30 SEPTEMBER (PREACHED NEW YEAR’S MORNING, 1770)
‘Very much better’
‘I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.’ 1 Corinthians 15:31
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: 2 Corinthians 5:1–10
The second meaning [for the first, see from 2/6] of to die daily is practically to improve [grasp more fully] the doctrines of faith, to weaken and overcome the natural reluctance we have to death. The soul has a natural unwillingness to leave the body because it has hitherto been the instrument of all its operations. The bodily senses are the inlets of perception to the soul, therefore the thoughts of parting with them seem strange. There is nothing like this union in all the works of God. From death to the resurrection, only one part of our nature shall act. This is a great mystery. Now these difficulties must be opposed [withstood] by faith. To die daily is to consider the death of Jesus; this throws light upon darkness. We follow him. But O how different his death from ours! For a believer, to die is to be with Christ. Is not this far better? To die is to cease from sin. Cannot some of you say, ‘This alone would make me willing to depart?’ To die is to be free from all grief and infirmity. What can the coward flesh plead against such arguments as these? This is to die daily.
FOR MEDITATION: In short, only the man who upon scriptural grounds is prepared to die, is properly qualified to enjoy the life that now is. A sense of the evil of sin and of his own heart once greatly distressed him, till he was able to approve and accept God’s method of saving sinners by faith in the Son of his love. He has seen, with the eye of his mind, the necessity and the efficacy of the Saviour’s obedience unto death, even the death of the cross. Weary and heavy laden, he has complied with his gracious invitation to come to him for rest, and he has found it. And if sudden danger appears, he has a sure hiding place, and is warranted not to be afraid for himself, though the earth should be removed and the mountains cast into the sea. Thus he is glad to live while the Lord has any employment for him, and he is glad to think he shall not live here always, but in due time depart to be with Jesus, which is πολλᾦ μᾶλλον κρεῖσσον [very much better].
John Newton to William Wilberforce, 2 October 1794
SERMON: 1 CORINTHIANS 15:31 [5/6]