Let these Doctrines serve as a Precious Antidote to all the peo∣ple of God against the fear of Death, and of the Grave. Why should we fear that, which if it should not happen, we should be superlatively miserable? as the Apostle saith, If we had hope only in this life, we were of all people most miserable; And therefore when there was a Rumour spread concerning St. Iohn,* that he should ne∣ver die, he himself, Ch. 21.23. rectifieth the Mistake; yet Iesus said not unto him, he shall not die. As if he should say, God forbid I should be so miserable, as never to die. Though a man in Christ could live for ever in this world, and be alwaies young, rich and healthful, yet he would account himself most miserable, because while he is here, he is absent from Christ, who is his Life, and from God, who is his Happiness, and full of sin, which is his great∣est Burden. And therefore as Iacob rejoyced, when he saw the Chariots which should carry him to his Son Ioseph, so should the People of God rejoyce, when Death approacheth, which will carry them to Christ. And as God said to Iacob, Fear not to go down to Egypt,*for I will go down with thee, and I will also surely bring thee up again: So, methinks, I hear God saying to all his Children, Fear not to go down to the House of Rottenness, for I will go with you, and tarry with you, and watch over your dead As•es with the eye of my Providence, and will surely bring you out again, and raise you unto Eternal Glory.
Let us not look upon Death, as presented unto us in Natures Looking-Glass, but as it is set down in a Scripture-dress. Nature presents Death in a terrible manner: The Philosopher cals it, of all terrible things,*most terrible. Iob cals it the King of Terrors, It is terrible three manner of waies.
1. Because it is a Separation between two dear and ancient Friends, the Soul and the Body, who having lived long together, Page 18 are very loath to part asunder. There is nothing more contrary to Flesh and Bloud, then the separation of the one from the other.
2. Because it is the Fruit of sin. * For the wages of sin is death. Had Adam never sinned, we never should have died; By one man sin entred into the world,*and death by sin, and this makes it terrible.
3. Because of the After-claps of Death. For after Death comes Iudgment,* and after Judgment, everlasting Salvation, or ever∣lasting Condemnation. This makes Death very terrible to those who have the guilt of sin upon them unrepented of, and who are under the just fear of Everlasting Burnings, and indeed to all men out of Christ, death is of all terrible things most terrible, as you shall hear in the next Use.
But to you that are in Christ, the sting of death is taken away, and it is become of all desirable things, most desirable; It is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, * as the Apostle saith; It is much far better. It is nothing else but a quiet and placid sleep; a putting off our cloaths and going to bed till the Morning of the Resurrection. There∣fo•e Austin saith, That a Child of God should be as willing to die, as to put off his Cloaths, because Death is nothing else to him, but a putting off of his Body (which is Animae Vestimentum, the souls Garment) and a departure from Misery to everlasting Happi∣ness, a le•ting the Soul, as a Bird, out of the Cage of the Body that it may flee to Heaven.* Death to a Child of God is the Birth-day of Heavens Eternity, a putting off of its Earthly Tabernacle, and a going to a House made without hands, eternal in the Heavens. It is an uncloathing of himself, that he may be cloathed upon with his House which is in Heaven. It is a going to his Fathers House, where he shall enjoy perfect and perpetual Happiness.
There are 10 Springs and Fountains of Consolation to a true Saint against the fear of Death.
1. When he dieth, though his Body be laid in the Grave, yet his Soul is immediatly received up into Heaven, his best part is at the Instant of Death blessed and happy.
2. His Body at death doth not die, but only sleepeth (as Christ said of dead Lazarus) and is at rest, and is asleep in Iesus, even while it is in the Grave, and is part of that man who is a Mem∣ber of Christ, and under the Care and Love of God.
3. His Soul, though it be in Heaven, can never be perfectly and Page 19compleatly happy, till his Body be joyned to it.
4. Christ himself, as he is the Head of his Church, can never be perfect till his Body be raised from the dead, and crowned with a Crown of Glory.
5. Christ hath conquered Death for him, he hath not only sweetned and sanctified it, but conquered it, according as it was fore prophesied, — I will ransom them from the Power of the Grave,*I will redeem them from Death; O Death I will be thy Plagues; O Grave I will be thy Destruction. He hath led Capti∣vity Captive,* and death is one of those Captives, as well as the Devil. He hath disarmed Death, and taken away the Sting of it, so as to a man in Christ, death is a Serpent without a Sting. It is like the Viper which skipt upon S. Pauls Hand, * which did not at all hurt him. It is like the Brazen Serpent, which though it had the shape of a Serpent, yet it hadnot the Nature of it, but was a healing, not a stinging Serpent. So is death to a Child of God. It is so far from hurting of him, that it is now by Christs death, become his greatest Advantage, and he may triumph over it, and say with the Ap. O Death,*where is thy Sting? O Grave, where is thy Victory? the sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the Law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Iesus Christ.
6. There is this Spring also of Consolation against the Fear of death, because he that hath an Interest in Christ, cannot die sud∣denly, though he die never so suddenly, that is, though he die ne∣ver so suddenly in regard of time, yet he can never die suddenly in regard of Preparation. For he is alwaies habitually fitted, and pre∣pared for Death, he is justified by Faith, and sanctified by the Spirit, and is above the hurt of damnation: For there is no Con∣demnation to those that are in Christ.* He hath not his Graces to seek, when he comes to die, which is no little Happiness.
7. He can never die miserable, though he die never so miserably. Though he die upon a Dunghil, or in a Goal, or upon the Gal∣lows, or at a stake, wheresoever, and howsoever he dies, he dies happily. * For so saith the Apostle, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord. They are blessed, though they die upon a dunghil. Though Stephen was stoned to death, yet he died happily; for while he was stoning, he saw the Heavens opened, and Christ rea∣dy to receive him. Though Lazarus was starved to death, yet he died blessedly, because the Angels carried his Soul into Abrahams Page 20 B•som. Though King Iosiah died in War, yet he died in peace. A man in Christ dieth in the Arms of Christ,* and though he dieth never so miserably, as to his outward condition, yet he may sing a Nunc dimittis with old Simeon,*Lord, now lettest thou thy Ser∣vant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy Salvation.
8. There are 3 Expressions which the Scripture useth concern∣ing death, which are singular Fountains of Consolation against the Fear of it.
1. The Apostle S. Peter cals it 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, * 2 Pet. 1.15. I will en∣deavour that〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉after my Decease, &c. Death is no∣thing else, but an Exodus out of Egypt, unto our Heavenly Cana∣an. It is not a dying, but a Transmigration, a passage from the Valley of death into the Land of the Living.
2. The Apostle S. Paul cals it 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Phil. 2.23. I desire to be dissolved,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that is (as Grotius interprets it) That my Soul may return to God from whom it first came. Others say, It is a Metaphor taken from Mariners, who are said to loose from the Haven, when they depart from the shore. Death is nothing but a hoysing up of Sayl (as it were) for heaven.
3. Old Simeon cals it A〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Now Lord lettest thou thy Ser∣vant depart in peace.* The Greek Word signifieth a Release, and dismission out of prison. Thus it is taken, Acts 16.35, Acts 5.40 Luke 23.17. And it holds forth these two Lessons.
1. That the Soul is in the Body as in a Prison. Therefore the Greek Words for the Body, are 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 quasi 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, vin∣cio. And Petrarch saith, That he that glorieth in the strength of his Body, glorieth in the strength of his Prison. And when Plato saw one of his Scholars overcuriously pampering his Body, * he said to him, What do you mean to make your Prison so strong? The Soul is in the Body as in a Prison, in 3 Respects.
1. Because the Soul is hidden in the Body, as a man is hidden in a Prison. As Plato saith of Vertue, That if a man could see it with corporal eyes, he could not but love it. So may I say of the Soul; If a man could see the Beauty, Glory and Excellency of it, he could not but admire it, and highly value it. But it is hidden in the Body as in a Prison.
2. Because the Soul is hindred by the Body, and that Three waies.
1. It is hindred from Heaven. For whilst we are in the Page 21 body, we are absent from the Lord, and we cannot be with Christ, till we be dissolved. And this is truly a Prison where∣in a man is absent from his best Friends and Acquaint∣ance.
2. It is hindred from Heavenly Operations. For the Body takes up all the time from the Soul; as the Lean Kine of Pharaoh devoured the fat, so the Provision for the Feeding and Cloathing of the Body, eats up the time that should be spent about the Soul. It is with the Soul and Body, as it was with Abraham and Lot. Abraham had his Cattel and his Servants, and Lot his, so that the Country was too nar∣row for them. So the Soul hath her work, and the Body his, and there is hardly time enough for both; so as the one must needs hinder the other, and they never will be well till separated. The Cloath is too short to cover them both. And this must needs be a great Bondage when the Hand∣maid shall be preferred before her Mistress, Hagar before Sarah.
3. It is hindred in all its Heavenly Operations. For the Bo∣dy weigheth down the Soul. As a Bird that hath a stone ti∣ed to its Leg, is weighed down that it cannot fly aloft. So is the Heavenly Soul in the best Christian depressed by the Body, that it cannot mount aloft in Prayer and other Holy Exer∣cises. The Soul and Body are like a pair of Scales, the more the one is up, the more the other goeth down. As Sauls Armour was a Burden to David, so is the Body to the Soul. The Body is quickly tired in the Service of God. The Spirit is willing, but the Flesh is weak, like a strong man up∣on a Jadish Horse, &c.
3. Because the Soul is defiled by the Body, as a man in a Nasty Prison. God gave man a Heavenly Soul, and an Earthly bo∣dy, that the Heavenly Soul might lift up the Earthly Body to∣wards Heaven: But now it fares quite contrary. Our earthly Bodies have weighed down our heavenly Souls, and made them earthly and sensual. Tamdiu versata est Anima in Ta∣bernaculo, ut ipsa versa est in Tabernaculum. The Soul hath lived so long in a Body of flesh, that it is (as it were) fleshi∣fied, and bodified. The Soul looks through an eye of flesh, and every thing seems fleshly to it. It is diverted by the Page 22 Body from its true End. The true End of the Soul is to know God, to love, fear and serve him. But the body diverts the Stream, and turns the Soul to serve men, and to provide for back and belly. And therefore it may fitly be called the Souls Prison.
2. It holds forth this Lesson also, That Death is the Souls Goal-delivery. It is the letting of it loose from its Bonds and Fet∣ters. Its is setting it at Liberty, like a Bird escaped out of a Cage. Now Lord let thy Servant depart; that is, be set at liber∣ty from the prison of my body.
9. There is this Comfort also against the fear of death, That Iesus Christ is gone to heaven on purpose to prepare a place for the dead bodies of his Saints, and he will come again, and raise them up, and take them to himself, that where he is, there they may be also, John 14.2, 3. Therefore he is said to go into Heaven as a Forerunner, Heb. 6.20. Whither the forerunner is for us entred. Now a forerunner supposeth some that are to follow. Christ is entred before, to take up Lodgings for all that are asleep in him, and hath (as it were) written their several Names upon their several Lodgings, as is intimated, Heb. 12.23. To the Church of the first-born, which are written in heaven; and keeps them empty till they come to Hea∣ven to fill them, as is hinted, 1 Pet. 1.4. — Reserved for you in hea∣ven. Therefore we are said to fit with him in heavenly places, because he went up to take possession of it for our use, and benefit, and fits there in our Nature, and as our Head, not as a private Citizen of Heaven, but as a Representative of all the Elect of God, and will ere long come down, and take them up to himself, and so they shall ever be with the Lord.
10. The last Spring of Consolation against the fear of death is, That Death will put a perfect and perpetual end to all his Miseries, whether spiritual or corporal (as I have shewed) and open a door to infinite and unexpressible happiness for ever and ever.
Let these ten Considerations be made use of, as precious An∣tidotes against the flavish fear of death.