1 Corinthians 15:55-58
O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?…
A slight acquaintance with man will convince us of the truth of two propositions.
1. That every man is labouring to obtain some object.
2. That according to the intensity of the interest he feels in the object will be his delight in pursuing it. The merchant is looking onward to retirement from business. The same principle actuates the warrior on the battle-field. His object is military glory, a name in the annals of fame, the applause of the brave. You have an object before you — a happy dying hour — rest after the storms of life are past. That is the object before you; and, if you would secure it, you must get rid of the sting of death, you must go on to perfection. We lay down, then, for our discussion, one proposition — that, if a happy and triumphant death-bed be desirable, and if a gloomy and miserable death-bed is to be deprecated, then go on to perfection. We do not mean to dwell upon the nature of Christian perfection, but simply upon the results of perfection upon a dying hour. How solemn is life's last hour! The journey is ended, the immortal candidate is on life's last shore. Memory retouches all the past, and in a few minutes he seems to live the whole of life over again. Here the soul seems to say to the body, "We have been companions long, we have travelled together life's rough road, but now home is in view. the spirit has now launched into eternity; it has commenced its upward flight; the earth, like a little dark spot, grows less and less; heaven opens upon the vision. There is nothing in heaven or earth can give a ray of light to an expiring infidel. How are we to account for these gloomy death-bed scenes among professors of religion? I answer — First, a want of regeneration; many of them have never been born again. Secondly, backsliding. "I was converted," says one; "I could tell the time and place of my conversion." Ah! but you are a backslider now. Thirdly, remaining depravity. Can you say, I have been free from the slightest touch of sin since I believed? I don't think one of you can say so! The remains of sin in the heart are like powder; and only let a spark fall into it, and there will be an explosion. There has been powder enough in our hearts, and this world is full of sparks. One is saying, "I contracted an unsuitable marriage; I was unequally yoked, and all has been wrong ever since." Another is saying, "I formed an improper connection in business." "I," says another, "fell — gave way to bad tempers, angry passions; and, oh! there are a thousand witnesses in my own breast." Conscience bears witness — loud, distinct, and clear; but God has brought the wanderer back — back to the throne of grace. If you harbour and indulge these enemies of God in your heart, what kind of a death will you have? Only get this sting removed, and your nature purified, and then you will have a happy death-bed. Bless God, you may start for glory, and never strike a rock! See! see that vessel leaving the port of Liverpool. She passes the pier-head; she jostles her way through the crowd of shipping that obstructs her passage; she clears every dangerous point; she escapes the sandbanks that lie concealed under the waters; she gets fairly out on the ocean; by and by she gets an overhaul, and all's right. Every inch of canvas is now crowded on, and on she bounds before the breeze. At length the shout, "Land ahead!" is heard; she heaves in sight of port; she reaches it. As the captain steps ashore his friends hail him with sparkling eyes, "Well, captain, what sort of a voyage?" "Oh, capital; 'tis true we have had a few tremendous gales, but we have never split a sail, snapped a rope, or lost a spar; and here we are safe in harbour!" "Well, captain, we congratulate you on your voyage." Glory to God! you may yet get safe out of harbour, clear every rock and pass, full sail, into the port of glory, amidst the congratulations of the heavenly host. "My grace is sufficient for you." If you would have a happy death, go on to perfection. A holy Christian will have a happy death; this is the rule; I know there are exceptions to every rule, and there are exceptions to this.
Parallel VersesKJV: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?