“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.”

“The occasion of God’s renewing comfort is our failure” by Ray Ortlund

“There is an end to the disciplines of God. Faith is not all struggle. It is also release and hope and new beginnings.

God’s deepest intention toward us is comfort. How could it be otherwise?

If the focus of Christianity were our sins, our future would shut down. But in fact Christianity is all about the saving grace of God.

He overrules our stupidity with His own absolute pardon through the finished work of Christ on the cross.

Do we sin? Yes. Do we suffer for it? Yes. Is that where God leaves us? No.

When His discipline has done its good work, God comes back to us with overflowing comfort. See in God not a frown but a smile, not distance but nearness.

Even when we don’t act like the people of God, He still identifies with us: ‘… My people… your God.’ (Isaiah 40:1) He stills calls us ‘Jerusalem,’ even when we’re far away in exile. (Isaiah 40:2)

Do you have glad expectations of God? You may, even as a sinner.

Do you see God as coming down to you as you are, with your mission still unfulfilled, but with His renewing mercies? You may and you must see God that way, or you’ll get no traction for holiness.

The Bible says that God’s kindness leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). John Calvin explains that no one will ever reverence God but he who is confident that God is favorable toward him.

The occasion of God’s renewing comfort is our failure.”

–Raymond Ortlund Jr., Isaiah: God Saves Sinners (Preaching the Word) (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2005), 235.

“The presence of God in the pressures of His people” by Stephen Charnock

“The omnipresence of God is a comfort in sharp afflictions. Good men have a comfort in this presence in their nasty prisons, oppressing tribunals; in the overflowing waters or scorching flames, He is still with them, (Isa. 43:2).

And many times, by His presence, He keeps the bush from consuming, when it seems to be all in a flame. In afflictions, God shows Himself most present when friends are most absent: ‘When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord shall take me up,’ (Ps. 27:10).

Then God will stoop and gather me into His protection; Heb. ‘shall gather me,’ alluding to those tribes that were to bring up the rear in the Israelites’ march, to take care that none were left behind, and exposed to famine or wild beasts, by reason of some disease that disenabled them to keep pace with their brethren.

He that is the sanctuary of His people in all calamities is more present with them to support them, than their adversaries can be present with them, to afflict them: ‘A present help in the time of trouble,’ (Ps. 46:2).

He is present with all things for this end; though His presence be a necessary presence, in regard of the immensity of His nature, yet the end of this presence, in regard that it is for the good of His people, is a voluntary presence.

It is for the good of man He is present in the lower world, and principally for the good of His people, for whose sake He keeps up the world: (2 Chron. 16:9), ‘His eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards Him.’

If he doth not deliver good men from afflictions, He will be so present as to manage them in them, as that His glory shall issue from them, and their grace be brightened by them.

What a man was Paul, when he was lodged in a prison, or dragged to the courts of judicature; when he was torn with rods, or laden with chains! Then did he show the greatest miracles, made the judge tremble upon the bench, and break the heart, though not the prison, of the jailor,—so powerful is the presence of God in the pressures of His people.

This presence outweighs all other comforts, and is more valuable to a Christian than barns of corn or cellars of wine can be to a covetous man, (Ps. 4:7). It was this presence was David’s cordial in the mutinying of his soldiers, (1 Sam. 30:6).

What a comfort is this in exile, or a forced desertion of our habitations! Good men may be banished from their country, but never from the presence of their Protector; ye cannot say of any corner of the earth, or of any dungeon in a prison, God is not here.

If you were cast out of your country a thousand miles off, you are not out of God’s precinct. His arm is there to cherish the good, as well as to drag out the wicked.

It is the same God, the same presence in every country, as well as the same sun, moon, and stars.”

–Stephen Charnock, “A Discourse Upon God’s Omnipresence,” in The Existence and Attributes of God, in The Works of Stephen Charnock, Vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2010), 1: 451–452.

“The most excellent study for expanding the soul” by Charles Spurgeon

“It has been said by some one that ‘the proper study of mankind is man.’ I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead.

The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.

There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity.

Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, ‘Behold I am wise.’

But when we come to this master-science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought, that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild ass’s colt; and with the solemn exclamation, ‘I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.’

No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God. But while the subject humbles the mind it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe.

The most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and Him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity.

Would you lose your sorrows? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in His immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated.

I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of grief and sorrow; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.

Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. And, whilst humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatary.

Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore.

It is to that subject that I invite you this morning. We shall present you with one view of it,—that is the immutability of the glorious Jehovah.

“I am,” says my text, “Jehovah,” (for so it should be translated) “I am Jehovah, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.’ (Malachi 3:6)”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Immutability of God,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, Volume 1 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1855), 1. Spurgeon preached this sermon from Malachi 3:6 on January 7, 1855. He was twenty years old.

“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.

“Rough may be the road, but Omnipotence is our upholding” by Charles Spurgeon

“FEBRUARY 8

I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Fear of falling is healthy. To be reckless is not a sign of wisdom. There are times when we feel that we will collapse unless we have a very special support.

Here we have it. God’s right hand is a grand thing to lean upon. Mind you, it is not only His hand, though it keeps heaven and earth in their places, but His right hand.

It is His power united with skill; His power where it is most dexterous.

And this is not all, for it is written, “I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

That hand which He uses to maintain His holiness and to execute His royal sentences– this will be stretched out to hold up His trusting ones.

Fearful is our danger, but joyful is our security. The man whom God upholds, devils cannot throw down.

Weak may be our feet, but almighty is God’s right hand. Rough may be the road, but Omnipotence is our upholding.

We may boldly go forward. We will not fall. Let us lean continually where all things lean.

God will not withdraw His strength, for His righteousness is there as well. He will be faithful to His promise, and faithful to His Son, and therefore faithful to us.

How happy we ought to be!

Are you happy today?”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, The Promises of God: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on the English Standard Version, Revised and Updated by Tim Chester (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019), “February 8.” Originally published in The Cheque Book of the Bank of Faith: Being Precious Promises Arranged for Daily Use with Brief Comments (New York: American Tract Society, 1893), 39.

“Death may deprive of dear friends, but it can’t deprive us of our best friend” by Jonathan Edwards

“Now, Madam, let us consider what suitable provision God has made for our consolation under all our afflictions in giving us a Redeemer of such glory and such love, especially when it is considered what were the ends of that great manifestation of His beauty and love in His death.

He suffered that we might be delivered. His soul was exceeding sorrowful even unto death, to take away the sting of sorrow and that we might have everlasting consolation.

He was oppressed and afflicted that we might be supported. He was overwhelmed in the darkness of death and of hell, that we might have the light of life.

He was cast into the furnace of God’s wrath, that we might swim in the rivers of pleasure. His heart was overwhelmed in a flood of sorrow and anguish, that our hearts might be filled and overwhelmed with a flood of eternal joy.

And now let it be considered what circumstances our Redeemer now is in. He was dead but is alive, and He lives forevermore.

Death may deprive of dear friends, but it can’t deprive us of this, our best friend. And we have this friend, this mighty Redeemer, to go to under all affliction, who is not one that can’t be touched with the feeling of our afflictions, He having suffered far greater sorrows than we ever have done.

And if we are vitally united to Him, the union can never be broken; it will remain when we die and when heaven and earth are dissolved. Therefore, in this we may be confident, we need not fear though the earth be removed.

In Him we may triumph with everlasting joy; even when storms and tempests arise we may have resort to Him who is a hiding place from the wind and a covert from the tempest.

When we are thirsty, we may come to Him who is as rivers of waters in a dry place.

When we are weary, we may go to Him who is as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.

Having found Him who is as the apple tree among the trees of the wood, we may sit under His shadow with great delight and His fruit may be sweet to our taste.

Christ told his disciples that in the world they should have trouble, but says He, ‘In Me ye shall have peace.’ If we are united to Him, our souls will be like a tree planted by a river that never dieth.

He will be our light in darkness and our morning star that is a bright harbinger of day. And in a little while, He will arise on our souls as the sun in full glory. And our sun shall no more go down, and there shall be no interposing cloud, no veil on His face or on our hearts, but the Lord shall be our everlasting light and our Redeemer, our glory.

That this glorious Redeemer would manifest his glory and love to you, and apply the little that has been said of these things to your consolation in all your affliction, and abundantly reward your generous favors, as when I was at Kittery, is the fervent prayer of, Madam, your Ladyship’s most obliged and affectionate friend,

And most humble servant,

Jonathan Edwards.”

–Jonathan Edwards, Letters and Personal Writings (ed. George S. Claghorn and Harry S. Stout; Vol. 16; The Works of Jonathan Edwards; New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1998), 16: 418–419. Edwards wrote this letter from Stockbridge to Lady Pepperrell on November 28, 1751, to console her on the loss of her son.