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by that he proclaimed the will of God, his Father, that none should perish, who sent his Son that men might have life, and have it more abundantly. By that he declared that death was an evil and a disorder among men, which he would some day crush and destroy utterly, that mortality should be swallowed up of life.
And yet we die, and shall die. Yes. The body is dead, because of sin. Mankind is a diseased race; and it must pay the penalty of its sins for many an age to come, and die, and suffer, and sorrow. But not for ever. For what mean such words as these—for something they must mean?
"If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. And again, 'He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live ; and ' he that liveth and believeth in me shall never • die.'
Do such words as these mean only that we shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day? Surely not. Our Lord spoke them in answer to that very notion.
Martha said to him, I know that my brother shall rise again, in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resur
rection and the life;' and then showed what he meant by bringing back Lazarus to life, unchanged, and as he had been before he died.
Surely if that miracle meant anything, if these words meant anything, it meant this : that those who die in the fear of God, and in the faith of Christ, do not really taste death; that to them there is no death, but only a change of place, a change of state ; that they pass at once, and instantly, into some new life, with all their powers, all their feelings, unchanged, purified doubtless from earthly stains, but still the same living, thinking, active beings which they were here on earth. I say, active. The Bible says nothing about their sleeping till the Day of Judgment, as some have fancied. Rest they may; rest they will, if they need rest. But what is the true rest ? Not idleness, but peace of mind. To rest from sin, from sorrow, from fear, from doubt, from care,—this is
the true rest. Above all, to rest from the worst weariness of all—knowing one's duty, and yet not being able to do it. That is true rest; the rest of God, who works for ever, and yet is at rest for ever; as the stars over our heads move for ever, thousands of miles each day, and yet are at perfect rest, because they move orderly, harmoniously, fulfilling the law which God has given them. Perfect rest, in perfect work; that surely is the rest of blessed spirits, till the final consummation of all things, when Christ shall have made up the number of his elect.
I hope that this is so. I trust that this is so. I think our Lord's great words can mean nothing less than this. And if it be so, what comfort for us who must die? What comfort for us who have seen others die, if death be but a new birth into some higher life; if all that it changes in us is our body—the mere shell and husk of us—such a change as comes over the snake, when he casts his old skin, and comes out fresh and gay, or even the crawling caterpillar, which breaks its prison, and spreads its wings to the sun as a fair butterfly. Where is
the sting of death, then, if death can sting, and poison, and corrupt nothing of us for which our friends have loved us; nothing of us with which we could do service to men or God ? Where is the victory of the grave, if, so far from the grave holding us down, it frees us from the very thing which holds us down, the mortal body?
Death is not death, then, if it kills no part of us, save that which hindered us from perfect life. Death is not death, if it raises us in a moment from darkness into light, from weakness into strength, from sinfulness into holiness. Death is not death, if it brings us nearer to Christ, who is the fount of life. Death is not death, if it perfects our faith by sight, and lets us behold him in whom we have believed. Death is not death, if it gives us to those whom we have loved and lost, for whom we have lived, for whom we long to live again. Death is not death, if it joins the child to the mother who is gone before. Death is not death, if it takes away from that mother for ever all a mother's anxieties, a mother's fears, and lets her see,
in the gracious countenance of her Saviour, a sure and certain pledge that those whom she has left behind are safe, safe with Christ and in Christ, through all the chances and dangers of his mortal life. Death is not death, if it rids us of doubt and fear, of chance and change, of space and time, and all which space and time bring forth, and then destroy. Death is not death; for Christ has conquered death, for himself, and for those who trust in him. And to those who say, “You were born in 'time, and in time you must die, as all other 'creatures do. Time is your king and lord, as he has been of all the old worlds before this,
and of all the races of beasts, whose bones ' and shells lie fossil in the rocks of a thousand 'generations, then we can answer them, in the words of the wise man, and in the name of Christ who conquered death :
'Fly, envious time, till thou run out thy race,