“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.”

“God hath not laid the comfort of His people in the doing of external duties but in believing, loving, and fearing God” by John Bunyan

“Another encouragement for those that have this grace of fear (Ps. 147:11) is this: this grace can make that man, that in many other things is not capable of serving of God, serve Him better than those that have all without it.

Poor Christian man, thou hast scarce been able to do anything for God all thy days, but only to fear the Lord.

Thou art no preacher, and so canst not do Him service that way.

Thou art no rich man, and so canst not do him service with outward substance.

Thou art no wise man, and so canst not do anything that way.

But here is thy mercy: thou fearest God. Though thou canst not preach, thou canst fear God. Though thou hast no bread to feed the belly, nor fleece to clothe the back of the poor, thou canst fear God.

O how blessed is the man that feareth the Lord (Ps. 112:1)! Because this duty of fearing of God is an act of the mind, and may be done by the man that is destitute of all things but that holy and blessed mind.

Blessed therefore is that man, for God hath not laid the comfort of His people in the doing of external duties, nor the salvation of their souls, but in believing, loving, and fearing God.

Neither hath he laid these things in actions done in their health nor in the due management of their most excellent parts, but in the receiving of Christ, and fear of God.

That which, good Christian, thou mayest do, and do acceptably, even though thou shouldest lie bedridden all thy days.

Thou mayest also be sick and believe; be sick and love, be sick and fear God, and so be a blessed man.

And here the poor Christian hath something to answer them that reproach him for his ignoble pedigree, and shortness of the glory of the wisdom of the world.

‘True,’ may that man say, ‘I was taken out of the dunghill, I was born in a base and low estate, but I fear God. I have no worldly greatness, nor excellency of natural parts, but I fear God.'”

–John Bunyan, “A Treatise on the Fear of God,” in The Works of John Bunyan, ed. George Offer, 3 vols. (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1991), 1: 490.

“His mercy will live longer than thy sin” by John Bunyan

“Child of God, thou that fearest God, here is mercy nigh thee, mercy enough, everlasting mercy upon thee.

This is long-lived mercy. It will live longer than thy sin, it will live longer than temptation, it will live longer than thy sorrows, it will live longer than thy persecutors.

It is mercy from everlasting to contrive thy salvation, and mercy to everlasting to weather it out with all thy adversaries.

Now what can hell and death do to him that hath this mercy of God upon him? And this hath the man that feareth the Lord.

Take that other blessed word, and O thou man that fearest the Lord, hang it like a chain of gold about thy neck—’As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him’ (Psalm 103:11).

If mercy as big, as high, and as good as heaven itself will be a privilege, the man that feareth God shall have a privilege.

Dost thou fear God?—’Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him’ (Psalm 103:13).”

–John Bunyan, “A Treatise on the Fear of God,” in The Works of John Bunyan, ed. George Offer, 3 vols. (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1991), 1: 470.

“Remember that Omnipotence has servants everywhere” by Charles Spurgeon

“The Lord is never short of men to serve Him. Remember that Omnipotence has servants everywhere.

And out of the ranks of Satan’s army He can take the boldest champion of evil, arrest him by almighty grace, and lay upon him the charge to become a leader to the hosts of the living God.

Never despair, and never doubt, nor let even a desponding thought concerning Christ’s cause flit across your mind. They tell us that dark days are coming; that is quite true, but the Sun of Righteousness will never be eclipsed.

They tell us that the powers of evil will grow stronger and stronger. Suppose they do; the Almighty will never grow weak.

We will fall back upon the omnipotence and all-sufficiency of Jehovah; and then we shall know what it is not to feel any distrust or fear concerning the present or the future of the Church of the living God.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Stephen and Saul,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (vol. 51; London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1905), 51: 393.

“As long as God is God, there is no cause for the believer to fear” by Charles Spurgeon

“‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.’ (Psalm 46:1)

All men have their places of refuge, though some are ‘refuges of lies.’ (Isaiah 28:17) But ‘God is our refuge and strength.’ The omnipotence of Jehovah is pledged for the defense and support of His people.

A very present help in trouble,’—one who is near at hand; always near, but nearest when He is most needed. Not much entreaty is required to bring Him to the aid of His people, for He is close at hand and close at heart, ‘a very present help in trouble.’

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.’ (Psalm 46:2-3)

Here we have, you perceive, a mention of the greatest convulsions of nature, yet the believer fears not. Doubtless, too, these verses are intended to be a picture of the great convulsions that take place in the providential dealings of God.

States and kingdoms that seem to be as solid as the earth will one day be removed. Dynasties that seem as fixed and firm as mountains may soon be swept away into the sea of oblivion.

We may have famine, and war, and pestilence, and anarchy, until the whole earth shall seem to be like the sea in a great storm; yea, hope may fail with many and the stoutest hearts may shake at the swelling thereof.

Let the worst come to the worst, God’s people are still safe. As long as God is God, there is no cause for the believer to fear.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Vine of Israel,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 57 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1911), 57: 155.

“Whether One May Flee From a Deadly Plague” by Martin Luther

“Others sin on the right hand. They are much too rash and reckless, tempting God and disregarding everything which might counteract death and the plague. They disdain the use of medicines; they do not avoid places and persons infected by the plague, but lightheartedly make sport of it and wish to prove how independent they are.

They say that it is God’s punishment; if He wants to protect them He can do so without medicines or our carefulness. This is not trusting God but tempting Him. God has created medicines and provided us with intelligence to guard and take good care of the body so that we can live in good health.

If one makes no use of intelligence or medicine when he could do so without detriment to his neighbor, such a person injures his body and must beware lest he become a suicide in God’s eyes. By the same reasoning a person might forego eating and drinking, clothing and shelter, and boldly proclaim his faith that if God wanted to preserve him from starvation and cold, he could do so without food and clothing.

Actually that would be suicide. It is even more shameful for a person to pay no heed to his own body and to fail to protect it against the plague the best he is able, and then to infect and poison others who might have remained alive if he had taken care of his body as he should have.

He is thus responsible before God for his neighbor’s death and is a murderer many times over. Indeed, such people behave as though a house were burning in the city and nobody were trying to put the fire out. Instead they give leeway to the flames so that the whole city is consumed, saying that if God so willed, he could save the city without water to quench the fire.

No, my dear friends, that is no good. Use medicine; take potions which can help you; fumigate the house, yard, and street; shun persons and places wherever your neighbor does not need your presence or has recovered, and act like a man who wants to help put out the burning city.

What else is the epidemic but a fire which instead of consuming wood and straw devours life and body? You ought to think this way:

“Very well, by God’s decree the enemy has sent us poison and deadly offal. Therefore I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it.

I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence.

If God should wish to take me, He will surely find me and I have done what He has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others.

If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely, as stated above. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.

Moreover, he who has contracted the disease and recovered should keep away from others and not admit them into his presence unless it be necessary.

Though one should aid him in his time of need, as previously pointed out, he in turn should, after his recovery, so act toward others that no one becomes unnecessarily endangered on his account and so cause another’s death. ‘Whoever loves danger,’ says the wise man, ‘will perish by it.'”

–Martin Luther, “Whether One May Flee From a Deadly Plague,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 43: Devotional Writings II (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 43; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 43: 131–132.

“My unmoving mansion of rest” by Charles Spurgeon

“The Christian knows no change with regard to God. He may be rich today and poor tomorrow; he may be sickly today and well tomorrow; he may be in happiness today, tomorrow he may be distressed—but there is no change with regard to his relationship to God.

If He loved me yesterday, He loves me today. My unmoving mansion of rest is my blessed Lord.

Let prospects be blighted, let hopes be blasted, let joy be withered, let mildews destroy everything. I have lost nothing of what I have in God. He is ‘my strong habitation whereunto I can continually resort.’

I am a pilgrim in the world, but at home in my God. In the earth I wander, but in God I dwell in a quiet habitation.”

–Charles Spurgeon, “February 27 — Morning” in Morning and Evening (Geanies House, Fearn, Scotland, UK: Christian Focus, 1994),  126.