Tvvo funeral sermons much of one and the same subiect; to wit, the benefit of death. The former on Philip. 1. 23. The latter on Eccles. 7. 1. By Thomas Gataker B. of D. and pastor of Rotherhith.
Gataker, Thomas, 1574-1654.
Page  1

PHILIPP. cap. 1. vers. 23.
Desiring to be dissolued, and to be with Christ; which is by much more the better.

THE Apostle Paul was in a great strait, when hee wrote this Epistle; in doubt, it seemeth, whether he should rather desire life or death: affected as a louing and loyall wife, saith one, a whose husband in a far countrey aduanced to great honor, writeth to her to come to him, but to leaue her children behinde her, as deere to her as her selfe; and in that regard distracted, on the one side desirous to enioy her husband, and on the other side loath to leaue her children behinde her, especially yet vnable to helpe themselues; and in that regard content yet to defer her owne honor and ioy in her husband, till she see them better able to shift for themselues: Or, as a beggar-woman, saithbBernard, who comming to a rich mans dore with a childe on her hand, is offered to come in and warme her and dine well, so she leaue her childe, be∣cause it is vnquiet, without; whose bowels earning with naturall affection toward the fruit of her Page  2 wombe, make her willing rather to accept of a small pittance without dores with her childe, then to dine largely and liberally without it, within. In like man∣ner fared it with the blessed Apostle at this present. He desired to be with Christ his husband, his head in happinesse, in heauen. But the Philippians his litle ones, whom he had newlyc bred, and not throughly yetd nursed vp, they hung on his hands, and had neede still of his helpe: whom being loath there∣fore to leaue,e he was content for their gaine to de∣fer his owne good, and to continue yet some lon∣ger time in this mortall and miserable life, for the helping of them forward on the way to eternall lifef.

And this his distraction and doubtfulnes of re∣solution he propoundeth in the formerg verse, and in the former part of this verse: whereunto are an∣nexed such motiues as endeuoured to draw his de∣sires either way; his owne felicitie on the one side, which made him rather desire deathh; their ne∣cessitie on the other side, that moued him rather to accept of then to affect life, to endure it than to de∣sire iti. So that the hastning of his owne eternall good on the one side, and the furthering of their spirituall gaine on the other side; wrought between them a great distraction in him. Yet so, that the things themselues, Life and Death, simply conside∣red; if he should respect, and as he respected his owne good and gaine in either, his desire was rather to dissolution and departure by decease, that he might be with Christk. Whereof a reason is also rendred, because that simply considered, or in re∣spect Page  3 of himselfe, was without all question or com∣parison,*the far greater good of the twaine.

Now the maine point that hence we obserue then is this, that*a Christian man may lawfully and iustly desire death.

Which point so conceiued,* diuideth it selfe into two branches, both of them arising necessarily from the words of my text.

The one concerning the lawfulnes or warranta∣blenesse.

The other concerning the equitie or reasonable∣nesse of this desire.

For the former,* that a Christian man may lawful∣ly desire death in some kinde and in some case, (as didaElias, and Simeonb vpon sight of our Sauiour) is apparent, in that the Apostle not onely professeth it here of himself, but writing by the Spirit of God, approueth it also, as in himselfe here, so in others as well as himselfe else-wherec.

And it may be further confirmed vnto vs,* if we shall consider;

First, that death and departure hence by death, it is propounded as a blessingd, promised as a bles∣inge, and bestowed as a blessingf; and therefore may as a blessing also lawfully be desired.*

Secondly, that our deaths-day is our doomes-dayg: that our going to Christh, as that his comming to vsi. Now a Christian may loue, and long after the one*, and therefore may lawfully desire also the other.

In a word,* wee pray or ought to pray dailyk, that Christs kingdome may be fully erected in vs; Page  4 that Gods will may be prefectly fulfilled of vs: which can not be either of them wholy effected, but by dissolution and decease.

But here may a question or two be moued.

First,* for what cause we may desire death: Secondly,* with what caution.

For the former, I answer; we may desire death: First, to be freed from mortalitie and the miseries of this lifel; that we may rest from our laboursm; that mortalitie may be swallowed vp of lifen; which can not be in ordinarie course but by death.

Secondly, to be freed from spirituall euilso, that will not leaue vs but by deathp.

And lastly,* in regard of those benefits, that death further bringeth with it; that we may come home to Godq, and be for euer with Christr.

To the latter question, I answer, that first this de∣sire it must be without impatience: (that was Ionas his faults:) we may not desire death as weary of Gods worke,* of doing or enduring what he calleth vs vnto.

Secondly, it must be with submitting of our wils to Gods willt; content to wait Gods leisure, and to abide Gods pleasure for death or for lifeu.

And thus,* for these causes, with these cautions; death may lawfully be desired.

Now for the latter Branch, that euery Christian man hath good cause & great cause to desire death; (besides that the Apostle as he desireth it,* so he hath good ground for his desire in that kindex;) it may further more clearely appeare vnto vs, if we shall considery the euils that death freeth vs from, togi∣ther Page  5 with the benefits that it bringeth vs vnto.

* The euils that Death freeth vs from are either corporall or spirituall.*

The corporall euils may be referred to 4 heads: First,* those iniuries and wrongs that Gods chil∣dren sustaine at the hands of worldly men that here oppugne and oppresse them.* For all that will liue, godlily, while they liue here, must looke to suffer per∣secution1; and the way to Gods kingdome is through many tribulations2: the world hateth them, because though they be in it, yet are they not of it3: and this hatred will last so long as the world lasts4; so long as the one is in it,* and the other of it: neither will it cease to discouer it selfe in mischieuous at∣temptsa, so oft as abilitie and opportunitie shall meete. In regard whereof, Christian men, saith our Apostle, had they hope onely in this life, were of all men the most miserableb. Christian men therefore as they haue no cause to loue life; so they haue no neede to feare death: yea as they haue litle cause to loue this life, considering the wrongs that here daily they endure; so they haue great cause to desire death, that putteth an end to them all; that setteth them and the wicked so far asunder, that they can not one come any more at the otherc, to vex or molest or annoy one the other. In respect whereof it is well said by some of the Ancients, that Gods children are neuer better deliuered, then when deliuered by death: for that then they are deliuered not out of one, but out of all troubles at onced; and so deliuered as they neede no further deliuerance any moree.

Secondly,* those temporall corrections and cha∣stisements, Page  6 that the corruptions of Gods children by way* of cure here require. For here God is of∣tentimes cōstrained to smite them with the wounds of an enemie, in sharpe and seuere manner,* because their iniquities are many and their transgressions great and grieuousf; to iudge them in this world, that they may not be condemned in the nextg. But after this life, as there shall be no neede of naturall foode or physicke for the bodie; so there shall be no neede of such spirituall physicke for the soule. As we shall be rid of corruption, so we shall neede no more correction. As there shall be no vse of preaching or sacraments, so there shall be no neede of such sharpe courses, as God is now faine to take with vs: for all griefe and paine shall be then done awayh; and all teares wiped away from our eyesi: we shall neuer feare then to taste of Gods anger a∣gainek; nor euer know what his displeasure mea∣neth any more.

Thirdly, all laborious and painfull imployments: they rest then from their laboursl; which though the works themselues are not euill; yet the paine and toile accompanying them is of the punishment of sinnem, and so euill in it selfe. Martha shall not neede then to complaine of Marien: nor the Pro∣phet neede by preaching to waste his lights and his lifeo. As all misery, so all mercy and works of mercy shall then cease*. As there shall be then no hunger nor thirst, nor other necessities of naturep: so we shall not neede there either to feede the hun∣gry, as we did hereq, or to haue a fellow-feeling of their hunger;* that which maketh vs many times Page  7 as miserable, as those themselues are to whom we shew mercyh.

Fourthly, all infirmities and bodily paines and diseases. Death is the best Physition1, the best phy∣sick for them2: it cureth vs not of one but of all, and of all at once; not for once onely, but for euer3.

And what speake I of diseases, or of other disea∣ses? Death cureth vs euen of death.

Old age; saith one, is a disease euill enough of it selfei: yea our life it selfe is a diseasek, and a dead∣ly disease, a disease vnto deathl: and there is no meanes to cure vs of this disease but by death. We 〈◊〉 freed from death by death; as by death Christ destroyed deathm; while mortalitie is swallowed vp of lifen, and immortalitie, the only true healtho, is atchieued by death.

The spirituall euils that death freeth vs from, are also of 4. sorts.

The first of Satans temptations. The Christian soule, while it is in this world, is in fight euer with Satanp, who is continually labouring to worke our euillq, and to worke vs vnto euillr: and if he can not draw vs out of Gods way, by beating and buf∣feting vs to vex and annoy vss, and so to make Gods way as tedious and troublesome, as he can possibly, vnto vst. And this course he continueth with vs to our liues end, raging many times most furiously when we draw neerest to our end, because he knoweth his time then is but shortu. But by*Page  8 death we preuaile against him, and get full victorie ouer himx; when he is not onely so cast out of vsy, that he can not sway in vs, as before our conuersion sometime he didz; but is so shaken off from vs, that he can neuer once returne againe, as with our Sauiour he did sometimea, to tempt vs. For our soules are out of his reach, when they are taken vp into heauenb, whither that wicked one hath now no accessec.

The second sort is of worldly prouocations and euill examples.* The children of God while they are in the world, can not but liue among, and con∣uerse with the wicked of the worldd: and liuing a∣mong them, and conuersing with them, they can not but heare their blasphemous speechese, and see their lewd coursesf, whereby they abuse and dis∣honor God: that which is a matter of no small griefe and vexation to Gods childreng; yea so great that it maketh them oft á-weary of their liuesh. As indeed how can it be but a grieuous heart-sore to any faithfull subiect and well-affected to his So∣ueraigne, to be constrained to abide in such a place,* and among such people,* where his Lord and master is daily railed on and reuiled in his hearing, and those things done daily in his sight, that tend to the disgrace and dishonor of him, whom he deseruedly most respects? But we are freed from all these euils also, when we go out of the worldi. For howsoeuer here the graine and chaffe lye togither in one fieldk; yet there the chaffe goeth one way, and the good graine another wayl, the tares are cast one way, and the good corne is caried another waym, euen Page  9 into Gods garner, to a place where there shall be no matter of scandalln, to make them stumble and fallo or to vex and grieuep them any more.

The third sort of spirituall euils is of sinne and corruption;* then which nothing is more burden∣some and combersome to a Christian souleq, not so much for feare of wrath,* as for desire to please God, and for griefe that thereby he should shew himselfe vnkinde and vnthankfull to him, whom he hath euer found so gratious and good to himselfe. And if this be so heauy to a Christian soule, that he should so displease and dishonor his heauenly fa∣ther by his errors and ouer-sightsr, whose honor ought to be deerer to him than all the worlds wealth,* yea then his owne soule it selfes; how is death then to be desired of him,* that freeth him from this burden; that giueth an vtter ease from it, an eternall discharge of it? For he that is dead, is freed from sinnet. Death, it strippeth vs of our old man, our old skin, all at once, not, as sanctification doth it here, by degrees: yea it placeth vs in far bet∣ter estate, then our first parents were in before their fallu. For they were so free from sinne, that yet they might haue will to sinne: we shall be so freed by death from sinne, that we shall neuer haue either will or minde againe therevnto.

The fourth sort of euils spirituall is of diuine de∣sertion, whereby God in this life,* though he neuer indeede leaue his childrenx, yet sometime seemeth to forsake themy; though he euer remember and re∣gard themz, yet sometime seemeth to forget them*: he doth many times, for secret causes best knowne Page  10 to himselfe, with-draw from them the sight and sense of his gratious presence and assistance, and looke vpon them with a frowning and a lowring countenance. Which thing how grieuous and hea∣uy it is to Gods saints for the present, may appeare by those mournefull plaints that they powre out in such cases: euen so grieuous, that (for the time) they seeme to be in the very suburbs of hell. Where∣as by death they are freed from all such dreadfull desertions; being placed in such a state thereby, that as God shall neuer be againe displeased with them, so he shall neuer in displeasure againe turne his face away from them#.

And thus haue we seene the euils of all sorts, that death is a meanes to free vs from.

Now in the next place,* consider we the Benefits that death bringeth vs vnto: which may likewise be reduced to 4. heads.

The first is the full consummation of Grace,* that is here but imperfect and in parth: as first fruitsi, but an handfullk to the whole crop; as an earnest∣pennyl giuen in pledge of full payment. But if the first-fruits be so pretiousm, those small beginnings of Grace, that the true Christian, the wise merchant, would not take the world in exchange for themn; that he counteth all the wealth of this world, but as trash, as drsse and dongue in regard of themo; oh what will the full crop be? if the earnest-penny be so pretious, what will the entire payment be? And if we then thirst and long after growth ofp grace, how should we desire death that bringeth with it a full consummation ofq grace, that bringeth grace to it full growth?

Page  11 The second Benefit is a perfection of gloryr; such an excellencie as shall make vs not onely gra∣tious* in our selues,* but most glorious also in the eyes of all that behold vs:* that which the Apostle callethsan exceeding excessiue eternall weight of glo∣ry:* and saith further,that all the afflictions of this life, are not worthy once to be named with that glory, that in the next life shall be manifested, not vnto vs onely, but euen in vst.

When the sunne of righteousnes shall shine full vpon vsu, and shining full vpon vs, shall make vs like vnto himselfex; so that we shall also shine as the sunne in the kingdome of heaueny. This we are not able to conceiue what it is.* We can guesse some∣what at the former,* because we haue the first-fruits of it here:* but this we are not able to giue almost any guesse at. But the Apostle Peter, in Christs trans∣figuration, seeing a glimpse of it (oh it is good being here, saith he) would faine haue stayed there stillz. And the Apostle Paul that had seene it,* could not vtter what he had seene4, but longed exceedingly after it, as one neuer well till he were there5. And vndoubtedly, enlarge we our mindes all that may be, we shall say, when we shall come to see and en∣ioy it, as the Queene of the South, when shee came and saw Salomons royaltie6, the one halfe, nay the hundreth part of that we shall finde there, was neuer either reported vnto vs, or conceiued of vs here.

The third Benefit,* is the inseparable company of Christ. They shall follow the Lambe there, whither∣soeuer he goetha. In this world is Christ said to be with vsb: after this life are we* said to he with himc.

Page  12 Here he is said to be with vs, while we soiourne from himd: there are we said to goe to him, and to be at his home with hime. And if it be matter of much joy to haue Christ with vs here, what will it be to abide for euer with him theref? If Christs presence by his spiritg be so comfortable here, that it is able to cheere vs vp in all our greatest afflictionsh: what shall his glorious presence be eternally there?

Conceiue we it by some comparisons.* It were a great grace,* and such as would minister much com∣fort to a Courtier lying sicke at home of the gowt,* to haue the Prince not onely to send to him,* but in person also to visit him:* but much more comfort and joy would it be to him, to be able, being recoue∣red, to repaire to the Court, and there enjoy his Princes presence, with such fauors and pleasures, as that place may afford. How much more then, in this case, is it a great grace and a comfort, that God vouchsafeth to visit vs here by his spiriti, sometime more familiarly and feelingly, but euer so effectu∣ally,* as thereby to support vs euen in our heauiest afflictions? but yet how much more exceedingly shall our ioy and comfort be increased, when being freed from all infirmities, we shall be taken home to him, that we may liue in ioy and blisse for euer with him? As that Courtier hauing assurance giuen him of recouery by such a time, would exceedingly re∣ioyce to thinke of the ioy of that day, and count euery day a weeke, if not a yeere, to it, wherein he should being recoured returne againe to the Court, and be welcommed thither in solemne manner by all his frends there, the Prince himselfe principally: Page  13 so well may the faithfull soule not a litle ioy to fore∣thinke with it selfe, what a ioyfull howre that shall be vnto it, wherein by death parted from the body, it shall be solemnly presented before the face of Christ, and entring into the heauenly palace, shall be welcomed thither by the whole court of heauen, by all the blessed spirits that there abidei.

Againe; this life is the time of our contract with Christk after this life commeth our mariage-dayl. Now as a virgin espoused to one that is trauailed to the East-Indies, if she do indeed faithfully and vn∣fainedly affect him, though she ioy to read a letter, or to see some token from him, yet it is nothing in that kinde that can giue her contentmentm, but shee longeth for his presence, desireth to heare of his returne, and joyeth to thinke on that day, when meeting againe they shall be so matched, as they shall neuer more againe be so seuered. So here, though the Christian soule contracted to Christ, du∣ring the time of this contract, in his absence from hern, receiue many fauors and loue-tokens from himo, as are all the blessings she enioyeth here, be they spirituall or temporallp; yet they can not all of them giue full contentment vnto her,* but helpe ra∣ther to enflame her affection towards him, and make her,* if she sincerely loue him, as she professeth and pretendeth to do, the more earnestly and ardently to long for that day, wherein she shall come insepara∣bly to be lincked vnto him, and euerlastingly to en∣ioy his personall presence, which aboue all things she most desireth.

The fourth and last,* but not the least Benefit that Page  14 death bringeth vs vnto, is immediate communion with God: when God shall be all in all and vnto allq: when we shall draw our delights from the fountaine of allr, from the well-heads: when God shall con∣ueigh and minister vnto vs immediately by himself,* whatsoeuer he now communicateth vnto vs by meanest. This (though it be the greatest benefit of all,x yet we can say the least of all of it. Onely thus much: If the meanes whereby God now im∣parteth his mercies vnto vs, be so sweet to Gods saints, (the ministerie of his word, his holy myste∣ries, and religious offices) that they earnestly thirst after them when they want themu, delight excee∣dingly in them when they haue them, seeme to be euen rauished and enamoured with themy, prefer* the sweetnes of them before the sweetest sweetsz, yea seeme to doate so vpon them, that they haue ne∣uer enough of thema if the dimme beames, I say, of Gods face and fauor shining through these thick clouds and veiles be so comfortable to them, that they esteeme all worldly ioyes and delights, as nothing in regard of themb: oh what shall God himself be, when we shall see him fully face to facec, when we shall finde all togither in him, draw all im∣mediately from him, and enioy whatsoeuer our heart can desire or minde imagine, yea far more than either of them can possibly now reach tod, in him.

And thus we haue seene the benefit of death, Page  15 both in regard of the euils from which it freeth vs;* as also in regard of those good things that thereby accrew vnto vs: whence we may well conclude, that as Gods children may lawfully desire it, so they haue iust cause and great cause earnestly to long af∣ter it.

Now the Vse then of this point is first to ouer∣throw the opinion of those that thinke it not lawfull in any case to wish or desire death,* yea in regard of freedome from outward euils;* sithence it is promi∣sed,* as we haue shewed,* by God as a blessing, and as a blessing in that very kindee.

Yea but, may some say, if we may desire it, we may do it: we may then hasten our owne end.

It followeth not. A man may desire many things to be done,* which yet he himselfe may not doe. A man may desire the ministerief: yet he may not* make himselfe a ministerg. He may desire to haue some malefactors taken away by the sword of iu∣stice: yet, being a priuate person, he may not do it himselfe. So a man may desire death, and seeke it at Gods hands; but not procure it or hasten it by any meanes of his owneh.

Secondly, it serueth to shame and condemne such as are so loth to dye, that they can not endure to heare of death and dissolution:* so far from desi∣ring that which they haue so great cause to desire, that they can not brooke or abide any mention or motion of it, can worst of any thing away with it: in so much that some forbeare the doing of some things, some matters of conueniencie, yea some necessarie duties, as making of their Wils, out of a Page  16 friuolous and superstitious conceit, that they shall dye shortly, if they do them.

Yea many though they can not liue, yet are vn∣willing to dyei. Though they liue in that miserie, that they can haue no ioy of their liues, that their life is rather a lingring death than a lifek, yet would they rather continue still in such miserable plight,* then be content to haue an end put to their intole∣rable torments, much more bitter than many deaths, by an easie dissolution, by a speedy dispatch. No paine, no torment, no pangs of death, can pre∣uaile so with them, as to make them willing to vn∣dergo what they can not auoidel, or content to goe to God.

Now for Heathen, or such as haue no hope but herem, to be thus affected, were not greatly to be wondred at. But for Christians, that professe them∣selues to be but pilgrims and strangers heren, this world a strange country to them, and heauen their owne countreyo, their home, their fathers house; for them to be so vnwilling to leaue this world, to depart hence, to returne to their owne home, as if their fathers house were not an heauen but an hell, it is a foule shame, it is no small blemish to their Christian profession.

Yea it sheweth such persons to be possessed still with a great measure of hypocrisie. For what is it Page  17 but hypocrisie, when our prayers and our practise concur not, when the one is directly contrary vnto the other, when we are most vnwilling to that, that daily we would seeme to desire Or how do not our prayers and our practise the one directly crosse the other, when we pray daily to haue, not our will, but Gods will to be doneq; and yet when it commeth to the point,* that God calleth vs to come to him, we hang back, and are vnwilling to do what he willeth vsr, would rather writh Gods will to ours, than con∣forme our will to his, would rather haue our owne will done against Gods will to our owne euill, then the will of our louing father wrought on vs for our good? How do not our tongues and our hearts apparently and exceedingly jarre, when we pray daily to God, that his kingdome may comes, and yet we wish and desire rather to stay here still, where Sa∣tans thronet and kingdomeuis; and where we our selues are in some degree still of thraldomex, then to be translated hence vnto that eternall kingdomey; where we shall be absolutely free from all spirituall seruitude, and shall reigne in glory for euer with Christ Iesus our head?

And surely strange it is to see here, as* one well obserueth, how contrariwise we are in this kinde affected to our owne courses otherwise. For the labourer hasteth to repose himselfez; the mariner roweth with all might to gaine his Page  18 port, and is glad at the heart when he is once come within kenning of it; the trauailer is ne∣uer quiet till he be at his wayes end. And yet we tied in this world to a perpetuall taske, tossed as on the sea, with continuall tempest, toyled and tyred out with a tedious and combersome passage, can not see the end of our paines but with griefe, view our port but with teares, thinke on our home but with horror and dread: Seeme weary of our worke, of our waues, and our way; and yet when death commeth to rid vs of them, to set vs at an end of them, and to put vs into our port,* we shun it as a rocke, and cannot endure the sight of ita: do as litle children, that go crying out of some maladie all day, and at night when the medicine commeth that should heale and helpe them of their paine, or the Barber-Surgion that should pluck out the aking∣tooth, haue no griefe more now, but are wel enough without it; feare the meanes of ease more than the disease,: the medicine more than the maladie it self so we feare what we should wish for, and wis what we should feare; yea feare most and abhorre what we haue most cause to desire6.

Oh but life is sweet, will some say: and man is a creature that loueth lifec.

Do we loue life? let vs loue true life, loue eternall life, loue that life that is life indeedd. For this life is no life, but a death rather than life7. It is no true life that yeeldeth to death, that tendeth to death, that Page  19 endeth in deathe: that is true life, that is eternall: that is true life,* that cannot be dissolued by deathf. If we desire such life then, let vs desire death: for there is no way to such life but by deathg

As a Christian man therefore hath no cause to feare or abhorre deathh, because it can neither be∣reaue him of spiritualli, nor debarre him of eternall lifek: (he dieth not, though he dyel: his death is no death:) so he hath great cause to loue and desire death, because it bringeth him to perfection of spi∣rituall lifem, it placeth him in possession of eternall lifen. As he hath no cause to dread death, because it cannot seuer him from Christo: so he hath good cause to desire death, because it bringeth him home vnto Christp. And it is no death, but life, to be joyned vnto him; as it is no life, but death, to be seuered from himq

[Ʋse 3] Thirdly, this serueth to shew the efficacie and ex∣cellencie of faith: it maketh those things most cheerefull, most comfortable, most desirable, that are most dreadfull, & discomfortable, and terribler in themselues: it altereth cleane the nature of things: it maketh the world irkesome to Pauls, which all men naturally desire and delight in: it maketh death and dissolution desirable and delight∣some vnto him, which all men naturally abhorre; insomuch that though they be weary of life, yet they are vnwilling to dye; though they haue no pleasure of their life, yet loath are they to leaue life, and to dye once, that they may liue euer. It is cleane contrary with Paul. His life is not deere to himt: and death is desired of himu: yea so much desired, Page  20 that he can hardly, but for others, induce himself to liue longerx: it is as hard a matter to make him pa∣tient of life, as it is to make other men patient of deathy: it is a mastery with them to make them wil∣ling to dye; it is a masterie with him to make him∣selfe willing to liue. And surely a great matter it must needs be, that maketh a man dye cheerefully, not as one weary of lifez, but as desirous of deatha; as desirous of death, as other men are of life, because in death and by death he looketh for lifeb.

Fourthly, this should incite vs to the loue and desire of that, which we haue so good, so great cause to desirec; For what should we desire rather than to be at rest, at an end of all our troubles and tra∣uels; to be freed from the burden and bondage of sinne, from Satans assaults, from the present wicked world; to be rid of infirmitie; to be stript of our mortalitie; to be made perfectly gratious, and vn∣speakably glorious; to be in ioy vnconceiuable, and in happinesse eternall; to be present with Christ, and for euer with God? This was the end of Christs descending, that we might ascendd: of his descen∣ding to vs, that we might ascend vnto him: he to misery, we to glory; he to be crucified, we to be crowned; he to be crucified for vs, we to be crow∣ned with him. And if he were content to do the one, how much more we the other? If he counted it meat and drinke to do that for our goode, how much more should we desire to do this for our own good? And indeed his descending cannot be bene∣ficiall vnto vs, vnlesse we ascend vnto himf. That was the end of his descending: and that is the end Page  21 of his ascending. As he descended, so he ascended that we might ascendg: he went into heauen before vs, to prepare a place for vsh, and to draw vs vp to himi, that we might reigne for euer with himk. And shall we then be vnwilling to follow him to our eternall glory, to our endles good? Certainely with an euill will would wee accompanie him to the crosse, if we be so vnwilling to come after him to the crowne. Oh let vs rouse vp therefore our dull and drowsie spirits; let vs sharpen and whet on our affections and desires herevnto, that we may be wil∣ling to dye, that we may euen desire death. For, He liueth but euill, that cannot dye well*. And, It is one point of well-dying, to be willing to dye1. And no man dieth more willingly, than he that desireth death.

Now that we may (with this blessed seruant and Apostle of Christ) loue death and desire death, let vs so liue as we may not feare death. For how can a man desire what he fearethm? Wouldest thou therefore haue death to be not terrible and horrible, but desirable and delectable; not lamentable, but comfortable; not dreadfull, but cheerefull and de∣lightfull vnto thee? (For it is not, neither can it so be vnto all, but vnto some onelyn; to those alone that are qualified so,* as our Apostle here was.)

Then first suffer not thy soule to be glewed to this world. For it is the loue of this life that maketh death bitter4. Therefore are so few content to be dissolued, beeause they are so wedded to the world5; whereas to a minde that loatheth and misliketh the world, nothing is so welcome as death, that taketh him out of the world.

Page  22 Yea take heede that the good blessings that God here vouchsafeth thee, cleaue not too close to thee. For euen they are often vnto vs, as Absolom to Da∣uido, a meanes priuily to filch our affections from God, and to make vs more vnwilling to go hence vnto God. Let vs remember that these things, though good things, are but as rings and loue∣tokens that God wooeth vs here withall. And as it were but an harlotry loue in vs, to affect the pre∣sent more than the party that sendeth itp; so an ab∣surd and a preposterous thing, that Gods loue∣tokens sent to vs, should lessen our loue to him, and make vs lesse desirous of the fruition of him. Which that therefore they may not do, we must take heede that our hearts be not set too much on themq; that we vse them so that we do not abuse themr; that we be not so desirous still to retaine them, that they make vs more vnwilling, parting with them, to depart to him that sent them, when he shall call vs to come to him. Let vs so possesse them, that they hang loose about vs: then when death commeth to strip vs of them, they will go off with ease, as we slip off our garments, when we lay vs downe to sleep. Other∣wise if they cleaue to vs, we shall not part but with paine; as the shirt that sticketh fast to the vlcerous body, and pulleth skin and flesh away withall: as the tooth, that standeth fast in the head, commeth not out but with much difficultie, teareth the gum, or bringeth a peece of the jaw away with it; when the tooth that is loose, commeth out with ease.

Secondly,* hate sinne, and death will be delight∣full vnto thee. It is the loue of their corruptions, Page  23 that maketh men loth to leaue thems, and loath to appeare there,* where they must be called to account for them. The loue of sinne maketh men feare death: and the hatred of sinne would make men loue and desire death. For he that hateth sinne in himselfea, cannot but desire to haue the bodie of sinne wholy abolished in his souleb: which, because it will last with him as long as he liuethc, and will not be vtterly abandoned till death;* therefore the more he hateth it,* the lesse he loueth life; the more he abhorreth it, the more he desireth death. As the more impatient of sicknes, so the more impatient of sinne, the more desirous of deathd.

Thirdly,*lay a good foundation for life eternalle. Labour to keepe a good conscience, and the com∣fort of a good consciencef, and death shall not be dreadfull but cheerefull vnto thee. For the godly hath hope euen in deathg. The worldly man hath his hope, as his happinesse, in this lifeh alone. And there∣fore so long as life lasteth, some sory hope he may hauei But when he dieth, his hope dieth with himk. And therefore iustly feareth he death, that putteth a finall end, as to his happinesse, so to his hopes. Whereas the godly man retaineth his hopes, euen when life decayethl therefore iustly rifest then with him, because he approcheth then neerest to the accomplishment of them. And therefore litle reason hath he to feare or abhor death, much cause to affect it, and cheerefully to expect it? For he that is in the state of grace and life, cannot be put beside it, or depriued of it by deathm. And he may well cheerefully expect,* and euen with triumph enter∣taine Page  24 deathn, that is to receiue and enioy a crowne of eternall life after deatho. That therefore we may be confident in these our desires, in coueting to remoue hence, that we may goe vnto God; let vs studie so to carry our selues, that both staying here, and remouing hence, we may be acceptable vnto himp.

Labour then for this:* yea labour not onely for it; but labour further, in the fourth place, to get as∣surance of it to thine owne souleq. Labour (I say) to get assurance of Gods fauour in thy life, and thou shalt not neede to feare deathr. A man will neuer be afraid to go to God, if he know that in Christ he is reconciled vnto Gods. He will neuer be afraid to lay downe this cotage of clay, if he be assured that he hath an eternall housing, not made with hands, re∣serued for him in the heauenst. The want of the for∣mer, of the thing it selfe, maketh the vnfaithfull feare death; and not without cause; because they haue laid no foundation for life after death; and therefore when they dye, they dye irrecouerably, they dye eternally, they passe not from death to life, but from death to deathu, or from death to such a life, as is worse than any death, a dying life and a li∣uing deathx. The want of the latter, to wit, of the assurance of it, maketh euen many faithfull feare death; (though that without iust cause;) because, though they haue laid a sure foundation for life, and therefore cannot miscary, but must needs doe well in death; yet they want the comfort of it, be∣cause they do not apprehend it, because they are not assured of ity: which maketh them therefore with feare to expect death, as a sergeant that came to Page  25 arrest them, and to carry them away to hell; which, if they could consider of things aright, they had cause rather with great ioy to welcome, as Gods messenger,* sent to conueigh them hence to heauen.

Fiftly, learne to dye whiles thou liuest; learne to dye before deatha. Forecast thine endb thinke oft on it4; fit thy selfe for it; that though it come neuer so soone, neuer so sodainly, it may not surprise thee vnawares, it may not finde thee vnfitted. He can not dye with alacritie, he can not in holy manner desire death, that hath not fitted himself for death, that hath not before hand seriously thought on his end, and addressed himselfe thereuntoc. Therefore men feare it, because they are not prepared for it: therefore they dread it, because it commeth ere they expected itd. As thou art wont therefore ere sleepe come vpon thee, to compose thy selfe vnto rest, by stripping thy selfe, lying downe in or on thy bed, drawing the curtaines about thee, closing thine eyes, acting sleepe as it were, before thou sleepest: So endeuor daily, before death seize on thee, to compose and addresse thy selfe vnto death5, by the serious meditation of thine vnauoydable end, as most certainely not farre of*, so vncertaine how neere, by labouring to work out of thy minde such secular, carnall, or satanicall conceits, as may bring thee out of loue with it, and by striuing to bring thy selfe acquainted with it, yea to worke thine heart to a loue and a liking of it, that when it com∣meth, Page  26 thou maist entertaine it, neither as a foe, nor as a meere stranger, but as a wonted guest, as an ancient acquaintance, as a familiar frende It is a matter, as of much consequence, for the furtherance of a cheerefull departure, so of great difficultie, not so soone atchieued, not so easily learned,f as many men imagine: yea it is that, that we may well all our life long be a learning;g since it is, or ought to be the maine ayme of euery mans whole life, to pre∣pare and fit him for deathh.

Sixtly and lastly, when thou lookest towards death, looke withall euer further than it. When thou meditatest on death, meditate withall on those benefits that shall accrue vnto thee by death. Oh could we see them, as Paul did, when he was rapt into the third heaueni: we would neuer be well, vn∣till we were there. Nay, could we see but some glimpse, as those three Disciples didk, of that glo∣ry; we would neuer lin longing till we were entred or entring into it. But this since we cannot hope for, till we come there; let vs labour with Moses the meane while, with the spirituall eye of the soule, with the eye of faith and meditation, to see him that cannot be seenel; yea to see that, that can∣not be seenem; to see that with the spirituall eye, that cannot be seene with the naturall eye: with our Apostle, to looke not on the things that are seene, Page  27 but on the things that are not seenen: not consi∣der death as it sheweth it selfe to the eye of flesh and blood, and as it is in it owne nature, as an ene∣mie to man, as a punishment of sinneo; but as it is manifested to the eye of faith out of Gods word, as it is now altred and changed through Gods mercy in Christ, as a great benefit, as a blessing, as the messenger of Godp; as Gods messenger, I say, for the good, yea for the endlesse good of all those that belong vnto God. Open the eye of thy soule to looke not vpon it, but beyond it. Muse oft vpon the happinesse that shall ensue vpon it, and cannot be attained but by it. That will make thee desire death, though not for it selfe, yet for itq; yea it will make thee euen in loue with death, if thou beest in loue with it; since thou canst not but by death attaine vnto it.

Fiftly, this helpeth to confute certaine erroneous conceits.

First, the popish opinion of Purgatorie. For what cause or reason should Christian men haue to desire death, if they were to goe to such a place after death? to passe not from paine to ease and rest, but from paine to paine, from lesser paines to greater paines;* to greater torments after death, then euer they did or could endure in this lifer: not to goe vnto Christ, bnt to goe further from Christ; not to conuerse with him immediatly after death, but to be depriued of those meanes, whereby they had spirituall society with him, and did com∣fortably enioy him by his spirit here vpon earth. A meere dotage of mans idle braine, hauing no sha∣dow Page  28 of ground or warrant out of Gods word, teaching the Saints of God to expect after death wo and paine and hell, where the Spirit promiseth no∣thing but lifea, restb, ioyc, and heauend.

Secondly,* it confuteth likewise another vnsound assertion,* to wit, of those that denie vnto the soules of the Saints deceassed entrance into heau'n,* and accesse vnto the presence of Christ,* vntill the last day. This erroneous conceit was of old broa∣ched by Irenaeusf, and was of late againe reviued by Pope Iohn 22g. But was then opposed by the most of his Cardinals,* and confuted by the Diuines of the Uniuersitie of Paris, and the Pope himselfe (as some write) constrained by Philip the Faire, then King of France, publikely to recant ith; as also Benedict 12. his next successor, solemnly con∣demned iti.

And it is a point indeede directly contrary to the promise of Christ,* and to the Desires of the Saints.

To the promise of Christ made to the Theife on the Crosse; This day shalt thou be with me in Pa∣radisek: which Paradise this our Apostle expoun∣deth to be the third Heauenl, the present place of Christs residence and abodem.

To the Desires of Gods Saints; this our Apo∣postle, and others, as well here, as else-where, who desire to remoue hence, that they may goe thither to Christn. But in vaine should they desire for that end to remoue hence, if when hence they departed, they should not go to christ, but wait without, I wot not where, secluded from all accesse to him, and Page  29 from the sight of him. So that of necessitie either we must shut Christ himselfe out of heauen, or else we must admit the soules of the Saints, who by direction of the Spirit of God (which cannot mis-informe them, either delude or deceiue them,) desire therefore to be dissolued, that they may goe immediately to be and abide with him where he is.

Lastly, it teacheth vs not to mourne excessiuely for the deceassedo. For how can we desire to goe after them, if we mourne for them, as if some euill had befallen them? or what cause haue we to be∣waile them, that are therefore happier than vs, be∣cause they are gone thither before vsp, whither we must once follow them, and can neuer be fully happy here, vntill we be there with them? Rather; are they gone before vs, that were neere and deere vnto vs? Let their departure from vs, that were so much affected of vs, be a meanes to draw our affe∣ctions more to the place whither they are gone be∣fore vs; and to those courses, whereby we may be partakers with them, as in the grace of God here, so in glory hereafter.

FINIS.