THE PRECIOUS THINGS OF GOD
by Octavius Winslow, 1859
THE DEATH OF THE SAINTS PRECIOUS
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." Ps. 116:15
There are two stand-points from which the believer views death, so widely separated and so totally dissimilar as essentially to change both its character and its appearance. The first is the prospective view—the looking forward to death. From this position the spectacle is one from which even the feelings of the Christian instinctively recoil. Death is a part, a terrible part, of the curse; and no firmness of faith in Christ, or brightness of Christian hope, can entirely disarm the feeling, that it is a momentous thing even for a saint of God to die! In the prospective view of death, it appears in its pure, unmitigated character—an arbitrary sovereign, an armed despot, a relentless foe, a melancholy and inevitable crisis of our being; severing the spirit from the body, the soul from home, the heart from all its loved and cherished ties of earth; and terminating, too, the believer's witness for God, his service for Christ, and his mission to man. In looking forward, then, upon death, we marvel not that, from this stand-point of time, the saints of God should shudder at the prospect.
But the second view of death is the retrospective—the looking back upon death. How different the spectacle! how changed its aspect! It is from the stand-point of glory that "the spirits of just men made perfect" survey death. The dread crisis is passed, the cold river is crossed, the enemy is conquered, the victory is won; and standing among the heavenly minstrelsy, the palm-bearing throng who line the golden sands of the heavenly Canaan, and from thence looking back upon their defeated foe, they raise their paean of triumph yet more expressive and melodious than that which rose in the triumphant song of Israel, "Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously; the horse and the rider has He thrown into the sea." "Death is swallowed up in victory, mortality in life!"
But even the prospective of death is not without its gleams of irradiation to the believer in Jesus. It is not all sadness and gloom, blessed be God! Separating from it all that is of nature and sense, and viewing it in the light of the cross and with the eye of faith, we can see the beauty and feel the force of the words of the epitaph which the Spirit has inscribed upon the tomb of all who sleep in Christ—"Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." Believer in Jesus! we are about to present to you the Gospel view of death; and although it is the sad prospective, yet it is not all cypress which climbs around the gloomy portal that conducts you into the dark valley; the laurel is there; the ever-bright, ever-living laurel, entwines with the dreary cypress, and tells of victory and of hope. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."
In the preceding pages we have portrayed the character, defined the principles and privileges of the saints of God, unfolding, in the progress of our discussion, many great and precious things appertaining to their order. One view yet remains—and this will form an appropriate close to the volume—their departure to glory to be forever with Christ, and the preciousness of their translation to the Lord. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."
Until the personal coming of the Lord to which we may presently advert—to quicken the sleeping saints and to translate the living, death is the inevitable condition of the saints. They die as others die—it is a part of the curse to which all must submit, although, in the experience of the believer, it truly is the "curse causeless." The Lord could, if so it pleased Him, exempt them from the long and painful process of disease and decay, and without their seeing death, without a cloud or a fear, take them to glory. In the case of some He does. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, they are absent from the body and they are present with the Lord. This He sometimes does with those whom He early calls by grace and as early calls to glory. It is not that He loves them less, but that He loves them more, that He takes them soonest to be with Himself. "Whom God loves best He takes soonest." The son of Jeroboam, who only of that family had "something good in him toward the Lord God of Israel," came to an early grave. We repeat that God could, if most for His glory, take all His saints to heaven without their tasting the "bitterness of death." But it pleases Him that they should tread the path their Lord and Master trod, who, in all the events of His life, "left us an example that we should follow His steps." But while the saints of God must die, there yet is much in death from which they are exempt. They are exempt from it as a penalty, as a sting, as a condemnation. Death in the case of believers is not a curse, but a blessing; it is not a penalty, but a privilege. Death is one of the precious blessings of the covenant of grace—quite as much so as life. "All things are yours…whether life or death." Death is as much a covenant blessing as is the pardon of our sins, or the justification of our persons. Christ met death, the "king of terrors," clad in all the darkness, and horror, and bitterness of the curse. He grappled with it, tasted it, received its sting, and bowed to its mandate. Having thus passed through its terrible ordeal, as our Surety and Redeemer, He gives it back to us clad in a robe radiant with luster, holding a broken scepter in one hand, and a wreath in the other, with which He crowns each believer who succumbs to his momentary power, thus essentially changing its character and appearance, so that now the death of God's own saints is precious. This, beloved, is a pleasant view of death. It is delightful for you who, "through fear of death, are all your lifetime subject to bondage," to contemplate it among the precious things of God.
The death of His saints is precious to the Lord, because their persons are precious to Him. We shall never fully know, though sounding its fathomless depths, and scaling its illimitable heights through eternity, the love of God to His saints. When the finite can compass the Infinite, we may then understand to its extent the "love of Christ which passes knowledge." So great is this love, it extends not to the persons only, but to all that belongs to a child of God. It separates not between the believer and his minutest interest, there being nothing attaching to an accepted sinner that is not dear to God. Human friendship affords an apt, though necessarily an imperfect, illustration of this. Real affection is undivided and supreme. We cannot love the person of a friend and feel indifferent to his personal interests. His happiness and well-being, his character and usefulness, will ever be closely and inseparably interwoven with our deepest interest and with our warmest love. Entwining him with our sacred affections, we have entwined in the same coil of love all the elements of his being, and all the circumstances of his history. His sorrows becloud, his joys brighten, our spirit; in his depression we are depressed, in his honor we are honored. The atmosphere in which he lives influences the emotional of our nature, and our sensibilities rise or fall, are elated or depressed by his moral temperature. Of all the definitions of friendship, none can equal the truth and beauty of the inspired—"Your friend, which is as your own soul." (Deut. 13:6.) Sanctified by the grace of Jesus, what a tender, touching affection is this, linking us to another being, and to all that being's interests, as closely and as faithfully as though they were our own!
"It is the secret sympathy—
The silver link, the silken tie—
Which heart to heart, and mind to mind,
In body and in soul can bind."
There are few gifts of God more rare and precious than such a friendship—a friendship which becomes an inseparable part of our own being. We are, perhaps, but little aware how deeply we are indebted to its molding, soothing, preserving influence. Who that has felt it finds not a response to the poet's language?—
"Friendship! mysterious cement of the soul!
Sweetener of life, and solder of society!
I owe you much. You have deserved of me
Far, far beyond what I can ever pay.
Often have I proved the labors of your love,
And the warm efforts of your gentle heart,
Anxious to please."
But the friendship of God transcends all friendship, even as the love of God transcends all love. God loves not only the persons but the interests and concerns of His people. There is nothing, beloved, appertaining to you that Christ does not feel an interest in. He is concerned in all your sorrows, in all your trials, in all your infirmities, in all your wants, in all your temptations. Do not think His is a divided affection. Oh, no! your person precious to His heart, all that relates to you is precious—your life is precious—your death is precious. Can you think of the departure to eternity of one you love with indifference? Can you stand by that dying bed, and mark the ebbing of life from "your friend, which is as your own soul," without emotion?—without the feeling that your own existence were passing from you? Oh, no! Think, then, how precious to the Lord must be the death of His saints! It is as if His own life—the life He inspired, the life He ransomed, the life He renewed, the life He kept—were dissolving into immortality, yes, were dissolving into Himself! The life of the believer is the life of God in his soul; and when disembodied, it ascends to glory, it rises to the Divine source from whence it came, and although maintaining a separate and personal existence, becomes, in a measure, absorbed in God, and God, in the fullness of its joy, becomes all in all. Precious, then, to Christ is the death of His saints. When they die, He is with them. He is there to support with His grace, to soothe with His presence, to brighten with His glory. He is there to nourish the faith that droops, to quench the temptation that assails, to dissipate the cloud that darkens, to remove the guilt that distresses, to quell the fear that agitates, and to cheer the solitude and loneliness of the valley with gracious manifestations of Himself, and to breathe words of kindness, comfort, and love, as the soul
"Passes through glory's morning gate,
And walks in Paradise."
Believers die in reliance upon the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and so their death is precious in His sight. They die without a shred of human righteousness to cover them, without an argument that springs from themselves to plead for them, reposing in simple, childlike faith—the faith of an empty, helpless, believing sinner—upon the finished work of Immanuel. His blood and righteousness, beloved, will be your only hope in death, as in life, and that will be quite enough to meet the dreadful solemnity of that hour. We have witnessed and have read of the closing scenes of many believers—some eminent as preachers, scholars, and writers—but we never saw or heard of one who, in that solemn hour, derived any evidence, or comfort, or hope from his holiness, his labors, or his usefulness of life,—all exclusively and humbly have relied upon the Redeemer's blood and righteousness, and died clinging as sinners to the Savior, as the guilty to the Crucified. And must not such a death be inconceivably precious to Jesus?
True believers die in the Lord, and this imparts a character and preciousness to their death delightsome to God. What significance and depth of meaning in these words—"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord!" The thought of dying out of Christ may well impart to the unbeliever a fearful dread of dying. Such may truly regard death as the most terrible of all terrible things. Unconverted reader! better never to have been born into this world than to pass into the next out of Christ. It is to die as you were born—in sin, in rebellion against God, unconverted, under the curse, and condemned forever. "He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him." (John 3:36.) Oh, to confront the "king of terrors" with all your sins upon you, with all your guilt attaching to you, cherishing the enmity against God of your carnal mind, the weapons of rebellion in your hand, the love of sin, and the supremacy of Satan and the slavery of the world in your heart! Oh! is this the proper state in which to stand before a holy and a righteous God? Are you willing to die in this condition? Have you made up your mind to go into eternity without reconciliation, without pardon, without the wedding-garment, without an interest in Christ? Surely you have not seriously and intelligently considered your position, nor have weighed—if, indeed, they can be weighed—the fearful consequences of dying in your sins—unrepentant, unbelieving, unconverted. Think of passing through that dark, mysterious avenue that leads from time into eternity, without the presence of Jesus! Think of finding yourself disembodied in the world of spirits, yourself a spirit, affrighted, agitated, trembling, your escort up to the judgment-seat, lost, condemned spirits like your own! Think of appearing before the tribunal of Infinite Justice without a plea, without an argument, without a Savior! Think of the trial—think of the scrutiny—think of the unveiling of your whole life—think of the sentence—think of the condemnation—banishment from God, exile from heaven, the loss of the soul, the undying worm, the unquenchable fire, forever dwelling with the devil and his angels! "Take you the unprofitable servant, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Dreadful words to fall from the Lamb of God, who died on Calvary for the greatest of sinners! Have you carefully pondered these things? "What will you say when He shall punish you?" But there is hope! Death has not yet cited you to Christ's dread bar. Your adversary has not yet delivered you to the judge. God yet gives you space for repentance. Count His patience salvation. Repent! Ground your weapons beneath the Cross! Fall in the dust before God! Cry mightily to Him for mercy! Escape for your life, and look not behind! Betake you to Christ, and give not sleep to your eyes nor slumber to your eyelids until you have shut yourself within Christ, where not a drop of the wrath of God shall ever touch you. Need we remind you what a Savior He is,—that He casts out none who come to Him—that He welcomes all poor penitents—heals every broken heart—binds up every wounded spirit—washes in the fountain of His blood the guiltiest, clothes the naked, pardons the vilest, accepts the chief of sinners, and saves to the uttermost all that come to God by Him,—and all this on the ground of His most free, unconditional grace? "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?"
But believers die in Christ. They die interested in Christ, they die shut up in Christ, they die clothed with Christ, they die in a union with Christ from which nothing shall ever separate them. In the fullest, broadest, most emphatic and blessed meaning of the words, they "die in the Lord;" and precious in His sight is their death.
The glory which the death of the saints brings to God must endear to Him their departure. "This spoke He, signifying by what death He should glorify God." The Lord is glorified by the death of His saints. Their faith in Him at that solemn hour glorifies Him. The grace that sustains them under their sufferings glorifies Him. Their confidence in His promises, their hope in His salvation, their patient submission to His will, and their longing to depart to see His face, to be perfected in His likeness, and to be with Him forever, glorifies Him. And do you think not that glory surpassing all conception is brought to Christ when the dying saint, in that solemn moment, commits, entrusts, and breathes out his precious soul into the hands of Jesus, exclaiming, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day?" "Lord, into Your hands I commit my spirit, for You have redeemed me."
Precious, indeed, must the death of His saints be to the Lord, because then it is that He gathers them to Himself. "Father, I will that they also whom You have given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory." Behold how Christ longs to have His saints in heaven with Him! So near and precious are they to His heart, He will not rest until all the travail of His soul, all the sheep of His fold, all the precious gems of His cabinet, encircle His throne, cluster around His person, fill and sparkle in His jeweled diadem. Not one shall be lost. Not a babe of the family, not a lamb of the flock, not a crown jewel shall be missing in that day. "They shall never perish, neither shall any one pluck them out of my hands." Deity has redeemed them, Deity has preserved them, and, enshrined in the glories of Deity, they spend their happy eternity. Blessed truth! glorious hope! Weak saints shall be there, doubting believers shall be there, restored backsliders shall be there—the hand that but touched the hem shall wave the palm—the eye that but dimly beheld the cross shall drink in all that splendor—the tongue that but lisped, "My Father," shall join the song and swell the chorus. Child of God! trembling believer! doubting, fearful one, to whose heart the Savior is more precious than life itself! you shall be there. There is a place in that crown, a mansion in that home, a bower in that paradise for you. And when death releases you from the bondage of corruption, and your happy spirit wings its way to heaven, the angels will clap their wings, and all the family above will strike their golden harps and cry, Welcome, welcome home! So precious are you to Jesus—the fruit of His dying agonies, the "pearl of great price," bought with His most precious blood, and kept by His Divine power—He must have you to behold His glory, to see His face, to repose upon His breast, to bask in His smiles, to chant His praises, to serve Him day and night in His temple, to be like Him and with Him forever. We wonder not, then, that "precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."
But is it death to die? Approach that chamber where the saint of God is departing. Enter with a hushed footstep, for solemn is that scene, sacred is that spot—it is the verge of glory, it is the expanding gate of heaven. Celestial beings, viewless and noiseless, are there—angels and the spirits of the glorified hover round that bed. The Triune Jehovah is there—the Father watching the child He adopted, the Son upholding the soul He redeemed, the Holy Spirit strengthening the heart He had made His temple. Is this the chamber of death? this the last enemy, the final conflict, the closing scene? Surely this is not dying! What! this mental calmness, this spirit-joy, this soul-sunshine, this victory of faith, this stupendous, glorious triumph of the immortal over the mortal—is this death? Hark! What angel sounds are those? Whence this melody? It is the voice of the departing one. Listen to the strains—
"Jordan's stream shall ne'er overflow me
While my Savior's by my side;
Canaan, Canaan lies before me,
Soon I'll cross the swelling tide.
"See the happy spirits waiting
On the bank beyond the stream,
Sweet responses still repeating,
Jesus, Jesus is their theme."
And then all is still! The "silver chord is loosed," and the panting spirit, borne on the wing of song, has swept upwards into the beaming presence of God, and rests in the embrace of Christ. Call not this death—it is LIFE! Call it not destruction—it is the renewal of vigor of the soul, the moment when it renews its youth and expatiates amid the wonders, glories, and sublimities of its new-born creation. All this triumph, all this glory, all this joy, we owe to Jesus' death and resurrection. In the faith of the atonement—
"It is not death to die—
To leave this weary load,
And, 'midst the brotherhood on high,
To be at home with God.
"It is not death to bear
The wrench that sets us free
From dungeon chains, to breathe the air
Of boundless liberty.
"It is not death to fling
Aside this sinful dust,
And rise, on strong exulting wing,
To live among the just.
"Jesus, you Prince of Life!
Your chosen cannot die;
Like You, they conquer in the strife,
To reign with You on high."
Precious, too, because death is the end of all their sorrows and sufferings, their infirmities, sicknesses, and sins. It is the termination of all evil, the birthday of all good. Oh, precious death, that dissolves the last link that binds me to corruption, that breaks the last fetter of sin, stifles the last groan, hushes the last sigh, dries the last tear, and introduces me to the sinless, sorrowless companionship of those who are before the throne of God and the Lamb "without fault!" Oh, who with but the lowliest hope in Christ longs not, wearies not, sighs not to be there? How the contrast intensifies this yearning! Here is earth—there is heaven. Here is sin—there is purity. Here is toil—there is rest. Here is continual sorrow—there is fullness of joy. Here is exile—there is home. Here are imperfect saints—there, the "spirits of just men made perfect." Here are partings and changes—there, eternity restores the holy loves of earth, sanctifies and fixes them forever! Oh, pants not your spirit for the eagle's flight that you may be there?
"Earth—with all its sin and sadness,
Pain and sickness, grief and care;
Heaven—with its unspoken gladness,
Light and love, and all that's fair;
How the two contrasted stand—
This dark world, and that bright land.
"Here the eye grows dim with weeping,
Here the cheek is wan with woe,
For the loved ones who are sleeping,
For the hopes that are laid low.
In the light of heaven's ray,
Tears of earth are wiped away.
"Here our toilsome way pursuing,
Compassed round with many foes,
Pleasures are not worth the wooing,
Thorns are found with every rose;
There—the sorrowful are blest,
There—the weary are at rest.
"Here a lonely watch we're keeping
On the battle-plain of life,
Lest the foe should find us sleeping,
And unfitted for the strife;
There the war and conflict cease,
Heaven's atmosphere is peace.
"Here the songs of praise we're singing
Often languish as they rise;
Fettered is the spirit's winging,
Cold and dead its harmonies;
In the chorus of the sky
Hallelujahs never die.
"Here our painful cross we're bearing,
Where our Master leads the way;
Here the shame and grief we're sharing,
That for us upon Him lay;
There, we lay our burden down,
Change the cross into the crown.
"Here the parting word is spoken,
Where our hearts the closest cling,
And upon the spirit broken,
Like a knell its accents ring;
There—before the Savior's throne
Parting is a word unknown.
"Here—we long to be like Jesus,
Here—we taste His matchless grace;
But whenever from earth He frees us,
We shall see His blessed face;
With His saints forever stand,
In our glorious fatherland."
But while thus, beloved, we have concentrated your meditation for a time upon the death, the preciousness of the death, of all who believe in Jesus, we by no means would have you infer that this is the subject which should the most preeminently, earnestly, and exclusively arrest and fix the thoughts and expectations of your soul. THE COMING OF THE LORD, and not the death of the saints, is the grand theme, the "blessed hope," which the Holy Spirit proposes for our meditation, and presents to our faith. The great motive to watchfulness and prayer, to separation from the world, holiness of life, and readiness of habit to meet the Lord, is drawn, not from our going to Christ by death, but from Christ's coming to us in personal glory. Death is a part, and a fearful, gloomy, repulsive part, of the curse. View it in its most pleasant and attractive light, it is a humiliation. It is a conquest—it is a separation—it is a change—it is a decay—it is a solemn, a fearful plunge of the spirit into a world mysterious, invisible, unknown! But turn your thoughts to the COMING OF THE LORD. How different the spectacle! It is a glory—it is a triumph—it is a reunion—it is the advent of a Conqueror—it is the appearing of a Savior—it is as the coming of a Friend. Not, then, by the approach of death—precious though to Christ that death may be—but by the yet more powerful, yet more precious, yet more persuasive, lovely, and soothing prospect of the COMING OF JESUS, does the Holy Spirit seek to awaken, sanctify, and comfort the saints. How impressive is the language—"Waiting for the coming of the Lord Jesus"—"To the end He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints"—"I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ"—"We beseech you by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him"—"Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord"—"For the coming of the Lord draws near"—"Looking for the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ"—"To all those who love His appearing"—"I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there you may be also"—"He which testifies these things says, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, COME, Lord Jesus." Is not this a prospect worthy the study, the hope, the longing, the future, the destiny of the Church? Dwell upon the scene—a master's hand has sketched it. "In the first place, it presents to the expectation of the saints all that is to be loved and desired in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, by whom he has been redeemed, and upon whom he has been nourished and sustained, not in His humility, as heretofore, but traveling in the greatness of His strength; not as a servant, but as a sovereign, uniting in Himself all the tender intercessions of the priest and the powerful majesty of the king, a priest upon his throne forever. We shall behold Him whom, not having seen, we loved; we shall see Him as He is, in whom, while yet we saw Him not, we rejoiced with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. We shall see all the glorious attributes of God made manifest in manhood: the son of Mary glorified into the Son of God, and clothed with the all-sustaining power of the Word of God. In the next place, we shall behold all enemies put under His feet; Satan, the accuser of the brethren, cast out of the earth, and with him all his evil angels which dwell in the natural man, and rule the world. And we shall see the prison-doors of death unbarred, and the grave yield up her dead; and then shall come to pass that saying of the prophet, 'Death shall be swallowed up in victory.' In the next place, we shall be gathered with all the saints of God since the world was, who shall all stand in their lot in the latter day, and in their flesh shall see God—the general assembly of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven; the Church of the living God, the patriarchs, the prophets, the apostles, the glorious army of the martyrs, the whole host of the redeemed, whom He shall bring with Him; and we, who remain until His coming, shall be caught up with Him into the air, and shall be forever with the Lord. This is not a cheerless parting, but a joyful meeting and eternal union of those who are spiritually dear to one another; and, as touching natural affections, let it be remembered, that the natural man is then no more, the spiritual man alone is, and his affections alone remain. Then our father and mother, brother and sister, are they who have fulfilled the will of our heavenly Father. In the next place, this body of wickedness, this body of sin and death, shall be exchanged for the likeness of Christ's glorious body; for sinful flesh and blood shall not inherit that kingdom, nor corruption incorruption; mortality shall be swallowed up of life; it is sown a natural, it is raised a spiritual body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in honor; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. So that all shall be strength, harmony, and union within us; the perfect man, the holy man, complete in all things, and wanting nothing. In the next place, we shall be forever with the Lord, partakers of His throne, partakers of His crown, and partakers of His government; His assessors in judgment, His deputies in power, ruling over the cities of His dominion, and judging the tribes of the sojourners of the earth. For though I inquire not into the mode or manner of our being, yet this I am not ashamed to declare, that we shall be like the Lord who ascended up from earth as easily as He descended; who after His resurrection, and even before it, passed to and fro without let or impediment of matter, and governed the elements with a sovereign control. And so shall we, in the exercise of that government and sovereignty which we shall then be permitted to hold of the earth, be as Adam, a king in his majesty whom the elements of nature and all living, moving creatures upon the earth harmed not, but delighted to obey. Finally, we shall behold the earth and all the sojourners therein living in peace and blessedness, under the government of the Lord Jesus Christ; nature repossessed of all her original beauty, and society of all its proper blessedness; peace, gentleness, and meekness restored on every hand; all men blessed in Jesus, and calling Him blessed: 'nothing to corrupt or to destroy in my holy mountain, says the Lord; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the channels of the deep.'" Look, then, on this picture and on that, and say which is the most pleasant, and attractive, and hopeful—which the best calculated to soothe in grief, to sustain in trial, to fortify in assault, to nerve in conflict; to animate in service, to stimulate to holiness, and to throw over all the future of the soul the glory and radiance of Christian expectation and hope—the dread approach of the grim king of terrors, or the glorious appearing of the great God our Savior? For His coming, then, let us be looking—for it let us be prepared. Gird up the trailing robe, trim the waning lamp, nerve the trembling arm, and rouse the drooping heart. Our Lord is coming to bring us to Himself. All things betoken His near approach. Soon we shall behold His chariot, hear His voice, see His face, and fall in love and ecstasy upon the bosom that sorrowed, and sighed, and bled for us on the cross. "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and you yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he comes and knocks, they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the lord, when he comes, shall find watching."
And now, my beloved reader, we part! We have spent many a sacred hour, have traveled many a pleasant path, and have discoursed upon many a hallowed theme together as we have roamed through these pages. Have we the experience of these "precious things of God" in our souls?—their preciousness in our hearts?—their sanctifying power and influence in our lives? Then, though now we separate, each to his toil, his care, his conflict, in a little while and we shall meet again, to part no more forever! Then, beloved, you will not need the human tongue to tell the preciousness, nor the human hand to portray the beauty, nor the human imagination to unveil the glory of our IMMANUEL, for we shall "see Him as He is," and be with God forever. Oh, look to JESUS—cling to JESUS—live, labor, die for JESUS! Ten thousand lives, ten thousand deaths—spent in exile, endured in martyrdom—were little, indeed, for such a Savior! Build your hope of heaven solely, exclusively, upon this "precious Corner-stone." Sweep from its surface all the wood, hay, and stubble of human merit and creature trust—all the chaff, rubbish, and dust of sacramental grace and religious ceremonial,—and plant your foot of faith, hope, and love, firm upon the bare, the naked ROCK—the "Rock that is higher than you." Never, never will you perish, if upon this Divine FOUNDATION—this "CHIEF CORNER-STONE, ELECT, PRECIOUS"—you lay your many sins, rest your weary soul, lean your dying head, and rear your hope of glory, Then, "when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all those who believe," you will rise from the dust, enter into joy, and revel amid the PRECIOUS THINGS OF GOD in endless blessedness. Amen, and amen.
"Our Jesus is the Corner-stone
Jehovah built His Church upon,
And never fallen to the ground
Shall that blest edifice be found.
The worldly-wise, with boasted sense,
Count Him a rock of great offence;
And all who are not newly born
Behold Him with contempt and scorn.
Sufficient goodness of their own
Makes Jesus but a stumbling-stone;
By reason of their blinded eyes,
God's way of saving they despise.
But when, in His appointed hour,
The Holy Spirit comes with power,
And leads the soul to Sinai's mount,
And opens there the black account,
He stands condemned, and looks around;
No friend nor helper can be found.
But when the Comforter comes near,
And sweetly whispers in his ear
That Jesus came for him to bleed,
His name is precious then indeed;
Precious as God's appointed way
His own perfections to display.
For what of God is understood
Save through the Lamb's redeeming blood?
He's precious all our journey through,
As when the first believing view
Removed the heavy load of sin,
And brought the peace of God within.
He's precious as our covenant Head,
And precious when, in sinners' stead,
He paid the law's immense demands
Into His righteous Father's hands;
And precious when ''Tis done,' he cried,
And bowed His sacred head, and died.
Then death forever lost its sting;
The Church may now of victory sing.
Precious when faith beholds Him rise
Victorious to His native skies;
And precious, now in heaven He pleads,
And for His members intercedes.
If varied often be our case,
He's precious then in various ways;
When weary, weak, or sore oppressed,
He's precious as a place of rest.
When clouds of darkness intervene,
And Jesus' beauties can't be seen,
Why do we linger by His cross,
And count all else but dung and dross?
Because He's precious to us still,
Nothing on earth His place can fill.
When under fresh-contracted guilt
Sorrow and heartfelt shame are felt,
The blessed Spirit comes again,
Sprinkles the blood, and heals the pain.
How precious, then, the Son of God,
From whose dear side the fountain flowed!
With joy we lift our heads again,
And sing the Lamb that once was slain.
Sometimes, lest we should lift our head,
As if the Man of Sin were dead,
We're left to feel a deadly blow,
To humble pride and keep us low.
God shows us some inherent sin,
Which makes us cry, Unclean! unclean!
Yet 'midst the thorns He'll safely keep
The feet of all His helpless sheep.
He but designs from self to wean,
And make us more on Jesus lean.
While traveling through a hostile land,
With mighty foes on every hand—
When called in battle to engage,
And hot the fight through Satan's rage—
How precious, then, our conquering Lord!
How sweet to hear that cheering word,
'You need not fear, you need not flee;
Stand still, and my salvation see.'
Then shout, you saints, the battle's won!
Your Captain is to glory gone!
Gone up your places to prepare,
And soon He'll fetch and place you there,
With all the heavenly host to praise
A PRECIOUS CHRIST through endless days."
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