“Christ has invited you to His own table abounding in all good things” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“Do you wish to be happy? If you wish, I shall show you how you may be happy.

Continue to read that passage: ‘How long will you be dull of heart? why do you love vanity and seek after lying? Know ye—.’ What?—‘that the Lord hath made his holy one wonderful.’ (Psalm 4:3-5)

Christ came to our miseries. He was hungry and thirsty; He was weary and He slept; He worked wonders and He suffered evils; He was scourged, crowned with thorns, covered with spittle, beaten with cudgels, fixed to a cross, wounded with a lance, placed in a tomb.

But He rose again on the third day when His work was finished and death was dead. Lo, keep your eye fixed on His Resurrection, because ‘the Lord hath made his holy one wonderful’ to such a degree that He raised Him from the dead, and bestowed upon Him the honor of sitting at His right hand in heaven.

He showed you what you ought to attend to, if you wish to be happy, for here on earth you cannot be happy. In this life you cannot be happy; no one can.

You seek what is good, but earth is not the source of that which you seek. What are you seeking? A happy life. But it is not available here.

If you were looking for gold in a place where it did not exist, would not he who knew that it was not there say to you: ‘Why are you digging? Why are you plowing up the earth? You are digging a trench to descend into a place where you will find nothing.’ What are you going to answer the one who proffers you this advice? ‘I am looking for gold.’ And he answers: ‘I do not tell you that what you seek is of no importance, but I do say that it is not in the place where you are looking for it.’

Likewise, when you say: ‘I desire to be happy,’ [the answer may be given:] ‘You seek what is good, but it is not in this place.’

If Christ had happiness here, so also will you. But notice what He found in this land of your death. When He came from another region, what did He find here except what abounds here?

With you He ate what is plentiful in the cellar of your wretchedness. He drank vinegar here; He had gall, too. Behold, what He found in your cellar!

However, He has invited you to His own table abounding in all good things, the table of heaven, the table of the angels where He Himself is the bread.

Coming, then, and finding these unpalatable viands in your cellar, He did not disdain such a table as yours, but He promised you His own. And what does He say to us? ‘Believe, just believe that you will come to the good things of My table inasmuch as I did not scorn the poor things of your table.’

He accepted your evil; will He not give you His good? Certainly He will. He promised His life to us; but what He has done is more unbelievable.

He offered His own life to us, as if to say:

‘I invite you to My life where no one dies, where life is truly blessed, where food is not corrupted, where it refreshes and does not fail. Behold the place to which I invite you, to the abode of the angels, to the friendship of the Father and of the Holy Spirit, to the eternal banquet, to My companionship, finally, to Me Myself and to My life do I invite you. Do you not wish to believe that I will give you My life? Take My death as a pledge.’

Now, therefore, while we are living in this corruptible flesh, by changing our ways, let us die with Christ; by loving justice, let us live with Christ.

We shall not gain the happy life unless we shall have come to Him who came to us and unless we shall have begun to live with Him who died for us.”

–Augustine of Hippo, “Sermon 231: On the Resurrection according to St. Mark,” Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons (ed. Hermigild Dressler; trans. Mary Sarah Muldowney; vol. 38; The Fathers of the Church; Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1959), 38: 207-209.

“Christ will swallow up death in victory” by Richard Sibbes

“‘He shall swallow up death in victory, and wipe away tears from all faces.’ (Isaiah 25:8) Death is here represented to us under the word victory, as a combatant, as one that we are to fight withal, a captain.

And then here is the victory of him, Christ overcomes him, and overcomes him gloriously. It is not only a conquest, but a swallowing of him up.

Usually God useth all sorts of enemies in their own kind. He causeth them that spoil to be spoiled, them that swallow up to be swallowed up. So death the great swallower shall be swallowed up.

Beloved, death is the great king of kings, and the emperor of emperors, the great captain and ruling king of the world; for no king hath such dominion as death hath. It spreads its government and victory over all nations.

He is equal, though a tyrant. As a tyrant spares none, he is equal in this. He subdueth young and old, poor and rich. He levels sceptres and spades together. He levels all.

There is no difference between the dust of an emperor and the meanest man. He is a tyrant that governeth over all. And so there is this equity in him, he spares none.

He hath continued from the beginning of the world to this time; but he is a tyrant brought in by ourselves (Rom. 5:19).

Sin let in death. It opened the door. Death is no creature of God’s making. Satan brought in sin, and sin brought in death. So that we be accessory ourselves to the powerful stroke of this prevailing tyrant.

And therefore sin is called the cause of death. Sin brought in death, and armeth death. The weapon that death fights with, and causeth great terror, it is sin. The cause is armed with the power of the wrath of God for sin, the fear of hell, and damnation.

So that wrath, and hell, and damnation, arming sin, it bringeth a sting of itself, and puts a venom into death. All cares, and fears, and sorrows, and sicknesses, are less and petty deaths, harbingers to death itself.

But the attendants that follow this great king are worst of all, as Rev. 6:8, ‘I saw a pale horse, and death upon it, and after him comes hell.’ What were death, if it were not for the pit, and dungeon that followeth it? So that death is attended with hell, and hell with eternity.

Therefore here is a strange kind of prevailing. There is no victory where there is no enemy, and therefore death must needs be an enemy, yea, it is the worst enemy, and the last enemy.

Death depriveth us of all comfort, pleasure, communion with one another in this life, callings or whatsoever else is comfortable. The grave is the house of oblivion. Death is terrible of itself.

Death is the greatest swallower, and yet it is swallowed up by Christ. Death hath swallowed up all, and when it hath swallowed up, it keepeth them. It keeps the dust of kings, subjects, great and small, to the general day of judgment, when death shall be swallowed up of itself.

It is therefore of the nature of those that Solomon speaks of, that cry, ‘Give, give,’ Prov. 30:15, and yet is never satisfied, like the grave, yet this death is swallowed up in victory.

But how cometh death to be swallowed up? Christ will swallow up death in victory, for Himself and His. Because sin brought in death, our Saviour Christ became sin, a sacrifice to His Father’s justice for sin.

He was made sin for us, He was made a curse for us, to take away the curse due to us. And sin being taken away, what hath death to do with us, and hell, and damnation, the attendants on death? Nothing at all.”

–Richard Sibbes, “The Glorious Feast of the Gospel” in The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes (ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart; Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet And Co.; W. Robertson, 1862), 2:471–472.