"There shall be no more death."--Rev. 21:4

What a thrilling negative of Heaven is this! What a multitude of believing souls, held in the bondage of the fear of death, will bend over it with a deep and quickening pulse of joy and hope! The total annihilation of death--that solemn crisis of our being which we all so inevitably anticipate, yet so instinctively dread; which marks every individual as its victim, transforms every home into mourning, and the world itself into a vast cemetery; which severs the fondest ties, and extinguishes the brightest hopes; nips the fairest buds, withers the loveliest flowers, lays low the tall cedar and venerable oak--what heart does not exult at the thought?

But what is death? Abstractedly considered, it is the most calamitous and humiliating event of our history, filling the mind with awe, the heart with grief, and the future with dread. Milton portrays--as he only could--the supposed shock of Adam on his first sight of death. "But have I now seen death? Is this the way I must return to dust? O sight of horror, foul and ugly to behold, Horrid to think! how horrible to feel!"

But what, negatively, is death? It is not, as some vainly imagine, a deep sleep of the soul until the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised at the last Great Day. So far from this, in the transit of the soul to the spirit-world, it undergoes not even a moment's suspension of its consciousness. If ever its intelligence is wakeful, its perception vivid, and its memory undimmed, it is at the very moment of its unrobing of mortality, the body--like the useless scaffolding of the edifice--falling in wreck and ruin from around it.

Still less is death the annihilation of the soul. Annihilation is a word not found in God's natural or moral vocabulary. Possessing no evidence of the annihilation of a single atom of matter, what reason have we to suppose that He will annihilate a single spark of mind? Is it conceivable that He should utterly destroy and entirely efface that immaterial, uncompounded part of our being--the thinking principle--which most assimilates us to His own nature? "The dust shall return unto the earth as it was--and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it"--and just as He gave it--pulsating with life, instinct with intelligence, crowned with immortality.

But, positively, what is Death? There is no more true and instructive point of light in which to view death than as a DIVINE ARRANGEMENT, "It is appointed unto men once to die." Upon no other hypothesis can we rationally account for death. Inquire of the anatomist and he will tell you that, there exists no physiological reason why men should not live to an interminable age; that, there is no natural necessity why the human machine should for a moment stop, or stop forever. Clearly, then, the dissolution of the body is the appointment of Him "with whom are the issues of death."

This brings us to the originating CAUSE of death. And to sin we must trace it. Sin--sin--SIN is the terrible, prolific cause of all our woe. "SIN entered into the world, and DEATH by sin." "The wages of SIN is DEATH." We die because we have sinned. Holy beings never die. The unfallen angels taste not of death because they have never sinned. Man fell; and in dying he died--the soul spiritually, the body naturally. Such is death. In a few summary words--it is sin's great conquest--Satan's chief-work--the brimming of sorrow--the triumph of corruption--the fulfillment of the curse--the sentence of God for the disobedience of man.

But our chief subject is the consideration of death as entirely annihilated in Heaven. In the New Jerusalem-state of the Church, death is known no more. Over the gate of the celestial city, within which countless beings pass--once Death's victims, now Death's victors--is written in letters of dazzling light and glory, "The last enemy enters not here! There shall be no more death!"

But before we carry forward our thoughts to this sweet attraction of Heaven, we should do injustice both to Jesus and our theme, did we not pause and dwell for a while upon the present relation of death to the believer in Christ. It is a remarkable fact that, death did not smite Adam, the first sinner; nor Cain, the first murderer; but Abel, the believing, and the righteous one. Thus, the first man that met death, overcame death--and the first soul that left earth, went to Heaven. Such was the foreshadowing of the gospel truth in the earliest age of the Church, upon which we may now for a moment dwell. The gospel confers upon the believer in Christ a present emancipation from the power and condemnation of death, an intelligent and spiritual apprehension of which will tend much to change essentially the whole aspect of the "king of terrors." Let us, then, bend our thoughts in the first place to a consideration of death as abolished by Christ in the present dispensation of the saints of God.

The great event in Christ's life was His death. This was the goal towards which He pressed, and for which He was so often in a strait until it was reached. He never for a moment lost sight of the decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem, toward which His face seemed ever to turn. Calvary, with its physical phenomena--the trembling earth, the veiled sun, the darkened skies, the split rocks, the opening graves, the streaming blood, the bodily torture, the cry of woe; the Cross, with its more marvelous moral phenomena--the soul-sorrow, the mental darkness, the penitent thief, the shout of victory--all, all were vividly before Him every step He trod. Embarked as a voluntary sacrifice in the great work of the salvation of His elect, He never lost sight for a moment of Gethsemane or of Calvary--the one, the anticipated scene of His unknown sorrow, the other, of His unparalleled death.

Listen to His touching language--"I have meat to eat that you know not of. My food is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work." "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished!" This crisis He ever expected, and never sought to evade. From it there was no avenue, and in His heart no desire--to escape. Die He, or His church must die. But no! This could not be. He must die. Blessed truth, coming from the taunting lips of His foes--"He saved others; HIMSELF He cannot save"--He could not, because He would not, save Himself. Had He willed it, He could have wrenched every nail which fastened Him to the tree; but the cords of love which bound Him to His Church, He could not break! O the willingness, O the eagerness of Christ to suffer and die to save lost sinners! "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me."

My reader, is your soul guilt-burdened, and sin-distressed? Are you debating the question whether Christ is able to save so great a sinner; or, if able, whether He is willing? Turn your believing eye to the cross; behold Him bleeding and dying upon the tree; and listen to His words--"Look unto Me, all you ends of the earth, and be saved; for I am God, and there is no other!" (Isa. 45:22) Trusting not in your own righteousness--every shred of which is defiled by sin--the whole garment a mass of filthy rags, (Isa. 64:6)-- a 'cobweb' (Isa. 59:4-6) a 'fig-leaf' (Gen. 3:7)--the covering 'too narrow' for a sinner to wrap himself in--trust only in Jesus, who has merit enough, and love enough, and grace enough to 'save' even you 'to the uttermost' extent of sin, and from the lowest depth of guilt.

The present spiritual immunity of the believer from death, turns upon the wonderful declaration of the Apostle--"who (Christ) has abolished death." Death is here spoken of as ABOLISHED. In what manner has Christ thus "abolished" death in the experience of His saints? In the first place, by repealing the law of death. Death is the natural and just penalty of a law broken. Now if a law be repealed, it is no longer in force, and consequently exists no longer in its pains and penalties. Christ, the Law-Giver, became, on behalf of His Church, the Law-Fulfiller. He was "born of a woman, made under the law, that He might redeem those who were under the law." His perfect obedience to the law relieves His people forever from its obligation, and, consequently, from its death-penalty. Christ has thus 'abolished death,' by abolishing the law of death on behalf of His Church.

Again, He has abolished death, not only by repealing the law of death, but by His own actual and penal death. He could only abrogate the law by dying. The majesty of the law must be upheld, and its righteousness vindicated, either in the persons of its subjects, or in that of a substitute. Christ, as the Surety and Mediator of His people, died in their stead and for their sins, thus honoring the law, and emancipating them from it as a penal enactment. Consequently, the whole character of death is changed as it regards all who believe in Jesus, and thus avail themselves of the benefits of His passion and death.

They must die; but oh, how transformed and modified the entire nature and aspect of their death! It ceases to be death. Losing its repulsiveness and terror, as it has lost its condemnation and sting, the departure of a saint of God becomes the very poetry of death--a falling asleep in Jesus. What a beautiful and soothing image! "And he fell ASLEEP." "Those who are ASLEEP." "Them also which SLEEP in Jesus will GOD bring with Him."

Thus has Christ "abolished death" in the experience of all His saints. Bearing their sins, He extracted the sting of death, which is sin--sin unatoned, sin unpardoned. Where sin is cancelled--atoned for by Christ's death, and washed away by His blood--the 'last enemy' may launch his dart, but--it is stingless! Thus, dying for us, Christ has so repealed the penalty of the law, that the whole character of death is changed--it being no more a penal curse, but, as we have shown, a soft and holy slumber. "Destroying him that had the power of death, that is, the devil," "Christ has delivered them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." Such is the believer's present relation to death. And oh, how blessed! Through it we must pass--but what a shadow! The "king of terrors" must claim us as his subjects--but how broken his scepter! The "last enemy" must be met--but how conquered the foe, how pointless his dart! We must die, but it is only to languish into life; for, "blessed are the dead who die in the Lord."

But in Heaven "there shall be no more death." This will be literally the case. There will be no more natural death. The present dissolution of the body is essential to the perfect freedom and exaltation of the soul. Thus, the death of the believer becomes a covenant mercy, a sweet and holy privilege. It unbars his jail, and the prisoner is free; it opens the cage, and the bird wings its flight, singing as it soars, to heaven.

But the resurrection or spiritual body of the saints will be free from all the seeds of death. No sin will be there; and this will involve the absence of all the dread effects of sin--the inroad of infirmity, the wasting of sickness, the torture of pain, the throes, and convulsions, and sweat of death. O sweet attraction of Heaven! "The bitterness of death is passed," and we die no more forever!

The life we now derive from our union with Christ, possesses the germ of "everlasting life." What did Christ Himself say? "He that believes on the Son HAS everlasting life." (John 3:36) Faith in Christ puts us in possession of a present salvation; the believer is now saved--as entirely pardoned, as completely justified, and as fully adopted as he will be when he enters into glory. The spiritual life of the quickened soul on earth is the first pulse of the everlasting life in heaven. Grace below is the dawn of glory above. The believer has a foretaste of heaven, and possesses, though not to the same degree, yet in the same nature, the joys, happiness, and privileges of the "spirits of just men made perfect."

Who, with any scriptural reason, will dare question the certain and final salvation of each "vessel of mercy, before-prepared unto glory?" What an impeachment of every perfection of Jehovah to deny it! What dishonor done to the Savior--what disowning of the Spirit, to doubt it for a moment! But if we are grafted into Christ by the Holy Spirit, through a living faith, who shall separate us from His love? "Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him that loved us." Listen to the assertion of Christ Himself, concerning the present safety and final salvation of His own elect. "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, who gave them to Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand."

Let these decisive answers scatter to the winds every doubt and fear, and strengthen your confidence in Christ. Your grace may be weak, your faith slender, your love faint, your spiritual life feeble; nevertheless, "He who has begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." It shall never be said of Jesus--"This man began to build, and was not able to finish." Hell shall never possess an heir of Heaven, nor Satan exult that he was stronger than Jesus. Hidden with Christ in God, He must perish, before your spiritual life can, thus indissolubly bound up with His. "He that seeks my life seeks your life," said King David unto Abiathar. "Because I live, you shall live also," said David's Prototype to His disciples.

The spiritual exercises of your soul, however trying, supply no arguments against its final and eternal safety. Your increasing self-acquaintance, and consequent feeling that you are growing more sinful rather than more holy--that you are going backward and not forward in the divine life--the growing sensitiveness of the conscience to the slightest touch and taint of sin--are scriptural evidences and most sure indices of the reality of your religion, of the advance of your soul in its higher life. Doubt not, then, O believer in Jesus! your final and eternal salvation. The dimmest sight of Jesus is a life-look; the stealthiest touch of His robe, is soul-healing; the feeblest spark of love to Him is a pledge of Heaven; and the faintest breathing after holiness is a jet of the 'living water,' welled in the soul, and 'springing up into everlasting life.'

Take these, the lowest marks of grace in the regenerate--glory is the goal towards which they aspire, and in which they will ultimately be absorbed. Not one of the sheep given by the Father to the Son shall perish; not a sinner redeemed by His blood shall be lost; not a child adopted by His grace shall be absent; not a jewel excavated from nature's mine by His grace shall be missing in that day when the Shepherd shall gather together His flock, and the Father shall bring home His family, and the Savior shall cluster around Him His redeemed--in that day when the King of Zion shall appear, His diadem studded, and His breastplate blazing, with the precious stones of His especial and particular treasure.--"They shall be Mine, says the Lord, in that day when I make up My jewels"--(margin) "my peculiar treasure." Oh, yes; all the ship's company shall reach the shore of Heaven at last; though with "some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship, it shall come to pass, that all shall escape safe to land." (Acts 27:44)

"Oh! could it ever come to pass
That Christ's own sheep might fall away,
My feeble, fickle soul, alas!
Would fall a thousand times a day:
But Jesus' love is firm and free,
Through time and to eternity.

"On this sure promise I depend,
In humble hope and strong desire
That He will love me to the end,
And keep in every flood and fire:
Will for me work, and in me too,
And guide and guard, and bring me through.

"No other stay have I beside;
If Christ can change, then I must fall:
Until then, I look to be supplied
With grace, with life, with love, with all.
Rich souls may glory in their store;
But I--that Jesus saves the poor!"

O blissful thought of the glorified saints!--I am no more to die! I have crossed Jordan's cold flood--I have passed the dark valley--I have fought my last fight--I have overcome my last enemy--my bonds are loosed, and I am free! O Death! you yourself are dead, and I live forever!--once your trembling, humiliated victim, now your triumphant glorified victor, trampling you beneath my feet! "There shall be no more death."

The absence of death in Heaven will be the cessation of all painful apprehension with regard to the departure of those we love. With what anxiety we often watch the slow, insidious progress of disease in those whose life is essential to our happiness--yes, which seems a necessary condition of our very existence! Oh! it is painful, it is agonizing, to mark the advance of the "last enemy," "like a resolute murderer steady to his purpose;" approaching near and yet more near with soft, but most sure, foot-fall--and our hearts die within us. But this bitter trial is not without its sweet alleviations; this dark cloud not unillumined with some bright sunshine. Is the sick one, one whom Jesus loves? Is the departing soul dying in the Lord? Listen to the language breathing from that couch--

"I'm fading slowly, slowly as the day
Fades into even, and the quiet night;
But, with the body's sinking and decay,
The spirit gathers new and holy light;
A brief, brief time, and I shall be at rest,
Forever sheltered in the Savior's breast."

But this will be done away in Heaven. The quick eye of love will detect no symptom of disease; the clinging heart will feel no apprehension of death. Gazing on the deathless forms of the glorified spirits, now clad in resurrection-robes, no fearful forebodings will haunt the mind that sickness will imperil or the grave hide from us the treasure of our heart; for "there shall be no more death." The bud bursting into flower--the blooming flower opening into beauty--the olive branches adorning our table--the graceful vine entwining our home--the venerable oak spreading its benignant and graceful shadow over all--will then defy the nipping frost, the withering blast, the sweeping scythe and the felling axe of death. Rachel shall no more weep for her children refusing to be comforted, because they are not. No more shall "the desire of our eyes," the wife of youth's wedded love, be removed with a stroke; no more will the heart be made desolate with a widow's lonely anguish; nor the white-haired father go forth uttering his wail of anguish, and weeping as he goes--"O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for you, O Absalom, my son, my son!" With the utter abolition of death, these mournful and terrible results will entirely and forever have passed away.

But let us take a more SPIRITUAL view of this negative image of glory. There will be no more deadness of the Divine life of our soul. No truth is more certain than the deathless nature of the life of God in the soul of the regenerate. That life is as indestructible and imperishable as the Divine Source from whence it emanates. But, undoubted as is this fact, it is equally true that it may--through unmortified principle of sin, unwatchfulness of Christian walk, the restraining of prayer, the power of the world, the encroachments of the creature, the idolatry of self, the neglect of the means of grace--sink to a very low ebb. Spiritual torpor may steal over it, weakening its pulse, checking its growth, congealing its warm ascending aspirations after God, and Christ, and holiness, and heaven; thus diffusing over it the chill and insensibility of death, extorting the mournful lamentation--"O my leanness! My leanness! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" But, oh, blessed thought! there will be no coldness nor lukewarmness nor deadness of the soul in heaven! Praise to God will not then, as it often does now, freeze into icicles upon our lips. Love to Christ will not then, as it often does now, prove fickle, and frigid, and false. Oh! it is a blessed and holy thought, that there will be no ebb, no fluctuation, no chill, in the life of the glorified soul. Winter's frost and summer's heat, the congealing and the drought, will then give place to a spring of perennial bloom, and to a summer of eternal sunshine. Unbelief annihilated--carnality destroyed--selfishness effaced--sin will find no fuel for its flame, and death no material for its working. Oh, the rapturous prospect of inheriting "everlasting life!" subjected to the influence of no moral atmosphere--changeful, unkind, and fatal. This assurance of life, never impaired--of love, never chilled--of zeal, never drooping, of service, never tiring--of song, never ceasing--entirely revolutionizes and transforms our present condition of lamentation and sorrow, imparting dignity to lowliness, wealth to poverty, joy to grief, health to sickness, hope to despair--and converts our every deformity and unloveliness into a moral grace and beauty which angels might admire, but in vain may imitate.

Nor must we fail to enumerate, as an illustration of this negative of Heaven, the absence of all persecution, suffering, and death, the record of which supplies so large and so dark a chapter of the annals of God's Church. The history of the Church of Christ is the history of PERSECUTION--its most instructive and thrilling chapter that which records the faith and patience and sufferings of the "noble army of martyrs." It is to be feared that the martyrology of the Christian Church is but imperfectly studied. And yet, where does there exist, in the volume of her history, a more touching, illuminated, and impressive chapter than the annals of those who for the truth's sake, and for Christ's sake, loved not their lives unto the death? Nor has this part of her history yet closed. The certain and speedy coming of Antichrist, as the signs of the times unmistakably indicate, will be the advent of such a fiery persecution as she has never yet known. The Apostle thus foretells his coming--"Then shall that Wicked one be revealed, even him whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in those who perish." (2 Thes. 2:7-10)

The fearful persecutions consequent upon the reign of this Antichrist, are thus clearly foretold by our Lord--"There shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." Already, to the spiritual and studious eye, the cloud, though no larger than a man's hand, is gathering over the horizon. The rapid increase, wide-spread diffusion, and menacing attitude of error and superstition--dogmatic and ceremonial--are indices of the approaching storm too significant to misinterpret, and too visible to overlook. Never was there such a union of a credulity that believes everything, with a scepticism that believes nothing, as at the present day. Infidelity and superstition are confederate--Pilate and Herod made friends--in impugning the integrity of Divine Revelation--and in setting up a worldly, popish ritual in the place of that pure, divine worship of God without which none can worship Him in spirit and in truth. The bitterness, the threatening and separation exhibited by those thus abandoned to a "strong delusion that they should believe a lie," clearly indicates, not the lack of the will, but of the power, to rekindle the flames of fierce persecution--more fierce and devouring than have in any age made havoc of God's Church. But, O sweet thought! In Heaven the absence of death will be the absence of all deadly persecution of the saints. The last spark will die, the last shaft will be thrown, the last accusation will be made--for there shall be no more death.

It is a significant and interesting declaration touching the existence of this negative character of the New Jerusalem that, upon the glorified spirits the SECOND DEATH will have no power. The absence of this terrible doom is thus graphically described--"Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection; on such the second death has no power but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years." The "second death" will be a more terrible infliction of divine wrath than any that preceded it. But from this, all who share in the privilege and blessedness of the "First Resurrection" will be saved. Let it be--with the apostle--our aim to "know the power of Christ's resurrection" in our souls, and then, "if by any means we might attain unto the 'first resurrection' of the saints, for us the second death will be powerless."

There are, in reality, three deaths to which men are exposed--death moral, death natural, death eternal. Delivered by Christ from the power of the first, and from the condemnation of the second, we shall escape the bitter pangs and horrors of the third. But what, my reader, if we know nothing of having "passed from death unto life?" What, if we have not become "new creatures in Christ Jesus?" What, if we have not washed in His blood, and robed in His righteousness? What, if we live in our sins, and die in our sins, and stand before the bar of God with all their guilt upon us? Oh, then, upon us the "second death" will exert its tremendous, unmitigated, eternal power, and we shall, with all who do wickedly and die in rejection of Christ, "dwell with the devouring fire, with everlasting burnings," "where the worm" of an accusing conscience "dies not, and the fire" of divine wrath "is not quenched."

We know not what ETERNAL DEATH is--but we know some things respecting it. It is far away from heaven--those blissful plains where eternal joy dwells. It is far from hope--'hope that here comes to all.' It is the abode of all the abandoned and profane and vile--the collected guilt and wickedness of this world. It is a place where no sanctuary opens its doors and invites to heaven--where no Sabbath returns to bless the soul--where no message of mercy comes to the sinful and the sad. It is a world unblessed, like this, with the work of redemption. On no second Calvary is there a Redeemer offered for sin; and from no tomb does He rise to life to bless the sufferers with the offer, and to furnish the pledge of heaven. No Spirit strives there to reclaim the lost, and on no zephyr is the message of mercy borne, whispering peace. No God meets the desponding there with promises and hopes, and from no eye is the tear of remorse ever wiped away. There is no such Friend as Jesus; no word of mercy; no day-star of hope, no father, mother, daughter, pastor, angel to sympathize; no one to breathe for the lost the prayer for pardon; no great Intercessor to bear the cry for mercy up to the Throne of God.

It is death--lingering, long, interminable death--the dying sorrow prolonged from age to age; onward--onward toward eternity--ever lingering, never-ending! Lamb of God! Savior of sinners! I fly to You! put me in a cleft of the Rock--hide me in Your pierced side--shelter me beneath Your shadowing cross--wash me in Your blood, and invest me with Your righteousness. Bending from Your Throne in glory, throw around me the arms of Your love, and let me hear Your voice calling me Your child! Then, Lord Jesus! the first death will have for me no sting, and the second death no power.

A few DEDUCTIONS from this subject will close the chapter.

In anticipation of our departure out of this world, let its deal more closely with a living Christ than with a coming death. It is indeed a terrible event of our being--a solemn thing even to die in the Lord. But faith in Christ can raise us superior to the natural dread and moral fear of death, enabling us to contemplate our last end with dignity and composure, yes even with longing and hope. O precious truth! Jesus died and rose again, that we may "not see death." And when death comes, Jesus will come with it--yes, will come before it, anticipating its deadly shaft by the succourings of His grace, by the manifestations of His presence, and by the unveilings of the blessedness, glory, and song into which the departing soul is about to enter.

"Then, O believer! grapple with death and you shall get the first fall; but you shall rise again, and come off victorious at the last. You must go down to the grave; but though it be your long home, it shall not be your everlasting home. You will not hear the voice of your friends there; but you will hear the voice of Christ there. You may be carried there with mourning; but you shall come up with rejoicing. Your friends indeed will leave you, but your God will not. What God said to Jacob concerning his going down into Egypt, He says to you--Fear not to go down; I will go down with you; and I will surely bring you up again. O solid comfort! O glorious hope! wherefore comfort yourselves and one another with these words." (Boston)

"Death, the old Serpent's son!
You had a sting once like your father,
That carried hell and ever-burning fire.
But those black days are done;
Your foolish spite buried your sting,
In the profound and wide
Wound of a Savior's side.

And now you are become a tame and harmless thing--
A thing we dare not fear,
Since we hear
That our triumphant God, to punish thee,
For the affront you did Him on the tree,
Has snatched the keys of hell out of your hand,
And made you stand,
A porter at the gate of Life, your mortal enemy.
O You who are that gate, command that he
May, when we die,
And there fly,
Let us into the courts of heaven through Thee."

But when we contemplate death as the believer's door from earth to heaven, his passage out of grace into glory, bitter and devouring as is this foe, we can exclaim, with truth yet more significantly than Samson, "Out of the eater came forth meat, out of the strong came forth sweetness."

Could we catch the voice of the glorified one, over whose grave we rain our warm tears of grief, would not its utterances be like these?--"Would you know WHERE I am? I am at home in my Father's house, in the mansion prepared for me there. I am where I want to be, where I have long and often desired to be--no longer on a stormy sea, but in a safe and quiet harbor. My working time is done, I am resting; my sowing time is done, I am reaping; my joy is as the time of harvest. Would you know HOW it is with me? I am made perfect in holiness; grace is swallowed up in glory; the top-stone of the building is brought forth. Would you know WHAT I am doing? I see God; I see Him as He is, not as through a glass, darkly, but face to face; and the sight is transforming; it makes me like Him. I am in the sweet employment of my blessed Redeemer, my Head and Husband, whom my soul loved, and for whose sake I was willing to part with it all. I am here bathing myself at the spring-head of heavenly pleasures and joys unutterable; and, therefore, weep not for me. I am here keeping a perpetual Sabbath; what that is, judge by your short Sabbaths. I am here singing hallelujahs incessantly to Him who sits upon the throne; and rest not day or night from praising Him. Would you know what COMPANY I have? Blessed company, better than the best on earth--here are holy angels and the spirits of just men made perfect. I am seated with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God, with blessed Paul and Peter, and James and John, and all the saints; and here I meet with many of my old acquaintance that I fasted and prayed with, who got here before me. And lastly, would you consider how LONG this to is continue? It is a garland that never withers; a crown of glory that fades not away; after millions of millions of ages it will be as fresh as it is now; and, therefore, weep not for me." (Matthew Henry)

At length the door is opened, and, free from pain and sin,
With joy and gladness on his head, the pilgrim enters in;
The Master bids him welcome, and on the Father's breast,
By loving arms enfolded, the weary is at rest.
The pilgrim staff is left behind--behind the sword, the shield;
The armor, dimmed and dented, on many a hard-fought field;
His now the shining palace, the garden of delight,
The psalm, the robe, the diadem, the glory ever bright.
The blessed angels round him, 'mid heaven's hallowed calm,
With harp and voice are lifting up the triumph of their psalm:
"All glory to the Holy One, the infinite I Am,
Whose grace redeems the fallen! Salvation to the Lamb!"

Another son of Adam's race, through Jesus' loving might,
Has crossed the waste, has reached the goal, has vanquished in the fight;
Hail, brother, hail! we welcome you! join in our sweet accord;
Lift up the burden of our song--Salvation to the Lord!
And now from out the glory, the living cloud of light,
The old familiar faces come beaming on his sight;
The early lost, the ever loved, the friends of long ago,
Companions of his conflicts and pilgrimage below.
They parted here in weakness, and suffering, and gloom;
They meet amid the freshness of heaven's immortal bloom;
Henceforth, in ever-enduring bliss to wander hand in hand,
Beside the living waters of the still and sinless land.
Oh, who can tell the rapture of those to whom 'tis given
Thus to renew the bonds of earth amid the bliss of heaven?
Thrice blessed be His Holy Name, who, for our fallen race,
Has purchased by His bitter pains such plenitude of grace.

In what way the spirits of the glorified are permitted--if at all--to minister to the saints on earth, is an inquiry often urged, but never satisfactorily answered. We have no "Thus says the Lord"--no revealed data--to guide us to a scriptural and rational conclusion in the matter. That they are employed in a service in Heaven, we think is perfectly clear; for we are told--"They SERVE Him day and night in His temple;" but that that service extends to earth we think it would be difficult to show, since it is hard to suppose that a spirit, not created like an angel's, could act but by and through material organs. Would not, too, a supposed service of the blessed saints on earth interfere with the authorised and revealed ministry of angels? But whether the spirits of just men made perfect are sent on embassies of mercy and grace to us or not--and it is not clear that they are--this much we do know, they are not unconscious of, nor indifferent to, the progress of Christ's kingdom and truth in the world; "they serve Him." Their sensibilities are all awake, and their powers all developed, and their time all employed in a way, doubtless, congenial with their nature, befitting their position, and glorifying to God. Let us be satisfied with the revealed ministry of angels, and, above and beyond all, with the higher ministry and presence of Christ, the Lord of angels, in the fulfillment of His precious and assuring promise, "Lo! I am with you aways!"

Does the dying eye of a saint of God, poised upon the wing for eternity, come upon this page? Departing one! fear not the foe--shrink not from dying--dread not the grave; Christ stands between you and death. Think of what awaits you! In a few moments of time, the world of glory and holiness, of love and song will burst upon you--and the first object that will meet your eye, fix your gaze, and ravish your heart will be--the glorified form of JESUS, bending upon you the most ineffable smile, and receiving you with the most loving welcome.

"That blessed interview, how sweet!
To fall transported at His feet,
Raised in His arms to view His face,
Through the full beamings of His grace!"

There are awaiting you millions of cherubim and seraphim, with harps all tuned to celebrate your arrival--the arches of heaven resounding with their song. Lining the heavenly shore in advance, outnumbering and outshining the angel choir, will be the glorified spirits of patriarchs and prophets, of apostles and martyrs, prepared to receive their sister spirit home. In front of all will be the loved ones you lost, but now will have found, the first to hail your advent to that blissful world, where, clasped in their embrace, death will sunder you no more forever! O the joyous meeting! O the loving welcome! O the sweet communion! O the heavenly banquet, and the "new," the ravishing, the never-ending "song," the HALLELUJAH CHORUS of the skies! Departing one! fix your eye only upon JESUS--and you "shall not see death."

"There is no death! O blessed Lord are holding
Our last worst enemy in endless chains;
And with Your powerful arm of love enfolding,
My soul fears not his terrors nor his pains.
The dreaded foe has lost his power to sting,
Not death can harm one sheltered by Your wing.

"What though death pierce my flesh?
Your own he wounded, Wounded for me!
Then blessed, blessed pain!
For in my ears, Your glorious word has sounded,
'The dead in Christ shall life eternal gain.'

"With You, dear Lord, I do not fear to die,
'Tis but ascending in You up on high;
To live, to reign with You, to leave You never
To see You, hear You, praise and love forever."

"O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?"

Home       QUOTES       SERMONS       BOOKS