Sermon 1863. Departed Saints Yet Living
SUGGESTED BY THE DECEASE OF THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY.
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, OCTOBER 4, 1885, BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"But even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord, 'the God of Abraham,the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him." Luke 20:37,38.
DURING the past week, the Church of God and the world at large have sustained a very serious loss. In the taking home to Himselfby our gracious lord, the Earl of Shaftesbury, we have, in my judgement, lost the best man of the age. I do not know whomI should place second, but I certainly should put him first-far beyond all other servants of God within my knowledge-for usefulnessand influence. He was a man most true in his personal piety, as I know from having enjoyed his private friendship. He wasa man most firm in his faith in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; a man intensely active in the cause of God and the Truthof God. Take him whichever way you please, he was admirable. He was faithful to God in all His house, fulfilling both thefirst and second commands of the Law in fervent love to God and hearty love to man. He occupied his high position with singlenessof purpose and immovable steadfastness-where shall we find his equal? If it is not possible that he was absolutely perfect,it is equally impossible for me to mention a single fault, for I saw none. He exhibited Scriptural perfection, inasmuch ashe was sincere, true and consecrated.
Those things which have been regarded as faults in him by the loose thinkers of this age are prime virtues in my esteem. Theycalled him narrow-and in this they bear unconscious testimony to his loyalty to the Truth of God. I rejoiced greatly in hisintegrity, his fearlessness, his adherence to principle in a day when the Revelation of God is questioned, the Gospel explainedaway and human thought set up as the idol of the hour. He felt that there was a vital and eternal difference between the Truthof God and error and, consequently, he did not act or talk as if there was much to be said on either side and, therefore,no one could be quite sure. We shall not know for many a year how much we miss in missing him; how great an anchor he wasto this drifting generation and how great a stimulus he was to every movement for the benefit of the poor!
Both man and beast may unite in mourning him! He was the friend of every living thing. He lived for the oppressed; he livedfor London; he lived for the nation and he lived, still more, for God! He has finished his course and though we do not layhim to sleep in the grave with the sorrow of those that have no hope, yet we cannot but mourn that a great man and a princehas fallen this day in Israel! Surely the righteous are taken away from the evil to come and we are left to struggle on underincreasing difficulties.
It must always be so. The godly must die, even as others. Though our life is perfectly consecrated, yet it cannot foreverbe continued in this world. It is appointed unto men once, to die, and that appointment stands. We expect the present ruleto last till He shall come who shall destroy the last enemy. We are not troubled with Sadducean doubts. To us, seeing thatChrist rose from the dead, it is a matter of certainty that all His followers must rise, also. And seeing that Jesus alwayslived, it is equally a matter of certainty to us that all the saints are still living, for He has said, "Because I live, youshall live, also." Yet, if no infidelity is permitted to creep into our brain and disturb our belief, it may penetrate intoour heart and cause us great sadness. We who believe in Jesus should rise into an atmosphere more clear and warm than
that of the sepulcher, for the Lord Jesus has "abolished death and brought life and incorruption to light through the
We are not now sitting in the shadow of death, for eternal light has sprung up! Children of God, it is in the highest degreeproper that you should think of things as your Father thinks of them-and He says that "all live unto God." Let us correctour phraseology by that of Scripture, and speak of departed saints as Divine Inspiration speaks of them! Then shall we comeback to the simple child's talk which Wordsworth so sweetly turned into rhyme-"Master, we are seven," and in our family weshall number brothers, sisters and friends, whose bodies lie in the churchyard and shall speak of those who have crossed theborder and passed within the veil as still our own! Like Jesus, we shall say, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps." Like Paul, we shallspeak of them as absent from the body but present with the Lord and regard them as part and parcel of the one family in Heavenand earth!
Our text was fashioned in a place which has the air of death, burial and resurrection about it. The voice came to Moses inthe desert. This was a strange place for Moses-the living, active, well-instructed mind of Moses, mighty in all the wisdomof Egypt and full of noble thoughts concerning the living God-was buried in a desert. It is singular to see the foremost mindof the age in the remotest part of the desert hidden away among sheep! He who was a born king is, here, feeding a flock. Itis death to Moses. Rest assured that Moses cannot be kept in this living tomb-he must rise to life and leadership. While thereis a God and a Providence, Moses cannot continue in obscurity. There are certainties wrapped up in him which cannot fail.A man need not be a Prophet to stand at Horeb and prognosticate that Moses will emerge from the desert and shake Egypt byhis resurrection!
While Moses is in the desert, he is thinking about another case of death, burial and resurrection, namely, Israel in Egypt.The people of God, the favored nation of Jehovah with whom He had entered into Covenant, saying, "I will be their God andthey shall be My people"-these were in Egypt, ground down by relentless oppression, begrimed with brick dust and black andblue with the blows of taskmasters. It has come to this, that they are compelled to cast their male children into the riverand so to be the destroyers of their own race! The children of Israel have become a herd of slaves, yet they are God's electpeople, God's favored family! It does not require a Prophet to declare that this death in Egypt cannot last-the elect nationmust live and rise and go forth free to serve the Lord! No, Israel, you shall never perish! The voice must yet be heard-"Thussays the Lord, Let My people go, that they may serve Me!"
And so, while Moses in the desert is thinking of Israel in Egypt, he sees a bush, and that bush is all ablaze. An ordinarybush upon the heath needs only to be touched with a match and, in one moment, there is a puff of flame and then all is over-nothingis left but a trace of ashes. Yet here was an extraordinary thing-a bush that continued to burn and was not consumed! Herewas life in the midst of death, continuance in the midst of destruction! This was an emblem of God abiding with a people andyet suffering them to live-or of the fires of affliction being rendered harmless to the children of God. He who then spoketo Moses was the God of Life, the God who could sustain in the midst of destruction! He was the God who could preserve evena bush from being devoured by the intense fury of flame! Said I not truly that the surroundings of Moses and the bush allfavor a display of life in death and resurrection out of death?
Now we come to the central matter. Out of the midst of the bush there came a Voice, a mysterious and Divine Voice which said,"I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." From this Voice our Divine Lord teaches us to gatherthis fact-that God's people live when they appear to have been long dead-for He who cannot be the God of the dead, or non-existent,still avows Himself to be the God of the long-buried Patriarchs! Our Lord proved from that utterance at the bush, the continuedlife of the Lord's chosen and also their resurrection-how did He do this?
I. We will not go straight to the answer, but we will beat about the bush a little, that the reasoning may the more
gently enter our minds. I would say, first, that in these words we have A GLORIOUS RELATIONSHIP DECLARED.
Moses called the Lord, "The God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."
The glorious Lord did, at the bush, as good as say, "These three men have chosen Me to be their God." So they had- throughthe Grace of God they had deliberately chosen to part with their natural kindred in the country of the Chaldees and to journeyto a land of which they knew nothing except that God had promised that they should afterwards receive it for an inheritance.Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were three very different characters, yet this was common to the three- that they believed God andtook Him to be their God, alone. They nestled in the bosom of Jehovah while the rest of the world went after their idols.In all their troubles, they flew to Jehovah; for the supply of all their needs they resorted to
Him, alone. They were men who had, through Divine Grace, deliberately attached themselves unto Jehovah, the Most High, throughoutthe whole of their lives.
It is a sublime sight to see a man trust in God as Abraham did-and obey the Lord fully as he did in the matter of Isaac, whenhe accounted God to be able to raise him up, even from the dead. Surely there must be everlasting life in a being who couldthus confide in Jehovah! I call you to admire the fact that God called the Patriarchs into the noble position of followingthe Lord fully, of fixed and settled choice. Being men of like passions with ourselves, they nevertheless cast in their lotwith the Lord and for His sake preferred the life of strangers and pilgrims on the earth to the comforts of settled residencein Ur of the Chaldees and to the sinful pleasures of Canaan. We, also, take this God to be our God, even the God of Abraham,of Isaac and of Jacob. There is a nobility about the choosers of the true God which will surely secure them from annihilation.
Next, these three men had learned to commune with God. How wondrously had Abraham spoken with God! Full many a spot was consecratedas "the place where he stood before the Lord." Isaac also walked in the fields at eventide and, doubtless, there entered intosecret fellowship with God. The Lord also appeared unto him at night and led him to build an altar and call upon the nameof Jehovah. The good old man, even in his blindness, found solace in communion with the Lord God Almighty. Jacob, also, wasfavored with heavenly visitations. We can never forget that mystic dream at Bethel, nor the wrestling at Jabbok, nor the manytimes when he turned to the God of his father Abraham and his father Isaac-and God spoke with him as a man speaks with hisfriend! It is a wonderful thing that the Lord should thus commune with men. He does not thus show Himself to the beasts whichperish. He does not thus reveal Himself to the lifeless stones of the field. Those are strangely honored beings with whomGod enters into close communion as He did with these three men! I argue from it that these beings cannot dissolve into a handfulof dust and cease to be. Can those eyes cease to be which have seen the Lord? Can these souls perish which have conversedwith the Eternal? We think not! And, just now, I ask you only to meditate upon the glories to which the Patriarchs were liftedup when they were permitted to be the Friends of God.
What was still more notable, the Lord entered into Covenant with them. He made a Covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob whichHe remembered, saying, "Surely, blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply you." You know how the Lordswore to give unto the seed of Abraham a goodly heritage, a land that flowed with milk and honey. Now, it is a wonderful thingthat God should enter into compact with man. Does He make an everlasting Covenant, ordered in all things and sure, with mereinsects of an hour? Especially, would He give His Son Jesus to die to seal the everlasting Covenant by His heart's blood withmere shadows who are but for a little time and then cease to be? I am sure it is not so. If God makes men capable of enteringinto an everlasting Covenant with Himself, there lies within that fact the clear suggestion that He imparts to them an existencewhich is not for today and tomorrow, but for eternity! Still, I wish you mainly to regard the Glory into which manhood islifted up when God enters into gracious Covenant with it.
Moreover, to go further, these men were not only in Covenant with God, but they had lived in accordance with that Covenant.I do not mean that they had lived perfectly in accord with it, but that the main strain of their lives was in conformity withtheir Covenant relationship to God. For the sake of that Covenant, Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees and dwelt no longer inthe land of Haran, but became a sojourner with God in the land of Canaan. For the sake of this, he sent away his firstbornafter the flesh, seeing it was said, "In Isaac shall your seed be called." "By faith he sojourned in the land of promise,as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise." These faithfulmen had respect to the recompense of the reward and, therefore, they were not mindful of the country from where they cameout, neither sought opportunity to return.
Jacob, the most faulty of the three, greatly as he erred in his conduct to his brother Esau, was evidently actuated by anintense faith in the Covenant birthright so that he ventured all things to obtain it. In his old age and death, he was anxiousnot to be confused with the Egyptians, or separated from the chosen household and, therefore, he said unto Joseph, "But Iwill lie with my fathers, and you shall carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their burying place." This he made Joseph swear,for he must make sure of it. He was aiming at the promise, despite the errors that he committed in so doing. Now, does Godenter into Covenant with men and help men to live in accordance with that Covenant and, after all, shall they miss the blessing?Shall it end in nothing? Hiding beneath the shadow of God's wings, shall they, after all, perish? It cannot be! They mustlive to whom God is God.
For this was the Covenant, that they should have God to be their God and that they should be God's people. O Brothers andSisters, I do not know how to speak on such a blessing as this, though I live in the daily enjoyment of it! This God is ourGod. All that the Lord is and all that He can do, He has given over to us, to be used on our behalf-the fullness of His Graceand Truth, the infinity of His Love, the Omnipotence of His Power, the Infallibility of His Wisdom-all, all shall be usedon our behalf! The Lord has given Himself over to His people to be their inheritance and, on the other hand, we, poor weakfeeble creatures as we are, are taken to be the peculiar treasure of the living God! "They shall be Mine, says the Lord ofHosts, in that day when I make up My jewels." "The Lord's portion is His people: Jacob is the lot of His inheritance." Weare God's heritage, we are God's jewels, we are God's children, we are dear to Him as the apple of His eye! We are to Himas the signet upon His hand and the crown upon His head! He cannot have chosen for His portion a mass of corruption, or ahandful of brown dust-yet that is what the body comes to in death. He cannot have chosen for His heritage that which willmelt back into mother earth and be no more found-this cannot be!
The Covenant has within it the sure guarantee of eternal life. Oh what an honor it is that God should even say to you andto me-"I will be your God and you shall be My people. Beyond the angels, beyond Heaven, beyond all My other creatures, I reserveyou unto Myself. I have loved you with an everlasting love. I will rest in My love to you. I will rejoice over you with singing."In this the Lord has highly exalted His covenanted ones and raised them to great nearness to Himself-and thus to glory andhonor. What has God worked? What is man that God is thus mindful of him, or the son of man that He thus visits him? Angelsare nowhere as compared with men, yes, cherubim with all their burning bliss and consecrated ardor cannot match with men whoare in Covenant with God! Blessed above all other beings are those who have Jehovah to be their God and who are, themselves,the Lord's choice, care and delight! Each one of these points, if well thought out, will go to strengthen our belief thatthe saints must live, must live forever and are, at this moment, living unto God.
II. We now come to that matter more distinctly under our second head-here is ETERNAL LIFE IMPLIED, for "God is not the Godof the dead, but of the living."
It is implied, first, in the very fact of the Covenant of Grace. As I have asked before-Does the eternal God covenant withcreatures that shall live only to threescore years and 10 and then shall go out like a candle-snuff? How can He be a God tothem? I understand how He can be a helper and a friend to men of brief existence, but I see not how He can be a God. Mustthey not partake in His eternity if it is truly said, "I will be your God"? How can the Lord be an eternal blessing to anending being? He has power and He will give me sufficient strength; He has wisdom and He will give me as much of His wisdomas I am capable of receiving. Must He not, also, cause me to partake of His immortality? How is He a God to me if He suffersme to be blotted out of existence? When David said in dying, "Yet has He made with me an everlasting Covenant," his comfortlay in his belief that he should live in the everlasting age to enjoy the fruit of that Covenant. How could there be an everlastingCovenant with a creature who would cease to exist?
But next, this Covenant was made up of promises of a very peculiar order for, in very deed, the Covenant that God made withAbraham was not altogether, or even mainly, concerning things temporal. It was not only the land of Canaan of which the Lordspoke to Abraham, but the Patriarchs declared plainly that they desired "a better, that is, an heavenly country" (Heb. 11:16). Even when they were in Canaan, they were still looking for a country-and the city promised to them was not Jerusalem for,according to Paul in the 11th of the Hebrews, they still were looking for "a city which has foundations, whose builder andmaker is God." They did not find, in their earthly lives, the complete fulfillment of the Covenant, for they received notthe promises, but saw them afar off and were persuaded of them. The temporal blessings which God gave to them were not theirexpected portion-they took hold upon invisible realities and lived in expectation of them!
They were evidently actuated by faith in something spiritual, something everlasting and they believed that the Covenant whichGod had made with them concerned such things. I have not the time to go into this subject. You get it more fully explainedto you in the Epistle to the Hebrews-but so it was, that the Covenant blessings were of an order and a class that could notbe compassed within the space of this present mortal life-the outlook of Covenant promises was towards the boundless sea ofeternity. Now, if the Lord made a Covenant with them concerning eternal blessings, these saints must live to enjoy those blessings.God did not promise endless blessings to the creatures of a day.
More especially, Beloved, it is to be remembered that for the sake of these eternal things, the Patriarchs had given up transientenjoyments. Abraham might have been a quiet prince in his own country, living in comfort, but, for the sake of the spiritualblessing, he left Chaldea and came to wander in the pastures of Canaan-in the midst of enemies-and to dwell in tents in themidst of discomforts. Isaac and Jacob were "heirs with him, also, of the same promises," but they entered not into the pursuitsof the people-they dwelt alone and were not numbered among the nations. Like Moses, to whom God spoke, they, "counted thereproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt."
They left kith and kin and all the advantages of settled civilized life to be rangers of the desert, exiles from their fatherland.They were the very types and models of those who have no abiding city here and, therefore, for certain, though they died inhope, not having received the promise, we cannot believe that God deceived them! Their God was no mocker of them and, therefore,they must live after death! They had lived in this poor life for something not seen as yet and, if there is no such thingand no future life, they had been duped and mislead into a mistaken self-denial. If there is no life to come, the best philosophyis that which says, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." Since these men put this life in pawn for the next, theywere sadly mistaken if there is no such life. Do you not see the force of our Savior's reasoning?- God, who has led His peopleto abandon the present for the future-must justify their choice.
Besides, the Lord had staked His honor and His reputation upon these men's lives. "Do you want to know," says He, "who I am?I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob. If you want to know how I deal with My servants, go and look at the livesof Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." My Brothers and Sisters, as far as the earthly lives of the Patriarchs can be written in humanrecords, they are certainly full of God's loving kindness-but still, there is nothing so remarkably joyous and majestic aboutthem from a natural point of view as to make the Lord's dealings with them appear to be especially wonderful. Others who didnot fear God have been as rich, powerful and honorable as they. Especially is the life of Jacob plowed and cross-plowed withaffliction and trial! He spoke the truth when he summed up his life in the words, "Few and evil have the days of the yearsof my life been."
Does the Lord intend us to judge of His goodness to His servants from the written life of Jacob? Or from the career of anyone of His servants? The judgement must include the ages of an endless blessedness! This life is but the brief preface tothe volume of our history! It is but the rough border, the selvage of the rich cloth of our being! These rippling streamsof life come not to an end, but flow into the endless, shoreless ocean of bliss! Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have long been enjoyinghappiness and shall enjoy it throughout eternity! God is not ashamed to be called their God if you judge of the whole of theirbeing-He would not have spoken thus if the visible were all and there were no future to counterbalance the tribulations ofthis mortal life! God is not the God of the short-lived who are so speedily dead-He is the living God of an immortal racewhose present is but a dark passage into a bright future which can never end!
Yet further, to bring out the meaning here, God cannot be the God of the non-existent. The supposition is too absurd! OurSavior does not argue about it, but He says so most peremptorily! God is not the God of the dead-that cannot be! If Abraham,Isaac and Jacob are reduced to a handful of ashes, God cannot be, at this moment, their God. We cannot take a dead objectto be our God, neither can Jehovah be a God to lifeless clay. God is not the God of putrefaction and annihilation! God isnot the God of that which has ceased to be! We have but to put the idea into words to make it dissolve before the glance ofreason. A living God is the God of living men-and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are still alive!
This even goes far to show that the bodies of these saints shall yet live. God reckons His covenanted ones to be alive. Hesays, "The dead are raised." He reckons them to be raised and, as He reckons nothing falsely, it is said by way of anticipation,"Your dead men shall live." Inasmuch as a portion of these chosen ones is still in the earth, God, who reckons things thatare not, as though they were, looks upon their bodies as possessing life because they are to possess life so soon. God isnot only the God of Abraham's soul, but of Abraham as a whole-his body, soul and spirit! God is the God of Abraham's body-weare sure of that because the Covenant seal was set upon the flesh of Abraham. Where the doubt might be, there is the confirmingseal, namely, in his mortal body. There was no seal set upon his soul, for the soul had life and could not see death-no, itwas set upon his body which would die-to make sure that even it would live!
At this day we have Baptism and the Holy Supper to be seals as to the body. I have sometimes thought to myself that it werebetter if there were no water Baptism, seeing it has become the nest of so much superstition. And the Lord's Supper, withall its blessed uses, has been so abused that one is apt to think that without outward ordinances there might be more spiritualreligion-but the Lord intends that the materialism of man and of creation shall be lifted up-and that
the body shall be raised incorruptible and, therefore, has He given seals which touch the outward and material. The waterwhere the body is washed and the bread and wine whereby the body is nourished, are tokens that there comes to us not onlyspiritual and invisible blessings, but even such as shall redeem and purify our mortal body! The grave cannot hold any portionof the covenanted ones! Eternal life is the portion of the whole man. God is the God of our entire manhood-spirit, soul andbody-and all live unto Him in their entirety. The whole of the Covenant shall be fulfilled to the whole of those with whomthat Covenant was made!
This is good reasoning to those who have gone beyond mere reason and have ascended into the realm of faith. May the Holy Spiritgrant unto us to be among them!
III. Thirdly, and very briefly, beloved Friends, my text not only declares glorious relationship and implies eternal life,but it also unveils somewhat scantily, but still sufficiently, what the glorious life must be! Look, then, and see the
GLORIOUS LIFE UNVEILED!
It is clear that they live personally. It is not said, "I am the God of the whole body of the saints in one mass." But, "Iam the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob." God will make His people to live individually. My mother, my father, my child- eachwill personally exist. God is the God of saints, as living distinct lives-Abraham is Abraham, Isaac is Isaac, Jacob is Jacob!The three Patriarchs were not all melted into one common Abraham, nor Isaac into one imaginary Isaac. Neither was anyone soaltered as to cease to be himself. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are all literally living as actual men-and the same men as theyused to be. Jacob is Jacob and not an echo of Abraham! Isaac is Isaac and not a rehearsal of Jacob. All the saints are existentin their personality, identity, distinction and idiosyncrasy.
What is more, the Patriarchs are mentioned by their names and so it is clear they are known-they are not three anonymous bodies-butAbraham, Isaac and Jacob. Many inquire, "Shall we know our friends in Heaven?" Why should we not? The saints in Heaven arenever spoken of in Scripture as moving about anonymously-their names are spoken of as written in the Book of Life. Why isthis? The Apostles knew Moses and Elijah on the Mount, though they had never seen them before. I cannot forget old John Ryland'sanswer to his wife-"John," she said, "will you know me in Heaven?" "Betty," he replied, "I have known you well, here, andI shall not be a bigger fool in Heaven than I am now- therefore I shall certainly know you there." That seems to be clearenough! We read in the New Testament, "They shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven"-not sitdown with three unknown individuals in iron masks, or three impersonalities who make a part of the great pan, nor three spiritswho are as exactly alike as pins made in a factory-but Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. That is clear enough in the text.
That glorious life, while it is a personal and a known life, is also free from all sorrow, misery and earthly grossness. Theyare neither married nor given in marriage; neither shall they die any more. But they are as the angels of God. It is a lifeof perfect blessedness, a life of hallowed worship, a life of undivided Glory! Oh, that we were in it! Oh that we may soonreach it! Let us think of the many who are enjoying it now and of those who have attained to it during the last few days.I am sure they are at home in every golden street and fully engaged in the adoration and worship of their Lord. Those saintswho have been in Glory, now, these thousands of years cannot be more blessed than the latest arrivals. Within a very shortspace you and I shall be among the shining ones! Some of us may spend our next Sabbath with the angels! Let us rejoice andbe glad at the bare thought of it. Some of as are not doomed to live here through another win-ter-we shall pass beyond theseautumn fogs into the golden light of the eternal summer before another Christmas day has come! Oh the joy which ought to thrillour souls at the thought of such amazing bliss!
And now, taking the whole subject together, I want to say a few familiar things about the influence which all this ought tohave upon us. Concerning those that have gone before us, we gather from this whole text that they are not lost. We know wherethey are. Neither have they lost anything, for they are what they were and more. Abraham has about him still everything thatis Abrahamic. He is still Abraham. And Isaac has everything about him that properly belongs to Isaac. And Jacob has all abouthim that makes him God's Israel. These good men have lost nothing that really appertained to their individuality, nothingthat made them precious in the sight of the Lord. They have infinitely gained- they have gloriously developed! They are Abraham,Isaac and Jacob now at their best-or rather they are waiting till the trumpet of the Resurrection shall sound-when their bodiesalso shall be united to their spirits-and then Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be completely Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, worldwithout end!
We are, by no means, deprived of our dear ones by their death-they are-they are themselves and they are still ours. As Abrahamis not lost to Isaac, nor to Jacob, nor to God, nor to himself, so are our beloved ones, by no means, lost to us. Do not letus think of them, then, as if they were lost. I know your sorrows make an excursion to the grave, to look for the deceasedones. You want to lift that coffin lid and to unwrap the shroud. Oh, do not, do not! He is not here; the real man has gone.He may be dead to you, for a while, but he lives unto God. Yes, the dead one lives! He lives unto God! Do but anticipate thepassage of that little time, which is almost gone while I am speaking of it, and then your Savior's angels shall sound theirgolden trumpets and at the welcome noise, the grave shall open its portals and resign its captives. "Your brother shall riseagain." Comfort one another with these words! Shaftesbury is as much Shaftesbury as ever and even more so! We have partedwith the Earl, but the saint lives! He has gone past yonder veil into the next room and there he is, before the Lord of Hosts!He has gone out of this dim, dusky, cloudy chamber into the bright, pearly light that streams from the Throne of God and ofthe Lamb! We have nothing to sorrow about in reference to what he is or where he is. So, too, your valued parents and belovedchildren and choice friends-they are still yours!
Herein is great cause for thankfulness. Put aside your sackcloth and wear the garments of hope! Lay down the sack-but andtake up the trumpet! Draw not the beloved bodies to the cemetery with dreary pomp and with black horses, but cover the coffinwith sweet flowers and drape the horses with emblems of hope! It is the better birthday of the saint, yes, his truer weddingday! Is it sad to have done with sadness? Is it sorrowful to part with sorrow? No, rather, when joy begins to our friends,where Glory dwells in Immanuel's land, we may in sympathy sing, as it were, a new song, and tune our harps to the melodiesof the glorified!
I want you, also, to remember that the departed have not become members of another race-they have not been transferred intoanother family-they are still men, still women, still of our dear kindred. Their names are in the same family register onearth and in Heaven. Oh, no, no! Do not dream that they are separated and exiled! They have gone to the Home country-we arethe exiles-they are Home! We are en route to the Fatherland-they are not so far from us as we think. Sin worked to dividethem from us and us from them while we were here, together, but since sin is now taken away from them, one dividing elementis gone! When it is also removed from us, we shall be nearer to each other than we could have been while we were both sinful!Do not let us think of them as gone far, for we are one in Christ.
And they are not gone over to the other side in the battle. Oh, do not speak of them as dead and lying on the battlefield!They live, they live in sympathy with our Divine conflict. They have marched through the enemy's country. They have foughttheir fight and taken possession of their inheritance. They are still on our side, though we miss them from the daily service.When you number up the hosts of God, you must not forget the godlike bands that have fought the good fight, kept the faith,and finished their course. They are in the armies of the Lord, though not at this moment resisting unto blood. The 144,000sealed unto the Lord include in their ranks all who are with God, whether here or in Heaven-
"One family we dwell in Him, One Church, above, beneath, Though now divided by the stream, The narrow stream of Death."
Our sacramental host marches onward to the New Jerusalem. Certain of the legionaries have forded the dividing flood. I seethem ascending the other side! The bank of the river is white with their rising companies. Lo! I hear the splash of the ranksbefore us as they steadily pass down into the chill stream! In deep silence we see them solemnly wading through the billows.The host is ever marching on, marching on. The much dreaded stream lies a little before us-it is but a silver streak. We havecome to the bank. We shudder not at the prospect! We follow the blessed footsteps of our Lord and His redeemed. We are stillall one army-we are not losing our men-they are simply ascending from the long campaign to take their endless rewards at theLord's right hand!
What then? Why, then we will take up their work. If they have gone into the upper chamber to rest, we will make up their lackof service in this lower room! The work they did was so human that we will not allow a stitch to drop, but take it up wherethey left it and persevere in earnest. They are in Glory, but they were not glorified when they were here. The work they didwas done by men of such infirmities as ours, so let us not fear to go on where they left off and perpetuate the work whichthey rejoiced in! There lies the plow in the furrow and the oxen are standing still, for Shamgar, the champion, is gone. Willno one lay hold of the plow handles? Will nobody urge the oxen with the goad? Young men, are
you idling? Here is work for you! Are you hiding yourselves? Come forward, I pray you, in the name of the great Husbandman,and let the fields be tilled and sown with the good seed! Who will fill the gap made by death? Who will be baptized for thedead? Who will bear the banner, now that a standard bearer has fallen? I hope some consecrated voice will answer, "Here amI; send me!"
Now, last of all, Brothers and Sisters, we may expect the same assistance as they received who have gone before. Jehovah saysthat He is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. But He also says, "I am the God of your father." Thefather of Moses had the Lord to be his God! That God is the God of my father, blessed be His name! As I took the old man byhis hand, yesterday, at the age of 76, I could not but rejoice in all the faithfulness of the Lord to him and to his house.He was the God of my father's father, also-I cannot forget how the venerable man laid his hands upon his grandchild and blessedhim-and the blessing is with him still. Yes, and He is the God of my children and He shall be the God of my children's children,for He keeps Covenant to thousands of them that love Him! Therefore take courage, Brothers and Sisters! This God is your God!He is a God to you and you are a people to Him!
Act as His true servants. Live as those who are elect. If you are His choice, be choice characters! The chosen should be thebest, should they not? The elect should be especially distinguished above all others by their conversation and their ferventzeal for Him that chose them. As you shall rise from among the dead because the Lord Jesus has redeemed you from among men,so stand up from among the dead and corrupt mass of this world-and be alive unto God-through Jesus Christ your Lord! Whatmanner of people ought you to be who serve the living God? Since the living God has manifested Himself so wonderfully to you,ought you not to live unto Him to the utmost? God bless you for Jesus' sake. Amen.