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he Puritans on Death and Dying. Timeless Wisdom for Today’s Christians: An Introduction to the Puritans. Review of Themes. The Puritans wrote in a time where they were persecuted by other Christians for their strong faith It was a time when death was all too familiar

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he puritans on death and dying

he Puritans on Death and Dying

Timeless Wisdom for Today’s Christians:

An Introduction to the Puritans

review of themes
Review of Themes
  • The Puritans wrote in a time where they were persecuted by other Christians for their strong faith
  • It was a time when death was all too familiar
    • Plagues; common infant and child death
  • They stressed heavenly-mindedness over earthly mindedness
  • And a strong view of the Providence of God
a tough balance
A Tough Balance
  • As an introspective group, they gave much thought to saving grace
  • And while shared our notion of free grace
  • Sought to balance it with its evidence.
  • 2 Peter 1:10
    • Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
  • They may have feared lack of salvation too much
  • But we may err by making it too easy
more of the conflict
More of the Conflict
  • Yet 2 Cor. 5:6-8:
    • So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
  • American Puritan Cotton Mather:
    • Die daily; keep each hour as the dying one; see each clock strike as “I am one Hour nearer to my last!”
summary why there is joy in heaven
Summary:Why There Is Joy in Heaven
  • While it will be nice (streets of gold, etc.), the Puritans would not see wealth as a reason
    • After all, everyone there will be wealthy so selfish desire won’t have a place
  • Seeing loved ones will be great, but…
    • This should pale in comparison to seeing our Lord and being with Him
  • Freedom from sin will be wonderful
  • But mostly, heaven is about being with our Lord
    • If that doesn’t excite you, you may be confused
richard baxter 1615 1691
Richard Baxter (1615-1691)
  • Raised with little education, but compensated later
  • Active in politics and tried to stay in Church of England
  • But ultimately prohibited from preaching
  • Actually a 4 point Calvinist, disagreeing with limited atonement
  • Fought illness several times, influencing the themes of his work
  • http://www.digitalpuritan.net/richardbaxter.html
  • Note his “Dying Thoughts” and “Saints’ Everlasting Rest”
baxter s dying thoughts
Baxter’s Dying Thoughts
  • His remarkably open reflections in his illness
  • Can sense the Puritan tension of hope yet anxiety
  • So he reflects on the wonders of what lies ahead
baxter s text
Baxter’s Text
  • For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ which is far better. Philippians 1:23
what is desirable in the present life
What is Desirable in the Present Life
  • There is good in this world
  • There are things on the earth worth minding
    • It is God’s will that we be here for a season
    • Heaven is won or lost here
  • We have work to do here
    • Once saved, we still are to grow in wisdom and in the Spirit, to be more Christlike, overcome temptations, do our duty, confess Christ, and to suffer so that we may reign with Him
  • We care for others, but care to higher things than just bodily welfare
yet we live betwixt here and heaven
Yet We Live Betwixt Here and Heaven
  • “Many serious Christians, through the weakness of their trust in God, live in this perplexed strait, weary of living and afraid of dying, continually pressed between grief and fear. But Paul’s strait was between two joys, which of them he should desire much.”
    • I.e., to live is Christ and to die is gain.
pious spirits to be with christ
Pious Spirits to Be With Christ
  • We shall be with him where he is
  • “Who will let go his present welfare without some hope of better as a reward?”
  • “Nor can be wear our present sufferings with comfort, without the hope of living with Christ.”
  • Assumes all believe in afterlife, though today that is not the case.
  • The hope that keeps us going
    • “I, that have lived in the midst of great and precious mercies, have all my life had something to do to overcome the temptation of wishing that I had never been born, and had never overcome it, but by the belief of a blessed life hereafter.”
god s word full of promises of our future glory at the resurrection
God’s Word Full of Promises of Our Future Glory at the Resurrection
  • Rich man and Lazarus
  • Promise to penitent thief on the cross
  • Jesus tells Saducees that God is God of living, not the dead
  • Translation of Enoch and Elijah
  • Jesus argues that those who kill body can’t kill the soul
  • Jesus commends his spirit into his Father’s hands
  • His promise that where he is, so shall his servant be
  • Stephen seeing heaven opened
  • Paul’s desire to depart
  • SO…we look to God’s Spirit to encourage us to be heavenly-minded
how sure are we
How Sure are We??
  • “Where there is little diligence for the world to come, I must think there is but little belief of it, and that such persons are not aware how much they secretly doubt the truth of it.”
  • Pray, “I believe; Lord, help my unbelief”!
even though some fear remains
Even Though Some Fear Remains
  • Baxter concedes that we will fear the prospect of death, BUT…
  • “Neither my averseness to die, nor my irrational fear of entering upon eternity, can invalidate the reasons of my hope, or prove the unsoundness of my faith, but only the weakness of it.”
  • So, we ask, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why are thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God.”
what is it to depart and be with christ
What is It to Depart and Be with Christ?
  • “Includes presence with him, union to him, and participation in his happiness.”
  • Communion with him is the greatest joy of heaven
    • Though we shall be with all who are in Christ
    • “My old acquaintance with many a holy person gone to Christ, makes my thoughts of heaven the more familiar to me.”
  • But other generations will follow us
    • “Let us thank him that we have had our time.”
  • But we must part with this body and the pleasures of the present life.
  • “I should have nothing to care for, but to please God and be pleased with him, were it not for the care of this bodily life”
  • But we trade for greater pleasures
    • [Cp. Lewis who noted we are content making mud pies because we have no idea of the joy of a day at the beach.]
our response
Our Response?
  • “Willingly submit, then, O my soul. It is not thyself that must be dissolved – this troublesome, vile, and corruptible flesh. Study thy duty, work while it is day, and let God choose thy time, and willingly stand at his disposal.”
why it is far better to be with christ
Why It Is Far Better to Be with Christ
  • God’s voice bids us
    • “His voice that called thee into being, and out of a state of sin and death, and bade thee live unto him – that called thee so often from the grave, forgave thy sins, renewed thy strength, restored thee to the comforts of this house and service, and hath so graciously led thee through this howling wilderness almost to the sight of the promised land.”
    • This is the glory to which we were elected!
why it is far better to be with christ1
Why It Is Far Better to Be with Christ
  • LOVE
  • Why has he then called us not to love this world, other than to set our hearts on things above?
  • If all things work for good, why not then for the best: being with him?
  • Is not dwelling with God better than in this sinful world?
  • We’ll see our sins for how severe they were, rejoice even more in being forgiven, and be free from both sin and temptation
  • “I shall love and will the same that God loves and wills.”
  • We will love God more perfectly
  • JOY
  • If I’ve known happiness in this house of clay, how much more so in a glorified body?
  • “Though I am naturally loath to be absent from the body, let me not be willingly absent from the Lord.”
  • We will then have perfect knowledge, and know God better, and better understand his providence
    • Why I suffered what I did, the deliverances God gave, and where I was mistaken
why it is far better to be with christ2
Why It Is Far Better to Be with Christ
  • JUSTICE will prevail
    • “Then hasten upward, O my soul, with thy most fervent desires, and breathe after that state with thy strongest hopes where thou shalt not be rich and see thy neighbors poor, nor be poor while they are rich; nor be well while they are sick, nor sick while they are well.”
  • And we shall judge the world

“But if there were no more for us to do in heaven, but with perfect knowledge, love, and joy to hold communion with God and all the heavenly society, it is enough to excite, in a considerate soul, the most fervent desires to be at home with God.”

learning to long for heaven
Learning to Long for Heaven
  • God must add to our understanding the illumination of his Spirit
  • Confessing our sins which tie us to earth
  • As sickness makes us long for health, how much our weak faith and sin should make us long for heaven
learning to long for heaven1
Learning to Long for Heaven
  • Our lack of comfort betrays a lack of faith
  • Truly trust God’s promises
    • Review God’s faithfulness to you through life
    • Then will he fail you in death?
  • “Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth. O God, thou hast taught me from my youth, and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also, when I am old and gray-headed, O God forsake me not. Mine eyes are unto thee, O God the Lord: in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute.”
learning to long for heaven2
Learning to Long for Heaven
  • Live in hope
    • “Despair is no small part of hell; God cherishes hope, as he is the love of souls. Satan our enemy cherishes despair.”
    • “Hope anticipates salvation, as fear does evil.”
    • Will he cast away a soul that hopes in him?
learning to long for heaven3
Learning to Long for Heaven
  • Live in love
    • “Be not so unthankful, O my soul, as to doubt whether thy heavenly Father and thy Lord love thee.”
    • “Should I fear a darksome passage into a world of perfect light? Should I fear to go to love itself?”
  • “Have I lived in the experience of the love of God to me, and shall I die doubting of it?”
  • “Draw nearer, O my soul, to the Lord of love, and be not seldom and slight in thy contemplation of his love and loveliness.”
in concusion
In Concusion
  • Test your
    • Faith
    • Hope
    • Love
  • Pray for the enlightenment of the Spirit
  • Be heavenly-minded
  • Become a bit homesick