition in it than of reason, as warranted by the facts which actually exist. The same thing may be said of the dread of the earth-worm, as founded on the over-interpreted English version of Job xix. 26, but for which there is not a semblance of
truth in the Hebrew ;* and of being buried alive, an event so uncommon with any ordinary care, that only a morbid sensibility would ever give it a second thought. When the muscle loses its irritability and becomes rigid-when there is an indication of incipient putrefaction--the evidence is conclusive. The sooner all this class of thoughts is dismissed from the mind, the better. It is not the mere act of dying, so much as the being dead, that should be our chief occasion of solicitude.
A second and more important cause for the fear of death is undue attachment to the world. We look at our partner in life, our children, our parents, our wealth, and we find that a dying hour is but a poor season in which to be weaned from the world. Well saith the son of Sirach, “O Death, how bitter is the remembrance of thee to a man that liveth at rest in his possessions, unto the man that hath nothing to vex him, and that hath prosperity in all things ; yea, unto him that is able to receive meat.” (Ecclus. xli. 1.)
Another cause for this fear of death is, lest in that hour we may be found without a good hope—like a ship without an anchor (Heb. vi. 19). Worldly-mindedness plants many a thorn in the pillow of the bed of death ; it is but a poor preparation either for death or heaven. Let a man make a business of his religion, and a religion of his business, and his hope, like his piety, will grow “brighter and brighter to the perfect day.'
The only cure for such fears as these is faith in Christ;
“ This, only this, subdues the fear of death,
A pardon bought with blood ! with blood divine !"
“Tell those that are drawing down to the bed of death, from my experience,” said Sir William Forbes, “that it
* “While we suppose common worms in graves, it is not easy to find any there ; few in church-yards above a foot deep.”—Sir Thomas Brouinc.
“And after this my skin is destroyed," etc.—Raymond: Trans. of Job.