Mar
27

Gain Follows Death – funeral sermon

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The following sermon outline is a portion of a larger sermon by the well known and loved Puritan preacher, Thomas Watson. It is an excerpt out his sermon entitled, The Death of the Righteous.
 

Gain Follows Death (a retitled excerpt)

by Thomas Watson (Taken from sermon, The Death of the Righteous)

  It should exhort us all to labor to say as the apostle, "For to me, to live is Christ!" Christ is the principle of my life, the end of my life, the joy of my life. If we can say, "For to me, to live is Christ," we may comfortably conclude, "and to die is gain!"

        II. "And to die is gain!" To a believer death is great gain. A saint can count what his losses for Christ are here—but he cannot count how great his gains are at death. "To me to die is gain." Death to a believer is the daybreak of eternal brightness. To show fully what a believer's gains are at death, would be a task too great for an angel; all hyperboles fall short of it; the reward of glory exceeds our imagination. Let me give you some dark views and imperfect lineaments only, of that infinite glory the saints shall gain at the hour of death. "To me to die is gain."

1.  Believers at death, shall bid an eternal farewell to all sins and troubles.

They shall be in a state of impeccability. Sin expires with their life. I think sometimes what a happy state that will be, never to have another sinful thought, and to have a quietus from all troubles. Here David cried out, "My life is spent with griefs, and my years with sighing." "Long life is merely long torment," Augustine. Life begins with a cry, and ends with a groan; but at death all troubles die.

2. Believers at death, shall gain the glorious sight of God. They shall see him:

– Intellectually with the eyes of their mind, which divines call the beatific vision. If there were not such an intellectual sight of God, how do the spirits of just men, made perfect, see him?

– They shall behold the glorified body of Jesus Christ; and if it be pleasant to behold the sun, how blessed a sight will it be to see Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, clothed with our human nature, shining in glory above the angels! Through Christ's flesh, as through a transparent glass, some bright rays and beams of the Godhead shall display themselves to glorified eyes. The sight of God through Christ will be very delightful; for the terror of God's essence will be taken away; his majesty will be mixed with beauty, and sweetened with mercy. It will be infinitely delightful to the saints to see the amiable aspects and smiles of God's face.

3. The saints at death shall not only have a sight of God—but shall enjoy his love.

There shall be no more a veil on God's face, nor shall his smiles be chequered with frowns—but his love shall discover itself in all its orient beauty and fragrant sweetness. Here on earth, the saints pray for his love, and they have a few drops; but there they shall have as much as their vessels can receive. To know the love that passes knowledge, will cause a jubilation of spirit, and create such holy raptures of joy in the saints, as are superlative, and would soon overwhelm them, if God did not make them able to bear it.

4. Believers at death shall gain a celestial palace, a house not made with hands.

2 Cor 5:5: Here on earth, the saints are straitened for room; they have but poor cottages to live in; but they shall have a royal palace to live in hereafter. Here is their sojourning house; there in heaven is their mansion-house, a house built high above all the visible orbs, bespangled with light, and enriched with pearls and precious stones. Col 1:12, and Rev 21:19. It is not their landlord's house—but their Father's house, and stands upon consecrated ground. John 14:2. It is represented by transparent glass, to show its holiness. Rev 21:21.

5. Believers at death shall gain the sweet society of glorified saints and angels; which will add to the felicity of heaven, as every star adds some luster to the sky.

      -The society of the glorified saints. We shall see them in their souls, as well as in their bodies. Their bodies will be so clear and bright, that we shall see their souls shining through them, as wine through the glass. Believers at death will have close converse with glorified saints. How delightful will it be, to be freed from all the sinful corruptions, pride, envy, passion and censoriousness, which as scars disfigured them here! In heaven there will be perfect love among the saints; as the olive and myrtle, they will sweetly embrace each other. If in the transfiguration Peter knew Moses and Elijah, whom he never saw before, Matt 17:3, much more, in the glorified state, will saints perfectly know one another, though they never saw each other before.

   – The saints at death will behold the angels with the glorified eye of their understandings. The wings of the cherubim (representing the angels) were made of fine gold, to denote both their sanctity and splendor. Angels are compared to lightning, Matt 28:3, because of those sparkling beams of majesty, which as lightning shoot from them. When saints and angels meet and sing together in concert in the heavenly choir, what divine harmony, what joyful triumphs will there be!

6. Believers at death shall gain perfection of holiness.

Here on earth, grace is but "in its cradle," very imperfect; so that we cannot write a copy of holiness without blotting. Here on earth, believers receive but "the first fruits of the Spirit." At death the saints will arrive at perfection; their knowledge will be clear; their sanctity perfect; their sun will be in its full meridian splendor. They need not then pray for increase of grace; for they shall love God as much as they would love him, and as much as he desires to have them love him. They shall be in respect of holiness as the angels of God.

7. At death, the saints will gain a royal magnificent feast.

I told you before what a glorious palace they shall have; but a man may starve in a house, if there is no cheer. The royal banquet which saints have at death is shadowed out in Scripture by a marriage-supper. Rev 19:9. Bullinger and Gregory the Great understand by the marriage-supper of the Lamb, the stately, magnificent festival the saints will have in heaven, when they shall feed on the tree of life. Rev 22:2. They shall have the heavenly nectar and ambrosia, "the spiced wine, and the juice of the pomegranate." Cant 8:2. This royal supper of the Lamb will not only satisfy hunger—but prevent it. "They shall hunger no more." Rev 7:16. Nor can there be any surfeit at this feast, because a fresh course will be continually served. New and fresh delights will spring from God; therefore the tree of life in paradise is said to bear twelve sorts of fruit. Rev 22:2.

8. Believers at death shall gain honor and dignity; they shall reign as kings.

We read therefore of the ensigns of their royalty, their white robes and celestial crowns. Rev 4:4. We read that the doors of the holy of holies were made of palm-trees and open flowers, covered with gold. This is an emblem of the victory and triumph, and the golden garland of honor with which God invests the glorified saints. When all worldly honor shall lie in the dust—then shall the saints' honor remains; not one jewel shall be plucked out of their crown. At death they shall gain a blessed eternity. If the saints could have the least suspicion or fear of losing their glory, it would much cool and embitter their joy; but their crown fades not away. I Pet 5:4. As the wicked have a worm which never dies, so the elect have an unfading crown of glory. 'Forever' is a short word—but it has no end. "At the last our joy shall be never-ending," Bernard. "The things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Cor 4:18. "At your right hand are pleasures for evermore." Psalm 16:2. Who can span eternity? Millions of ages stand but for ciphers in eternity. Forever in Christ's bosom is the highest strain of the saint's glory!
 

How do the saints come to have all this gain?

They have a right to all this gain at death upon several accounts, as by virtue of the Father's donation, the Son's purchase, the Holy Spirit's pledge, and faith's acceptance. Therefore the state of future glory is called the saint's proper inheritance. They are heirs of God and have a right to inherit. "Always thanking the Father, who has enabled you to share the inheritance that belongs to God's holy people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the one who rules in the kingdom of darkness, and he has brought us into the Kingdom of his dear Son." Colossians 1:12-13

 

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