Wednesdays with Watson is a weekly reading taken from my favorite Puritan writer, Thomas Watson. This week’s selection is taken from The Christian’s Charter.
Death to a believer is an inlet to happiness Samson found an honey-comb in the lion’s carcase; so may a child of God suck much sweetness from death. Death is the gate of life; death pulls odour rags, and gives us change of raiment: all the hurt it doth us, is to put us into a better condition. Death is called in scripture a sleep, l Thess. iv. l4. ‘Those that sleep in Jesus;’ as after sleep the spirits are exhilarated and refreshed, so after death, ‘the times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord.’ Death is yours. Death is a believer’s ferryman, to ferry him over to the land of rest; it opens the portal into heaven, (as Tertullian speaks.) The day of a Christian’s death is the birth-day of his heavenly life; it is his ascension day to glory; it is his marriage-day with Jesus Christ. After his funeral begins his marriage: well then might Solomon say, ‘Better is the day of a man’s death, than the day of his birth.’ Death is the spiritual man’s preferment, why then should he fear it? Death, I confess, hath a grim visage to an impenitent sinner; so it is ghastly to look upon; it is a pursuivant to carry him to hell: but to such as are in Christ, ‘death is yours:’ it is a part of the jointure. Death is like the ‘pillar of cloud,’ it hath a dark side to a sinner: but it hath a light side to a believer. Death’s pale face looks ruddy, when the ‘blood of sprinkling’ is upon it; in short, faith gives us a propriety in heaven, death gives us a possession: fear not your privilege, the thoughts of death should be delightful. Jacob, when he saw the waggons, his spirits revived: death is a waggon or chariot to carry us to our Father’s house. What were the martyrs’ flames but a fiery chariot to carry them up to heaven? How should we long for death? This world is but a desert we live in, shall we not be willing to leave it for paradise? We say, ‘it is good to be here;’ we affect an earthly eternity: but grace must curb nature. Think of the privileges of death. The planets have a proper motion and a violent; by their proper motion they are carried from the west to the east; but by a violent motion they are over-ruled by the primum mobile, and are carried from the east to the west. So, though naturally we desire to live here, as we are made up of flesh? Yet grace should be as the primum mobile, or master wheel, that sways our will and carries us in a violent motion, making us long for death. Saint Paul desired to be dissolved, 2 Cor. v. 2. ‘In this we groan earnestly, desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: we would put off the earthly clothes of our body, and put on the bright robe of immortality. ‘We groan,’ it is a metaphor taken from a mother, who being pregnant, groans and tries out for delivery…We pray ‘Thy kingdom come;’ and when God is leading us into his kingdom, shall we be afraid to go? The times we live in should, methinks, make us long for death, we live in dying times, we may hear as it were, God’s passing bell ringing over these nations. As Hierom said in his time, Nepotian is an happy man that doth not see the evils which befal us: they are well that are out of the storm and are gotten already to the haven.