For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
A leafless wood may preach you an awful sermon. Not only may you look upon it as a host of skeletons; it may also cry to you to bethink yourselves that even as these trees stand naked from head to foot before the eye of heaven, so will your souls ere long stand utterly bare and naked before the eye of God. Every cloak and mask you may have clad them in will be torn off. Every fading leaf and perishing flower — whatever is bred by the sun of this world, or put forth to win the eyes of this world — all the dress and drapery of our minds and hearts — our cleverness, our skill, our learning, our knowledge, our prudence, our industry, our gaiety, our good fellowship — all those qualities of fair seeming which have no higher aim than to look well in the sight of our neighbours — will be swept away; and nothing will remain but the skeletons of our souls, shivering in the sight of men and of angels, in the day of that last and terrible winter, when the glory of this world will have waned, and death will have spread out his hand over all the generations of mankind. Nothing will remain but the naked trunk and leafless branches of our souls, except those seeds of Christian faith and love, which may have remained secretly wrapt up in the bosom of the flowers. The leaf dies; for the leaf has no life in it. The flower dies; for the flower has no life in it. But the seed, if it be the seed of Christian faith and love, has life in it, and cannot die. When it falls to the ground, Christ sends His angels to gather it up, and bids them lay it by in the storehouses of heaven. By the world, indeed, it is unseen. The world perceives no difference between the flower that has seed in it, and the flower that has no seed. To the outward eye they look the same; for the outward eye sees only what is outward. But Christ knows His own: He beholds the seed within the heart of the flower: and He will not suffer it to die or to be lost. In the last day He will bring it forth, and will crown the branches again with the undying flowers of heaven.
Parallel VersesKJV: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.