The Death of the
By Thomas Watson
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain!" Philippians 1:21
Paul was a great admirer of Christ. He desired to know
nothing but Christ, and him crucified. 1 Cor 2:2. There is no medicine like
the blood of Christ!
I. "For to me, to live is Christ."
That is, "Christ is my life!" Or thus, "My life is made up of
Christ." As a wicked man's life is made up of sin, so Paul's life was made
up of Christ—he was full of Christ. That I may give you the sense of the
text more fully, take it in these three particulars:
 "For to me, to live is Christ," that is—Christ is
the PRINCIPLE of my life. I fetch my spiritual life from Christ, as the
branch fetches its sap from the root. "Christ lives in me." Gal 2:20. Jesus
Christ sends forth life and spirits into me, to quicken me to every holy
action. Thus, for to me to live is Christ: Christ is the principle of my
life; from his fullness I live—as the branch lives from the root.
 "For to me, to live is Christ," that is—Christ is
the END of my life. I live not for myself—but for Christ. All my living,
is to do service to Christ. "Whether we live, we live unto the Lord." Rom
14:8. We lay out ourselves wholly for Christ. We propagate his gospel; the
design of our life is to exalt Christ, and to make the crown upon his head
flourish. It may then be said, for to us to live is Christ—when our whole
life is a living for Christ.
 "For to me, to live is Christ," that is—Christ is
the JOY of my life. Psalm 43:4, "God my exceeding joy," or the cream of
my joy. A Christian rejoices in Christ's righteousness. He can rejoice in
Christ when worldly joys are gone. When the tulip in a garden
withers--a man still rejoices in his jewels which are locked up in
the house. Just so—when worldly joys are gone—a saint can rejoice in
Christ, the pearl of great price. In this sense, Christ is the joy of my
life. If Christ were gone—my life would be a death to me.
It should exhort us all to labor to say as the apostle,
"For to me, to live is Christ!" Christ is the principle of my life,
the end of my life, the joy of my life. If we can say, "For to
me, to live is Christ," we may comfortably conclude, "and to die is gain!"
II. "And to die is gain!"
To a believer death is great gain. A saint can count what his losses
for Christ are here—but he cannot count how great his gains are at death.
"To me to die is gain." Death to a believer is the daybreak of eternal
brightness. To show fully what a believer's gains are at death, would be a
task too great for an angel; all hyperboles fall short of it; the reward of
glory exceeds our imagination. Let me give you some dark views and imperfect
lineaments only, of that infinite glory the saints shall gain at the hour of
death. "To me to die is gain."
 Believers at death, shall bid
an eternal farewell to all sins and troubles. They shall be in a
state of impeccability. Sin expires with their life. I think sometimes what
a happy state that will be, never to have another sinful thought, and to
have a quietus from all troubles. Here David cried out, "My life is spent
with griefs, and my years with sighing." "Long life is merely long torment,"
Augustine. Life begins with a cry, and ends with a groan; but at death all
 Believers at death, shall gain
the glorious sight of God. They shall see him:
(1.) Intellectually with the eyes of their mind, which
divines call the beatific vision. If there were not such an intellectual
sight of God, how do the spirits of just men, made perfect, see him?
(2.) They shall behold the glorified body of Jesus
Christ; and if it be pleasant to behold the sun, how blessed a sight will it
be to see Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, clothed with our human nature,
shining in glory above the angels! Through Christ's flesh, as through a
transparent glass, some bright rays and beams of the Godhead shall display
themselves to glorified eyes. The sight of God through Christ will be very
delightful; for the terror of God's essence will be taken away; his majesty
will be mixed with beauty, and sweetened with mercy. It will be infinitely
delightful to the saints to see the amiable aspects and smiles of God's
 The saints at death shall not
only have a sight of God—but shall enjoy his love. There shall be
no more a veil on God's face, nor shall his smiles be chequered with
frowns—but his love shall discover itself in all its orient beauty and
fragrant sweetness. Here on earth, the saints pray for his love, and they
have a few drops; but there they shall have as much as their vessels can
receive. To know the love that passes knowledge, will cause a jubilation of
spirit, and create such holy raptures of joy in the saints, as are
superlative, and would soon overwhelm them, if God did not make them able to
 Believers at death shall gain a
celestial palace, a house not made with hands.
2 Cor 5:5: Here on earth, the saints are straitened for room; they
have but poor cottages to live in; but they shall have a royal palace to
live in hereafter. Here is their sojourning house; there in heaven is
their mansion-house, a house built high above all the visible orbs,
bespangled with light, and enriched with pearls and precious stones. Col
1:12, and Rev 21:19. It is not their landlord's house—but their
Father's house, and stands upon consecrated ground. John 14:2. It is
represented by transparent glass, to show its holiness. Rev 21:21.
 Believers at death shall gain
the sweet society of glorified saints and angels; which will add
to the felicity of heaven, as every star adds some luster to the sky.
(1.) The society of the glorified saints. We shall
see them in their souls, as well as in their bodies. Their bodies will be so
clear and bright, that we shall see their souls shining through them, as
wine through the glass. Believers at death will have close converse with
glorified saints. How delightful will it be, to be freed from all the sinful
corruptions, pride, envy, passion and censoriousness, which as scars
disfigured them here! In heaven there will be perfect love among the saints;
as the olive and myrtle, they will sweetly embrace each other. If in the
transfiguration Peter knew Moses and Elijah, whom he never saw before, Matt
17:3, much more, in the glorified state, will saints perfectly know one
another, though they never saw each other before.
(2.) The saints at death will behold the angels with
the glorified eye of their understandings. The wings of the cherubim
(representing the angels) were made of fine gold, to denote both their
sanctity and splendor. Angels are compared to lightning, Matt 28:3, because
of those sparkling beams of majesty, which as lightning shoot from them.
When saints and angels meet and sing together in concert in the heavenly
choir, what divine harmony, what joyful triumphs will there be!
 Believers at death shall gain
perfection of holiness. Here on
earth, grace is but "in its cradle," very imperfect; so that we cannot write
a copy of holiness without blotting. Here on earth, believers receive but
"the first fruits of the Spirit." At death the saints will arrive at
perfection; their knowledge will be clear; their sanctity perfect; their sun
will be in its full meridian splendor. They need not then pray for increase
of grace; for they shall love God as much as they would love him, and as
much as he desires to have them love him. They shall be in respect of
holiness as the angels of God.
 At death, the saints will gain
a royal magnificent feast. I told you before what a glorious
palace they shall have; but a man may starve in a house, if there is no
cheer. The royal banquet which saints have at death is shadowed out in
Scripture by a marriage-supper. Rev 19:9. Bullinger and Gregory the Great
understand by the marriage-supper of the Lamb, the stately, magnificent
festival the saints will have in heaven, when they shall feed on the tree of
life. Rev 22:2. They shall have the heavenly nectar and ambrosia, "the
spiced wine, and the juice of the pomegranate." Cant 8:2. This royal supper
of the Lamb will not only satisfy hunger—but prevent it. "They shall hunger
no more." Rev 7:16. Nor can there be any surfeit at this feast, because a
fresh course will be continually served. New and fresh delights will spring
from God; therefore the tree of life in paradise is said to bear twelve
sorts of fruit. Rev 22:2.
 Believers at death shall gain
honor and dignity; they shall reign as kings. We read therefore
of the ensigns of their royalty, their white robes and celestial crowns. Rev
4:4. We read that the doors of the holy of holies were made of palm-trees
and open flowers, covered with gold. This is an emblem of the victory and
triumph, and the golden garland of honor with which God invests the
glorified saints. When all worldly honor shall lie in the dust—then shall
the saints' honor remains; not one jewel shall be plucked out of their
crown. At death they shall gain a blessed eternity. If the saints could have
the least suspicion or fear of losing their glory, it would much cool and
embitter their joy; but their crown fades not away. I Pet 5:4. As the wicked
have a worm which never dies, so the elect have an unfading crown of glory.
'Forever' is a short word—but it has no end. "At the last our joy shall be
never-ending," Bernard. "The things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Cor
4:18. "At your right hand are pleasures for evermore." Psalm 16:2. Who can
span eternity? Millions of ages stand but for ciphers in eternity.
Forever in Christ's bosom is the highest strain of the saint's glory!
How do the saints come to have all this gain?
They have a right to all this gain at death upon several
accounts, as by virtue of the Father's donation, the Son's
purchase, the Holy Spirit's pledge, and faith's acceptance.
Therefore the state of future glory is called the saint's proper
inheritance. They are heirs of God and have a right to inherit. "Always
thanking the Father, who has enabled you to share the inheritance that
belongs to God's holy people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us
from the one who rules in the kingdom of darkness, and he has brought us
into the Kingdom of his dear Son." Colossians 1:12-13
Use one: See the great difference
between the death of the godly and the wicked. The godly are
great gainers at death—but the wicked are great losers at death. They
lose four things:
(1.) They lose the WORLD; and that is a great loss to
the wicked. They laid up their treasure upon earth, and to be turned out of
it all at once is a great loss.
(2.) They lose their SOULS. Matt 16:26, 27. The soul
was at first a noble piece of coin, upon which God stamped his own image.
This celestial spark is more precious than the whole globe of the world; but
the sinner's soul is lost: not that the souls of the wicked are
annihilated at death—but tormented.
(3.) They lose HEAVEN. Heaven is the royal seat of
the blessed; it is the region of happiness, the map of perfection. There is
the manna which is angels' food; there is the garden of spices, the bed of
perfumes, the river of pleasure. Sinners at death, lose all these.
(4.) They lose all HOPE. Though they lived wickedly,
they hoped God would be merciful, and they hoped they would go to heaven.
Their hope was not an anchor—but a spider's web. At death they lose their
hopes, and see they did but flatter themselves into hell. "Such is the
destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless. What he
trusts in is fragile; what he relies on is a spider's web." Job 8:13-14. It
is dreadful to have life and hope cut off together! "The hopes of the godly
result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked are all in vain."
Proverbs 10:28. "When a wicked man dies, his hope perishes." Proverbs 11:7.
"The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked
only in wrath." Proverbs 11:23.
Use two: If saints gain such
glorious things at death, well may they desire it. Does not
everyone desire happiness? No one is content before his death. Faith
gives a title to heaven; death gives the possession of
heaven. Though we should be desirous of doing service here—yet we should be
ambitious of being with Christ. "I desire to depart and be with Christ,
which is better by far!" Phil 1:23. We should be content to live—but
willing to die. Is it not a blessed thing to be freed from sin, and
to lie forever in the bosom of divine love? Is it not a blessed thing to
meet our godly relations in heaven, and to be singing divine anthems of
praise among the angels? Does not the bride desire the marriage day,
especially if she has the prospect of a crown? What is the place we now live
in—but a place of banishment from God? We are in a wilderness!
Here on earth, we are combating with Satan—should we not desire to be
out of the bloody field, where the bullets of temptation fly fast—and
receive a victorious crown? Think what it will be, to have always a smiling
look from Christ's face! to be brought into the banqueting-house, and have
the banner of his love displayed over us! O you saints, desire death; it is
your ascension-day to heaven.
Said Hilarion on his death-bed, "Go forth, my soul, Go
forth!" Another holy man said, "Lord, lead me to that glory which I have
seen as through a dark glass; hasten, Lord, and do not tarry!" Some plants
thrive best when they are transplanted. Just so, believers, when
transplanted by death, cannot but thrive, because they have Christ's
sunbeams shining upon them. What though the passage through the valley of
the shadow of death is troublesome! who would not be willing to pass a
tempestuous sea, if he were sure to be crowned as soon as he came to
Use three: We may here find comfort in the loss of dear
and pious relations. They are not only taken away from the evil to
come—but are great gainers by death. They leave a wilderness, and go to a
paradise! They change their complaints into thanksgivings! They leave their
sorrows behind, and enter into the joy of their Lord! Why should we weep for
their happiness? Believers have not their portion paid to them, until the
day of their death. God's promise is his bond to give heaven to them; but
though they have his bond, they do not receive their portion until the day
of death. Oh! rejoice to think of the happiness of those who die in the
Lord. To them "to die is gain." They are as rich as heaven can make them!
A Believer's Privilege at
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain!"
Hope is a Christian's anchor, which he casts within
the veil. "Rejoicing in hope." A Christian's hope is not in this life—but he
"has hope in his death." The best of a saint's comfort, begins when his life
ends; but the wicked have all their heaven here. "What sorrows await you who
are rich, for you have your only happiness now!" Luke 6:24. You may
make your acquitance, and write "Received in full payment." "Son, remember
that you in your lifetime received your good things." But a saint's
happiness is in the anticipation of heavenly glory. "The righteous has hope
in his death." God keeps the best wine until last. If Cato, the heathen,
said, "To me to die is gain," as he saw death to be a mercy; what, then, may
a believer say! "The day of death is better than the day of one's
birth." A queen of England said she preferred her coffin before
What benefits do believers receive at death?
I. The saints, at death, have great
immunities and freedoms. An apprentice, when he has served his
time, is made free. Just so, when the saints have finished their time of
living, they are made free! They are not made free until death.
 At death they are freed from a
body of SIN. There are in the best believers, the remnants of
sin—some remainders and relics of corruption. "O wretched man who I am! who
shall deliver me from this body of death?" By the body of death is meant the
mass and lump of sin. It may well be called a body—for its weightiness;
and a body of death for its harmfulness.
(1.) Sin weighs us down. Sin hinders us from doing
good. Like a bird that would be flying up—but has a chain tied to its legs
to hinder it—a Christian would be flying up to heaven with the wings of
desire—but sin hinders him! He is like a ship under sail, and at
anchor! Grace would sail forward—but sin is the anchor that holds it
(2.) Sin is more active in its sphere, than grace.
How stirring was lust in David, when his grace lay dormant!
(3). Sin sometimes gets the mastery, and leads a saint
captive. "For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do
not want to do—this I keep on doing." Rom 7:19. Paul was like a man carried
down the stream, and could not bear up against it. How often is a child of
God overpowered with pride and passion! Therefore Paul calls sin, "a law
at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind
and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members." Rom
7: 23. Sin binds as a law; it has a kind of jurisdiction over the soul, as
Caesar had over the senate.
(4.) Sin defiles the soul. Like a stain to beauty—sin
turns the soul's azure brightness into darkness.
(5.) Sin debilitates us, disarms us of our strength.
"I am this day weak, though anointed king." Though a saint is crowned with
grace, and anointed a spiritual king—he is weak.
(6.) Sin is ever restless. "The flesh lusts against
the spirit." Gal 5:17. Sin is an inmate that is always quarreling—it will
never be quiet.
(7.) Sin adheres to us, we cannot get rid of it. It
may be compared to a wild fig-tree growing on a wall, the roots of which are
pulled up—but some fibers of it are left in the joints of the stone-work,
which cannot be gotten out.
(8.) Sin mingles with our duties and graces. It makes
a child of God weary of his life, and makes him water his couch with his
tears—to think that sin is so strong an inhabitant, and that he often
offends the God he loves. This made Paul cry out, Miser ego homo!
"Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is
dominated by sin?" Romans 7:24. He did not cry out because of his
affliction, or his prison-chains—but for the body of sin.
Now a believer at death is freed from sin, he is not
taken away in his sins—but from his sins. He shall never again
have a vain, proud thought! He shall never again grieve the Spirit of God!
Sin brought death into the world—and death shall carry sin out of the world.
The Persians had a certain day in the year in which they killed all serpents
and venomous creatures; such a day will the day of death be to a believer.
Death will destroy all his sins, which, like so many serpents, have stung
him. Death smites a believer as the angel did Peter—and made his chains fall
off. Acts 12:7. Believers at death are made perfect in holiness. "The
spirits of just men made perfect." At death the souls of believers
recover their virgin purity. Oh! what a blessed privilege is this, to be
without spot or wrinkle; to be purer than the sunbeams; to be as free from
sin as the angels! This makes a believer desirous to have his passport, and
to be gone from his sin! He would gladly live in that pure air, where no
black vapors of sin arise!
 At death the saints shall be
freed from all the troubles and incumbrances to which this life is subject.
"Sin is the seed sown—and trouble is the harvest reaped!"
Euripides. Life and trouble are married together. There is
more in life to trouble us, than to tempt us. Parents divide a portion of
sorrow to their children, and yet leave enough for themselves. "Man is
born to trouble." Job 5:7. He is heir to it, it is his birth-right. You may
as well separate weight from lead, as trouble from the life of man. King
Henry's emblem was a crown hung in a bush of thorns. There is a far greater
proportion of bitterness, than pleasure in this life. "I have
perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon." Prov 7:17. For one sweet
ingredient there were two bitter; for the sweet cinnamon, there were bitter
myrrh and aloes. A man's grace will not exempt him from troubles.
"My years have been few and difficult." Gen 47:9. Thus said a godly
patriarch, though he had met with God. "I have seen God face to face!" and
yet he had his troubles. There are many things to embitter life and cause
trouble—but death frees us from them all!
(1.) Death frees a believer from CARE. The mind is
full of perplexed thoughts—how to bring about such a design; or how to
prevent such an evil. The Greek word for care comes from a primitive in the
Greek, which signifies, to cut the heart in pieces. Care torments the
mind; wastes the spirits. No such bitter bread, as the bread of
carefulness. Ezek 12:19. Care is a spiritual canker, which eats out the
comfort of life. Death is its only cure!
(2.) Death frees a believer from FEAR. Fear is the
epilepsy of the soul, which sets it shaking. "There is torment in fear."
Fear is like Prometheus' vulture gnawing the heart. There is a
mistrustful fear—a fear of lack; and a distracting fear—a
fear of danger; and a discouraging fear—a fear that God does
not love us. These fears leave dreadful impressions upon the mind. But at
death, a believer is freed from these torturing fears! He is as far from
fear—as the damned are from hope. The grave buries a Christian's fear!
(3.) Death frees a believer from LABOR. "All things
are wearisome, more than one can say." Eccl 1:8. Some labor with
their bodies—others with their minds. God has made a law, "In the sweat of
your face, you shall eat bread." But death gives a believer a quietus—it
takes him off from his hard labor. "Blessed are the dead that die in the
Lord: they rest from their labors." They no longer need to work—for
they have entered upon their reward! They no longer need to fight—for
they have the crown set on their head! "They rest from their labors."
(4.) Death frees a believer from SUFFERING. Believers
are as a lily among thorns; or as the dove among
vultures. The wicked have an antipathy against them; and secret hatred
will often break forth into open violence. "He who was born after the flesh,
persecuted him who was born after the Spirit." The dragon is described with
seven heads and ten horns. Rev 12:3. He plots with the
seven heads, and pushes with the ten horns. But at death, the godly
shall be freed from the molestations of the wicked! They shall never more be
pestered with these vermin! "There the wicked cease from troubling." Job
3:17. Death does to a believer, as Joseph of Arimathea did to Christ—it
takes him down from the cross. The eagle which flies high,
cannot be stung with the serpent. Death gives the soul the wings of
an eagle, to fly above all the venomous serpents here below!
(5.) Death frees a believer from TEMPTATION. Though
Satan is a conquered enemy—yet he is a restless enemy. "Be careful!
Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls
around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour." 1 Peter 5:8.
He prowls about; he is always going about his diocese. He has his
snares and his darts! One he tempts with riches, another
with beauty. It is a great trouble to be continually followed with
temptations; it is as bad as for a virgin to have her chastity daily
assaulted. But death will free a child of God from temptation, so that he
shall never again be vexed with the old serpent! After death has shot its
dart—the devil will be done shooting his! Grace puts a believer out
of the devil's possession—but only death frees him from the
(6.) Death frees a believer from SORROW. A cloud
of sorrow often gathers in the heart—and drops into tears. "My
life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing." It was part of the
curse, "In sorrow you shall bring forth." Gen 3:16. Many things occasion
sorrow: sickness, law-suits, treachery of friends, disappointment of hopes,
and loss of estate. "Don't call me Naomi (that is, pleasant).
Instead, call me Mara (that is, bitter), for the Almighty has
made life very bitter for me." Ruth 1:20.
Sorrow is the evil spirit which haunts us. "The people
wept loudly. So they named that place Bochim (that is, weeping)."
Judges 2:4-5. The world is a Bochim! Rachel wept for her
children; some grieve that they have no children, and others grieve that
their children are unkind. Thus we spend our years with sighing. The world
is a valley of tears! But death is the funeral of all our sorrows!
"God will wipe away every tear from their eyes!" Rev 7:17. Then Christ's
spouse puts off her mourning garments; for "how can the guests of the
bridegroom mourn while he is with them?" Matt 9:15. Thus death gives a
believer his quietus; it frees him from sin and trouble. "The last enemy to
be destroyed is death." 1 Corinthians 15:26. Though the apostle calls death
the last enemy—yet it is the best friend! "To me to die is gain!"
See here that which may make a true saint willing to die.
Death will set him out of gunshot, and free him from sin and trouble. There
is no cause for weeping—to leave a valley of tears—to leave the stage
on which sin and misery are acted. Believers are here in a
strange country, why then should they not be willing to leave it? Death
beats off their fetters of sin, and sets them free! Who goes weeping, when
released from a jail?
Besides our own sins, there are the sins of others.
The world is a place where Satan's throne is; a place where we see God daily
dishonored. Lot, who was a bright star in a dark night, felt his righteous
soul tormented with the filthy lives of the wicked. 2 Pet 2:7. To see God's
truths adulterated, and his glory eclipsed—wounds a godly heart. It made
David cry out, "Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the
tents of Kedar." Kedar was Arabia, where Ishmael's posterity lived.
It was a cut to David's heart to dwell there. O then, be willing to depart
out of the tents of Kedar!
II. The BODIES of believers are
united to Christ in the grave, and shall rest there until the resurrection.
They are said to sleep in Jesus. 1 Thess 4:14. The dust of
believers is part of Christ's mystic body. The grave is a dormitory, or
place of rest to the saints, where their bodies quietly sleep in Christ,
until they are awakened out of their sleep by the trumpet of the archangel.
How shall we know that at death we shall be freed from
sin and trouble, and have our bodies united to Christ in the grave?
"To me," says Paul, "to die is gain;" to me, insofar as I
am a true believer. Are we such? Have we this blessed faith? Faith,
wherever it is, is operative. Jewelers say there is no precious
stone, but has some hidden virtue in it. Just so I may say of faith—it has
some secret virtue in it; it anchors the soul on Christ; it has both a
justifying and sanctifying virtue. It fetches blood out of
Christ's side to pardon; and water out of his side to purify.
Faith works by love. Faith constrains to duty. Faith makes the head
study for Christ, the tongue confess him, and the hands work
I have read of a father who had three sons, and in his
will, he left all his estate to that son who could find his ring with the
jewel—which had a healing virtue. The case was brought before the
judges; the two elder sons counterfeited a ring—but the younger son brought
the true ring, which was proved by the virtue of it; whereupon his
father's estate went to him. To this ring I may compare faith. There is a
counterfeit faith in the world: but if we can find this ring of faith
which has the healing virtue in it to purify the heart—it is the true
faith which gives us a saving interest in Christ, and entitles us to all
these privileges at death—to be freed from sin and sorrow—and to have our
bodies united to Christ, while they are in the grave.
III. At death, the SOULS of
believers pass into glory. Death brings Death brings the removal
of all evils, and the attainment of all blissful things! Death is the
daybreak of eternal brightness. Here I shall lead you to the top of Mount
Pisgah and give you a glimpse of the Holy Land.
What is comprehended, in heavenly glory?
"Glory is a state of being made perfect, by the gathering
together of every precious thing," Boethius. It is a perfect state of bliss,
which consists in the accumulation and heaping together all the precious
things of which immortal souls are capable. And truly here I am at a loss;
for all I can say falls short of the reality of celestial glory. Appelles'
pencil cannot delineate it! Angels' tongues cannot express it! We shall
never understand glory fully—until we are in heaven! Let me give you some
dark views only, and some imperfect lineaments of that state of
glory at which saints shall arrive after death.
 The first and most sublime part
of the glory of heaven—is the full and sweet fruition of God. We
are apt to think the happiness of heaven, is in being free from pain and
misery; but the very essence of happiness is the enjoyment and fruition of
God. God is an infinite inexhaustible fountain of joy; and to have him, is
to have all. The enjoyment of God implies three things.
1. The enjoyment of God implies our SEEING him. "We
shall see him as he is." How shall we see God?
(1.) We shall see him INTELLECTUALLY, with the eyes of
the mind. This divines call the beatific vision. We shall have a
full knowledge of God—though not know him fully. This sight of God will be
very glorious—as when a king, on his coronation-day, shows himself in all
his royalty and magnificence.
(2.) We shall PHYSICALLY behold the glorified body of
Jesus Christ. And if it is a pleasant thing to behold the sun,
how blessed a sight will it be to behold the Sun of Righteousness! to
see Christ clothed in our human nature, sitting in glory above the angels!
Solomon says that, "the eye is never satisfied with seeing." But surely the
eyes of saints will be satisfied, with seeing that orient brightness which
shall shine from the beautiful body of Christ! It must needs be satisfying,
because through Christ's flesh, some rays and beams of the Godhead will
gloriously display themselves! God's excellent majesty would overwhelm us;
but through the veil of Christ's flesh we shall behold the divine glory!
(3.) Our seeing God will be TRANSFORMING. We shall so
see him, as to be in some measure assimilated and changed into
his image! "We shall be like him." If, Moses' face shined, when was with God
on the Mount, and had but some imperfect sight of his glory—how shall the
saints glorified face shine, being always in God's full presence, and
having some beams of his glory put upon them! "We shall be like him!" One
who is deformed may look on beauty—and not be made beautiful. But the
saints shall so see God—as that sight shall transform them into his
likeness. "When I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness." Not that
the saints shall partake of God's essence; for as the iron in the fire is
made fiery—yet remains iron still, so the saints, by beholding God's
majesty, shall be made glorious creatures—but are creatures
(4.) Our seeing God in heaven will be without weariness.
Let a man see the rarest sight that is, he will soon be glutted; as when he
comes into a garden, and sees delicious walks, fair arbors, pleasant
flowers—within a little while he grows weary. But it is not so in heaven;
there is no surfeit there. The saints will never be weary of seeing God;
for, God being infinite—there shall every moment be new and fresh
delight springing from him into their souls!
2. The second thing implied in enjoying God—is LOVING
him. It is a saint's grief—that his heart is now like the frozen ocean,
and he can melt no more in love to God. But in heaven—he shall be like the
seraphim, burning with divine love! Love is a pleasant affection; "fear has
torment." Love has joy in it. To love beauty is delightful. God's
amazing beauty will attract the saints' love—it will be their heaven to love
3. The third thing implied in enjoying God—is God's
loving us. Were there glory in God—yet, if there were not love, it would
much eclipse the joys of heaven; but "God is love." The glorified saints
cannot love God so much—as they are loved by God. What is their
love—compared to God's love? What is their candle—compared to this
Sun? God loves his people on earth, when they are black with sin
and imperfections. But oh! how entirely will he love them when they are
"without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish—when they will be holy and
"You will be called Hephzibah, (that is, God's
delight)" Isaiah 62:4. This is the felicity of heaven, to be in the
sweet embraces of God's love—the delight of the King of Glory—to be sunning
ourselves in the light of God's countenance. Then the saints shall know that
love of Christ which passes knowledge. Eph 3:19. From this glorious
manifestation of God's love—will flow infinite joy into the souls of the
blessed; therefore heaven is called "entering into the joy of our Lord."
The seeing God, loving God, and being
loved by God—will cause a jubilation of spirit, and create such holy
raptures of joy in the saints, which are unspeakable and full of glory!
"There is a certain sweetness about God, which delights—nay, rather,
ravishes the soul!" Augustine.
On earth, the saints spend their years with sighing; they
weep over their sins and afflictions. In heavenly glory, their water
shall be turned into wine; their sorrow will be turned into
joy; the vessels of mercy shall be filled and run over with joy. They
shall have their palm branches and harps in their hand, in token of their
triumphs and rejoicing. Rev 14:2.
 The second thing comprehended
in glory—is the good SOCIETY there.
There are the angels. Every star adds to the light. Those
blessed cherubim will welcome us to paradise. If the angels rejoiced at the
conversion of the elect, how will they rejoice at their
coronation! There is the company of the saints. "The spirits of
just men made perfect."
Will the saints in glory know each other?
Certainly they shall; for our knowledge in heaven
shall not be diminished—but increased. We shall not only know our godly
friends and relations—but we shall also know those glorified saints whom we
never saw before! It must be so; for society without acquaintance
is not comfortable. Indeed, the Scripture seems to hint as much to us;
for, if Peter in the transfiguration knew Moses and Elijah, whom he never
saw before—then surely in heaven the saints shall know one another, and be
infinitely delighted in each other's company!
 The third thing comprehended in
glory—is perfection in HOLINESS. Holiness is the beauty of God
and angels—it makes heaven. What is happiness—but the essence of
holiness? Here on earth, a Christian's grace is imperfect. At
death believers shall arrive at perfection of grace. Then this sun
shall be in its meridian splendor! Then shall they not need to pray for
increase of grace, for they shall be as the angels—their light shall
be clear, and their joy shall be full.
 The fourth thing in glory—is
DIGNITY and HONOR. They shall reign as kings! Therefore glorified
saints are said to have their royal insignia—their white robes and
their crown. Rev 7:9. Caesar, after his victories, in token of honor, had a
chair of ivory set for him in the senate, and a throne in the theater. Just
so, the saints, having obtained their victories over sin and Satan, will be
enthroned with Christ in the empyreal heaven. To sit with Christ denotes
safety; to sit on the throne denotes dignity. "This honor have
all the saints."
 The fifth thing in glory is—the
HARMONY and union among the heavenly inhabitants. The devil
cannot get his cloven foot into heaven! He cannot conjure up any
storms of contention there. There shall be perfect union. There is no
jarring string in the heavenly music! There is nothing to make any
trouble—there is no pride or envy there. Though one star may differ from
another, one may have a greater degree of glory—yet every vessel shall be
full. There shall the saints and angels sit as olive-plants around about
their Father's table—in love and unity. Then shall they join together in
concert, then shall the loud anthems of praise be sung in the heavenly
 The sixth thing in glory is a
blessed REST. "There remains a rest for the people of God." It is
a happy transition—from toil to rest. Here on earth, we can
have no rest, tossed and turned as a ball on the ocean. "We are troubled on
every side." How can a ship rest—in a storm? But after death
the saints get into their haven. Everything is quiet in the center. God is
"the center where the soul does sweetly acquiesce." A Christian, after his
weary marches and battles, shall take off his bloody armor, and rest himself
upon the bosom of Jesus—that bed of perfume! When death has given the saints
the wings of a dove, then they shall fly away to paradise and be at
 The seventh thing in glory is
its ETERNITY. "An eternal weight of glory." Glory is a weight.
The Hebrew word for glory is a weight. God must make us able to bear
it. An eternal weight. Glory is such an eternal manna—as does not breed
worms. If the saints' glory in heaven were but for a time—and they
were in fear of losing it—it would eclipse and embitter the joys of heaven.
But eternity is written upon their joys. The garland made of the
flowers of paradise will never wither.
I have read of a river called the Day-river, which runs
with a full torrent during the day—but at night is dried up. Such are all
earthly comforts—they run with a full stream all the daytime of life—but
at the night of death—they are dried up! The glorified saints shall
drink of the rivers of pleasure for evermore. Eternity is the
heaven of heavens! "At the last, our joy shall be never-ending," Bernard.
The joys of heaven are overflowing and everlasting! "You have
made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your
presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 16:11.
WHEN do believers enter upon
possession of glory?
They pass immediately after death, into glory. The
Romans, when their great men died, caused an eagle to be let loose, and fly
about in the air—signifying hereby that the soul was immortal, and did not
die with the body. Christ tells us, the soul is not capable of being killed,
therefore not of dying. Matt 10:28. And as the soul does not die, so neither
does it sleep in the body for a time. If the soul at death is absent
from the body—it cannot sleep in the body. 2 Cor 5:8. There is an
immediate passage from death to glory; it is but the twinkling of an eye—and
we shall see God" "This day shall you be with me in paradise." Luke
23:43. By paradise is meant heaven: the third heaven, into which Paul was
taken. 2 Cor 12:4. Christ said to the thief on the cross, "This day
shall you be with me in paradise." His body could not be there, for
it was laid in the grave; but it was spoken of his soul—that it
should be, immediately after death, in heaven. Let none be so vain as to
talk of purgatory. A soul purged by Christ's blood, needs no fire
of purgatory—but goes immediately from a deathbed, into a glorified
Use one: See what little cause
believers have to fear death—as it brings such glorious benefits.
Why should the saints fear their happiness? Is it not a blessed thing
to see God, to love God, and to lie forever in the bosom of
divine love? Is it not a blessed thing to meet our godly relations in
heaven? Why should the saints be afraid of their blessings? Is a virgin
afraid to be matched unto the crown?
Now we have but the engagement contract; at death
is the marriage-supper of the Lamb! Rev 19:9. Death does not do us any
hurt—it only takes us from among fiery serpents—and places us among angels!
It only clothes us with a robe of immortality! Has he any wrong done to
him—who has his sackcloth pulled off, and has royal attire put
upon him? Do not fear dying—you cannot really live—but by dying.
Use two: You who are real saints,
whose hearts are purified by faith, spend much time in musing upon those
glorious benefits which you shall have by Christ at death. Thus
might you, by a contemplative life, begin the life of angels while
here on earth, and be in heaven before you arrive there. Eudoxius was so
affected with the glory of the sun, that he thought he was born only to
behold it. What should we contemplate—but celestial glory, when we
shall see God face to face! David had gotten above the ordinary sort of men;
he was in the altitudes when he said, "I am ever with you." "Whom
have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My
health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength
of my heart; he is mine forever!" Psalm 73:25-26.
A true saint every day takes a turn in heaven; his
thoughts and desires are, like cherubim, flying up to paradise. Can men of
the world delight in looking upon their bags of gold, and fields of grain?
And shall not the heirs of heaven take more delight in contemplating
the glory of heaven? Could we send forth faith as a spy, and every
day view the glory of the Jerusalem above—how would it rejoice us—as it does
the heir—to think of the wealthy inheritance which is to come into
his hand shortly!
Use three: This may comfort the
saints in two cases.
(1.) Under their needs. They abound only in needs.
The food in the cupboard is almost spent. But be patient until death—and you
shall have a supply of all your needs—you shall have a kingdom, and be as
rich as heaven can make you! He who has the promise of a wealthy estate
after a few short years have expired, though at present he has nothing to
help himself—he comforts himself with this—that shortly he shall have a rich
estate come into his hand. "It does not yet appear what we shall be." We
shall be emparadised with glory—and be as rich as the angels!
(2.) Under their sufferings. A true saint is, as
Luther says, "an heir of the Cross." It may make us go cheerfully through
our sufferings, to know that there are great things laid up in store for us;
that there is glory coming, which eye has not seen; we shall drink of the
fruit of the vine in the kingdom of heaven. Though now we drink in a
wormwood cup—yet there is sugar to sweeten it. We shall soon
taste of those joys of paradise, which exceed our faith; and
which will be better felt—than they can be expressed!