“Do not forget it, Christian friend” by Charles Spurgeon

“Friend, let me whisper in thine ear: expect to lose thy dear ones still, for death is not destroyed.

Look not upon any of thy friends as though they would be with thee tomorrow, for death is not destroyed yet. See thou the word ‘mortal’ written upon all our brows.

The most unlikely ones die first. When I heard during this week of several cases of dear friends who have gone to their reward, I could have sooner believed it had been others, but God has been pleased to take from us and from our connexion many whom we supposed to be what are called good lives, and they were good lives in the best sense, and that is why the Master took them; they were ripe, and he took them home; but we could not see that.

Now, remember that all your friends, your wife, your husband, your child, your kinsfolk, are all mortal.

That makes you sad. Well, it may prevent your being more sad when they are taken away.

Hold them with a loose hand; do not count that to be freehold which you have only received as a leasehold; do not call that yours which is only lent you, for if you get a thing lent you and it is asked for back, you give it back freely; but if you entertain the notion that it was given you, you do not like to yield it up.

Now, remember, the enemy is not destroyed, and that he will make inroads into our family circle still.

And then remember that you too must die.

Bring yourself frequently face to face with this truth, that you must die. Do not forget it, Christian friend.

No man knows whether his faith is good for anything or not if he does not frequently try that faith by bringing himself right to the edge of the grave.

Picture yourself dying, conceive yourself breathing out your last breath, and see whether then you can look at death without quaking, whether you can feel, “Yes, I have rested upon Jesus, I am saved, I will go through death’s tremendous vale with his presence as my stay, fearing no evil.”

If you have no good hope, may God give you grace at this moment to fly to Jesus, and to trust in Him, and when you have trusted in Him death will be to you a destroyed enemy.

May God grant his blessing for Jesus’ sake. Amen.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Last Enemy Destroyed,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 12 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1866), 12: 647–648.

“What must it be to lose your soul?” by Charles Spurgeon

“You may tell how serious it is to lose the soul, from its intrinsic value.

The soul is a thing worth ten thousand worlds; in fact, a thing which worlds on worlds heaped together, like sand upon the sea shore, could not buy.

It is more precious than if the ocean had each drop of itself turned into a golden globe, for all that wealth could not buy a soul.

Consider! The soul is made in the image of its Maker; “God made man,” it is said, “in his own image.”

The soul is an everlasting thing like God; God has gifted it with immortality; and hence it is precious. To lose it, then, how fearful!

Consider how precious a soul must be, when both God and the devil are after it.

You never heard that the devil was after a kingdom, did you? No, he is not so foolish; he knows it would not be worth his winning; he is never after that; but he is always after souls.

You never heard that God was seeking after a crown, did you! No, he thinketh little of dominions; but he is after souls every day: his Holy Spirit is seeking his children; and Christ came to save souls.

Do you think that which hell craves for, and that which God seeks for, is not precious?

The soul is precious again, we know, by the price Christ paid for it.

“Not with silver and gold,” but with his own flesh and blood did he redeem it. Ah! it must be precious, if he gave his heart’s core to purchase it.

What must it be to lose your soul?”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Profit and Loss,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, vol. 2 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1856), 2: 310–311.

“Christ is the True Hero and I shall cling to Him” by Martin Luther

“Dear mother,

You know the real basis and foundation of your salvation, on which you must rest your confidence in this and all troubles, namely Jesus Christ, the cornerstone.

He will not waver or fail us, nor allow us to sink and perish, for He is the Saviour and is called the Saviour of all poor sinners, of all who face tribulation and death, of all who rely on Him and call on His name.

He says, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

If He has overcome the world, surely He has overcome the prince of this world with all His power. And what is His power but death, with which He has made us subject to Him, captives on account of our sin?

But now that death and sin are overcome, we may joyfully and cheerfully listen to the sweet words, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

And we must not doubt that they are certainly true. More than that, we are commanded to accept their comfort with joy and thanksgiving.

Whoever is unwilling to be comforted by these words does the greatest injustice and dishonor to the Comforter— as if it were not true that He bids us to be of good cheer, or as if it were not true that He has overcome the world.

If we act thus, we only restore within ourselves the tyranny of the vanquished devil, sin, and death, and we oppose the dear Saviour. From this may God preserve us!

Therefore, let us rejoice with all assurance and gladness. Should any thought of sin or death frighten us, let us lift up our hearts and say:

“Behold, dear soul, what are you doing? Dear death, dear sin, how is it that you are alive and terrify me? Do you not know that you have been overcome?

Do you, death, not know that you are quite dead? Do you not know the One who has said of you, I have overcome the world?

It does not behoove me to listen to or heed your terrifying suggestions. I shall pay attention only to the cheering words of my Saviour, ‘Be of good cheer, be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’

He is the Conqueror, the true Hero, who in these words, ‘Be of good cheer,’ gives me the benefit of his victory. I shall cling to Him.

To His words and comfort I shall hold fast. Whether I remain here or go yonder, He will not forsake me.

You would like to deceive me with your false terrors, and with your lying thoughts you would like to tear me away from such a Conqueror and Saviour.

But they are lies, as surely as it is true that He has overcome you and commanded us to be comforted.”

This is also the boast of Saint Paul and his defiance of the terrors of death:

‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?’ (1 Cor. 15:55)

Like a wooden image of death, you can terrify and frighten, but you have no power to destroy. For your victory, sting, and power have been swallowed up in Christ’s victory.

You can show your teeth, but you cannot bite. For God has given us the victory over you through Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be praise and thanks. Amen.’

With such words and thoughts, and with none other, you may set your heart at rest, dear mother.

Be thankful that God has brought you to such knowledge and not allowed you to remain in papal error, by which we were taught to rely on our own works and the holiness of the monks and to consider this only comfort of ours, our Saviour, not as a comforter but as a severe judge and tyrant, so that we could only flee from Him to Mary and the saints and not expect of Him any grace or comfort.

But now we know differently about the unfathomable goodness and mercy of our Heavenly Father.

We now know that Jesus Christ is our mediator, our throne of grace, and our bishop before God in heaven, who daily intercedes for us and reconciles all who call upon and believe in Him.

We now know that He is not a grim judge, except to those who do not believe in Him and who reject His comfort and grace.

We now know that He is not the Man who accuses and threatens us, but rather that He intercedes for and reconciles us by His own death, having shed His blood for us in order that we might not fear Him but approach Him with all assurance and call Him our dear Saviour, our sweet Comforter, the true Bishop of our souls.”

–Martin Luther, “To Mrs. John Luther, (May 20, 1531),” Letters of Spiritual Counsel, Ed. and Trans. Theodore G. Tappert, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1955/2006), 34-35.

“I commend you to Him who loves you more than you love yourself” by Martin Luther

“To my dear father, John Luther, citizen in the valley of Mansfeld:

Grace and peace in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

Dear Father:

My brother James has written me that you are seriously ill. As the weather is bad and the season dangerous, I am very anxious about you, for though God has given you a strong, tough body, yet your age and the inclemency of the weather give me disquieting thoughts.

None of us is, or should be, sure of his life at any time. I should have come to you personally with the greatest willingness, but my good friends advised me against it and have persuaded me not to, and I myself thought it better not to tempt God by putting myself in peril, for you know how lords and peasants feel toward me.

It would be the greatest joy to me if it were possible for you and mother to come hither, which my Katie and all of us beg with tears that you will do. I hope we are able to take good care of you.

Therefore I am sending Cyriac to see whether your weakness will allow you to be moved.

However in God’s wisdom your illness turns out, whether you live or die, it would be a heartfelt joy to me to be with you again and with filial piety and service to show my gratitude to God and to you according to the Fourth Commandment.

In the meantime I pray from the bottom of my heart that our Father, who has made you my father, will strengthen you according to His immeasurable kindness and enlighten and protect you with His Spirit, so that you may receive with joy and thanksgiving the blessed teaching of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to which doctrine you have now been called and to which you have come out of the former terrible darkness and error.

And I hope that His grace, which has given you such knowledge, and thereby begun His work in you, will guard and complete it to the end of this life and to the joyous hereafter of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

God has already sealed this teaching and faith in you and has testified to it by such marks as that you have suffered much slander, abuse, obloquy, mockery, scorn, hatred, and odium for His name’s sake, as we all have done. These are the true marks of our likeness to the Lord Christ, as Paul says, that we may be like Him also in future glory.

Let your heart be strong and at ease in your trouble, for we have yonder a true mediator with God, Jesus Christ, who has overcome death and sin for us and now sits in heaven with all His angels, looking down on us and awaiting us so that when we set out we need have no fear or care lest we should sink and fall to the ground.

He has such great power over sin and death that they cannot harm us, and He is so heartily true and kind that He cannot and will not forsake us, at least if we ask His help without doubting.

He has said, promised, and pledged this. He will not and cannot lie; of that we are certain.

“Ask,” says he, “and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find, knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matt. 7:7) And elsewhere: “Whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21)

The whole Psalter is full of such comforting promises, especially Ps. 91, which is particularly good to read to the sick.

I wish to write this to you because I am anxious about your illness (for we know not the hour), that I may become a participant of your faith, temptation, consolation, and thanks to God for His holy Word, which He has richly and graciously given us at this time.

If it is His divine will that you should postpone that better life and continue to suffer with us in this troubled and unhappy vale of tears, to see and hear sorrow and help other Christians to suffer and conquer, He will give you the grace to accept all this willingly and obediently.

This life, cursed by sin, is nothing but a vale of tears. The longer a man lives, the more sin and wickedness and plague and sorrow he sees and feels. Nor is there respite or cessation this side of the grave. Beyond is repose, and we can then sleep in the rest Christ gives us until He comes again to wake us with joy. Amen.

I commend you to Him who loves you more than you love yourself.

He has proved His love in taking your sins upon Himself and paying for them with His blood, as He tells you by the gospel.

He has given you grace to believe by His Spirit, and has prepared and accomplished everything most surely, so that you need not care or fear any more, but only keep your heart strong and reliant on His Word and faith.

If you do that, let Him care for the rest. He will see to it that everything turns out well. Indeed, He has already done this better than we can conceive.

May our dear Lord and Saviour be with you so that, God willing, we may see each other, either here or yonder. For our faith is certain, and we doubt not that we shall shortly see each other in the presence of Christ.

Our departure from this life is a smaller thing to God than my journey would be from here to Mansfeld or yours from Mansfeld to Wittenberg. It is only an hour’s sleep, and after that all will be different. This is most certainly true.

I hope that your pastor and preacher will point out such things to you in faithful service, and so you will not need what I say at all. Yet I write to ask forgiveness for my bodily absence, which, God knows, causes me heartfelt sorrow.

My Katie, little Hans, Magdalene, Aunt Lena, and all my household send you greetings and pray for you faithfully. Greet my dear mother and all my friends.

God’s grace and strength be and abide with you forever. Amen.

Your loving son,

Martin Luther
February 15, 1530.”

–Martin Luther, Letters of Spiritual Counsel, Ed. and Trans. Theodore G. Tappert, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1955/2006), 30-32.

[John Luther, Martin’s father, died on May 29, 1530, three months after this letter of consolation was written. On June 5, Luther wrote to Melanchthon: “John Reineck wrote me today that my beloved father, the senior Hans Luther, departed this life at one o’clock on Exaudi Sunday. This death has cast me into deep mourning, not only because of the ties of nature but also because it was through his sweet love to me that my Creator endowed me with all that I am and have. Although it is consoling to me that, as he writes, my father fell asleep softly and strong in his faith in Christ, yet his kindness and the memory of his pleasant conversation have caused so deep a wound in my heart that I have scarcely ever held death in such low esteem.” (30)]

“A constant unvaried ministry of love” by Islay Burns

“The simple annals of a country pastor’s daily life are uniform and uneventful, and afford little scope for the biographer’s pencil. Interesting and precious as any work done on earth in Heaven’s eyes, it is the obscurest possible in the world’s regard.

Angels look down upon it; busy, eager, bustling men heed it not. A calm routine of lowly, though sacred duties, a constant unvaried ministry of love, it flows on in a still and quiet stream, arresting no attention by its noise, and known alone to the lowly homes it visits on its way, and the flowers and the fields it waters.

The young pastor of Dun was no exception to this.

He preached the Word.

He dispensed the sacred Supper.

He warned the careless.

He comforted the sorrowing.

He baptized little children.

He blessed the union of young and loving hearts.

He visited the sick and the dying.

He buried the dead.

He pressed the hand, and whispered words of peace into the ear of mourners.

He carried to the poor widow and friendless orphan the charity of the Church and his own.

He slipt in softly into some happy home and gently broke the sad news of the sudden disaster far away.

He lifted up the fallen one from the ground.

And he pointed to Him who receiveth the publicans and the sinners.

These things and such as these, he did in that little home-walk for twenty successive years day by day; but that was all.

There is much here for the records of the sky, but nothing, or next to nothing, for the noisy annals of time.

Such as the work was, however, he did it, as all who knew him witnessed, faithfully and well, with a calm, serious, conscientious, cheerful, loving diligence that was the fruit of faith and prayer; always at his work, and always happy in it, and desiring nothing better or higher on earth.”

–Islay Burns, The Pastor of Kilsyth: The Life and Times of W.H. Burns (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1860/2019), 43-44.

“Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever, was the sum and substance of his preaching” by Islay Burns

“In calling to remembrance, brethren, the former days, you cannot fail, as a congregation, to cherish the most profound and affectionate reverence of the memory of your departed pastor.

During a ministry extended considerably beyond the ordinary allotments of Providence, nearly forty years of which he laboured among you with all good fidelity in every department of pastoral duty, how weighty are the responsibilities under which you are placed for his invaluable services!

Of those services, it is hardly possible to form an exaggerated estimate. With talents of a decidedly superior order, literary and theological acquirements alike accurate and varied, depth and tenderness of spirit in addressing all classes of hearers, and pre-eminently distinguished by the Spirit of grace and of supplication—our beloved and lamented father was truly a master in Israel.

In season and out of season, when he had long passed the ordinary term of ministerial service, that aged disciple was ever found on the watchtowers of Zion. ‘Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever,’ was the sum and substance of his preaching.

He loved to dwell on the glory of His person, the perfection of His righteousness, the merit of His atoning sacrifice, and the prevalence of His intercession. His speech and his preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.

Most faithfully, earnestly, and affectionately did he expound the doctrines, enforce the precepts, announce the terrors, and press home the exceeding great and precious promises of the word of life. He shunned not to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

As a scribe, instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, your late revered pastor brought forth out of his treasure things new and old, adapted alike to the conversion of the ungodly, and to the edification and comfort of the children of God.

His theology was that of the good olden school of our Scottish forefathers, the Erskines, Fishers, and Bostons, of the last century, those men, mighty in the Scriptures, whose names are identified with all that is sound in doctrine, and powerful in appeals to the conscience and the heart.

His trumpet never gave an uncertain sound, but sent forth its voice not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth. To how many in this congregation and neighbourhood, and in other places which occasionally enjoyed his ministrations, he was the savour of life unto life? He only knows unto whom all things are naked and opened. The day will declare it.

Those seasons of spiritual revival with which this is parish with signally blessed bore testimony to the seal which is Divine Master was pleased to affix to his servant’s fidelity; and may we not humbly hope that his removal hence may be still to some even as life from the dead?

It is not of the public services only of your late honoured pastor that it is our privilege this day to speak. Following the footsteps of the apostle of the Gentiles, whose spirit he had largely imbibed, he taught you publicly, and from house to house, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that he might present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.

And were not those pastoral labours, whether in the family or among the lambs of the flock (for the young were very dear to his heart), or at the beds of the sick and the dying, or in the chambers of bereavement, and loneliness, and grief– all conducted in the spirit of Him who was meek and lowly in heart– who did not break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax—who spake a word in season to satiate every weary soul, and to revive every sorrowful soul?

Need I dwell on the bright example of Christian wisdom, consistency, and devotedness which shone forth in his daily life and conversation?

Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily, and justly, and unblameably he behaved himself among you that believe. As ye know how he exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.”

–Islay Burns, The Pastor of Kilsyth: The Life and Times of W.H. Burns (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1860/2019), 179-181. This excerpt is from a sermon by Rev. Dr. Smyth of Glasgow preached at the funeral of W.H. Burns on May 13, 1859.

“Now is the time for all of you who love souls” by Charles Spurgeon

“Whether we gather in the harvest or not, there is a reaper who is silently gathering it every hour. Just now, it is whispered that he is sharpening his sickle. That reaper is death!

You may look upon this great city as the harvest-field, and every week the bills of mortality tell us how steadily and how surely the scythe of death moves to and fro, and how a lane is made through our population, and those who were once living men are taken, like sheaves to the garner, carried to the graveyard, and laid aside.

You cannot stop their dying; but, oh, that God might help you to stop their being damned! You cannot stop the breath from going out of their bodies; but, oh, that the gospel might stop their souls from going down to destruction!

It can do it, and nothing else can take its place. Just now, the cholera has come again. There can be little doubt, I suppose, about it being here already in some considerable force, and probably it may be worse.

The Christian need not dread it, for he has nothing to lose, but everything to gain, by death. Still, for the sake of others, he may well pray that God would avert His hand, and not let His anger burn.

But, since it is here, I think it ought to be a motive for active exertion. If there ever be a time when the mind is sensitive, it is when death is abroad. I recollect, when first I came to London, how anxiously people listened to the gospel, for the cholera was raging terribly.

There was little scoffing then. All day, and sometimes all night long, I went about from house to house, and saw men and women dying, and, oh, how glad they were to see my face!

When many were afraid to enter their houses lest they should catch the deadly disease, we who had no fear about such things found ourselves most gladly listened to when we spoke of Christ and of things Divine.

And now, again, is the minister’s time; and now is the time for all of you who love souls. You may see men more alarmed than they are already; and if they should be, mind that you avail yourselves of the opportunity of doing them good.

You have the Balm of Gilead; when their wounds smart, pour it in. You know of Him who died to save; tell them of Him. Lift high the cross before their eyes.

Tell them that God became man that man might be lifted to God. Tell them of Calvary, and its groans, and cries, and sweat of blood. Tell them of Jesus hanging on the cross to save sinners. Tell them that—

“There is life for a look at the Crucified One.”

Tell them that He is able to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God by Him. Tell them that He is able to save even at the eleventh hour, and to say to the dying thief, ‘Today shall thou be with Me in Paradise.'”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, C. H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography, Compiled from His Diary, Letters, and Records, by His Wife and His Private Secretary, 1834–1854, Volume 1 (Cincinnati; Chicago; St. Louis: Curts & Jennings, 1898), 1: 371.