« הקודםהמשך »
of God's mercy. Wherefore it is no marvel that the worldly man feareth death : for he hath much more cause so to do than he himself doth consider.
Thus we see three causes why worldly men fear death; one, because they shall lose thereby their The first. worldly honours, riches, possessions, and all their heart's desires; another, because of the painful The second, diseases and bitter pangs which commonly men suffer either before or at the time of death; but the chief cause above all other is the dread of the The third. miserable state of eternal damnation both of body and soul, which they fear shall follow after their departing out of the worldly pleasures of this
For these causes be all mortal men which be given to the love of this world both in fear and state of death through sin, as the holy Apostle saith, so long as they live here in this Heb. ii. 15. world.
But, everlasting thanks be to Almighty God for ever, there is never one of all these causes, no, nor yet they all together, that can make a true Christian man afraid to die, which is the very member of Christ, the temple of the Holy Ghost, the son 1 Cor. iii, 16: of God, and the very inheritor of the everlasting kingdom of heaven; but, plainly contrary, he conceiveth great and many causes, undoubtedly grounded upon the infallible and everlasting truth of the word of God, which move him, not only to put away the fear of bodily death, but also, for the manifold benefits and singular commodities which ensue unto every faithful person by reason of the same, to wish, desire, and long heartily for it. For death shall be to him no death at all, but a very deliverance from death, from all pains, cares, and sorrows, miseries, and wretchedness of this world, and the very entry into rest, and a beginning of everlasting joy, a tasting of heavenly pleasures, so great that neither tongue is able to express, neither eye to see, nor ear to hear them, 1 Cor. ii. 9. no, nor for any earthly man's heart to conceive them. So exceeding great benefits they be which
1 Cor. xv. 20-23.
God our heavenly Father, by his mere mercy, and for the love of his Son Jesus Christ, hath laid up in store and prepared for them that humbly submit themselves to God's will, and evermore unfeignedly love him from the bottom of their hearts.
And we ought to believe that death, being slain by Christ, cannot keep any man that steadfastly trusteth in Christ under his perpetual tyranny and subjection, but that he shall rise from death again unto glory at the last day, appointed by Almighty God, like as Christ our Head did rise again, according to God's appointment, the third day. For St. Augustine saith, the Head going before, the members trust to follow and come after. And St. Paul saith, if Christ be risen from the dead, we shall rise also from the same. And, to comfort all
Christian persons herein, holy Scripture calleth this John xi. 11, bodily death a sleep ; wherein man's senses be, as 18: Acthese it were, taken from him for a season, and yet, when
he awaketh, he is more fresh than he was when he went to bed. So, although we have our souls separated from our bodies for a season, yet at the general resurrection we shall be more fresh, beautiful, and perfect, than we be now.
For now we be mortal, then we shall be immortal; now infect with divers infirmities, then clearly void of all mortal infirmities; now we be subject to all carnal desires, then we shall be all spiritual, desiring nothing but God's glory and things eternal.
Thus is this bodily death a door or entering unto life; and therefore not so much dreadful, if it be rightly considered, as it is comfortable; not a mischief, but a remedy of all mischief; no enemy, but a friend ; not a cruel tyrant, but a gentle guide ; leading us, not to mortality, but to immortality, not to sorrow and pain, but to joy and pleasure, and that to endure for ever; if it be thankfully taken and accepted as God's messenger, and patiently borne of us for Christ's love, that suffered most painful death for our love, to redeem us from death eternal. According hereunto St.
1 . iv. 13-18.
Paul saith our life is hid with Christ in God, but, Col. ii. 3, 4. then our Life shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory.
Why then shall we fear to die, considering the manifold and comfortable promises of the Gospel and of holy Scriptures? God the Father hath giren 1 John v. us everlasting life, saith St. John, and this life is in 11-13. his Son. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life. And, This I wrote, saith St. John, to you that beliere in the Name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have ererlasting life, and that you do beliere upon the Name of the Son of God. And our Saviour Christ saith, He that beliereth in me hath life ever- John vi. 40, lasting, and I will raise him from death to life at 47. the last day. St. Paul also saith that Christ is 1Cor. i. 30,31. ordained and made of God our righteousness, our holiness and redemption, to the intent that he which will glory should glory in the Lord. St. Paul did contemn and set little by all other things, esteeming Phil. iii. 7-11. them as dung, which before he had in very great price, that he might be found in Christ, to have everlasting life, true holiness, righteousness, and redemption. Finally, St. Paul maketh a plain argument in this wise : If our hearenly Father would not spare his Rom. viii. 32. oun natural Son, but did give him to death for us, how can it be that with him he should not gire us all things? Therefore, if we have Christ, then have we with him and by him all good things, whatsoever we can in our hearts wish or desire; as, victory over death, sin, and hell; we have the favour of God, peace with him, holiness, wisdom, justice, power, life, and redemption; we have by him perpetual health, wealth, joy, and bliss ever. lasting
THE SECOND PART OF THE SERMON OF
THE FEAR OF DEATH.
It hath been heretofore shewed you that there be three causes wherefore men do commonly fear death; first, the sorrowful departing from worldly goods and pleasures; the second, the fear of the pangs and pains that come with death; last and principal cause is the horrible fear of extreme misery and perpetual damnation in time to come. And yet none of these three causes troubleth good men; because they stay themselves by true faith, perfect charity, and sure hope of the endless joy and bliss everlasting.
All those therefore have great cause to be full of joy that be joined to Christ with true faith, steadfast hope, and perfect charity, and not to fear death nor everlasting damnation. For death can
not deprive them of Jesu Christ, nor any sin can Rom. viii. L. condemn them that are graffed surely in him,
which is their only joy, treasure, and life. Let us repent our sins, amend our lives, trust in his mercy and satisfaction, and death can neither take
him from us nor us from him. For then, as St. Rom. xiv.8,9. Paul saith, whether we live or die, we be the Lord's
And again he saith, Christ did die, and rose again, because he should be Lord both of the dead and quick. Then, if we be the Lord's own when we be dead, it must needs follow that such temporal death not only cannot harm us, but also that it shall much be to our profit, and join us unto God more perfectly. And thereof the Christian heart may surely be certified by the infallible (or
undeceivable) truth of holy Scripture. It is God, a Cor. v. 5-8. saith St. Paul, which hath prepared us unto immor
tality, and the same is he which hath given us an earnest of the Spirit. Therefore let us be always of good comfort: for we know that, so long as we be in the body, we be as it were far from God in a strange country, subject to many perils, walking without perfect sight and knowledge of Almighty God,
only seeing him by faith in holy Scriptures; but we have a courage, and desire rather to be at home with God and our Sariour Christ, far from the body, where we may behold his Godhead as he is, face to 1 John ill. a : face, to our everlasting comfort. These be St. Cor. xiii. 12. Paul's words in effect whereby we may perceive that the life in this world is resembled and likened to a pilgrimage in a strange country far from God; and that death, delivering us from our bodies, doth send us straight home into our own country, and maketh us to dwell presently with God for ever in everlasting rest and quietness. So that to die is no loss, but profit and winning, to all true Christian people.
What lost the thief, that hanged on the cross with Christ, by his bodily death? Yea, how much did he gain by it! Did not our Saviour say unto him, This day thou shalt be with me in Luke xxiii.43. Paradise ? And Lazarus, that pitiful person, that Luke xvi. lay before the rich man's gate, pained with sores and pined with hunger, did not death highly profit and promote him, which by the ministry of angels sent him unto Abraham's bosom, a place of rest, joy, and heavenly consolation ? Let us think none other, good Christian people, but Christ hath prepared, and made ready before, the same joy and felicity for us that he prepared for Lazarus and the thief. Wherefore let us stick unto his salvation and gracious redemption, and believe his word, serve him from our hearts, love and obey him; and, whatsoever we have done heretofore contrary to his most holy will, now let us repent in time, and hereafter study to correct our life, and doubt not but we shall find him as merciful unto us, as he was either to Lazarus or to the thief: whose examples are written in holy Scripture for the comfort of them that be sinners, and subject to sorrows, miseries, and calamities in this world; that they should not despair in God's mercy, but ever trust thereby to have forgiveness of their sins and life everlasting, as Lazarus and the thief had.