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The Death of the Christian

Written by: Spurgeon, C.H.    Posted on: 04/07/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN

                                                  The Death of the Christian by the REV. C.H. SPURGEON                                      

              "Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season."Job               5:26.

          WE DO NOT BELIEVE all that Job's friends said. They spoke very often as uninspired men, for we           find them saying many things that are not true; and if we read the book of Job through, we might say           with regard to them, "miserable comforters are ye all," for they did not speak concerning God's           servant, Job, the thing that was right. But, nevertheless, they gave utterance to many holy and pious           sentences, which are well worthy of regard, as having come from the lips of three men distinguished in their age           for their learning, talent, and ability; three grey-headed sires, who from experience were able to speak what they           knew. Their mistakes are not to be wondered at, because they had not then that clear, bright, shining light, which           we enjoy in these modern times. They had few opportunities to meet together; there were but few prophets in           those days who taught them the things of the kingdom. We only marvel that without the light of the gospel           revelation they were able to discover so much of the truth as they did. However I must make a remark concerning           this chapter, that I cannot but regard it as being in the main, not so much the utterance of the manwho here           speaksEliphaz the Temanitebut the very word of God; not so much the simple saying of the unwise           comforter who upbraided Job, as the speech of the great Comforter who consoles his people, and who only utters           the thing that is right. The opinion is justified by the fact that this chapter is quoted by the apostle Paul. Eliphaz           says, in the 13th verse, "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." And we find the apostle Paul in the           Corinthians, saying, "As it is written, he taketh the wise in their own craftiness;" thus giving sanction to this           passage as having been inspired of God, at all events as being most certainly truthful. Most certainly the experience           of such a man as Eliphaz is worthy of much regard: and when speaking of the general condition of God's people,           that they are hid from the scourge of the tongue, "that they are not afraid of destruction when it cometh," that they           laugh at destruction and famine, and so on, we may accept his words as being proven by experience, and           authenticated by inspiration. "Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his           season." Here is a very beautiful comparison, the comparison of the aged Christianfor that I take it lies on the           surface of the textto a shock of corn. Go into the harvest field, and you shall see how much the wheat reminds           you of the aged believer. How much anxiety has been expended on that field! When the seed first sprung up the           farmer dreaded lest the worm should bite the tender shoots, and the blade should be devoured, or lest some sharp           frost should consume the infant plant and cause it to wither and die. And, then, month after month, as the seasons           came, how did he anxiously look towards heaven and long that the rains might come, or that the genial sunshine           might pour out its vivifying floods of light upon the field. When it has come to somewhat of maturity, how greatly           has he feared lest the mildew and blast should shrivel up the precious ears. It stands in the fields now, and in some           respects he is freed from his anxiety. The months of his travail are over. He has waited patiently for the precious           fruits of the soil, but now they are there. And so with the grey-headed man. How many years of anxiety have been           expended upon him! In his youth how likely did it seem that he might be smitten down by death, and yet he has           passed safely through youth, manhood, and age. What varied accidents have been warded from him! How has the           shield of the Providential Keeper been over his head to keep him from the shafts of the pestilence, or from the           heavy hand of accident that might have smitten his life! How many anxieties has he had himself! How many           troubles has he passed through! Look upon the hoary-headed veteran! Mark the scars that troubles have inflicted           upon his forehead! And see, deep written in his breast, the dark mementos of the sharp struggles and trials he has           endured! And now his anxieties are somewhat over; he is come very nearly to the haven of rest. A few short years           of trial and trouble shall land him on fair Canaan's coast, and we look upon him with the same pleasure that the           farmer regards the wheat, because the anxiety is over and the time of rest is now approaching. Mark how weak           the stem has become! how every wind shakes it to and fro; it is withered and dried! See how the head hangs down           to earth, as if it were about to kiss the dust, and show whence it had its origin! So, mark you the aged man;           tottering are his steps, "they that look out of the windows are darkened, the grinders cease because they are few,           and the grasshopper has become a burden." Yet even in that weakness there is glory. It is not the weakness of the           tender blade, it is the weakness of the full ripe corn, it is a weakness that shows its maturity, it is a weakness that           gilds it with glory. Even as the colour of the wheat is golden, so that it looks more beauteous than when the           greenness of its verdure is on it, so the grey-headed man has a crown of glory on his head. He is glorious in his           weakness, more than the young man in his strength, or the maiden in her beauty. Is not a shock of corn a beautiful           picture of the state of man, moreover, because very soon it must be taken home? The reaper is coming. Even now           I hear the sickle sharpening. The reaper hath well edged it, and he shall soon cut the corn down. See! he is coming           across the field to reap his harvest; and then, by-and-bye, it shall be carried into the barn and safely housed, no           more subject to blight, or mildew, or insect, or disease. There it shall be secured, where no snow can fall upon it,           no winds can molest it. It shall be safe and secure; and joyful shall be the time when harvest home shall be           proclaimed, and the shock of corn, fully ripe, shall be carried into the farmer's garner. Such is the aged man. He,           too, shall soon be taken home. Death is even now sharpening his sickle, and the angels are getting ready their           chariot of gold to bear him up to the skies. The barn is built; the house is provided; soon the great Master shall           say, "Bind up the tares in bundles to burn, and gather the wheat into my barn."               This morning, we shall consider the death of Christians in general; not of the aged Christian merely, for we           shall show you that while this text does seem to bear upon the aged Christian, in reality it speaks with a loud voice           to every man who is a believer. "Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in           his season."               There are four things we shall mark in the text. First, we shall consider that death is inevitable, because it           says, "Thou shalt come." Secondly, that death is acceptable, because it does not read, "I will make thee go to thy           grave," but "thou shalt come there." Thirdly, that death is always timely: "Thou shalt come to thy grave in full           age." Fourthly, that death to the Christian is always honourable, for the promise declareth to him, "Thou shalt go           to thy grave in full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season."               I. The first remark, namely, that death, even to the Christian, is INEVITABLE, is very trite, simple and           common, and we need scarcely have made it, but we found it necessary, in order to introduce one or two remarks           upon it. How hacknied is the thought, that all men must die, and therefore, what can we say upon it? And yet we           blush not to repeat it, for while it is a truth so well known, there is none so much forgotten; while we all believe it           in the theory and receive it in the brain, how seldom it is impressed on the heart? The sight of death makes us           remember it. The tolling of the solemn bell speaks to us of it. We hear the deep-tongued voice of time as the bell           tolls the hours and preaches our mortality. But very usually we forget it. Death is inevitable to all. But I wish to           make an observation concerning death, and that is, that while it is written, "It is appointed unto all men once to           die," yet a time shall come when some Christian men shall not die at all. We know that had Adam never sinned he           would not have died, for death is the punishment of sin, and we know that Enoch and Elijah were translated to           heaven without dying. Therefore it does seem to follow, that death is not absolutely necessary for a Christian.           And, moreover, we are told in Scripture, that there are some who shall be "alive and remain," when Jesus Christ           shall come; and the apostle says, "I tell you a mysterywe shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a           moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump." There shall be some who shall be found living, of whom           the apostle says, "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet           the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord." We know that flesh and blood cannot inherit the           kingdom; but it is possible that they may be refined by some spiritual process, which shall preclude the necessity           of dissolution. Oh! I have thought of that idea very much, and I have wondered whether it should not be possible           that some of us might be in that happy number who shall not see death. Even if we are not, there is something           very cheering in the thought: Christ did so conquer death that he not only delivers the lawful captive out of the           prison, but he saves a band from the jaws of the monster, and leads them by his den unharmed! He not only           resuscitates the dead, and puts new life into those that are slain by the fell scythe, but some he actually takes to           heaven by a bye-road. He says to death"Avaunt, thou monster! On these thou shalt never put thy hand! These           are chosen men and women, and thy cold fingers shall never freeze the current of their soul. I am taking them           straight to heaven without death. I will transport them in their bodies up to heaven without passing through thy           gloomy portals, or having been captives in thy dreary land of shades." How glorious is the thought, that Christ has           vanquished death; that some men shall not die. But you will say to me, "How can that be? for the body has           mortality mingled with its very essence." We are told it is true, by eminent men, that there is a necessity in nature           that there should be death, since one animal must prey upon another; and even could all animals be taught to give           up their prey, they must feed upon plants, and so devour certain minute insects which had hidden thereon. Death           therefore seems to be the law of nature. Be it remembered; that men have already lived far beyond the present           allotted term, and it does seem most easy to conceive that the creature, which can subsist a thousand years, could           exceed that period. But this objection is not valid, since the saints will not live for ever in this world, but will be           removed to a habitation where laws of glory shall supersede laws of nature.               II. And now comes a sweet thought, that death to the Christian is always ACCEPTABLE"Thou shalt come           to thy grave." Old Caryl makes this remark on this verse"A willingness and a cheerfulness to die. Thou shalt           come, thou shalt not be dragged or hurried to thy grave, as it is said of the foolish rich man, Luke 12. This night           shall thy soul be taken from thee. But thou shalt come to thy grave, thou shalt die quietly and smilingly, as it were;           thou shalt go to thy grave, as it were upon thine own feet, and rather walk than be carried to thy sepulchre." The           wicked man, when he dies, is driven to his grave, but the Christian comes to his grave. Let me tell you a parable.           Behold two men sat together in the same house: when Death came to each of them. He said to one, "Thou shalt           die." The man looked at himtears suffused his eyes, and tremblingly he said, "O Death, I cannot, I will not die."           He sought out a physician, and said to him, "I am sick, for Death hath looked upon me. His eyes have paled my           cheeks, and I fear I must depart. Physician, there is my wealth, give me health and let me live." The physician           took his wealth, but gave him not his health with all his skill. The man changed his physician and tried another,           and thought that perhaps he might spin out the thread of life a little longer. But, alas! Death came and said, "I have           given thee time to try thy varied excuses, come with me; thou shalt die." And he bound him hand and foot, and           made him go to that dark land of shades. As the man went, he clutched at every side post by the way; but Death,           with iron hands, still pulled him on. There was not a tree that grew along the way but he tried to grasp it, but           Death said, "Come on! thou art my captive, and thou shalt die." And unwillingly as the laggard schoolboy, who           goeth slowly to school, so did be trace the road with Death. He did not come to his grave, but Death fetched him           to itthe grave came to him.               But Death said to the other man, "I am come for thee." He smilingly replied, "Ah, Death! I know thee, I have           seen thee many a time. I have held communion with thee. Thou art my Master's servant, thou hast come to fetch           me home. Go, tell my Master I am ready; whene'er he pleases, Death, I am ready to go with thee." And together           they went along the road, and held sweet company. Death said to him, "I have worn these skeleton bones to           frighten wicked men; but I am not frightful. I will let thee see myself. The hand that wrote upon Belshazzar's wall           was terrible because no man saw anything but the hand; but," said Death. "I will show thee my whole body. Men           have only seen my bony hand, and have been terrified." And as they went along, Death ungirded himself to let the           Christian see his body and he smiled, for it was the body of an angel. He had wings of cherubs, and a body           glorious as Gabriel. The Christian said to him, "Thou art not what I thought thou wast: I will cheerfully go with           thee." At last Death touched the believer with his handit was even as when the mother doth in sport smite her           child a moment. The child loves that loving pinch upon the arm, for it is a proof of affection. So did Death put his           finger on the man's pulse, and stopped it for a moment, and the Christian found himself by Death's kind finger           changed into a spirit; yea, found himself brother to the angels; his body had been etherealized, his soul purified,           and he himself was in heaven. You tell me this is only a parable; but let me give you some facts that shall back it           up. I will tell you some of the death-bed sayings of dying saints, and show you that, to them, Death has been an           agreeable visitant, of whom they were not afraid. You will not disbelieve dying men. It were ill to act the           hypocrite's part at such a time. When the play is over men will take off the mask: and so with these men when           they came to diethey stood out in solemn unclothed reality.               First, let me tell you what Dr. Owen saidthat celebrated prince of Calvinists. While his works are to be           found, I am not afraid that men shall lack arguments to defend the Gospel of Free-grace. A friend called to tell Dr.           Owen that he had put to press his "Meditations on the Glory of Christ." There was a momentary gleam in his           languid eye as he answered, "I am glad to hear it. Oh!" said he, "the long-wished for time has come at last, in           which I shall see that glory in another manner than I have ever done, or was capable of doing in this world."               But, you may say, this man was a mere theologian, let us hear a poet speak. George Herbert, after some           severe struggles, and having requested his wife and nieces, who were weeping in extreme anguish, to leave the           room, he committed his will to Mr. Woodnott's care, crying out, "I am ready to dieLord, forsake me not now,           my strength faileth; but grant me mercy for the merits of my Lord Jesus. And now, Lord receive my soul." Then           he laid himself back and breathed out his life to God. Thus the poet dies. That glorious fancy of his, that might           have pictured gloomy things if it had pleased, was only filled with rapturous sight of angels. As he used to say           himself, "Methinks I hear the church bells of heaven ringing." And methinks he did hear them when he came near           the river Jordan.               "But," you will say, "one was a theologian, and the other a poetit might have been all fancy." Now learn           what an active man, a missionary, saidBrainard.               He said, "I am almost in eternity. I long to be there. My work is done. I have done with all my friends. All the           world is now nothing to me. Oh, to be in heaven, to praise and glorify God with his holy angels." That is what           Brainard said. He who counted all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and went           among wild untutored Indians to preach the gospel.               But it is possible you may say, "These were men of ages gone by." Now, you shall have men of modern           times.               And first, hear what the great and eminent Scotch preacher, Haldane, said. He raised himself a little, and           distinctly repeated these words, " When Christ who is our life shall appear, then we shall appear with him in           glory." He was then asked if he thought he was going home. He answered, "Perhaps not quite yet." Mrs. Haldane           affectionately said, "Then you will not leave us very soon. He replied with a smile, "To depart and to be with           Christ is far better." On being asked if he felt much peace and happiness, he twice repeated, "Exceeding great and           precious promises." He then said, "But I must rise." Mrs. Haldane said," You are not able to get up." He smiled,           and answered, "I shall be satisfied when I awake with his likeness." She said, "Is that what rising up you meant?"           He replied, "Yes, that is the rising I meant. I must rise!"               And now, what said Howardthe great philanthropist, the man who while possessing true religion, and being           the most eminent and distinguished of Christians, would from his plain common sense mode of acting, never be           suspected of being a fanatic and an enthusiast? A few days before his death, when the symptoms of his disease           began to assume a most alarming appearance, he said to Admiral Priestman, "You endeavour to divert my mind           from dwelling on death; but I entertain very different sentiments. Death has no terror for me. I always look           forward to it with cheerfulness, if not with pleasure."               But perhaps you may say, "We never knew any of these people. We should like to hear of somebody whom           we did know." Well, you shall hear of one whom you have heard me affectionately mention. He was not of our           denomination, but he was a very prince in IsraelI refer to Joseph Irons. Many of you heard the sweet and           blessed things that proceeded out of his lips, and will perhaps be able to verify what is said of him. At intervals he           repeated short portions of Scripture, and select sentences, such as, "How long, Lord?" "Come, Lord Jesus!" "I           long to go home, to be at rest." Seeing his dear wife shedding tears, he said, "Do not weep for me; I am waiting           for that far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." After a pause, to recover his breath, he added, "He that           has preserved me thus far, will never leave, or forsake me. Fear not: all is well. Christ is precious. I am going           home, for I am a shock of corn fully ripe." Now that is a man you did know, many of you. And it proves the fact           that I have asserted, that to a Christian, death is acceptable come when it may. I am sure I can say, with many of           my brethren, here, that could I now have the greatest favour conferred on me that mortals could desire, I would           ask that I might die. I never wish to have the choice given to me; but to die is the happiest thing man can have,           because it is to lose anxiety, it is to slay care, it is to have the peculiar sleep of the beloved. To the Christian, then,           death must be acceptable.               A Christian has nothing to lose by death. You say he has to lose his friends. I am not so sure of that. Many of           you have may more friends in heaven than on earth; some Christians have more dearly beloved ones above than           below. You often count your family circle, but do you do as that little girl of whom Wordsworth speaks, when she           said, "Master, we are seven." Some of them were dead and gone to heaven, but she would have it that they were           all brothers and sisters still. Oh I how many brothers and sisters we have up stairs in the upper room in our           Father's house; how many dear ones, linked with us in the ties of relationship, for they are as much our relations           now as they were then! Though in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, yet in that great           world, who has said that the ties of affection shall be severed, so that we shall not even there claim kindred with           one another, as well as kindred with Jesus Christ? What have we to lose by death? Come when he may, should           we not open the door for him? I would love to feel like that woman who said, when she was dying, "I feel like a           door on the latch, ready to be opened to let my Lord in." Is not that a sweet state, to have the house ready, so that           it will require no setting in order? When death comes to a wicked man, he finds him moored fast, he snaps his           cable, and drives his ship to sea; but when he comes to the Christian, he finds him winding up the anchor, and he           says, "When thou hast done thy work, and shipped the anchor, I will take thee home." With sweet breath he           blows on him, and the ship is wafted gently to heaven, with no regrets for life, but with angels at the brow, spirits           guiding the rudder, sweet songs coming through the cordage, and canvass silvered o'er with light.               III. Then thirdly, the Christian's death is always TIMELY"Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age."           "Ah!" says one, "that is not true. Good people do not live longer than others. The most pious man may die in the           prime of his youth." But look at my text. It does not say, thou shalt come to thy grave in old agebut in a "full           age." Well, who knows what a "full age" is? A "full age" is whenever God likes to take his children home. There           are some fruits you know that are late in coming to perfection, and we do not think their flavour is good till           Christmas, or till they have gone through the frost; while some are fit for table now. All fruit: do not get ripe and           mellow at the same season. So with Christians. They are at a "full age" when God chooses to take them home.           They are at "full age" if they die at twenty one; they are not more if they live to be ninety. Some wines can be           drunk very soon after the vintage. Others need to be kept. But what does this matter, if when the liquor is           broached it is found to have its full flavour? God never broaches his cask till the wine has prefected itself. There           are two mercies to a Christian. The first is that he will never die too soon; and the second, that he will never die           too late.               First, he will never die too soon. Spencer, who blazed out so brilliantly some years ago, preached so           wonderfully, that many expected that a great light would shine steadily, and that many would be guided to heaven;           but when suddenly the light was quenched in darkness, and he was drowned while yet in his youth, men wept, and           said, "Ah! Spencer died too soon." So it has been sung of Kirk White, the poet, who worked so laboriously at his           studies. Like the eagle who finds that the arrow that sm

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