Words of Divine Comfort, Octavius Winslow—1872
“And she lay dying.”–Luke 8:42
The transition of the believer from the chamber of sickness to the bed of death is a natural and often a short one. The Lord’s sick one now becomes the Lord’s dying one. It is by the process of ‘wasting disease’ that the loving Savior, for the most part, comes into His garden, and gathers His plants of righteousness–the lily in its youthful bloom, the rose in its matronly beauty, the cedar in its manly strength, the oak in its grace and grandeur–transferring them to His paradise on high.
There are, indeed, some of God’s children whose departure may be regarded more in the light of Enoch–like translations than of an ordinary death. The chariot has descended so suddenly and with wheels so noiseless, the last enemy has approached so stealthily and with tread so softly, that we had scarcely seen them enter the celestial carriage before it bore them beyond our weeping eyes and wondering gaze; they themselves not knowing that it was death, until they had passed through its portal, and found themselves in heaven! Absent from the body, as in a moment, they were present with the Lord.
But with you, beloved, the Lord’s wise and loving dealings may be far otherwise. It is, perhaps, by slow disease and acute suffering He is taking down the earthly house; wearisome days and sleepless nights are appointed to you; and looking through the lattice of the dissolving tabernacle, you exclaim, “Why is His chariot so long in coming? why tarry the wheels of His chariot?” And now, as with unclasped and uplifted wings, your soul lingers upon the border land–
“Only waiting until the angels
Open wide the mystic gate,
At whose feet I long have lingered,
Weary and poor and desolate.
Even now I hear their footsteps,
And their voices far away;
Only waiting to obey.”
Dying saint of God, how enviable is your state! Soon you will see Jesus in all His glory; soon you will mingle with apostles and prophets and martyrs and all the heavenly host; soon you will be clasped in the fond and welcoming embrace of the loved ones who preceded you to glory; soon you will be freed from all taint of sin, from every fetter of corruption, from every tear of sorrow, from every pang of suffering, and from every feeling of languor and faintness. Oh blissful exchange! Oh glorious prospect! Fear not! Keep your eye upon Jesus. Look not so much to His work as to Himself, not so much to His salvation as to the Savior, not so much to the gospel of Christ as to the person of Christ. Let yours be a personal dealing with a personal Savior. Let nothing come between you and Jesus. He is with you, and He bids you come–not to His cross, or to His work, or to His sacrament–but–to Himself. “Come unto ME; I will give you rest.” He wants you to lay your dying head upon His very heart, to clasp His very hand in yours, and to feel that nearer to Him you cannot be, until your disembodied spirit speeds its flight, and folds its weary wings upon His glorified bosom.
“Shudder not to cross the stream,
Venture all your hope on Him,
Not one object of His care
Ever suffered shipwreck there.”
One word as to the world you are about to leave. Have you made a wise and equitable adjustment of your temporal matters, so that, after your decease, the near and beloved ones who survive and succeed to your property, may be free from all anxiety, allegation and litigation? Our Lord Jesus made His last will and testament, bequeathing to His people the richest treasure He could leave–His peace which passes all understanding–do you follow His example, and set your worldly house in order, that those who inherit your goods may bless your memory, and glorify God for the grace and wisdom and uprightness given you. The criminal neglect of this significant duty has been the productive cause of more domestic unhappiness than almost any that can be named. “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.