Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.…
I. DEATH IS A CURSE. My text, no doubt, says, "Blessed are the dead," still death is a curse. The lower creatures die, but with how little pain I in what happy ignorance! Death springs on them with a tiger's leap. The coming event casts no shadow before. I have seen a lamb go gambolling on its way to the slaughter-house cropping the wayside flowers. The bravest men are afraid of death; and true bravery lies not in insensibility to its terrors, but in facing what we fear. It is an easy thing for a soldier, amid the whirl and excitement of a battle-field, to dash on the serried bayonets; but show me the man, unless a true, lofty, strong-minded Christian, who will, calmly and undauntedly, meet his dying hour. Ah! this fate, from which nature shrinks with instinctive horror, tries the courage of the bravest, and the piety of the best of men. Separate and apart from the consolations of Christian faith, death is a tremendous evil. Nature shrinks from it, shuddering. I do not like to think of being a cold, pale, inanimate form of clay, unconscious of the love and grief of all around me; screwed down into a narrow coffin. Nor is that all; the grave is the land of oblivion; and who does not shrink from the thought of being forgotten? Besides these sad imaginings, the sufferings that usually attend the close of life and gather like heavy clouds around its setting sun, make death a curse.
II. DEATH IS A BLESSING. How true these words — "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord!" A union that, more intimate than marriage which unfaithfulness in either party dissolves; a union that, more intimate than the connection between body and soul which a slight accident may endanger, which an ounce of lead, an inch of steel, a drop of poison, a wrong step, the hand of a child may dissolve; a union that, more intimate than binds together those sections of the Church which, though differing, co-operate. The union which is formed between Christ and His people being one of incorporation, and not one merely of co-operation, what the one is, the other is; and where the one is, the other is; and as the one feels, the other feels; and as our bodies and their limbs have blood in common, or the branches and trunk of a tree have sap in common, so Jesus and His people have all things in common. To be in Christ, therefore, to be in the Lord, implies that we shall infallibly enjoy all the blessings, temporal, spiritual, and eternal, which He shed His blood to purchase; these being secured to us by the great oath of God, and the bonds of a covenant which is well ordered in all things and sure. With Christ we shall be crowned, and throned in glory. Well then may the apostle say, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord"! They must be blessed. How can it be otherwise? "Die!" No doubt they must die; but death has lost its sting; and it does not matter when, or how, or where they die. Think of it, therefore, not as death, but as glory — going to heaven, and to your Father. It is life through Christ, and life in Christ; life most blissful, and life evermore.
III. DEATH IS A BLESSING AS INTRODUCING US INTO A STATE OF REST.
1. At death the believer rests from the toils of life.
2. At death the believer rests from the cares of life. Next to sin, these form life's heaviest burden. There will be nothing in the household above to withdraw Martha from sitting with her sister at Jesus' feet — there Jacob mourns no Joseph, and David weeps no Absalom; the pious widow dreads no empty barrel; Lazarus fears no rich man's frown, nor courts his favour.
3. At death the believer rests from the griefs of life.
(T. Guthrie, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.