Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.…
Why are those happy that die in the Lord? Two reasons: "They rest from their labours," and "their works follow them." "They rest." That is, doubtless, a happiness which is something negative, but which is none the less of great value. Who does not know by experience what sweetness there is in rest coming after fatigue? The present life is every moment a fatigue, from which death is an eternal rest; rest from labour, rest from sufferings, rest from sin. But the happiness of those who have died in the Lord is not merely negative. They are not only freed from the fatigues and the trials of life, they enjoy a boundless felicity. That is what the Holy Spirit declares in our text, when it is said that "their works follow them." There exists a close connection between the present life and the life to come; the latter is, as it were, the continuation and the accomplishment of the former; the character of the life to come is determined in the case of each one by that of his present life. His faith bears its fruits in that other life, and it is changed into sight; he contemplates and he touches what he had believed. Here below, he saw the truth confusedly, and as through an obscure medium; but, sustained by faith, he advanced in peace in the midst of the perplexities of life; he waited with patience the great day of revelations; he accepted as good and full of love dispensations which he understood not. And now, to recompense his faith, he sees face to face; every veil is removed, all obscurities dissipated. To his view, which is illuminated from on high, the whole of the magnificent plan of God towards the world is all unfolded, and everywhere he discovers wonders of wisdom and of love. The most unsearchable, the most painful dispensations of the present life appear to him in the life to come the wisest and most paternal; and who can tell the transports of admiration and of holy joy into which that revelation of the ways of God casts him! His submission to the Divine will follows him equally after death; it bears its fruit in the life to come, and it is changed into happiness. It is very little to say that he is for ever delivered from the trials of every kind; these trials give place not only to rest, but to unspeakable enjoyments. We have said how the works of the people of God become after their death elements of their felicity; but there is yet another sense in which it can be said that these works follow them in the eternal life. Their works still follow them in this sense, that they continue in heaven that life of devotedness to the Saviour, and of activity for His service, which they commenced on earth. The happiness of heaven will not be a barren inaction; it will be an essentially active happiness. They will take part, in a manner which we cannot picture here below, in the work of God and in the government of the universe; perhaps each of them will have, as here below, special aptitudes, which God will make the most of, by assigning to each of them particular occupations in harmony with these aptitudes. In order to be able to apply the promises of my text, we must therefore die in the Lord.
1. To die in the Lord is, in the first place, to die in the faith of the Lard; it is to renounce all hope of salvation founded on ourselves, on our works, on our pretended merits, and to cause our hopes to rest only on the merits of Christ, on the atonement accomplished by His blood.
2. To die in the Lord is also to die in the love of the Lord; it is to love Him Who loved us first, and that unto the Cross; it is to feel ourselves drawn to Him by an intimate and powerful affection; it is, when dying, to be able to say with St. Paul; "I have a desire to depart, and be with Christ, which is far better."
3. To die in the Lord is once more to die in obedience to the Lord. It is to die after having lived here below in imitation of Jesus Christ; after having purified ourselves as He also is pure; it is to have lived, I do not say in a state of perfect holiness, but at least in the constant desire of holiness, making continual efforts to reach it, and approaching it more and more.
4. In fine, and to say all in one single word, to die in the Lord is to die in communion with the Lord; it is to die, after having lived, dead to the world and to sin, with a life "hid with Christ in God."
Parallel VersesKJV: Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.