Charles Spurgeon Sermon - Page 3 Precious Souls
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints," for a third reason, because precious attributes are in dying moments gloriously illustrated. I refer now to the divine attributes. In life and in death we prove the attribute of God's righteousness, we find that he does not lie but is faithful to his word. We learn the attribute of mercy, he is gentle and pitiful to us in the time of our weakness. We prove the attribute of his immutability, we find him "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." There is scarcely a single characteristic of the divine being which is not set out delightfully to the child of God and onlookers when the saint is departing. And the same is true of the promises as well as the attributes. Precious promises are illustrated upon dying beds. "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." Who would have known the meaning of that to the full, if he had not found that the Lord did not leave him when all else was gone? "When thou passeth through the river I will be with thee." Who could have known the depth of truth in that word, if saints did not pass through the last cold stream. "As thy days so shall thy strength be." Who could have known to the full that word, if he had not seen the believer triumphant on his dying day? "Yea, though I pass through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff comfort me." You may read commentaries upon that psalm, but you will never value it so well as when you are in the valley yourself. My dear departed friend said to me, ere I came away on one of my last visits, "Read me a psalm, dear pastor," and I said, "which one?" "There are many precious ones," said he, "but as I get nearer to the time of my departure, I love the 23rd best, let us have that again." "Why," I said, "you know that by heart." "Yes," said he, "it is in my heart too, it is most true and precious to me." And is it not so? Yet you had not seen the 23rd Psalm to be a diamond of the purest water, if you had not beheld its value to saints in their departing moments.
"Precious," again, "in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints," because the precious blood is glorified. It is memorable how saints turn to the cross when they die. Not very often do you hear them speak of Christ in his glory then, it is of Christ the sufferer, Christ the substitute that they then speak. And how they delight to roll under their tongue as a sweet morsel, such texts as that one, "The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin." With what delight do they speak about having trusted in him years ago, and how gladly will they tell you that they have not been confounded. All their hope and all their confidence lie in the crucified one alone, and they are persuaded that he is able to keep that which they have committed to him. It ought to be the object of our lives to magnify the blood of Jesus, and to speak well of it, and to recommend it to others. But oh, dear soul, if thou hast no faith in Christ's blood, one argument that ought to convince thee of the sin of unbelief above all others, is this, -- that blood has afforded comfort when pains have been bitter, and consolation when death has been imminent, not in one case or a thousand, but in countless cases. Saints by myriads have died singing, for they have overcome the last enemy by the blood of the Lamb. Oh, you that were never washed in Jesus' blood, I dread to think of your dying. What will you do without the Savior? Oh, how will you pass the terrors of that tremendous hour, with no advocate on high pleading for you there, and no blood of Christ upon you pleading for you here. Oh, fly to that cross, rest in that cross, then will you live well and die well; but, without the blood, you shall live uneasily and die wretchedly. God prevent it, for his name's sake!
Again, the deaths of believers are precious to God, because oftentimes precious utterances are given forth in the last moments. There are little volumes extant of the death bed sayings of saints, and if ever I have mistaken the utterances of man for inspiration, it has been when I have read some of these dying speeches. No one ever mistook the brilliant utterances of Shakespeare, or the wise sayings of Bacon, or the profound thoughts of Socrates, for Scripture -- everyone could see that they were earthy and of the earth; but have you never caught yourself imagining that the saying of a dying man must have been borrowed from the Scriptures, and if you have searched for it you have not found it in Cruden, nor have you discovered it anywhere in the sacred page; the voice has been so near akin to inspiration, and so true, that if it had been permitted, you would have written it in your Bibles, and made a new chapter there. Oh, what brave things do they tell of the heavenly world! What glorious speeches do they make! To some of them the veil has been thrown back, and they have spoken of things not seen as yet. They have almost declared things which it were not lawful for men to utter, and, therefore, their speech has been broken, and mysterious, like dark sayings upon a harp. We could hardly make out all they said, but we gathered that they were overwhelmed with glory, that they were confounded with unutterable bliss, that they had seen and fain would tell but must not, they had heard and fain would repeat but could not. "Did you not see the glory?" they have said, and you have replied, "The sun shines upon you through yonder window;" they have shaken their heads, for they have seen a brightness not begotten of the sun. Then have they cried, "Do you not hear it?" and we should have supposed that a sound in the street attracted them, but all was the stillness of night; silent all, except to their ear, which was ravished with the voice of harpers, harping with their harps. I shall never forget hearing a brother, with whom I had often walked to preach the gospel, say, --
"And when ye hear my eyestrings break,
How sweet my minutes roll;
A mortal paleness on my cheek,
But glory in my soul."
It must have been a grand thing to hear good Harrington Evans say to his deacons, "Tell my people, tell them I am accepted in the Beloved;" or, to hear John Rees say, "Christ in the glory of his person, Christ in the love of his heart, Christ in the power of his arm, this is the rock I stand on, and now death strike." Departing saints have uttered brave things and rare things, which have made us wish that we had been going away with them, so have they made us long to see what they have seen, and to sit down and feast at their banquet.
The last reason I shall give why the death of a saint is precious is this -- because it is a precious sheep folded, a precious sheaf harvested, precious vessel which had been long at sea brought into harbour, a precious child which had been long at school to finish his training brought home to dwell in the Father's house for ever. God the Father sees the fruit of his eternal love at last ingathered: Jesus sees the purchase of his passion at last secured: the Holy Spirit sees the object of his continual workmanship at last perfected: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit rejoice that now the bloodbought ones are free from all inbred sin, and delivered from all temptation. The battle's fought, the battle's fought, and the victory is won for ever.
The commander's eagle eye, as he surveys the plain, watches joyously the shock of battle as he sees that his victory is sure; but when at the last the fight culminates in one last assault, when the brave guards advance for the last attack, when the enemy gathers up all the shattered relics of his strength to make a last defense, when the army marches with sure and steady tramp to the last onslaught, then feels the warrior's heart a stern o'erflowing joy, and as his veterans sweep their foes before them like chaff before the winnower's fan, and the adversaries melt away, even as the altar fat consumes away in smoke, I see the commander exulting with beaming eye, and hear him rejoicing in that last shock of battle, for in another moment there shall be the shout of victory, and the campaign shall be over, and the adversary shall be trampled for ever beneath his feet. King Jesus looks upon the death of his saints as the last struggle of their life-conflict; and when that is over, it shall be said on earth, and sung in heaven, "Thy warfare is accomplished, thy sin is pardoned, thou hast received of the Lord's hand double for all thy sins."
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." Sirs, are you his saints? Preacher, thou speakest to others, hast thou been sanctified unto God? Answer this in the silence of thy soul. Officers of this church, are you saints or mere professors? Members of this church, are you truly saints, or are you hypocrites? You who sit in this congregation Sabbath after Sabbath, have you been washed in the blood of Jesus? are you made saints, or are you still in the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity? Casual visitors to this house of prayer, the same question would I press on you, are you saints of God? If not, earth and hell combined, though they are both full of anguish, could not utter a shriek that should be shrill enough to set forth the woe unutterable of the death that shall surely come upon you. Oh I ere that death overtakes you, fly to Jesus. Trust Him, trust Him now! Ere this day's sun goes down cast yourself at the feet of the crucified Redeemer, and live! The Lord grant it, for his name's sake. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON -- Psalm 116; Revelation 7:9-17.
* Rev. W. Dransfield, a beloved elder of the church at the Tablernacle, died February 15th, full of years.