How excellent a change will death make upon the soul’s leaving the body, if it pass into a glorious paradise, and hear a voice from Him that sits upon the throne, “Enter into thy Master’s joy” (Matthew 25:21). Poor Lazarus was lately very miserable at the rich man’s door; now very happy in Abraham’s bosom. Lately covered with sores and ulcers; now clothed with glory. Lately pining with hunger; now all his wants are supplied. His extreme poverty made him the other day despised by the rich man; he could find no entrance at his gates, no admission, no relief. But now he is envied for his happiness. The difference which departed souls will feel of their happy state, from what they lately were, and the sense they have of the evils they are delivered from, will give an account of their happiness. The fresh remembrance of what they were in this world will help their joyful sense of the happy change. And to compare their own condition with that of lost, miserable souls; to think of the hell they deserved, and others suffer; and they themselves did sometimes fear; and compare it with the rest, and peace, and joy, and glory that they now partake of, will add to their felicity. And who can tell how great that is, even before the resurrection?
Heaven and Hell (London: J. Heptinstall, 1700), 10-11.
Let God be the supreme object of our esteem and affections; and whatsoever evils we sustain, will be made light and easy to us. The apostle assures us, “That all things,” even the most afflicting, “work for the good of those that love God.” Rom. 8:28. That heavenly affection is not only the condition that intitles us to that promise, that by special privilege makes all the evils of this world advantageous to the saints; but it is the qualification by which it is accomplished. By love we enjoy God, and love will make us willing to do or suffer what he pleaseth, that we may have fuller communion with him. In God all perfections are in transcendent eminence, they are always the same and always new. He gives all things without any diminution of his treasures: he receives the praises and services of the angels, without any advantage or increase of his felicity. By possessing him, all that is amiable and excellent in the creatures, may be enjoyed in a manner incomparably better than in the creatures themselves. His infinite goodness can supply all our wants, satisfy all our desires, allay all our sorrows, conquer all our fears. One beam of his countenance can “revive the spirit dead in sorrow, and buried in despair.”
The Whole Works of the Rev. William Bates (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1990), 2:188–189.
Oh! if we did but verily believe that the promise of this glory is the word of God, and that God doth truly mean as he speaks, and is fully resolved to make it good; if we did verily believe that there is, indeed, such blessedness prepared for believers as the Scripture mentioneth, surely we should be as impatient of living as we are now fearful of dying, and should think every day a year till our last day should come. [footnote citing Cyprian: “Let him fear to die, who being not born again… Let him fear to die, who is not judged to be Christ’s in his cross and passion…”] …
Is it possible that we can truly believe that death will remove us from misery to such glory, and yet be loath to die? If it were the doubts of our interest which made us afraid, yet a true belief of the certainty and excellency of this rest would make us restless till our interest be cleared.
If a man that is desperately sick today, did believe he should arise sound the next morning; or a man today, in despicable poverty, had assurance that he should tomorrow arise a prince; would they be afraid to go to bed, or rather think it the longest day of their lives, till that desired night and morning came? The truth is, though there is much faith and Christianity in our mouths, yet there is much infidelity and paganism in our hearts, which is the main cause that we are so loath to die.
When the world had revolted against its Maker, and the Creator had been defied by His own creatures, a great gulf was opened between God and man. The first coming of Christ was like a bridge which crossed the chasm, and made a way of access from God to man, and then from man to God. Our Lord’s second advent will make that bridge far broader, until heaven shall come down to earth; and, ultimately, earth shall go up to Heaven.
—Charles H. Spurgeon
Christ’s Incarnation: The Foundation of Christianity, 143.
Little would an unbeliever think what a body God will make of this, that now is corruptible flesh and blood! It shall then be loathsome and troublesome no more. It shall be hungry, or thirsty, or weary, or cold, or pained no more. As the stars of heaven do differ from a clod of earth, or from a carrion in a ditch, so will our glorified, immortal bodies differ from this mortal, corruptible flesh. If a skilful workman can turn a little earth and ashes into such curious transparent glasses, as we daily see; and if a little seed that bears no show of such a thing, can produce the more beautiful flowers of the earth; and if a little acorn can bring forth the greatest oak; why should we once doubt whether the seed of everlasting life and glory which is now in the blessed souls with Christ, can by him communicate a perfection to the flesh that is dissolved into its elements?
There is no true beauty but that which is there received from the face of God: and if a glimpse made Moses’ face to shine, what glory will God’s glory communicate to us, when we have the fullest endless intuition of it! There only is the strength, and there is the riches, and there is the honour, and there is the pleasure; and here are but the shadows, and dreams, and names, and images of these precious things.
And the perfection of the soul that is now imperfect, will be such as cannot now be known. The very nature and manner of intellection, memory, volition, and affections, will be inconceivably altered and elevated, even as the soul itself will be, and much more, because of the change on the corruptible body, which in these acts it now makes use of.
The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter, 11:255–256.