Great Texts of the Bible
The Dead in Christ
Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; for their works follow with them.—Revelation 14:13.
1. This is one of those rare enough verses in the Apocalypse which, amid the prevailing utterances full of woes and threatenings, of judgments and of terrors, fall with a quite peculiar softness and soothing upon our ears. Like the fragments of a tender melody which now and then is heard breaking through the stormful wailing notes of some piece of music, they are all the more heavenly because of the surrounding strife and stress of sound. Or, as when the sky is dark and the hills are in gloom, and the only patch of colour is the lurid red on the great mounting thunder-cloud, “rolled outward into space on thunder-edges,” a gentle gleam escapes for a moment and lights up some height or rests in glory upon some distant slope, so does such a sudden burst of spiritual sunshine as this divinely tint the sombre landscape, and bring a feeling of more than earthly gladness and hope into our hearts.
2. If the Apostle John was, as is generally believed, the writer of the Book of Revelation, and if he was at Rome with St. Peter and saw the persecution of the first Christians by Nero, and escaped the slaughter, then the passage containing the text not only has the beauty of its long association with those who have died in our arms, and with the sorrow and sentiment of gracious death all over the world, but it also has a deep historical interest of its own. The writer had then seen at Rome the crowds of martyrs who day after day testified by strange and cruel deaths to the faith of Jesus. He may have watched their suffering from the rows of the great circus, the site of which we look on from the steps of St. Peter’s. He may have heard with mingled wrath and pity of the paths of the palace of Cæsar lit at night by human torches; he may have stood beneath the cross on which St. Peter died, and beside the scaffold where St. Paul suffered for his Master. Yet, looking back from his Eastern home on these terrible and woeful things, and expecting more of them before the Lord should come, he wrote in this triumphant strain: “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; for their works follow with them.”
The Blessed Dead
1. This “voice from heaven” which St. John in Patmos heard is one of the great benedictions of the Bible, and may almost be said to give, in a single sentence, the whole New Testament teaching on the unseen life of Christ’s redeemed. It is but one little corner of the curtain that is lifted, but it is enough. The dead, as well as the living, are in God’s hand. We ask no more; we know no more; we pretend to know no more. The veil shall one day be drawn, and we shall know. It is sufficient for the present to be assured that the dead in Christ are for ever done with toil, unrest, weariness and pain, with hindrances to fellowship with one another as well as with Christ; that there are no more misunderstandings, no separations of feeling, no self-reproaches for sin, no need for repentance, no stirrings of remorse, such as even the best of them often had below; that they are “without fault before the throne of God,” without fault because Christ whose likeness they wear is without fault; and that all the sin of the earlier life is so completely blotted out from the very memory that it is as though it had never been.
We wonder at it, and wonder at ourselves to think we have passed through it all, and that we are here; friends, faces, scenes, that were everything to us, and they are gone with a widening sea between. That must have been the feeling of the man who said, “Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness.” It is at such a time that the thought of the living, unchanging Friend must come in if our own hearts are to live. I think, next to the desire for God Himself, for an infinite Friend, it is the desire for our dead that presses us to the cry, “My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God,”—the living God who will not let the dearest and deepest things to which He has given life die for ever, and who has sent His Son into the world to lie down in our grave and rise again, that He may be the first-fruits of them that sleep. If we can clasp Him to our heart, it recovers all and more—the shadow of death is turned into the morning, and the dim, fading past changes into a blessed future. We may say even it makes them present. “Ye shall see greater things than these,” heaven opens, and the angels of God ascend and descend on Him. May you and yours, my dear friend, have something of this view, and as your faith lifts its eye by that heavenly ladder, may the departed come down and be about you in your thoughts and feelings, may we not hope with a true though unseen presence?1 [Note: Letters of the Rev. John Ker, 335.]
2. The text speaks not of the dead in general, but of “the dead which die in the Lord.” Who are they? They who “die in the Lord” are in the Lord—united to Him by faith. Faith is the bond of union; by faith the believer dwells in Christ, while Christ dwells in him by His Spirit. He is one with Christ, and Christ is one with him. He is “in Christ.” To die in the faith and fear of the Lord, to die in a state of reconciliation and peace with the Lord, all these are but aspects of one great principle, the principle of inner union with Christ Himself.
Another sorrow fell on him in the illness and death of one who had been, by her Christian character and her good works, a strength to the congregation. In a letter to Mr. David Cowan, Dr. Robertson writes from Irvine toward the end of August 1875:
“Our loving and beloved Mrs. Brown is still with us, but ‘wearying, wearying,’ as she said to-night, ‘to be home.’ How sublimely simple her faith is—without all fear or doubt—not trusting to swim ashore on any raft of doctrine, or system of orthodoxy, or even on separate Scripture texts and promises, ‘boards and broken pieces of the ship,’ still less, least of all, not at all on any works or merits of her own, but clinging to the hand of ‘Jesus only,’ who has come to her over the waters of death, and bids her come to Him—to Him who gives the weary rest. ‘O Lamb of God, I come.’ She cannot be long outside the harbour, one would think. May she have an abundant entrance. As I left the house to-night late in the darkness under the trees, it was not difficult to imagine that the shining ones were waiting about the doors.”1 [Note: James Brown, Life of William B. Robertson, 284.]
3. To “die in the Lord”—the lips murmuring His name, the eyes of the heart fixed upon His cross, the spirit commending itself to Him even as He commended His Spirit to the Father, while it sinks beneath the weight of the falling tabernacle of clay—of all the exercises of faith this commonly is found to be the least difficult for those who have lived the life of faith on the Son of God.
As Laurence Oliphant lay dying, the dear and sacred name of Christ was ever on his tongue. A day or two before his death he called his faithful nurse early in the morning, probably in that rising of the energies which comes with the brightness of the day, and told her that he was “unspeakably happy.” “Christ has touched me. He has held me in His arms. I am changed—He has changed me. Never again can I be the same, for His power has cleansed me; I am a new man.” “Then he looked at me yearningly,” she adds, “and said, ‘Do you understand?’ ” As he lay there dozing, smiling, with the look of this exultation never leaving his face through the long last hours that followed, he was heard to hum and sing in snatches the hymn, “Safe in the arms of Jesus.” Who knows where he had learnt it?—perhaps at some American “revival” or camp meeting, where the keen observer would catch up unawares and with a smile at himself the homely strain, which thus floated back to the memory of the dying the hymn of the humblest believer, the simplest certainty of a faith unencumbered with any new lights.… “His last conscious moment on Sunday,” adds his wife, “was one of hope and effort lifewards.” The actual end was complete and perfect peace. “He passed away as into a tranquil sleep, and woke four hours after in another world, or rather under another form, without having tasted death either physically or spiritually.” Thus this extraordinary, varied, and noble life came to an end.2 [Note: Mrs. Oliphant, Memoir of the Life of Laurence Oliphant (ed. 1892), 404.]
4. To die in the Lord is to pass on and up to live with Him in the higher sphere, to live with Him there as we have lived with Him here, only no longer brokenly, imperfectly, fitfully, by reason of manifold infirmities, as here, but in perfect communion with Him who is all-perfect, seeing Him as He is and being like Him. To die in the Lord is not to cease to live, but to begin to live, as by a new birth, a new and fuller life, and that for ever and ever, in a new and better world, to rise into another and higher region, freed from all the encumbrances of this, a region of intense, conscious, joyous vitality; a region of intelligent, responsible, glorious activity, in which nothing that makes the dignity, the grandeur, of the burden of life is laid down, but only the pain.
The soul expands, freed from the baffling barriers of earth; expands to pursue the infinite glory and beauty of God. That is the depth of the blessedness of the dead. Nor need we fear, as some have feared, that in this great development the dead will so excel us that they will lose touch with us, or forget us in their larger life. They cannot, and will not, because the foundation of all their soul’s expansion is love. Moreover, God loves, and though He excels infinitely His children, yet in love’s communion we reach Him and abide in Him. And if we, so far behind Him, can live with Him like a child, we can also live with those we have loved, even were they a thousand worlds beyond us in all things else but love. Nor is this close communion through love between us and them the least part of their blessedness. And we too, even when our natural grief for their departure is deepest—we too, in belief in the blessedness of those we love, feel blessedness slide into our soul. To believe that they are radiant with joy and life, yet unforgetful of our love, is so Divine a comfort that, even when we stretch out our arms in vain, we thank God that we are not left alone. For spirit can touch spirit, though the eye sees not and the ear hears not. We cry, “Blessed are the dead, and I, too, with them, am happy with their happiness.” That is a deep consolation, and if we cherish it, it deepens. Our dead are blest in love, and we, in their love, are blest.
I believe very few of us think enough of the dead. Fear of false teaching about invocation of saints, and prayers for souls in purgatory, has made us Protestants almost forget what God has really told us about the dead. Surely the nearer we are drawn to Christ, the closer is drawn the tie by which living and departed are knit together. That is why I love to tell the mourners who are just feeling the great blank in their home circle that God never meant it to be a blank. I love to say, “that loved husband, or wife, or parent, or child is resting in the Blessed Presence of God. You are summoned to the same Presence; there is but a veil between. The one family is never broken, though God has called some of them to rest in another room.”1 [Note: 1 Aubrey L. Moore, God is Love, 214.]
Mrs. Carlyle had again written to Mazzini, and again received honourable and gentle counsel. On July 15 he wrote to her:
“Yes! Sad as death; but not basely sad.… You believe in God; don’t you think, after all, that this is nothing but an ephemeral trial, and that He will shelter you to your journey’s end under the wide wing of His paternal love? You had, have, though invisible to the eyes of the body, your mother, your father, too. Can’t you commune with them? I know that a single moment of true fervent love for them will do more for you than all my talking! Were they now what you call living, would you not fly to them, hide your head in their bosom and be comforted, and feel that you owe to them to be strong—that they may never feel ashamed of their own Jane? Why, can you think them to be dead, gone for ever, their loving immortal soul annihilated? Can you think that this vanishing for a time has made you less responsible to them? Can you, in a word, love them less because they are far from sight? I have often thought that the arrangement by which loved and loving beings are to pass through death is nothing but the last experiment appointed by God to human love; and often, as you know from me, I have felt that a moment of true soul-communing with my dead friend was opening a source of strength for me unhoped for, down here.”2 [Note: Mrs. A. Ireland, Life of Jane Welsh Carlyle, 187.]
The Rest of the Blessed Dead
The Spirit, in the mind of the Seer, responds to the Voice from above him, “Yea, they are blessed, to rest (as they shall) from their labours.”
1. Let us get this point quite clearly established from the Word of God, that those who depart this life in the Lord are in a state of bliss and rest. It is but an expansion of this truth when we are told that they shall “hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.” God Himself wipes all tears from their eyes; and they wait calmly in that peaceful world and enjoy the rest, the Sabbath, that remaineth for the people of God. They are in God’s presence, and therefore they are blessed. They are in God’s safe keeping, and therefore they are at rest. Rest from the toils of life, from the cares of life, from the griefs of life, to all those who have known them, is blessed indeed. There is no more naturally true or beautiful way of announcing a good man’s death than the old-fashioned phrase, “He is at rest.”
Emerson says that we carry the pledge of the continuance of our being in our own breast. Browning says that because there is so much wanting in this life, therefore there must be another life to supply the defect.… There is, however, another aspect of the future of which he is enamoured, and which he would fain portray, namely, that of cessation from the toils of earth. Hence, in the following verses [from Old Pictures in Florence] both phases are put before us side by side:
There’s a fancy some lean to and others hate—
That, when this life is ended, begins
New work for the soul in another state,
Where it strives and gets weary, loses and wins:
Where the strong and the weak, this world’s congeries,
Repeat in large what they practised in small,
Through life after life in unlimited series;
Only the scale’s to be changed, that’s all.
Yet I hardly know. When a soul has seen
By the means of Evil that Good is best,
And, through earth and its noise, what is heaven’s serene,—
When our faith in the same has stood the test—
Why, the child grown man, you burn the rod,
The uses of labour are surely done;
There remaineth a rest for the people of God:
And I have had troubles enough, for one.
But are these two views entirely inharmonious or incongruous? Are they mutually exclusive? May there not be a sense in which the living dead “rest from their labours”—the excessive and exhausting efforts of earth—while “their works follow with them,” to be continued and perfected in that other sphere? But, whether that be so or not, what the poet in either case would have us see is that the future is a continuation of the present—on a higher level, in an ampler air, and surely with less to fetter or restrain.1 [Note: J. Flew, Studies in Browning, 228.]
2. The text speaks of one particular kind of rest—viz., a rest from labours; not from work, not from occupation, for be it remembered that man is endowed with an endless capacity for work. Heaven is not the rest of idleness; heaven is not the elysium of the drone and the sluggard. It is not rest from activity, rest from employment, that the dead in Christ enter upon, but a rest from toiling, wearying, disappointing, useless, harassing, painful labours. The Greek word for “labours” (χόποι) which is used in the text has invariably the sense of trying and distressing labours, exertions which, whether effectual or not, involve a painful strain, efforts often baffled, ever exhausting, ever reminding us of the condition into which man falls when he deliberately sets his own will against God’s will; when therefore, instead of working in harmony with the eternal principles by which the universe is administered, he works more or less in antagonism to them, or in ignorance of their bearings. Looking at this point more closely, we feel that all the labours connected with our existence in the world of time and sense involve weariness, are liable to failure; at the best they are mixed up with much that we would gladly be rid of; and a very large portion of them is altogether futile, directed to wrong ends, issuing in results utterly opposed to our own wishes and intents. Hence the very common feeling, which at times creeps over us all, that it is well all such labour should come to an end; that the weary turmoil and struggle should cease; that rest, even at the cost of unconsciousness, is in itself a good; and could we but be secure that, together with this mortal coil, we shook off all responsibility for the past, and all possibility of recurrence of old struggles and trials, we might, perhaps, often be content to lay down our wornout bodies for ever in the quiet grave.
In a certain lake in Munster, it is said, there were two islands; into the first death could never enter, but age and sickness, and the weariness of life and the paroxysms of fearful suffering were all known there, and they did their work till the inhabitants, tired of their immortality, learned to look upon the opposite island as upon a haven of repose. They launched their barks upon its gloomy waters; they touched its shore, and they were at rest.1 [Note: W. E. H. Lecky, History of European Morals, i. 203.]
Of all hand work whatsoever, necessary for the maintenance of life, those old words, “In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread,” indicate that the inherent nature of it is one of calamity; and that the ground, cursed for our sake, casts also some shadow of degradation into our contest with its thorn and its thistle: so that all nations have held their days honourable, or “holy,” and constituted them “holydays,” or “holidays,” by making them days of rest; and the promise, which, among all our distant hopes, seems to cast the chief brightness over death, is that blessing of the dead who die in the Lord, that “they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.”1 [Note: Ruskin, The Crown of Wild Olive, § 36 (Works, xviii. 418).]
The Works of the Blessed Dead
1. Some would take “Their works follow with them,” to mean that the reward of past works goes with the Christian into paradise. True indeed it is, in a very practical sense, that the peace and blessedness are rewards. But a work is one thing, and its reward is another; and without good reason we should not assume that they are identified by the language of Scripture. Others, again, would have it that the memory of past works is meant—an explanation open not only to the same objection, but to the far more formidable one that it would seem to represent the soul of the Christian as dwelling for ever with complacency on the thought of his own merits. But if the memory or the reward of works is not meant, at least chiefly or primarily, we are led on to a view that the works mean the living acts, the deeds which characterize the faithful servant of God as such, the results and proofs of the inner life on earth; that on his departure hence the man, the conscious man, bears with him those faculties and is permitted and enabled to do those works, in such form and such degree as may be consistent with his new condition. The works themselves, the energies and the results, go with him. He is not therefore, as some would tell us, in a state of dim unconsciousness, nor merely in a state of ecstatic trance, visited by gleams of heavenly splendour, or visions of a more glorious hereafter; he is in a state of action, doing works which differ from his works in this life mainly in that the element of struggle, of painful effort, of an all but perpetual sense of failure and disappointment, is withdrawn, and replaced by a sabbatic rest—a rest not of idleness or vacuity, but of unbroken, untroubled action.
It is curious that in the service for the Burial of the Dead in the Book of Common Prayer this verse ends with “they rest from their labours”; the words “and their works do follow them” are omitted. In the earlier days, in which the Prayer Book was arranged, men thought of death chiefly, if not entirely, as the great rest-giver. But the omission of the last clause, “and their works do follow them,” destroys entirely the sense of the Heavenly Voice. Its very purpose was to assure men, not that the departed had passed into a long deep sleep, or that they would sit and sing themselves away to everlasting bliss, but that whilst death would give them rest from labour—from the strain and stress always more or less associated with earthly effort—it would not be the rest of sleep, of unconsciousness, or even of inaction, but the rest of work from which the sense of labour had departed.1 [Note: W. Garrett Horder, The Other-World, 60.]
2. Activity is the law of our being. Powers unused gradually wither and at last perish. Use leads to increase and development. Disuse means in the end paralysis and loss. So far as we can judge, the mind is always at work. Even sleep, which seems like inaction, is not so in reality. In sleep the mind is active, only under conditions by which it is recuperated for the work of what we call its waking moments. Save where disease has stopped the wheels of the mind, it is ever active. Incessant activity is the law of life in the Divine Being Himself. “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work,” said Christ, and within narrower limits that seems to be the law of the creatures made in His image. If, therefore, life be continued beyond death, our works must follow with us. To say that the soul will exist is only to say that it must be active.
My belief in the immortality of the soul springs from the idea of activity: for when I persevere to the end in a course of restless activity, I have a sort of guarantee from Nature that when the present form of my existence proves itself inadequate for the energising of my spirit, she will provide another form more appropriate.2 [Note: Goethe.]
3. The works—what they are and what they have done for the man—follow as the shadow follows the man, the one thing inseparable from the other, when the sun is in the sky. Beautifully has it been said that the good works of Christians do not go before them to open heaven; but they must follow after, to make it a place of blessedness. The Psalmist says of the rich man, “When he dieth he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him.” Not so with the man who is rich toward God. Character goes with us into the other world. Many work on materials that cannot follow them to eternity. The artist works for months on the canvas: he dies, and leaves the portrait behind him. The sculptor works on the marble for years: he dies, and leaves the sculpture behind. But the good man works on a material that will bear transferring to the other world. He draws beautiful lines—draws them upon his own soul, upon himself. He has sought the best material to work on, material that will last when the rocks melt. And his work in others will remain; it is cut deep enough, so that it shall be visible in the judgment, and can be read at the opening of the books.
It is only in death that a man enters into full possession and use of what he produced within himself. What mental treasures he gathered in, all his life, what fills his memory, what pervades his feelings, what his mind and fancy created, is to remain his property for ever.1 [Note: G. T. Fechner, On Life After Death, 55.]
For the great sympathy was his—that love of the neighbour which is thrown like a mantle over the shoulders of some men, making them different from their fellows, securing to them that love of great and small, which, perchance, follows some, where they are dead, to that place where a human testimony may not be all in vain.2 [Note: H. S. Merriman, The Sowers, chap. xxiv.]
I must be permitted to give the following fragment from The Book of the Sparkling Stone. It is strangely beautiful:—
“Understand, now, that this is the mode of progress; in our going towards God, we ought to carry our being and all our works before us, as an eternal offering to God; and in presence of God we shall surrender ourselves and all our works, and dying in love, we shall pass beyond all creation into the super-essential kingdom of God. There we shall possess God in an eternal death to ourselves. And this is why the Spirit of God says in the book of the Apocalypse, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.’ Rightly indeed does He call them the blessed dead, for they remain continually dead to themselves and immersed beyond their own nature in the gladdening unity of God. And they die ever newly in love, by the attracting refreshment of that same unity. Furthermore, the divine Spirit saith, ‘They shall rest from their labours, and their works shall follow them.’ In this finite existence, where we are born of God into a spiritual and virtuous life, we carry our works before us as an offering to God; but in that unconditioned life, where we die anew in God, into a life of everlasting blessedness, our good works follow us, for they are one life with us.”1 [Note: M. Maeterlinck, Ruysbroeck and the Mystics, 84.]
The New Era
1. The words “from henceforth” form a difficulty; the reason for their introduction is to be found in the state of trouble which the previous verses of this chapter describe: the righteous are happy in being taken away from the evil to come. Or may it be that the words are designed to console the mourners in an age when dark unbelief robs them of the sweet resurrection trust, and writes over its graves, “Farewell for ever”? If the climax of world-power should be bitter scorn of the idea of a life to come, and complacent satisfaction with a portion in this world, then words of faith, proclaiming that the dead are happy and restful, and that their work is not in vain in the Lord, may find new force to sustain a fainting courage or a wavering trust.
Ἀπʼ ἄρτι, “from this time forth” (John 13:19; John 14:7), must be connected, as its position shows, not with μαχάριοι (“blessed”), but with οἱ ἀποθνήσχοντες (“which die”); nothing is said with regard to the past, the purpose of the revelation being to bring comfort to those who in the coming persecutions would need a strong consolation. It is a message in the first instance for a particular age, and referred to those who were to be called to suffer for their faith. Yet in view of the quite general terms in which it is couched, the later Church has felt herself at liberty to use it for the comfort of her mourners.2 [Note: H. B. Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John, 187.]
2. The state of good men who died before the coming of Christ appears to be always spoken of in the Old Testament as one of true, but very imperfect, blessedness; a period, not indeed of unconsciousness, but of dim expectation. It was scarcely looked forward to with joy by those who trusted confidently in the power and love of God. At the best they would be but “prisoners of hope” still, waiting for their appointed change—for the morning which, after an unknown length of night, would usher in the day of restoration. But when Christ came, when He had accomplished His work, when the blood was shed which atoned for all repented guilt, when His body had hallowed the grave, when His Spirit had burst the bars of the pit and preached to the spirits in Hades, a mighty change was effected—the prison became a palace. The future restoration, though not as yet effected, was anticipated; and while all the great spirits of old, who in darkness and trembling had passed into the shadow of death, were filled with a new joy, henceforth all who departed this life united to Jesus entered at once into a state of conscious blessedness, knowing, like St. Paul, that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord—present with Him in no dim visionary region, but present in paradise. “To this end Christ died, and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.” Since His resurrection, the dead are placed under Christ’s lordship just as much as the living; therefore “from henceforth,” after Christ’s resurrection, those who die in the Lord are blessed, inasmuch as He will be the Lord of their destiny, and will be their security that it shall be one of “glory, and honour and immortality.”
Union with Christ finds its consummation in the heavenly destiny which it opens up before the believer. However we may speculate on the mysterious problems of the future, in this respect, at least, the Christian can feel no misgiving. By death Jesus escaped from the power of death and can die no more. So those who are one with Him participate in His deathless life. They cannot be less immortal than He is. His existence and theirs are twined together at the roots. Their life is hid with Him in God, but the secret forces which are withdrawn from the gaze of men will be revealed when they enter into possession of their glorious inheritance. It is with no tawdry splendours that we would imagine it bedecked. But all for which the heart most hungers, all to which the pure spirit most aspires, the satisfaction of love’s longing, the attainment of the loftiest ideals—these are the saints inheritance awaiting them in the realm of light.1 [Note: A. S. Peake, Christianity: Its Nature and Its Truth, 297.]
The Book of Revelation casts the gleam of final victory in the future over many troubled scenes, always becoming clearer till all things are made new, and the material and spiritual, body and soul, earth and heaven, are reconciled. There is a divorce of these now, and death is the expression of it. The resurrection is the expression and consummation of reconcilement. God, who is the Creator of the material and spiritual—the Former of bodies, Father of spirits—has united them to each other in Him, and both to Himself in close eternal union. Is not this credible, probable, true, because godlike and grand,—an end to the universe worthy of our highest thinking and of its Author? This reconcilement of the material and spiritual in Christ is not merely a prophecy and pledge of the end but the means of it. “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” All flows from this as streams from a fountain, light from a sun, life from God, for He is constituted the Head of the regenerated universe.2 [Note: John Ker, Thoughts for Heart and Life, 171.]
Dr. Young of Kelly (the famous chemist who was first to discover paraffin oil in shale) died on 13th May, 1883. On the Sunday following his funeral, Dr. Robertson preached at the evening service in Skelmorlie United Presbyterian Church, Dr. Goold of Edinburgh preaching in the forenoon. Mr. Boyd, the minister of the church, writes:
“In the course of his sermon Dr. Goold insisted strongly that the doctrine of immortality is taught in the Old Testament, and quoted a number of passages in support of his position. Dr. Robertson had arranged to preach in the evening from the text, ‘Christ hath brought life and immortality to light by the gospel,’ and the psalms, hymns, and anthem had been chosen with this text in view. But after the forenoon service he came to me in anxiety and said, ‘I must change my subject. If I preach the sermon I intended, Dr. Goold will think I am controverting his teaching.’ All afternoon he was restless, evidently thinking over other sermons, but unable to fix on one. When the hour of evening service had come, he told me that he was still undecided. I replied, ‘Keep to your subject; the choir cannot now change the hymns.’ He consented to do so. It was evident that he had taken the position that immortality was not clearly taught in the Old Testament. With great tact he succeeded in avoiding the appearance of contradiction between him and the morning preacher, by saying in well-chosen words, which I cannot reproduce, something to this effect:—‘Doubtless there are references to the doctrine of immortality in the Old Testament, as was so well put before you in the forenoon. But just as he whose death we are this day remembering with sorrow, found embedded in the caverns of the earth the dark substance by which he has illuminated the homes of rich and poor in many lands, so did Christ bring to light the doctrine of a future life. The shale was in the earth long before, but it was Dr. Young who revealed its illuminating power. Even so the doctrine of immortality, embedded in Old Testament passages, was practically unrevealed until He came who brought life and immortality to light.’
“I can give you no idea of the beautiful touches by which Dr. Robertson wrought out the thought I have only indicated; but so skilfully was it done that I think no one in the church ever dreamt of anything but completest harmony between the two preachers.”1 [Note: James Brown, Life of William B. Robertson, 428.]
The Dead in Christ
Brooke (S. A.), The Kingship of Love, 293.
Brown (J. B.), The Sunday Afternoon, 320.
Cairns (J.), Christ the Morning Star, 161.
Callan (H.), Heart Cures, 89.
Cook (F. C.), Church Doctrine and Spiritual Life, 165.
Dean (J. T.), Visions and Revelations, 168.
Eyton (R.), The Glory of the Lord, 76.
Farrar (F. W.), Words of Truth and Wisdom, 144.
Findlay (G. G.), The Things Above, 159.
Gutch (C.), Sermons, 290.
Guthrie (T.), The Way to Life, 372.
Hankey (W. B.), The Church and the Saints, 183.
Horder (W. G.), The Other-World, 59.
Knight (G. H.), In the Cloudy and Dark Day, 169.
Little (W. J. K.), Sunlight and Shadow in the Christian Life, 196.
Massillon (J. B.), Sermons, 141.
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