THOSE who are not Christians will find smallcomfort, amid their evils, in the contemplation of future blessings; since for them all these things are uncertain. Although much ado is made here by that famous emotion called hope, by which we call on each other, in words of human comfort, to look for better times, and continually plan greater things for the uncertain future, yet are always deceived. Even as Christteaches concerning the man in the Gospel, Luke 12:18, who said to his soul, “I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; and then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
The other blessing of death is this, that it not only concludes the pains and evils of this life, but (which is more excellent) makes an end of sins and vices. And this renders deathfar more desirable to believing souls, as I have said above, than the former blessing; since the evils of the soul, which are its sins, are beyond comparison worse evils than those of the body. This alone, did we but know it, should make death most desirable. But if it does not, it is a sign that we neither feel nor hate our sin as we should. For this our life is so full of perils — sin, like a serpent, besetting us on every side — and it is impossible for us to live without sinning; but fairest deathdelivers us from these perils, and cuts our sinclean away from us.
This He signified when, after having in His commandment foretold the death of Adam, ( Genesis 2:17) He did not afterward hold His peace, but imposed death anew, and tempered the severity of His commandment, nay, He did not so much as mention death with a single syllable, but said only, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”; and, “Until thou return unto the ground, from whence thou wast taken” ( Genesis 3:19) — as if He then so bitterly hateddeath that He would not deign to call it by its name, according to the word, “Wrath is in His indignation; and life in His good will. ( Psalm 30:5) Thus He seemed to say that, unless death had been necessary to the abolishing of sin, He would not have been willing to know it nor to name it, much less to impose it. And so, against sin, which wroughtdeath, the zeal of God arms none other than this very death again; so that you may here see exemplified the poet’s line, f239 By his own art the artist perisheth.