“A Prayer Before Dying” by Zacharius Ursinus

“We give thanks to You, almighty, eternal, and merciful God and Father, because on account of Your inexhaustible mercy among us, You have gathered the Church to Yourself through the Word and Spirit, and You have revealed to us that only and solid comfort in Your Word, which we all know– we who breathe our last in true faith and with the invocation of Your name.

We give thanks not only because You granted to us the use of this life, and up to this point have kindly preserved us, but because You have also begun that spiritual and eternal life in us, and You embraced us in such great love that on our behalf You delivered up Your only begotten son to death, so that all who would believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

And You have called us to that blessed fellowship of Your son, and by the work of Your Holy Spirit You have kindled true faith in us, and You have mercifully protected us up to this day against the force and attack of the Devil.

You have guarded us in the truth known. And finally, You have fortified our hearts with this steadfast comfort, that temporal death is our entrance into eternal life.

We ask, O eternal God, that You would cause the pure and sincere teaching of the Gospel to enlighten us and our posterity forevermore, for the sake of the glory of Your name and our salvation.

Always raise up faithful ministers in place of those who have passed on, and send out many into Your harvest. Also strengthen and protect the good work that You have begun in us.

Forgive us our sins, and deliver us from eternal death, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Likewise, daily mortify our corrupt nature until at last we lay down the burden of sins, under which we frequently grow weary in this life. Cause that we are comforted with a firm faith in the blessed resurrection of our flesh to eternal glory.

Guard us against the temptations of Satan. Be at hand and help us especially when we must leave this life.

Cause us to be rendered compliant, ready, and thankful to Your divine will in our life and death, and let us rejoice in pain and suffering, because we are being conformed to our head, Christ.

Grant constancy to us, increase of faith, and holiness of life. Cause that we deny ourselves and seek things above, where Christ is, and let us not seek our joy in the desires of this world but in meditation upon Your Word.

And finally, pour out in our hearts the Spirit of grace and prayer so that we may always be vigilant, and let us pray that we would not fall into temptation but be ready, so that whenever it would please you, we would pass to you through a blessed, noble death, and bring us boldly to the tribunal of Your Son.

All this, what You would most mercifully lavish upon us, through and on account of Your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who reigns with You forevermore, Amen.”

–Zacharius Ursinus, “A Godly Meditation Upon Death, (1564)” in Faith in the Time of Plague: Selected Writings from the Reformation and Post-Reformation, Eds. Stephen M. Coleman and Todd M. Rester (Glenside: PA: Westminster Seminary Press, 2021), 269-270. Ursinus wrote this treatise in 1564 when a plague “was prowling about widespread along the banks of the Rhine.”

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“A Counselor to restore it” by Charles Spurgeon

“‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor.’—Isaiah 9:6

Last Sabbath morning we considered the first title, ‘His name shall be called Wonderful:’ this morning we take the second word, ‘Counselor.’

I need not repeat the remark, that of course these titles belong only to the Lord Jesus Christ, and that we cannot understand the passage except by referring it to Messiah—the Prince.

It was by a Counselor that this world was ruined.

Did not Satan mask himself in the serpent, and counsel the woman with exceeding craftiness, that she should take unto herself of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, in the hope that thereby she should be as God?

Was it not that evil counsel which provoked our mother to rebel against her Maker, and did it not as the effect of sin, bring death into this world with all its train of woe?

Ah! beloved, it was fitting that the world should have a Counselor to restore it, if it had a Counselor to destroy it. It was by counsel that it fell, and certainly, without counsel it never could have arisen.

But mark the difficulties that surrounded such a Counselor. ’Tis easy to counsel mischief; but how hard to counsel wisely! To cast down is easy, but to build up how hard!

To confuse this world, and bring upon it all its train of ills was an easy thing. A woman plucked the fruit and it was done.

But to restore order to this confusion, to sweep away the evils which brooded over this fair earth, this was work indeed, and ‘Wonderful’ was that Christ who came forward to attempt the work, and who in the plentitude of His wisdom hath certainly accomplished it, to His own honour and glory, and to our comfort and safety.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “His Name—The Counsellor,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, vol. 4 (London; Glasgow: Passmore & Alabaster; James Paul; George John Stevenson; George Gallie, 1858), 4: 401.

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“The incarnation of the Son of God” by Charles Spurgeon

“There have been sights matchless and wonderful, at which we might look for years, and yet turn away and say, ‘I cannot understand this; here is a deep into which I dare not dive; my thoughts are drowned; this is a steep without a summit; I cannot climb it; it is high, I cannot attain it!’

But all these things are as nothing, compared with the incarnation of the Son of God. I do believe that the very angels have never wondered but once and that has been incessantly ever since they first beheld it.

They never cease to tell the astonishing story, and to tell it with increasing astonishment too, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born of the Virgin Mary, and became a man.

Is He not rightly called Wonderful?

Infinite, and an infant–

eternal, and yet born of a woman–

Almighty, and yet hanging on a woman’s breast–

supporting the universe, and yet needing to be carried in a mother’s arms–

king of angels, and yet the reputed son of Joseph–

heir of all things, and yet the carpenter’s despised son.

Wonderful art Thou, O Jesus, and that shall be Thy name forever.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “His Name—Wonderful!,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 4 (London; Glasgow: Passmore & Alabaster; James Paul; George John Stevenson; George Gallie, 1858), 4: 395–396.

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“Die every morning before you leave your bedroom” by Charles Spurgeon

“The future is intended to be a sealed book. The present is all we need to have before us. Do thy day’s work in its day, and leave to-morrow with thy God. If there were ways of reading the future, it would be wise to decline to use them.

The knowledge would create responsibility, arouse fear, and diminish present enjoyment; why seek after it? Famish idle curiosity, and give your strength to believing obedience.

Of this you may be quite sure, that there is nothing in the book of the future which should cause distrust to a believer. Your times are in God’s hand; and this secures them.

The very word ‘times’ supposes change for you; but as there are no changes with God, all is well. Things will happen which you cannot foresee; but your Lord has foreseen all, and provided for all.

Nothing can occur without his divine allowance, and he will not permit that which would be for your real or permanent injury. “I should like to know”, says one, “whether I shall die soon.” Have no desire in that direction: your time will come when it should.

The best way to live above all fear of death is to die every morning before you leave your bedroom. The apostle Paul said, ‘I die daily.’ (1 Cor. 15:31)

When you have got into the holy habit of daily dying, it will come easy to you to die for the last time. It is greatly wise to be familiar with our last hours.

As you take off your garments at night, rehearse the solemn scene when you shall lay aside your robe of flesh.

When you put on your garments in the morning, anticipate the being clothed upon with your house which is from heaven in the day of resurrection.

To be fearful of death is often the height of folly.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “‘My Times Are in Thy Hand,’” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 37 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1891), 37: 285–286.

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“A circle of Christian friends by a good fire” by C.S. Lewis

“Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?”

–C.S. Lewis, Letters of C.S. Lewis, eds. W.H. Lewis and Walter Hooper (New York: Harper, 1966), 467. C.S. Lewis was born on November 29, 1898.

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“Thanksgiving Day Proclamation (1936)” by Wilbur L. Cross

“Time out of mind at this turn of the seasons when the hardy oak leaves rustle in the wind and the frost gives a tang to the air and the dusk falls early and the friendly evenings lengthen under the heel of Orion, it has seemed good to our people to join together in praising the Creator and Preserver, who has brought us by a way that we did not know to the end of another year.”

–Wilbur L. Cross, “Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, 1936,” in Proclamations of His Excellency Wilbur L. Cross Governor of the State of Connecticut (Hartford: Lockwood and Brainerd Co., 1937), 16.

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“Reconciliation is His masterpiece” by Thomas Goodwin

“Are not all God’s attributes His nature, His justice as well as mercy? His hatred of sin, as well as the love of His creature?

And is not that nature of His pure act, and therefore active, and therefore provokes all His will to manifest these His attributes upon all occasions?

Doth not justice boil within Him against sin, as well as His bowels of mercy yearn towards the sinner?

Is not the plot of reconciliation His masterpiece, wherein He means to bring all His attributes upon the stage?”

–Thomas Goodwin, “Of Christ the Mediator,” The Works of Thomas Goodwin, Volume 5 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage, 1862/2021), 5: 16.

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