1 Thessalonians 4:13
Brothers, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who are without hope.
Sermons
A Suggestive ContrastHandbook to Scripture Doctrines.1 Thessalonians 4:13
Christ Died that Saints Might Sleep in DeathW. Bates, D. D.1 Thessalonians 4:13
Christian MourningH. Kollock, D. D.1 Thessalonians 4:13
Consolation for the BereavedW. Naylor.1 Thessalonians 4:13
Consolations Accompanying the Death of SaintsJ. Walker.1 Thessalonians 4:13
Death a SleepJ. Parsons.1 Thessalonians 4:13
Death a SleepW. Landells, D. D.1 Thessalonians 4:13
Different Ideas of ImmortalityDr. Storrs.1 Thessalonians 4:13
Gone BeforeWhitecross.1 Thessalonians 4:13
Having no HopeC. W. Camp.1 Thessalonians 4:13
Hope in Death1 Thessalonians 4:13
Hope in DeathJ. F. B. Tinling, B. A.1 Thessalonians 4:13
Hopeless DeathH. Hayman, D. D.1 Thessalonians 4:13
Ignorance Concerning the DeadD. Mayo.1 Thessalonians 4:13
Pilgrims At RestJ. S. Withington.1 Thessalonians 4:13
Reasons for Comfort Concerning Them that Die in the LordJ. Benson.1 Thessalonians 4:13
Sleeping in Jesus1 Thessalonians 4:13
Sleeping in JesusJ. Young, D. D.1 Thessalonians 4:13
Sorrow for the DeadG. Barlow.1 Thessalonians 4:13
Sorrow for the DeadT. Croskery 1 Thessalonians 4:13
Sorrow Without HopeDu Chaillu.1 Thessalonians 4:13
The Christian View of DeathW. H. Davison.1 Thessalonians 4:13
The Coming of the LordPreachers' Monthly1 Thessalonians 4:13
The Second ComingChristian Age1 Thessalonians 4:13
The Sleep of DeathR. D. Hitchcock, D. D.1 Thessalonians 4:13
The Sleep of the Faithful DepartedArchdeacon Manning.1 Thessalonians 4:13
The Sleep of the Faithful DepartedCanon T. S. Evans, D. D.1 Thessalonians 4:13
The Soul Does not Steep in DeathJ. Cumming, D. D.1 Thessalonians 4:13
The State of Departed SaintsE. Steane, D. D.1 Thessalonians 4:13
The Victory of Hope in SorrowH. W. Beecher.1 Thessalonians 4:13
Without Hope1 Thessalonians 4:13
Sorrow for the Dead Transfigured by the Resurrection of ChristW.F. Adeney 1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14
Anxiety About the State of the Christian DeadR. Finlayson 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
The ResurrectionB.C. Caffin 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
The apostle next refers to the share of the Christian dead in the coming of Christ, respecting which some misapprehensions seem to have existed at Thessalonica.

I. THE DEATH OF FRIENDS IS A CAUSE OF DEEP SORROW TO SURVIVORS. Such sorrow is instinctive, and is not forbidden by the gospel: for "Jesus wept" at the grave of Lazarus, and the friends of Stephen "made great lamentation over him." True religion does not destroy, but restrains, natural affections.

II. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CHRISTIAN AND HEATHEN SORROW. That of the heathen is extravagant, because there is "no hope" in the death of their relatives. It is "the sorrow of the world," which is utterly uncheered by hope. The sorrow of the Christian is sober, and chastened by the hope of the gospel.

III. THE CAUSE OF THESSALONIAN SORROW.

1. It was not that there was a denial or doubt of the resurrection from the dead, such as existed at Corinth.

2. Nor was it that the resurrection was regarded as past already, according to the heresy of Hymenaeus and Philetus.

3. But it was that it was feared the Christian dead would not be raised to share with the living in the coming glories of the advent.

IV. THE RESURRECTION HAS CHANGED DEATH INTO A SLEEP. "Those that are asleep."

1. There is nothing in the word to justify the idea of the soul's unconsciousness in the period between death and resurrection.

2. Sleep implies an awaking. This will occur at the resurrection. Thus the hope of the Church is the hope of the resurrection.

V. THE IMPORTANCE OF EXACT KNOWLEDGE RESPECTING THE FUTURE DESTINY OF THE SAINTS. "I would not have you ignorant." Ignorance of the truth mars our spiritual comfort. - T.C.







But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren
Observe —

I. THAT SORROW IS A MERCIFUL RELIEF TO A SOUL BEREAVED. Sorrow is nowhere forbidden. It may be an infirmity; but it is at the same time a solace. The religion of the Bible does not destroy human passions. We do not part with our nature when we receive the grace of God. The mind that is capable of real sorrow is capable of good. A griefless nature can never be a joyous one.

II. THAT SORROW FOR THE DEAD IS AGGRAVATED BY IGNORANCE OF THEIR FUTURE DESTINY. The radius of hope is contracted or expanded in proportion to the character and extent of intelligence possessed. The heathen who have no satisfactory knowledge of the future life, give way to an excessive and hopeless grief. It was the dictum of an old Greek poet — a man once dead there is no revival; and these words indicated the dismal condition of unenlightened nature in all lands and ages. What an urgent argument for missions.

III. THAT SORROW FOR THE DEAD IN CHRIST IS SOOTHED AND MODERATED BY CERTAIN GREAT TRUTHS CONCERNING THEIR BLESSEDNESS.

1. That death is a sleep: i.e., to the body; as to the soul, it is the birth into a progressive life; a departure to be with Christ.(1) Sleep is expressive of rest. When the toil of life's long day is ended, the great and good Father draws the dark curtain of night and hushes his weary children to rest. "They enter into rest."(2) Sleep is expressive of refreshment. The body is laid in the grave, feeble, emaciated, worn out. Then a wonderful process goes on, perceptible only to the eye of God, by which the body acquires new strength and beauty, and becomes a fit instrument and suitable residence for the glorified soul.(3) Sleep implies the expectation of awaking. We commit the bodies of the departed to the earth in sure and certain hope of a glorious resurrection.

2. That the dead in Christ will be roused from their holy slumber and share in the glory of His second advent. "Will God bring with Him." The resurrection of the dead is a Divine work. "I will redeem them from the power of the grave." Christ will own His people in their persons, their services, and their sufferings. They shall receive His approval, be welcomed and crowned by Him.

3. That the resurrection of Christ from the dead is a pledge of the restoration and future blessedness of all who sleep in Him. "For if we believe," etc. Christ Himself is the Resurrection, not only as revealing and exemplifying it, but as effecting it (John 5:25; John 6:39). The Word of God sheds a light across the darkness of the grave, and opens a vista radiant with hope and immortal blessedness. A vital knowledge of Christ silences every murmur, and prepares for every emergency.Lessons:

1. An ignorant sorrow is a hopeless one.

2. To rise with Jesus we must live and die to Him.

3. Divine revelations regarding the future life greatly moderate the grief of the present.

(G. Barlow.)

Having given his converts golden counsel respecting the treatment of the living, both Christian and heathen, St. Paul turns abruptly in thought to the holy dead, and informs the Thessalonians how they ought to think "concerning them which are asleep." His design was to comfort the bereaved. He does not say to them, as Jesus said to the widow of Nain, "Weep not"; but he will limit their grief, and have their tears to fall in the sunshine, like the raindrops which fall when the thunderstorm is over. Moderate grief is lawful; immoderate grief is sinful. But there are reasons for it, which we now examine.

I. IT IS AS IF THE MOURNERS HAD NO HOPE CONCERNING THE HOLY DEAD. It is to act too much like the Gentiles, who have no hope of a better life after this; whereas we Christians, who have a most sure hope — the hope of eternal life after this, which God, who cannot lie, hath promised us — should moderate all our joys on account of any worldly thing. This hope is more than enough to balance all our griefs over any of the crosses of the present time.

II. IT IS THE EFFECT OF IGNORANCE CONCERNING THE HOLY DEAD. There are some things which we cannot but be ignorant of concerning them that are asleep; for the land they are removed to is a land of darkness, which we know but little of, and have no correspondence with. To go among the dead is to go among we know not whom, and to live we know not how. Death is an unknown thing, and of the state of the dead, or the state after death, we are much in the dark; yet there are some things anent them especially that die in the Lord that we need not, and ought not, to be ignorant of; and if these things are rightly understood and duly considered, they will be sufficient to allay our sorrow concerning them; namely —

1. The dead sleep in Jesus. They are "fallen asleep in Christ." Death, therefore, doth not annihilate them. It is their rest, undisturbed rest. They have retired from this troublesome world, and thereby put an end to their labours and sorrows. Being still in union with Jesus, they sleep in His arms, and are under His special care and protection. Their souls are in His presence, and their dust is guarded by His omnipotence; so that they cannot be lost; nor are they losers, but infinite gainers by death; and their removal out of this world is into a better, even a heavenly one.

2. They shall be awaked out of their sleep, and raised up from their grave, for God will bring them with Jesus. They, then, are now with God, and are ineffably better where they are than they could possibly be down here. Through virtue of that union betwixt believers and Christ, it cometh to pass that whatever hath befallen Christ, as He is the Head of all believers, shall in God's own time be verified in believers themselves, due proportion and distance being alway kept which is between Head and members; for He inferreth that we shall be raised because He arose, and this because of our union with Him. Hence the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are fundamental articles of the Christian religion, and give us golden hope of a joyful resurrection; for "Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of them that sleep," and therefore, "they who are fallen asleep in Him are not perished" (1 Corinthians 15:18-20). His resurrection is a fall confirmation of all that is said in the gospel by Him who hath brought life and immortality to light.

(D. Mayo.)

I. COLLECT THE INFORMATION WHICH THE PASSAGE OFFERS OF THE STATE OF THE DEPARTED.

1. As to the body. "Sin entered into the world and death by sin." But what was originally intended for a punishment is transformed into a blessing. Death is now, through the mercy of God, only the unrobing of a Christian before he retires to rest, and the short repose he takes while the Redeemer is making ready the eternal mansions to receive him. The figure of our text involves the idea of —(1) Repose. The body in its present state of deterioration is incapable of enduring many years of active existence. It grows weary of its necessary exertions, and requires its exhaustion to be repaired by rest. To die is to terminate the conflict, finish the race, reach the goal, and then, as a successful competitor, having gained the prize, to retire from the scene of competition.(2) Security. It is to sleep in Jesus. His eye watches their bed, and His arm protects it. The bodies of the saints belong to Christ not less than their souls by redemption (John 6:39). Death consequently is not annihilation,(3) Hope. Christ is rosen and become the first fruits of them that sleep. The sleep of death implies waking on the morning of the resurrection.

2. As to the soul. Reason asks many questions which revelation does not answer; but all that it is necessary or beneficial to know the Bible declares. "Sleep" does not apply to the soul, for the soul never sleeps, and there is not a text which lends a sanction to the doctrine that the soul shares the death of the body. When "the body returns into the dust, the spirit returns to God who gave it." Death is rather the arousing of the soul from her drowsiness into heavenly vitality. Dives and Lazarus were both conscious immediately after death; and Paul desired death because it was to be with Christ. In what part of the universe the departed dwell we know not; but it is sufficient to know that they are with Christ.

3. As to the ultimate glory awaiting both. "If we believe," etc. The period of Christ's coming is that to which all Scripture points, all Providence tends, and all time conducts. The saints will be brought to judgment, but, unlike the wicked —

(1)For acceptance and reward.

(2)To be the crown of the minister's rejoicing.

(3)To swell and share the triumph of the Redeemer.

II. ENFORCE THE TOPICS OF INSTRUCTION AND COMFORT THE TEXT SUGGESTS.

1. It ascertains what is the character in which we must die to be made partakers of this glory. Those only who fall asleep in Jesus, which implies being in Him before they fall asleep. Scripture carefully distinguishes between those who "die in the Lord" and the common dead.

2. It exhibits the death and resurrection of Christ as of infinite importance. All the hopes we entertain of a joyful resurrection are built upon them.

3. It suggests the only adequate source of consolation under bereavements (ver. 18).

(E. Steane, D. D.)

OF WHOM DOES THE APOSTLE HERE SPEAK? Of them that "sleep in Jesus."

1. To term "death sleep" was usual with the inspired writers (Psalm 76:5; Daniel 12:2; 1 Corinthians 11:30; 1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 5:10). The figure is appropriate, for in sleep the senses are locked up, the members are motionless, we rest on our beds (Isaiah 57:2) from toil and pain, and awake (Daniel 12:2); so in death.

2. It is not, however, of all who die that the apostle speaks (Revelation 14:13). Those who die in the Lord are first "in Him," not by being baptized and professing Christianity, not by merely attending ordinances, not by moral blamelessness, not by orthodox opinions, but by faith in Christ. This faith secures freedom from condemnation (Romans 8:1); a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15); obedience (John 14:21), in which obedience we must persevere if we would sleep in Jesus.

II. WHAT ARE THE THINGS CONCERNING SUCH OF WHICH WE OUGHT NOT TO BE IGNORANT?

1. That being in Him, they belong to Him, and are precious in His sight. He is their God; their Shepherd who knows, acknowledges, and takes care of them (John 10:14, 15, 27-29): they are His disciples, His family, His spouse, His members. Hence not only in life but in death they are precious to Him (Psalm 116:15). For this, like all other things, is under the direction of His providence, and shall promote their good.

2. That as He is not the God, the Shepherd, etc., of the dead, but of the living, they shall not die, but only sleep, and shall certainly awake (Daniel 12:2; Isaiah 26:19; John 5:25-29; Romans 8:10), and be most gloriously changed (Philippians 3:21). Of all this Christ's resurrection is an assurance. This sleep is not insensibility: for the soul does not sleep even here, much less when disunited from the body.

3. That death is gain, having many advantages over life — freedom from labour, care, temptation, sin, sickness, death, and presence with Christ and saints and angels.

4. That we shall meet our departed friends again, and know them, and be with them and the Lord forever (vers. 14-18).

III. THE END FOR WHICH WE OUGHT NOT TO BE IGNORANT OF THESE THINGS.

1. That we sorrow not as those who have no hope. Sorrow we may and must. Grace was not meant to destroy but to regulate our affections. Nay, not to mourn would be sinful and lamentable (Isaiah 57:1; Jeremiah 22:18, 19). But we must not sorrow as heathen or unbelievers.

2. Moreover, sorrow is needless —(1) On their account, for theirs is not loss, except of things which it is desirable to lose, but gain.(2) On our own account, for the loss is but momentary (Hebrews 11:10).

(J. Benson.)

I. IT HAS PLEASED GOD TO SUBJECT THE RIGHTEOUS AS WELL AS THE WICKED TO THE DOMINION OF DEATH. In their death we see —

1. The offensive character of sin in the sight of God.

2. The power and sufficiency of Divine grace.

3. Instruction for the righteous in the certainty of their death. They are admonished —

(1)To be diligent in doing good.

(2)To be patient in suffering.

(3)To improve their sacred privileges.

II. SORROW FOR THE DEATH OF THE RIGHTEOUS IS NOT INCONSISTENT WITH PIETY. It is allowable —

1. As an expression of nature and friendship.

2. As a tribute due to excellency of heart.

3. As an acknowledgment of the loss sustained by their removal —

(1)To society;

(2)to the Church;

(3)to the world.

(W. Naylor.)

Preachers' Monthly.
I. In RELATION TO THE DEAD IN CHRIST (ver. 13).

1. Intelligence concerning this relation important.(1) Because of its bearing upon the resurrection of believers.(2) Because ignorance on this subject cast the Thessalonians into deep sorrow in respect to their departed friends.

2. Intelligence concerning this relation an all-sufficient consolation (ver. 14).(1) Because Christ's resurrection ensures the resurrection of His saints.(2) Because of the inseparable relation between Christ and all His followers in His glory (ver. 14; Colossians 3:4).

II. IN RELATION TO THE LIVING SAINTS (vers. 15, 17).

1. The living saints will be glorified, together with the resurrected ones (ver. 17; 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52).

2. The change of the living saints into their glorified state shall not precede the resurrection of the dead in Christ (ver. 15).

III. IN ITS ACCOMPANIMENTS (ver. 16; Acts 1:11).

1. Christ will come in person.

2. Christ will come in person and in great glory (Matthew 24:30; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-16).

IV. IN THE ENCOURAGEMENT IT SHOULD AFFORD BELIEVERS (ver. 18).

1. In the case of the Thessalonians this was peculiarly necessary.

2. Is not this exhortation now timely?

V. PRACTICAL LESSONS.

1. The importance and glory of the coming of the Lord demand more earnest study than is now generally given (Colossians 3:4).

2. Christians should so live that they may be ready at any time to enter, into the presence of the Lord.

(Preachers' Monthly.)

Christian Age.
I. THE COMING OF THE LORD (vers. 13-18). What was that coming; when it would take place; the attending circumstances; why it was so earnestly looked for; and the comfort they found in it.

II. HOW WE SHOULD LIVE IN VIEW OF THIS COMING (vers. 1-8). Watch; be sober; be wakeful; be armed; be ready; be hopeful.

(Christian Age.)

Concerning them which are asleep
I. THE TRANSFORMATION OF DEATH.

1. From all the ancient heathen, and even, in part, from the Jewish world, there was a loud wailing of the bodies of the departed as over an utter ruin of life. Christianity teaches us that the dead are only asleep, and therefore in Christian grief there is no excess or despair. There is in this a whole revolution of the faith and hope of the world. The ideas of destruction, loss, unconsciousness, King of Terrors, cruel mower, prison keeper are gone. There is an evening of life as well as a morning. "Man goeth forth unto his labour until the evening," "and so He giveth His beloved sleep."

2. There has been much perplexity through forgetfulness of what sleep is. Men do not cease to live in sleep. It is only the suspension of direct relations with the sensible; a temporary change from which much advantage is derived. Death is sleep —(1) as it is a cessation of conditions and escape from circumstances which waste power and wear and tire faculty. "The wicked cease from troubling," etc. "They rest from their labours."(2) As there is in it the gain of fresh power for future use. So far from suspending spiritual power, the change in our dependence upon the sensible and material increases and intensifies it. This is proved from dreams; and so is it in the thing signified.(3) As its separations are to be followed by the resumption of holy fellowship — as its evening withdrawal is to be followed by a morning return.

II. CONSEQUENT ON THIS TRANSFORMATION THERE IS A CHANGE IN THE FEELING OF THE BELIEVER REGARDING DEATH. "We sorrow not," etc. The wail of the heathen was a wail of despair; and the wail of the Hebrew saints, under the light of their imperfect economy, was often heart breaking. And there is much bitter grief in Christian homes arising partly from yielding to the susceptibilities, and partly from ignorance. But it is benumbing to faith, and dishonouring to the Lord of Life. But there is a natural human emotion tempered and directed by the light and grace of the Gospel. Sorrow is nature's tribute to her own weakness and dependence. When Jesus wept He sanctified our griefs. Christianity puts no undue strain on our nature. We may weep for our selves, but it is not to be absorbing, and is not to be wasted upon those who are present with the Lord.

III. THE GLAD ANTICIPATIONS WHICH CHRISTIANS ARE ENCOURAGED TO CHERISH. Mark —

1. Its glorious and stable foundation of fact. What Jesus did and suffered is the ground of a new future for humanity. Despair died when He died, and hope was born when He rose. "Because I live ye shall live also."

2. Complete resurrection glory and escape from helps power. It is impossible to fully explore the abundance of this revelation given by "the Word of the Lord." It was given to meet the actual need of those who mourned that through death their friends would be excluded from the triumph of Christ's second coming. The living will not take precedence, for the dead in Christ shall rise first.

3. The reunion of the dead and living with each other and the Lord (ver. 17).Conclusion;

1. What an attraction the glad and certain future should have for Christian hearts.

2. How glad and calm should our hearts be in anticipation of that future.

(W. H. Davison.)

One great miracle in the new creation of God is that death is changed to sleep; and therefore in the New Testament we do not read of the "death" of the saints (see John 11:11; Matthew 27:52; 1 Corinthians 15:51; Acts 7:60; Acts 13:36). Christians were wont to call their burial grounds cemeteries, or sleeping places, where they laid up their beloved ones to sleep on and take their rest.

1. We know that they shall wake up again. What sleep is to waking, death is to the resurrection — a prelude, a transitory state, ushering in a mightier power of life.

2. They whom men call dead do really live unto God. They were dead while they lived this dying life on earth, and dead when they were in the last avenues of death. But after they had once died death had no more dominion: they escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowler; the snare was broken and they were delivered. Once dead, once dissolved, the unclothed spirit is beyond the power of decay. There is no weakness, nor weariness, nor wasting away, nor wandering of the burdened spirit; it is disenthralled, and lives its own life, unmingled and buoyant.

3. Those whom the world calls dead are sleeping, because they are taking their rest (Revelation 14:13). Not as the heretics of old vainly and coldly dreamed, as if they slept without thought or stir of consciousness from the hour of death to the morning of the resurrection. Their rest is not the rest of a stone, cold and lifeless; but of wearied humanity. They rest from their labours; they have no more persecution, nor stoning, nor scourging, nor crucifying; no more martyrdoms by fire, or the wheel, or barbed shafts; they have no more false witness nor cutting tongues; no more bitterness of heart, nor iron entering into the soul; no more burdens of wrong, nor amazement, nor perplexity. They rest, too, from the weight of "the body of our humiliation" — from its sufferings and pains. They rest also from their warfare against sin and Satan. Above all, they rest from the buffetings of evil in themselves. The sin that dwelt in them died when through death they began to live. The unimpeded soul puts forth its newborn life as a tree in a kindly soil invited by a gentle sky: all that checked it is passed away, all that draws it into ripeness bathes it with fostering power. The Refiner shall perfect His work upon them, cleansing them sevenfold, even as gold seven times tried; and all the taint and bias of their spiritual being shall be detached and corrected. Theirs is a bliss only less perfect than the glory of His kingdom when the new creation shall be accomplished.Lessons:

1. We ought to mourn rather for the living than for the dead, for they have to die, and death is terrible.

2. It is life, rather than death, that we ought to fear. For life and all that it contains — thought, and speech, and deed, and will — is a deeper and more awful mystery. In life is the warfare of good and ill, the hour and power of darkness, the lures and assaults of the wicked one. Here is no rest, shelter, safety. Wherefore let us fear life, and we shall not be afraid to die. For in the new creation of God death walks harmless.

(Archdeacon Manning.)

It seems a strange opinion, entertained by some, that the souls of the faithful during the interval between death and the resurrection are in a profound sleep and devoid of all power of perception. This opinion appears to be grounded upon such expressions as "to fall asleep in Jesus," a phrase which probably represents nothing more than the well-known resemblance between the appearances of death and of its cousin sleep — the eyelids closed in darkness, the face in calm repose, the voice hushed in silence. How could St. Paul (Philippians 1:23) think it better for him — yea, far better — to depart from the body than to remain in it, if on his departure from the body he should sink into the lethargy of an unconscious sleep? Is it not better to have the use of our reasoning faculty than to he deprived of it? Is it not better to praise God in the land of the living than to be in a state in which we can have no knowledge of God at all, nor any capacity of praising Him? Besides, the apostle does not express a desire to die, merely that he may be at rest and freed from persecutions and the anxieties of his apostolic office, but chiefly or solely with this object — that he may be with Christ. Now, surely we are more with Christ while we abide in the flesh than when we depart from it, if, when we have departed this life, we have no perception of Christ at all. In 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 St. Paul speaks of visions and revelations of the Lord, which he had seen and heard in the third heaven and in Paradise; whether he was then in the body or out of the body, he professes ignorance: he could not tell: God knew. But the inference is obvious, that of the two alternatives he thought one quite as likely as the other; that neither of them was impossible or unreasonable, and therefore that the soul when it is out of the body is as capable of seeing and of hearing as when it is in the body. From what the same apostle says in 2 Corinthians 5:8, we may argue that as absence implies separation, so presence implies conjunction. But surely there is no need of this argument; the very phrase "to be present with the Lord" intimates a consciousness of that presence. In addition, is there not much weight in the consideration that in the state of separation from the body our souls have the same condition that the soul of Christ then had, because He took upon Him all our nature; and it is certain that His soul, during its separation, neither slumbered nor slept, but visited the souls of the fathers and preached the gospel to the prisoners of hope (1 Peter 3:18-20). These several considerations all tend to one conclusion — that the death of the body is by no means the sleep of the soul. How, indeed, the spirits of departed saints are employed is not recorded. We are told that they "rest from their labours"; but the rest here specified means a refreshment, a delightful repose from earthly trials and troubles; it does not exclude a blissful activity in a new and heavenly sphere. St. Paul speaks of visions and revelations and angelic utterances transcending all human utterance. That departed saints in their new home are in the saving Presence seems certain; that they are therefore blessed is equally certain. But in what their blessedness consists is known to God and it is known to themselves.

(Canon T. S. Evans, D. D.)

In Scripture, the book of life, the death of the saints is called a "sleep." It is observable how the apostle varies the expression — Jesus died, and the saints sleep in Him; He sustained death with all its terrors, that it might be a calm sleep to His people. They enjoy so perfect a rest in the beds of dust as even in the softest down.

(W. Bates, D. D.)

I. FOR WHOM DEATH IS SO MITIGATED AND SOFTENED AS TO BE REPRESENTED AS A STATE OF SLEEP? Those who believe in and are thus spiritually united to Christ. To these death is softened because Christ has died, and thus deprived death of its sting by being pierced with it, and because Christ has risen, robbing death of its terrors by spoiling its principalities and powers. There is, therefore, nothing in it now to fear.

II. WHAT ILLUSTRATION DOES THIS REPRESENTATION AFFORD AS TO THE CONDITION OF THE DEPARTED? It is not designed to represent it as a state of unconsciousness, as some affirm. Apart from philosophical reflections this is refuted by the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, by the promise of Christ to the dying thief, and by Paul's confidence in and desire for the "gain" of dying and being with Christ. The figure illustrates —

1. The repose of the saints. We know that "Tired nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep," is a season of quiet repose, when faculties which have been wearied and worn by exertion are at ease and at rest. Death to the believer is as the beginning of repose after the labour of the day (John 11:9-11).(1) Life is a day of toil. We walk, run, plant, sow, reap, watch, wrestle, fight, etc. Ours is a hard, toilsome course. The task of resisting indwelling sin, of enduring affliction, bearing the obloquy of the ungodly, contending against the powers of darkness, of acquiring the attainment of Christian character, and of extending Christ's kingdom — these constitute a work which we are to do with all our might.(2) When we have finished, as hirelings, our day, the body rests in the grave, the soul in the paradise of God. Are we labourers? Then we leave the field and lay down our tools. Are we travellers? Then we terminate our long and wearisome journey and cross the threshold of our Father's mansion. Are we soldiers? Then we take off our armour. Are we mariners? Then we heave over the last ocean billow and enter into the desired haven. The sleep of the labouring man is sweet, and how sweet is the slumber of those who rest in Jesus!

2. Their security. The season of slumber is assumed to be the season of security; and no man in ordinary cases would commit himself to the one unless he could calculate on the other. The Christian would not be at rest if he were not secure.(1) When the time has come for his spirit to enter into immortality it is safe forever. They are with Christ, and you might as well talk about His insecurity as theirs.(2) The body also is safe, for it also has been redeemed. The dust of every Christian is sacred; it may be scattered, but Christ watches it and protects it.

3. Their prospect of restoration. When men lie down to sleep it is with the prospect of waking again in recruited vigour. So the resurrection of the saints will —

(1)Invest their bodies with ineffable dignity and splendour.

(2)Communicate higher and more ecstatic pleasures to the soul.

III. WHAT INFLUENCE SHOULD THESE REPRESENTATIONS PRODUCE ON THE LIVING?

1. We ought not to indulge excessive grief on account of those Christian friends whom it has been, or whom it may yet be, our lot to lose.

2. It becomes us as Christians not to dread the arrival of death for ourselves. Do you tremble when, at the hour of midnight, you go to the couch of repose?

3. It should impress upon us the propriety of desiring the same consolations for ourselves.

(J. Parsons.)

The death of the Christian may be so called because of —

I. ITS PEACEFUL NATURE.

1. He lies down to die calmly as the tired labourer to take his nightly rest: not like the man who dreads the hour of rest because of the recollection of sleepless nights.

2. The approach of death is often silent and soft as the approach of sleep. As the weary man sinks imperceptibly into a state of slumber, so the Christian sometimes without a struggle passes into God's presence. It is like the sinking of day into night, or more properly the rising of the night into day.

II. ITS ATTACTIVENESS. How the labourer, toiling beneath a burning sun, will sometimes long for the shades of evening when he may stretch his tired limbs! So does the Christian, only with an intenser longing, look for his sleep. Not that earth is without its attractions; but it is the place of his exile, strife, pilgrimage. Ponder is his home radiant with immortal glory, and thronged with bright multitudes, and death is attractive because it is the vestibule to that.

III. IT IS TO BE FOLLOWED BY AN AWAKENING. The heathen might have no hope of a resurrection. Their poets might bewail the fleetingness of life and the unknown condition of the dead. Even the Jew might see but dimly the shadow of the resurrection. But to the Christian it is the object of sure and certain hope. We are apt to speak of the dead as "lost"; but that they cannot be, as they are under Christ's care. They sleep only till He bids them wake.

IV. ITS REPOSE. It is that state of "rest which remaineth for the people of God." Life's fitful fever is over: they sleep well. Death is not a state of unconsciousness; the very figure of sleep forbids that. They rest from —

1. Their labours: all that makes work laborious will then be unknown. Work they will, but in congenial employment and with unweariable faculties.

2. From persecution, false witness, wrong, disappointment, etc.

3. From pain, mental and physical.

4. From warfare against sin. Satan and the world can tempt no more.

5. From the buffetings of evil in themselves.

V. ITS REFRESHMENT. The difference between the labourer who rises in the morning refreshed by the night's repose but faintly shadows forth the difference between the wearied wasted body which sinks into the grave and the renovated body, blooming with immortal youth, exempt from infirmities, endowed with unknown strength which shall come forth on the morning of the resurrection. Conclusion: The subject should lead us —

1. To moderate our grief over the loss of those friends who sleep in Jesus. When they so sleep we have no mourning as regards them.

2. To contemplate death with much less fear and aversion.

3. To devote ourselves with increased earnestness to our present labour.

4. But there are some to whom death is a very different kind of sleep. The poet says, "To die, to sleep. To sleep! perchance to dream! Ay, there's the rub." The sleep of the ungodly is disturbed by fearful dreams — nay, realities, from which there is no escape but by being "in Christ" now.

(W. Landells, D. D.)

Unbelief in immortality existed generally before the Christian era. About that time implicit belief in the after life became a conviction with multitudes. We ask any unbeliever to account for that. What produced this result? There is no effect without a cause. Was there not some grand event that gave the truth that we are immortal such vital power that even the lowly, the poor, the humblest — not the learned, not the philosophers only — became thoroughly convinced of it? Walk through the Roman catacombs; mark the difference there is between the epitaphs of the Epicureans on the one side, and the Christians on the other. One of the Roman tombs has this inscription, "While I lived, I lived well — my play is now ended, soon yours will be; — farewell, and applaud me." Another says, "Baths, wine, and love ruin the constitution, but they make life what it is — farewell." Then comes the tender stroke of a mother's grief — "O relentless fortune, that delights in cruel death, why is Maximus so early snatched from me?" Then turn and see the epitaphs of the early Christians — "Zoticus laid here to sleep." "The sleeping place in Christ of Elipis." "Yaleria sleeps in peace." Is not that an echo of those wonderful words that were uttered at the tomb of Lazarus: "He is not dead, but sleepeth," or, when He said of the ruler's daughter, "The maid is not dead, but sleepeth?" Is not that an echo of that wonderful teaching of Christ that death is sleep — that the cemetery is what the word literally means, "a sleeping place"? What can have brought about such a change in the world? Intuition failed utterly to do more than faintly discern that such a thing as immortality might be. Philosophical reasoning produced nothing but Epicurean carelessness and Stoical contempt for death. But here we see a poor mother lay down her daughter, slain it may be by the arrows of persecution, but she says, "She sleeps in Jesus." It is sleep that knows an awaking, a short night that breaks into a glorious morning. Immortality is not now a dubious opinion, it is positive conviction. Whence comes it? Only from Christ. His life, His death, and especially His resurrection unfold it with marvellous clearness.

I. THOSE WHO SLEEP IN JESUS DIE CONFINING IN HIS PROTECTION. We all know how pleasantly one goes to sleep when he enjoys the friendship, and can confide in the protection of those about him. In such circumstances the mind is unbent, the spirit soothed and tranquillized, and we give ourselves up to rest with peculiar confidence and satisfaction. We know that however profoundly we may slumber, however completely we may be wrapped in insensibility, our safety will be secured. As a familiar illustration, place a child in the arms of a stranger, and however inclined to sleep it may have been before, it becomes instantly aroused; discomposed and terrified, it cannot trust itself to sleep in such a situation. But transfer it to the arms of its mother; let it lay its head on the familiar bosom, and feel itself under the reassuring smile of maternal tenderness, and ere long its fears subside, and its eyes calmly close in the consciousness of safety. We are all children thus when we come to die. Every child of God has a long sleep to take. When the short wintry day of life is over, the night of death closes in and darkens around us. But the Christian knows with whom he is to take his rest: he falls "asleep in Jesus." He is not in the hands of strangers, whose dubious character and unknown intentions might fill him with alarm, but in the sweet custody of a fast and faithful friend. He has long trusted his soul to Jesus, and now, in the hour of death, he is not afraid to trust his body to Him. He may not depart singing a song of victory; but as he has lived by faith, and not by sense, so now he dies in faith.

II. THOSE WHO SLEEP IN JESUS ENTER INTO A STATE OF PERFECT REPOSE. There is something revolting to nature in the associations of "the house appointed for all living"; but the grave wears no aspect of gloom or horror to the believer in Christ Jesus. To him it is simply the tabernacle for a night of that "flesh" in which, "at the latter day," he shall "see God"; a tabernacle, moreover, endeared and hallowed by the fact that his Redeemer occupied it before him:. "There laid they Jesus"; and though the sepulchre did not permanently retain Him, He was yet long enough its tenant to strip it of every gloomy association — to season it, if we may so speak, and render it a sweet and grateful resting place for the dust of his sleeping saints. When the Christian is laid in the grave he is consigned to consecrated ground; he occupies "the place where the Lord lay"; and the marshalled hosts of heaven are the guardians of his rest. But where is his soul while his body thus rests in sacred and dignified repose? "Absent from the body," it is "present with the Lord."

III. THOSE WHO SLEEP IN JESUS REST IN HOPE OF A JOYFUL RESURRECTION. When a man of sound body and mind retires to rest with a good conscience, and with his heart full of a great event which on the morrow is to crown him with honour and happiness, how light and airy his slumbers are! how vivid and lifelike the pictures which his buoyant fancy paints for him of the joys which await his waking! Thus it is, so far as the illustration is apt and adequate, with the man who "sleeps in Jesus." He commits himself to the grave full of glorious anticipations; and exulting in the assurance, that as certainly as morning succeeds night in the natural world, so the morning of resurrection shall succeed the night of the grave; and then "this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal immortality." It is this glorious prospect, set before the saint in the act of dying, and contemplated by his living spirit after death, that lights up the darkness of the narrow house, and reconciles immortal man to his present mortal destiny. He fixes his eye upon this, till his soul realizes it in all its interest and grandeur, and with his heart swelling with triumph and overflowing with joy, he exclaims — "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God!"

(J. Young, D. D.)

"Slept" in the New Testament is a word sacred to the dying of the righteous; hence that sweet inscription found upon hundreds of slabs in the Christian catacombs of Rome, "Dormit," he sleeps; while on Pagan monuments of the same age, spared as if on purpose to furnish a contrast, we read again and again the rebellious and plaintive inscription, "Abreptas," snatched away. In the one case a violent disruption of the tenderest ties, in the other a slumber falling as softly as the evening dew.

(R. D. Hitchcock, D. D.)

When a person is asleep what is it that rests? It is simply the muscles and the nerves and the wearied limbs; the heart goes on beating, the lungs respiring and expiring; and what is remarkable in sleep, the soul never sleeps at all. It seems that when one is asleep, the soul often travels to far distant lands, or sails upon the bosom of the deep, amid the blue hills and green glens of other parts of the land; exploring, thinking, searching, studying. The soul is never literally dead (though it may sometimes forget) to every thought and object, to all that enters by the avenues of the senses. If sleep be the metaphor of death, it does not prove that the soul is insensible, but only that the body, the outward garment only, having been worn and wasted in the wear and toil of this present life, is folded up and laid aside in that wardrobe — the grave — a grave as truly in the keeping of the Son of God as are the angels of the skies and the cherubim in glory.

(J. Cumming, D. D.)

Our first thoughts have to do with the difference between the living and the dead.

1. In being. "There is a natural body and a spiritual body." We shall never be without a vehicle, a covering. Paul speaks about being "clothed upon."

2. In place. The place of the departed may not be far from us, if, as some have held, they are our guardian angels. The angel told John that he was his "fellow servant." As to the size of the place, what circumscribed, narrow, cramped notions we have! Don't speak of it as if it were not larger than Rutland, and of our meeting with each other there as if we were neighbours in the same street. The region is measureless, and the inhabitants "no man can number."

3. Those who have gone thither were once among the living here.

I. HOW DESCRIBED. "Them which are asleep." This means more than is usually supposed. It means much about this life.

1. Not conscious of sin and sorrow, but wholly freed from them — "asleep." There can be no sleep where there is great pain: "if he sleep he shall do well." What consolation this for the bereaved! The last sigh breathed, groan uttered, pang felt.

2. Watched and protected by the heavenly Father as children "asleep." How easily and comfortably children go to sleep knowing that they will be cared for! So with them that "sleep in Jesus.

3. Without recurrence of pain and anxiety. Continuous sleep, undisturbed by roar of battle or tremor of earthquake.

4. But we cannot say of the lost that they are asleep. There is no peace to the wicked."

II. WHAT OUR KNOWLEDGE IS ABOUT THEM. "Concerning."

1. In engagements. Not continual feasting and hymn singing. Variety of work. Tastes and capabilities find suitable spheres here: and surely in the other world we shall be ourselves, and every want will be met.

2. In powers. Present powers improved, memory more accurate, judgment more sound, perception more vivid. And from altered conditions of being, new powers will be developed.

3. In intercourse. "Sit down with Abraham"; "know as we are known." Similarity of view, thought answering to thought, feeling to feeling. Many here never seem to meet with their likes. "Then face to face." The mentally great drawn together, and others grouping according to their kind.

(J. S. Withington.)

Each hopes to find that which for him is the best thing, eternized in the future. The Indian looks for a boundless war path, with victories ever new over animals and men. The Mohammedan desires, as a good beyond all which earth can offer, the utmost reach of sensual pleasure; where wines shall be quaffed from diamond cups, and the beauty of houris be enjoyed without stint; where the soul shall be dissolved, yet forever rejuvenated, in the utmost attainable physical luxury. The philosopher craves a vision of truth. And the artist looks for terraces of beauty and majestical structures; where the pillars shall be worlds, and the pediments milky ways; where colours more brilliant, lines more light, and proportions more perfect than here have been imagined, shall forever surround and instruct the fine spirit. Each people, and each person, according to the different attainments of each, and their several characteristics, delights to anticipate the possession in the future of that special good which to each is supreme. And in nothing is the progress of refinement and virtue more evidently shown than in the higher ideas which are entertained, in successive epochs and by different nations, of what may be thus aspired to and expected. Men differ in their estimate of the goods of the present life. But when they transfer that estimate to the future, as it becomes colossal and transcendent, so the differences between them, which are indicated and gauged by it, become most conspicuous.

(Dr. Storrs.)

That ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope
We need hope to cheer us all along in life, and to sustain us at the end of it. A sustaining hope, in view of the inevitable, must look forward to a life, beyond the present, of permanent good and joy. It must be founded on sufficient reasons: such as

(a)the promise of God, and

(b)the earnest of the fulfilment of that promise in our experience.They can have no such hope who have —

I. NO GOD, whether they are atheists in belief, or are living atheistic lives in mere carelessness.

II. NO BIBLE; who do not practically receive and rest on a revelation.

III. NO SAVIOUR; do not rest on Christ.

IV. NO PREPARATION FOR THE FUTURE. Nothing but the gospel offers such a hope. Have you laid hold on this hope? Are you giving diligence to the full assurance of it?

(C. W. Camp.)

The mother of poor Tonda led me to the house where the body was laid. The narrow space of the room was crowded; about two hundred women were sitting and standing around, singing mourning songs to doleful and monotonous airs. As I stood looking, filled with solemn thoughts, the mother of Tonda approached. She threw herself at the foot of her dead son, and begged him to speak to her once more. And then, when the corpse did not answer, she uttered a shriek, so long, so piercing, such a wail of love and grief, that tears came into my eyes. Poor African mother! she was literally as one sorrowing without hope, for these poor people count on nothing beyond the present life.

(Du Chaillu.)

The dreary and cheerless aspect which the state of the dead presented to Homer's mind, even in the case of Achilles, his prime hero, and Agamemnon, king of men, and Ajax, whose peculiarly unhappy fate and brilliant services on earth would have entitled him to consolation, if there had been any to be found, hardly needs a comment. The first of these bitterly contrasts his shadowy primacy with the lot of the meanest hireling on earth. The dead have no prospect; they only look back to the past, or seek to snatch a glimpse of the present. They dwell on the triumphs, or on the wrongs and sufferings, of this mortal life, and sympathize, after a forlorn and bereaved fashion, with those whom they have left behind. The picture is one of such blank desolation as came spontaneously to the poet's mind, on whom neither faith nor philosophy had yet dawned, but who yet could not so far renounce man's birthright of immortality as to conceive of the utter extinction of personality in what had once been a human soul. The dead of Homer have pride, they cherish grudges and curiosity, affection and resentment, but they have, in a later poet's phrase, "left hope behind." The casual exceptions of the few favoured heroes who were by birth or marriage connected with Zeus himself, only prove more pointedly the dismal universality of the rule by which the rest are bound.

(H. Hayman, D. D.)

Mr. Robert Owen, the sceptic, once visited a gentleman who was an earnest Christian. In walking out they came to the gentleman's family grave. Mr. Owen, addressing him, said: "There is one advantage I have over Christians — I am not afraid to die. Most Christians are afraid to die; but if some of my business were settled, I should be perfectly willing to die at any moment." "Well," said his companion, "you say you have no fear in death; have you any hope in death?" After a solemn pause, he replied, "No!" "Then," replied the gentleman, pointing to an ox standing near, "you are on a level with that brute; he has fed till he is satisfied, and stands in the shade whisking off the flies, and has neither hope nor fear."

Mirabeau, the infidel, who was the hero of the French nation, died as a Frenchman might be expected to die, with a great deal of show and talk about the grandeur of his own genius and the loss to his country, and his last words were, "Crown me with flowers; I am about to sink into the last sleep!" In the same month there died in London one upon whose lips thousands had hung, whose name was a household word in the towns and villages in this country; he had lived till his white hairs were the joy and reverence of all classes of society, and as John Wesley fell asleep in Jesus, among his last words were: —

"I'll praise my Maker while I've breath,

And when my voice is lost in death,

Praise shall employ my nobler powers."Let any one trace the effects of those two lives; mark the progress of revolutionary principles in France, and notice the influence of that great revival of religion, of which John Wesley was the means, in the subsequent history of the English nation, and you will be constrained to say that it was the influence of that revival that maintained the principles of freedom and constitutional government among us, besides extending true religion among the masses of the community.

(Handbook to Scripture Doctrines.)

The old custom of using rosemary at funerals is thus explained by Wheatley, on the Common Prayer: "To express their hopes that their friend is not lost forever, each person in the company usually bears in his hand a sprig of rosemary; a custom which seems to have taken its rise from a practice among the heathens, of a quite different import. For they have no thought of a future resurrection, but believing that the bodies of those that were dead would forever lie in the grave, made use of cypress at their funerals, which is a tree that being once cut never revives, but dies away. But Christians, on the other hand, having better hopes, and knowing that this very body of their friend, which they are now going solemnly to commit to the grave, shall one day rise again, and be reunited to his soul, instead of cypress, distribute rosemary to the company, which being always green, and flourishing the more for being crops (and of which a sprig only being set in the ground, will sprout up immediately and branch into a tree), is more proper to express their confidence and trust."

Helen Founleson, one of six Scottish martyrs executed at Perth in 1543, being denied the privilege of dying with her husband, kissed him at the foot of the gallows on which he was to suffer, and took leave of him with these words, "Husband, rejoice, for we have lived together many joyful days, but this day, in which we must die, ought to be the most joyful to us both, because we must have joy forever. Therefore I will not bid you good night, for we shall suddenly meet with joy in the kingdom of heaven."

(J. F. B. Tinling, B. A.)

The Rev. J. Newton once said to a gentleman who had lately lost his daughter, "Sir, if you were going to the East Indies I suppose you would like to send a remittance before you. This little girl is just like a remittance sent to heaven before you yourself. I suppose a merchant in charge is never heard expressing himself thus: 'Oh, my dear ship, I am sorry she has got into port so soon! I am sorry she has escaped the storms that are coming!' Neither should we sorrow for children dying."

(Whitecross.)

One of the lessons which our Master enforced was that there should be a marked contrast between His disciples and worldly men. If a Christian differs in no important respect from a man without Christian faith, wherein is he better? Christians were not to be saved from the casualties of men, but there was expected to be in them, under the influence of God's Spirit, something that should enable them to endure the various experiences of life in a way that common men could not. They were to regard life and death with a marked difference from the world. It was in this spirit that Paul wrote these words. There is to be a difference between death in the Christian and death in the unchristian household. If you bow your head or are overborne as others, how are you any better? If in anything one might be left to his own way we should suppose it would be in the sorrows of bereavement. But no: even here we are to be Christians.

I. IT IS NO PART OF CHRISTIAN TEACHING THAT MEN SHOULD NOT SORROW; BUT IT IS A PART OF CHRISTIAN TEACHING THAT MEN SHOULD NOT SORROW AS OTHERS WHO HAVE NO HOPE. Christ suffered and shed tears; but both stood in the reflected light of the other world. The apostles suffered, but they gloried in the fact that if they suffered they would reign. Suffering is good if it arouses in men their divine rather than their lower human nature; it is to be such as does not exclude joy and is in the light of joy.

II. NEITHER IS IT THE TEACHING OF CHRIST THAT HE AFFECTIONS AND RELATIONSHIPS OF MEN ARE TRIVIAL AND UNWORTHY OF REGARD. Indeed, we have no guides to go by except these. Who would know the love of God if we did not know the love of man? To say that human affections are nothing, and that to love one another is to love dust, is to destroy the potency and value and use of those very ordinances of the household and friendship by which God means to develop our spiritual nature. Some teach that we are to let all the relationships of life seem so little in comparison with Christ that it will make no difference to us whether they go or stay. I could not respect a religion which made love a mere currency for good in this world alone. The spirit of Christianity sanctifies the love of husband and wife, parent and child, etc.; so that we may be sure if we love right here we shall love forever.

III. LEAST OF ALL DOES CHRIST TEACH THAT PAIN IS UNWORTHY OF MANHOOD AND IS TO BE STRANGLED. Any such violence is to destroy what He elaborately created. The teachings of the Bible, and the example of Christ and of His apostles and saints has inculcated anything but the stoical doctrine. The Christian idea is the great power of victory over suffering, the bush burning but unconsumed.

IV. BUT CHRIST DID REQUIRE THAT WE SHOULD LOOK UPON OUR SORROW AS SURROUNDED BY CONSIDERATIONS DERIVABLE FROM HIS LIFE AND TRUTH.

1. A wanton and ungovernable sorrow is a violation of Christian duty. It acts as if there were no God or Christ. There is a great difference, of course, between the first burst of sorrows and a continuous state. When one has been worn out physically, the gracious God finds no fault with the uncontrollable sweep of anguish. Let the cloud burst, but do not let the waters become a deep flowing river. When the first rush of feeling is over there should be that in the believer which will bring him back to Christ.

2. It is not right sorrow that seeks every aggravation, employing memory as a dragnet to bring back refuse experiences, to create unhappiness, and recount miseries as if proud of them. Blessed are they who can shut the door on the past and not open it again unless to bring some fairer joy and better hope.

3. A true Christian bereavement ought not to narrow the disposition and take men away from active affairs. The same Christian instinct which seeks consecration to the Master's service should find in it an antidote to sorrow. If you suffer you will often find comfort in ministering to some one's affliction. Dr. Spurzheim used to say that no woman was fit to be wife and mother till she had been educated in suffering. I say that no man or woman is fit for the highest offices of friendship and life without it.

4. Every man that suffers bereavement ought to make it manifest that it is grace not nature that heals. It is true that grace employs nature, and that time is a good nurse; but a Christian ought to be ashamed if nothing can cure him but time. How many there are who wait until their griefs are worn out before they get over them. But the man who knows how to apply the promise and realize the presence at the right time, has not only comfort in himself, but is a living and powerful witness to the power of Christ such as refutes infidelity as nothing else can, and wins to the Gospel as no preaching can do.

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. THE SORROW WHICH CHRISTIANS MAY LAWFULLY INDULGE FOR DEPARTED FRIENDS. Feel your griefs, bereaved and desolate believers; you are permitted to sorrow. Away with the sentiments of those who teach that we should evidence an utter insensibility, a stupid unconcern, under affliction! Such is not the command of that God, "who knoweth our frame, and remembereth that we are dust:" nor of that Redeemer who, "in all the afflictions of His people was afflicted." Look at the Scriptures, ye who cruelly chide those tears that relieve the wounded heart, and say if Abraham violated his duty when he came to Kirjarth-arba to mourn for Sarah, and weep there. The lustre of Joseph's character was not obscured when he grieved for his father at the threshing floor of Atad "with great and sore lamentation." Jeremiah was not forgetful of his elevated office when his prophetical harp sounded such mournful tones over the corpse of the good Josiah. We do not feel less attached to the Christians of Asia because they wept sore on parting from Paul, "most of all, because they should see his face no more." We sympathize with the pious widows who stood by the body of Dorcas weeping, and "showing the coats and garments which she had made for the poor while she was yet with them." Those "devout men" were not less devout when "they carried Stephen to the grave, and made great lamentation." There is nothing inconsistent with the high character of that Mary who sat delightedly at the feet of Jesus, and yet poured out big bitter tears at the door of her brother's sepulchre. But why mention inferior cases? Behold Jesus — our law giver and model, authorizing a submissive grief by His emotion and tears at the tomb of Lazarus. An unlamented death is divinely represented as a judgment and a curse (Jeremiah 16:5, 6; 12:18). But we may mourn as Christians over our departed; and where can the soul that is bowed and overwhelmed better flee than to its Father? Where find more comfort than in the bosom of its God? Christianity does not destroy our nature; it only regulates it. In giving us a heart, God has permitted us to exercise its emotions, and sensibility, instead of being a weakness in the Christian, is one of his noblest prerogatives, since it is one great source of his virtues. No; it is not the soul of a Christian which can be callous and insensible while standing by the corpse or the grave of a departed friend.

II. THE SORROW WHICH CHRISTIANS ARE FORBIDDEN TO EXERCISE.

1. When in their hearts, or by their lips, they murmur against the disposals of God, and blame Him for unkindness and cruelty to them. Jacob was faulty in this respect when, on the reported death of his favourite son, he exclaimed, "All these things are against me!" In our severest griefs we must be persuaded that God acts not only with infinite wisdom, but also with infinite goodness; and that not only are His general dispensations merciful, but the particular dispensation which has afflicted us is the fruit of covenant love.

2. When the grief of Christians unfits them for holy duties, and prevents the exercise of religious devotion. What, because one we loved is dead, shall our heart also become dead and lifeless in all spiritual employments, and as cold as is his inanimate body? What, shall our tears be ever flowing over a mouldering form, and our affections never be raised to a living God?

3. When sorrow does not lead Christians to inquire what was the design of God in afflicting them. As Christians, instead of being "swallowed up in over much sorrow," we should study by each bereavement to feel more deeply the vanity of earth, the importance of eternity, and the preciousness of Christ.

4. When Christians follow not their departed friends beyond the grave. They are not in the grave, their bodies only are there; they, as emancipated spirits, are with "the spirits of just men made perfect." Sorrow is criminal, therefore, if it relates only to the outer covering laid aside for a little while.

5. Sorrow is also criminal when Christians have no well-grounded hope of reunion and fellowship with their departed in heaven. Heaven is the glorious rendezvous of all saintly men (John 14:1-3).

(H. Kollock, D. D.)

I. THERE ARE SOME WHO HAVE NO HOPE IN THEIR SORROW.

1. As far as we can, we should see that no relative passed away out of our home and left us in unmixed grief.

2. Are there any who would so treat a relative as to leave him in doubt as to their salvation?

II. THERE ARE THOSE WHO HAVE GOOD HOPE MIXED WITH THEIR GRIEF.

1. Even when there is the strongest hope of salvation, there will be sorrow.

2. Sorrow mixed with hope is full of comfort.

3. This comfort depends upon acquiescence in the will of God disposing us as His own.

4. This hope draws its consolations amidst sorrow mainly because it is "full of immortality."

III. THE GROUNDS OF THIS CONSOLATION AS HERE LAID DOWN. Death is compared to a sleep as indicating —

1. The calm repose of a dying believer.

2. The security of the saints in Christ's hand.

3. The certainty of the resurrection.

4. The beauty and glory of the redeemed Church.

5. Recognition of the saints in heaven.

(J. Walker.)

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