(if interested see



   OCTOBER 4TH, 1885,


         BY C. H. SPURGEON,




Now that the dead are raised even Moses shewed at the bush,

when he calleth the. Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of

Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of

the living: for all live unto him.” — Luke 20:37, 38.


DURING the past week the church of God, and the world at large, have

sustained a very serious loss. In the taking home to himself by our gracious

Lord of the Earl of Shaftesbury, we have, in my judgment, lost the best

man of the age. I do not know whom I should place second, but I certainly

should put him first — far beyond all other servants of God within my

knowledge — for usefulness and influence. He was a man most true in his

personal piety, as I know from having enjoyed his private friendship; a man

most firm in his faith in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; a man

intensely active in the cause of God and truth. Take him whichever way

you please, he was admirable: he was faithful to God in all his house,

fulfilling both the first and second commands of the law in fervent love to

God, and hearty love to man. He occupied his high position with singleness

of purpose and immovable steadfastness: where shall we find his equal? If

it is not possible that he was absolutely perfect, it is equally impossible for

me to mention a single fault, for I saw none. He exhibited scriptural

perfection, inasmuch as he was sincere, true, and consecrated. Those things

which have been regarded as faults by the loose thinkers of this age are

prime virtues in my esteem. They called him narrow; and in this they bear

unconscious testimony to his loyalty to truth. I rejoiced greatly in his

integrity, his fearlessness, his adherence to principle, in a day when

revelation is questioned, the gospel explained away, and human thought set

up as the idol of the hour. He felt that there was a vital and eternal

difference between truth and error; consequently, he did not act or talk as

if there was much to be said on either side, and, therefore, no one could be

quite sure. We shall not know for many a year how much we miss in

missing him; how great an anchor he was to this drifting generation, and

how great a stimulus he was to every movement for the benefit of the poor.

Both man and beast may unite in mourning him; he was the friend of every

living thing. He lived for the oppressed; he lived for London; he lived for

the nation; he lived still more for God. He has finished his course; and

though we do not Jay him to sleep in the grave with the sorrow of those

that have no hope, yet we cannot but mourn that a great man and a prince

has fallen this day in Israel. Surely, the righteous are taken away from the

evil to come, and we are left to struggle on under increasing difficulties.

It must always be so. The godly must die, even as others. Though our life

be perfectly consecrated, yet it cannot for ever be continued in this world.

It is appointed unto men once to die, and that appointment stands. We

expect the present rule to last till he shall come who shall destroy the last

enemy. We are not troubled with Sadducean doubts, to us, seeing that

Christ rose from the dead, it is a matter of certainty that all his followers

must rise also; and seeing that Jesus ever lived, it is equally a matter of

certainty to us that all the saints are still living, for he hath said, “Because I

live, ye shall live also.” Yet, if no infidelity is permitted to creep into our

brain and disturb our belief, it may penetrate into our heart, and cause us

great sadness. We who believe in Jesus should rise into an atmosphere

more clear and warm than that of the sepulcher; for the Lord Jesus hath

abolished death, and brought life and incorruption to light through the

gospel.” We are not now sitting in the shadow of death, for eternal light

has sprung up. Children of God, it is in the highest degree proper that you

should think of things as your Father thinks of them; and he saith that “all

live unto God.” Let us correct our phraseology by that of Scripture, and

spear; of departed saints as inspiration speaks of them. Then shall we come

back to the simple child’s talk which Wordsworth so sweetly turned into

rhyme — “Master, we are seven”; and in our family we shall number

brothers, and sisters, and friends, whose bodies lie in the churchyard and

shall speak of those who have crossed the border, and passed within the

veil, as still our own. Like Jesus, we shall say, “Our friend Lazarus

sleepeth.” Like Paul, we shall speak of them as absent from the body but

present with the Lord and regard them as part and parcel of the one family

in heaven and earth.


Our text was fashioned in a place which has the air of death, burial, and

resurrection about it. The voice came to Moses in he desert. This was a

strange place for Moses: the living, active, well-instructed mind of Moses,

mighty in all the wisdom of Egypt, and full of noble thoughts concerning

the living God, was buried in a desert. It is singular to see the foremost

mind of the age in the remotest part of the desert, hidden away among

sheep. He who was a born king is here feeding a flock. It is death to

Moses. Rest assured that Moses cannot be kept in this living tomb; he must

rise to life and leadership. While there is a God and a providence Moses

cannot continue in obscurity. There are certainties wrapped up in him

which cannot fail. A man need not be a prophet to stand at Horeb and

prognosticate that Moses will emerge from the desert, and shake Egypt by

his resurrection.


While Moses is in the desert he is thinking about another case of death,

burial, and resurrection, namely, Israel in Egypt. The people of God, the

favored nation of Jehovah, with whom he had entered into covenant,

saying, “I will be their God, and they shall be my people” — these were in

Egypt, ground down by relentless oppression, begrimed, with brick-earth,

and black and blue with the blows of task-masters. It has come to this, that

they are compelled to cast their male children into the river, and so to be

the destroyers of their own race. The children of Israel have become a herd

of slaves; yet they are God’s elect people, God’s favored family. It does

not require a prophet to declare that this death in Egypt cannot last; the

elect nation must live, and rise and go forth free to serve the Lord. No,

Israel; thou shalt never perish! The voice must yet be heard: “Thus saith

the Lord, Let my people go, that they may serve me.”


And so, while Moses in the desert is thinking of Israel in Egypt, he sees a

bush, and that bush is all ablaze. An ordinary bush upon the heath needs

only to be touched with a match: in one moment there is a puff of flame,

and then all is over; nothing is left but a trace of ashes. Yet here was an

extraordinary thing — a bush that continued to burn, and was not

consumed. Here was life in the midst of death, continuance in the midst of

destruction. This was an emblem of God abiding with a people, and yet

suffering them to live; or of the fires of affliction being rendered harmless

to the children of God. He who then spoke to Moses was the God of life,

the God who could sustain in the midst of destruction, the God who could

preserve even a bush from being devoured by the intense fury of flame.

Said I not truly that the surroundings of Moses and the bush all favor a

display of life in death, and resurrection out of death.


Now we come to the central matter. Out of the midst of the bush there

came a voice, a mysterious and divine voice, which said, “I am the God of

Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” From this voice

our divine Lord teaches us to gather this fact: that God’s people live when

they appear to have been long dead — for he who cannot be the God of

the dead, or non-existent, still avows himself to be the God of the longburied

patriarchs. Our Lord proved from that utterance at the bush the

continued life of the Lord’s chosen, and also their resurrection: how did he

do this?


I. We will not go straight to the answer, but we will beat about the bush a

little, that the reasoning may the more gently enter our minds. I would say,

first, that in these words we have A GLORIOUS RELATIONSHIP DECLARED.

Moses calleth the Lord “The God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and

the God of Jacob.”


The glorious Lord did at the bush as good as say, “These three men have

chosen me to be their God”, so they had; through the grace of God they

had deliberately chosen to part with their natural kindred in the country of

the Chaldees, and to journey to a land of which they knew nothing except

that God had promised that they should afterwards receive it for an

inheritance. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were three very different

characters; yet this was common to the three — that they believed God,

and took him to be their God alone. They nestled in the bosom of Jehovah

while the rest of the world went after their idols. In all their troubles they

dew to Jehovah; for the supply of all their needs they resorted alone to him.

They were men who had through divine grace deliberately attached

themselves unto Jehovah the Most High throughout the whole of their

lives. It is a sublime sight to see a man trust in God as Abraham did, and

obey the Lord fully as he did in the matter of Isaac, when he accounted

God to be able to raise him up even from the dead. Surely there must be

everlasting life in a being who could thus confide in Jehovah. I call you to

admire the fact that God called the patriarchs into the noble position of

following the Lord fully, of fixed and settled choice. Being men of like

passions with ourselves, they nevertheless cast in their lot with the Lord,

and for his sake preferred the life of strangers and pilgrims on the earth to

the comforts of settled residence in Ur of the Chaldees, and to the sinful

pleasures of Canaan. We also take this God to be our God, even the God

of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. There is a nobility about the choosers

of the true God which will surely secure them from annihilation.

Next, these three men had learned to commune with God. How

wondrously had Abraham spoken with God! Full many a spot was

consecrated as “the place where he stood before the Lord.” Isaac also

walked in the fields at eventide; and, doubtless, there entered into secret

fellowship with God. The Lord also appeared unto him at night, and led

him to build an altar and call upon the name of Jehovah. The good old man

even in his blindness found solace in communion with the Lord God

Almighty. Jacob also was favored with heavenly visitations. We can never

forget that mystic dream at Bethel, nor the wrestling at Jabbok, nor the

many times when he turned to the God of his father Abraham, and his

father Isaac, and God spake with him as a man speaketh with his friend. It

is a wonderful thing that the Lord should thus commune with men. He

does not thus show himself to the beasts which perish; he does not thus

reveal himself to the lifeless stones of the field. Those are strangely

honored beings with whom God enters into close communion as he did

with these three men. I argue from it that these beings cannot dissolve into

a handful of dust cease to be. Can those eyes cease to be which have seen

the Lord? Can these souls perish which have conversed with the Eternal?

We think not so. But just now I ask you only to meditate upon the glories

to which the patriarchs were lifted up, when they were permitted to be the

friends of God.


What was still more notable, the Lord entered into covenant with them. He

made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which he remembered,

saying, “Surely, blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply

thee.” You know how the Lord swore to give unto the seed of Abraham a

goodly heritage, a land that flowed with milk and honey. Now, it is a

wonderful thing that God should enter into compact with man. Doth he

make an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure, with mere

insects of an hour? Especially, would he give his Son Jesus to die to seal

the everlasting covenant by his heart’s blood with mere shadows who are

but for a little time and then cease to be? I am sure it is not so. If God

makes men capable of entering into everlasting covenant with himself,

there lies within that fact the clear suggestion that he imparts to them an

existence which is not for to-day and to-morrow, but for eternity. Still, I

wish you mainly to regard the glory into which manhood is lifted up when

God enters into gracious covenant with it.


Moreover, to go further, these men were not only in covenant with God,

but they had lived in accordance with that covenant. I do not mean that

they had lived perfectly in accord with it, but that the main strain of their

lives was in conformity with their covenant relationship to God. For the

sake of that covenant Abraham quitted Ur of the Chaldees, and dwelt no

longer in the land of Haran, but became a sojourner with God in the land of

Canaan. For the sake of this he sent away his firstborn after the flesh,

seeing it was said, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called.” By faith he sojourned

in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with

Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.” These faithful

men had respect to the recompense of the reward, and, therefore, they

were not mindful of the country from whence they came out, neither

sought opportunity to return. Jacob, the most faulty of the three, greatly as

he erred in his conduct to his brother Esau, was evidently actuated by an

intense faith in the covenant birthright, so that he ventured all things to

obtain it. In his old age and death he was anxious not to be confounded

with the Egyptians, or separated from the chosen household, and,

therefore, he said unto Joseph, “But I will lie with my fathers, and thou

shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace.” This he

made Joseph swear; for he must make sure of it. He was aiming at the

promise, despite the errors that he committed in so doing. Now, doth God

enter into covenant with men and help men to live in accordance with that

covenant, and after all shall they miss the blessing? Shall it end in nothing?

Hiding beneath the shadow of God’s wing, shall they, after all, perish? It

cannot be: they must live to whom God is God.


For this was the covenant, that they should have God to be their God, and

that they should be God’s people. O brothers, I do not know how to speak

on such a blessing as this, though I live in the daily enjoyment of it. This

God is our God. All that the Lord is, and all that he can do, he hath given

over to us, to be used on our behalf: the fullness of his grace and truth, the

infinity of his love, the omnipotence of his power, the infallibility of his

wisdom — all, all shall be used on our behalf. The Lord has given himself

over to his people to be their inheritance; and on the other hand, we, poor

weak feeble creatures as we are, are taken to be the peculiar treasure of the

living God. “They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I

make up my jewels.” “The Lord’s portion is his people: Jacob is the lot of

his inheritance.” We are God’s heritage, we are God’s jewels, we are

God’s children, we are dear to him as the apple of his eye. We are to him

as the signet upon his hand and the crown upon his head. He cannot have

chosen for his portion a mass of corruption, or a handful of brown dust; yet

that is what the body comes to in death. He cannot have chosen for his

heritage that which will melt back into mother earth, and be no more

found; this cannot be. The covenant hath within it the sure guarantee of

eternal life. Oh what an honor it is that God should even say to you and to

me — “I will be your God, and you shall be my people. Beyond the angels,

beyond heaven, beyond all my other creatures, I reserve you unto myself. I

have loved you with an everlasting love. I will rest in my love to you. I will

rejoice over you with singing.” In this the Lord has highly exalted his

covenanted ones, and raised them to great nearness to himself, and thus to

glory and honor. What hath God wrought! What is man that God is thus

mindful of him, or the son of man that he thus visits him! Angels are

nowhere as compared with seen, yea, cherubim with all their burning bliss

and consecrated ardor cannot match with men who are in covenant with

God. Blessed above all other beings are those who have Jehovah to be

their God, and who are themselves the Lord’s choice, and care, and

delight. Each one of these points, if well thought out, will go to strengthen

our belief that the saints must live, must live for ever, and are at this

moment living unto God.


II. We now come to that matter more distinctly under our second head:

here is ETERNAL LIFE IMPLIED; for “God is not the God of the dead, but of

the living.”


It is implied first in the very fact of the covenant of grace. As I have asked

before — Doth the eternal God covenant with creatures that shall live only

to threescore years and ten, and then shall go out like a candle-snuff? How

can he be a God to them? I understand how he can be a helper and a friend

to men of brief existence, but I see not how he can be a God. Must they

not partake in his eternity if it be truly said, “I will be your God”? How can

the Lord be an eternal blessing to an ending being? He has power, and he

will give me strength sufficient; he hath wisdom, and he will give me as

much of his wisdom as I am capable of receiving; must he not also cause

me to partake of his immortality? How is he a God to me if he suffers me

to be blotted out of existence? When David said in dying, “Yet hath he

made with me an everlasting covenant,” his comfort lay in his belief that he

should live in the everlasting age to enjoy the fruit of that covenant. How

could there be an everlasting covenant with a creature who would cease to



But next, this covenant was made up of promises of a very peculiar order;

for in very deed the covenant that God made with Abraham was not

altogether, or even mainly, concerning things temporal. It was not the land

of Canaan alone of which the Lord spake to Abraham, but the patriarchs

declared plainly that they desired “a better country, that is, an heavenly”

(Hebrews 11:16). Even when they were in Canaan they were still looking

for a country; and the city promised to them was not Jerusalem; for,

according to Paul in the eleventh of the Hebrews, they still were looking

for “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” They

did not find in their earthly lives the complete fulfillment of the covenant;

for they received not the promises, but saw them afar off, and were

persuaded of them. The temporal blessings which God gave to them were

not their expected portion; but they took hold upon invisible realities, and

lived in expectation of them. They were evidently actuated by faith in

something spiritual, something everlasting; and they believed that the

covenant which God had made with them concerned such things. I have

not the time to go into this subject; you get it more fully explained to you

in the Epistle to the Hebrews; but so it was, that the covenant blessings

were of an order and a class that could not be compassed within the space

of this present mortal life: the outlook of covenant promises was towards

the boundless sea of eternity. Now, if the Lord made with them a covenant

concerning eternal blessings, these saints must live to enjoy those blessings.

God did not promise endless blessings to the creatures of a day.

More especially, beloved, it is to be remembered that for the sake of these

eternal things the patriarchs had given up transient enjoyments. Abraham

might have been a quiet prince in his own country, living in comfort; but

for the sake of the spiritual blessing he left Chaldea, and came to wander in

the pastures of Canaan, in the midst of enemies, and to dwell in tents in the

midst of discomforts. Isaac and Jacob were “heirs with him also of the

same promises;” but they entered not into the pursuits of the people; they

dwelt alone, and were not numbered among the nations. Like Moses

himself, to whom God spake, they “counted the reproach of Christ greater

riches than the treasures of Egypt.” They quitted kith and kin, and all the

advantages of settled civilized life, to be rangers of the desert, exiles from

their fatherland. They were the very types and models of those who have

no abiding city here; therefore, for certain, though they died in hope, not

having received the promise, we cannot believe that God deceived them.

Their God was no mocker of them, and therefore they must live after

death. They had lived in this poor life for something not seen as yet; and if

there be no such thing, and no future life, they had been duped and

cozened into a mistaken self-denial. If there be no life to come, the best

philosophy is that which saith, “Let us eat and drink; for to-morrow we

die.” Since these men put this life in pawn for the next, they were sadly

mistaken if there be no such life. Do you not see the force of our Savior’s

reasoning? — God, who has led his people to abandon the present for the

future, must justify their choice.


Besides, the Lord had staked his honor and his repute upon these men’s

lives. “Do you want to know,” saith he, “who I am? I am the God of

Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. If you want to know how I deal with my

servants, go and look at the lives of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob.” My

brethren, as far as the earthly lives of the patriarchs can be written in

human records, they are certainly full of God’s lovingkindness; but still

there is nothing so remarkably joyous and majestic about them from a

natural point of view as to make the Lord’s dealings with them appear to

be specially wonderful. Others who feared not God have been as rich, and

powerful, and honorable as they. Especially is the life of Jacob ploughed

and cross-ploughed with affliction and trial. He spake the truth when he

summed up his life in the words, “Few and evil have the days of the years

of my life been.” Does the Lord intend us to judge of his goodness to his

servants from the written life of Jacob? or from the career of any one of his

servants? The judgement must include the ages of an endless blessedness.

This life is but the brief preface to the volume of our history. It is but the

rough border, the selvage of the rich cloth of our being. These rippling

streams of life come not to an end, but flow into the endless, shoreless

ocean of bliss. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have long been enjoying felicity,

and shall enjoy it throughout eternity. God is not ashamed to be called their

God if you judge of the whole of their being; he would not have spoken

thus if the visible were all, and there were no future to counterbalance the

tribulations of this mortal life. God is not the God of the shortlived, who

are so speedily dead; but he is the living God of an immortal race, whose

present is but a dark passage into a bright future which can never end.

Yet further, to bring out the meaning here, God cannot be the God of the

non-existent. The supposition is too absurd. Our Savior does not argue

about it, but he says so most peremptorily! God is not the God of the dead

that cannot be! If Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob are reduced to a

handful of ashes, God cannot be at this moment their God. We cannot take

a dead object to be our God, neither can Jehovah be a God to lifeless clay.

God is not the God of putrefaction and annihilation. God is not the God of

that which has ceased to be. We have but to put the idea into words to

make it dissolve before the glance of reason. A living God is the God of

living men; and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are still alive.

This even goes far to show that the bodies of these saints shall yet live.

God reckons his covenanted ones to be alive. He saith, “The dead are

raised.” He reckons them to be raised; and as he reckons nothing falsely, it

is said by way of anticipation. “Thy dead men shall live.” Inasmuch as a

portion of these chosen ones is still in the earth, God, who reckons things

that are not as though they were, looks upon their bodies as possessing life,

because they are to possess life so soon. God is not only the God of

Abraham’s soul, but of Abraham as a whole, his body, soul, and spirit. God

is the God of Abraham’s body; we are sure of that, because the covenant

seal was set upon the flesh of Abraham. Where the doubt might be, there is

the confirming seal, namely, in his mortal body. There was no seal set upon

his soul, for the soul had life, and could not see death; but it was set upon

his body, which would die, to make sure that even it would live. At this day

we have baptism and the holy supper to be seals as to the body. I have

sometimes thought to myself that it were better if there were no water

baptism, seeing it has become the nest of so much superstition; and the

Lord’s Supper, with all its blessed uses, has been so abused that one is apt

to think that without outward ordinances there might be more spiritual

religion; but the Lord intends that the materialism of man, and of creation,

shall be uplifted; and that the body shall be raised incorruptible, and

therefore has he given seals which touch the outward and material. The

water wherein the body is washed, and the bread and wine whereby the

body is nourished, are tokens that there cometh to us, not only spiritual and

invisible blessings, but even such as shall redeem and purify our mortal

body. The grave cannot hold any portion of the covenanted ones: eternal

life is the portion of the whole man. God is the God of our entire manhood,

spirit, soul, and body; and all live unto him in their entirety. The whole of

the covenant shall be fulfilled to the whole of those with whom that

covenant was made.

This is good reasoning to those who have gone beyond mere reason, and

have ascended into the realm of faith. May the Holy Spirit grant unto us to

be among them!


III. Thirdly, and very briefly, beloved friends: my text not only declares

glorious relationship, and implies eternal life, but it also unveils somewhat

scantily, but still sufficiently, what the glorious life must be. Look then and



It is clear that they live personally. It is not said, “I am the God of the

whole body of the saints in one mass.” But “I am the God of Abraham,

Isaac, Jacob.” God will make his people to live individually. My mother,

my father, my child, each will personally exist. God is the God of saints, as

living distinct lives: Abraham is Abraham, Isaac is Isaac, Jacob is Jacob.

The three patriarchs were not all melted into one common Abraham, nor

Isaac into one imaginary Isaac; neither was any one so altered as to cease

to be himself. Abraham Isaac, and Jacob are all literally living as actual

men, and the same men as they used to be. Jacob is Jacob, and not an echo

of Abraham; Isaac is Isaac, and not a rehearsal of Jacob. All the saints are

existent in their personality, identity, distinction, and idiosyncrasy.

What is more, the patriarchs are mentioned by their names; and so it is

clear they are known: they are not three anonymous bodies, but Abraham,

Isaac, and Jacob. Many enquire, “Shall we know our friends in heaven?”

Why should we not? The saints in heaven are never spoken of in Scripture

as moving about anonymously; but their names are spoken of as written in

the book of life. Why is this? The apostles knew Moses and Elias on the

Mount, though they had never seen them before. I cannot forget old John

Ryland’s answer to his wife: “John,” she said, “will you know me in

heaven?” “Betty,” he replied, “I have known you well here, and I shall not

be a bigger fool in heaven than I am now; therefore I shall certainly know

you there.” That seems to be clear enough. We read in the New Testament,

“They shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of

heaven;” not sit down with three unknown individuals in iron masks, or

three impersonalities who make a part of the great pan, nor three spirits

who are as exactly alike as pins made in a factory; but Abraham, Isaac, and

Jacob. That is clear enough in the text.


That glorious life, while it is a personal and a known life, is also free from

all sorrow, and misery, and earthly grossness. They are neither married nor

given in marriage, neither shall they die any more; but they are as the

angels of God. It is a life of perfect blessedness, a life of hallowed worship,

a life of undivided glory. Oh, that we were in it! Oh that we may soon

reach it! Let us think of the many who are enjoying it now, and of those

who have attained to it during the last few days. I am sure they are at home

in every golden street, and fully engaged in the adoration and worship of

their Lord. Those saints who have been in glory now these thousands of

years cannot be more blest than the latest arrivals. Within a very short

space you and I shall be among the shining ones. Some of us may spend

our next Sabbath with the angels. Let us rejoice and be glad at the bare

thought of it. Some of as are not doomed to live here through another

winter: we shall pass beyond these autumn fogs into the golden light of the

eternal summer before another Christmas-day has come. Oh the joy which

ought to thrill through our souls at the thought of such amazing bliss!

And now, taking the whole subject together, I want to say a few familiar

things about the influence which all this ought to have upon us.

Concerning those that have gone before us, we gather from this whole text

that they are not lost. We know where they are. Neither have they lost

anything, for they are what they were, and more. Abraham has about him

still everything that is Abrahamic; he is Abraham still. And Isaac has

everything about him that properly belongs to Isaac; and Jacob has all

about him that makes him God’s Israel. These good men have lost nothing

that really appertained to their individuality, nothing that made them

precious in the sight of the Lord. They have gained infinitely; they have

developed gloriously. They are Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob now at their

best; or rather they are waiting till the trumpet of the resurrection shall

sound, when their bodies also shall be united to their spirits, and then

Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob will be completely Abraham, and Isaac, and

Jacob, world without end. We are by no means deprived of our dear ones

by their death: they are; they are themselves; and they are ours still. As

Abraham is not lost to Isaac, nor to Jacob, nor to God, nor to himself; so

are our beloved ones by no means lost to us. Do not let us think of them

then as if they were lost. I know your sorrows make an excursion to the

grave, to look there for the deceased ones. You want to lift that coffin lid,

and to unwrap the shroud. Oh, do not so, do not so! He is not here; the

real man has gone. He may be dead to you for a while, but he lives unto

God. Yes, the dead one liveth, he liveth unto God. Do but anticipate the

passage of that little time, which is almost gone while I am speaking of it,

and then your Savior’s angels shall sound their golden trumpets, and at the

welcome noise the grave shall open its portals, and resign its captives. “Thy

brother shall rise again.” Wherefore, comfort one another with these

words. Shaftesbury is as much Shaftesbury as ever, and even more so. We

have parted with the earl, but the saint liveth: he has gone past yonder veil

into the next room, and there he is before the Lord of Hosts. He has gone

out of this dim, dusky, cloudy chamber into the bright, pearly light that

streameth from the throne of God and of the Lamb. We have nothing to

sorrow about in reference to what he is or where he is. So, too, your

valued parents, and beloved children, and choice friends — they are yours

still. Herein is great cause for thankfulness. Put aside your sackcloth, and

wear the garments of hope; lay down the sackbut, and take up the trumpet.

Draw not the beloved bodies to the cemetery with dreary pomp, and with

black horses; but cover the coffin with sweet flowers,-and drape the horses

with emblems of hope. It is the better birthday of the saint, yea, his truer

wedding-day. Is it sad to have done with sadness? Is it sorrowful to part

with sorrow? Nay rather, when joy beginneth to our friends, where glory

dwelleth in Immanuel’s land, we may in sympathy sing, as it were, a new

song, and tune our harps to the melodies of the glorified.


I want you also to recollect that the departed have not become members of

another race; they have not been transferred into another family; they are

still men, still women, still of our kindred deer; their names are in the same

family register on earth, and in heaven. Oh, no, no! do not dream that they

are separated, and exiled; they have gone to the home country: we are the

exiles; they it is who are at home. We are en route for the fatherland; they

are not so far from us as we think. Sin worked to divide them from us, and

us from them while we were here together; but since sin is now taken away

from them, one dividing element is gone. When it is also removed from us,

we shall be nearer to each other than we could have been while we were

both sinful. Do not let us think of them as sundered far, for we are one in



And they are not gone over to the other side in the battle. Oh, do not

speak of them as dead and lying on the battle-field: they live, they live in

sympathy with our divine conflict. They have marched through the enemy’s

country; they have fought their fight, and taken possession of their

inheritance. They are still on our side, though we miss them from the daily

service. When you number up the hosts of God, you must not forget the

godlike bands that have fought the good fight, and kept the faith, and

finished their course. They are in the armies of the Lord, though not at this

moment resisting unto blood. The hundred and forty-four thousand sealed

unto the Lord include in their ranks all who are with God, whether here or

in heaven.


“One family we dwell in him,

One church, above, beneath,

Though now divided by the stream,

The narrow stream of death.”


Our sacramental host marches onward to the New Jerusalem. Certain of

the legionaries have forded the dividing flood. I see them ascending the

other side! The hither bank of the river is white with their rising companies.

Lo! I hear the splash of the ranks before us as they steadily pass down into

the chill stream; in deep silence we see them solemnly wading through the

billows. The host is ever marching on, marching on. The much dreaded

stream lies a little before us: it is but a silver streak. We are to the margin

come. We shudder not at the prospect. We follow the blessed footsteps of

our Lord and his redeemed. We are all one army still: we are not losing our

men; they are simply ascending from the long campaign to take their

endless rewards at the Lord’s right hand.


What then? Why, then, we will take up their work. If they have gone into

the upper chamber to rest, we will make up their lack of service in this

lower room. The work they did was so human that we will not allow a

stitch to drop, but take it up where they left it, and persevere in earnest.

They are in glory, but they were not glorified when they were here. The

work they did was done by men of such infirmities as ours; so let us not

fear to go on where they left off, and perpetuate the work which they

rejoiced in. There lies the plough in the furrow, and the oxen are standing

still, for Shamgar, the champion, is gone. Will no one lay hold of the

plough handles? Will nobody urge the oxen with the goad? Young men,

are you idling? Here is work for you. Are you hiding yourselves: Come

forward, I pray you in the name of the great Husbandman, and let the fields

be tilled, and sown with the good seed. Who will fill the gap made by

death? Who will be baptized for the dead? Who will bear the banner now

that a standard-bearer has fallen? I hope some consecrated voice will

answer, “Here am I; send me.”


For, last of all, brethren, we may expect the same succours as they received

who have gone before. Jehovah saith that he is the God of Abraham, the

God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; but he also saith, “I am the God of

your father.” The father of Moses had the Lord to be his God. That God is

the God of my father, blessed be his name. As I took the old man by his

hand yesterday, at the age of seventy-six, I could not but rejoice in all the

faithfulness of the Lord to him and to his house. He was the God of my

father’s father also; I cannot forget how the venerable man laid his hands

upon his grandchild, and blessed him; and the blessing is with him still.

Yes, and he is the God of my children, and he shall be the God of my

children’s children; for he keepeth covenant to thousands of them that lov

him. Wherefore take courage, men and brethren! This God is your God. He

is a God to you, and you are a people to him. Act as his true servants. Live

as those that are elect. If you are his choice, be choice characters. The

chosen should be the best, should they not? The elect should be especially

distinguished above all others by their conversation and their fervent zeal

for him that chose them. As you shall rise from among the dead, because

the Lord Jesus hath redeemed you from among men, so stand up from

among the dead and corrupt mass of this world, and be alive unto God,

through Jesus Christ your Lord. What manner of people ought ye to be

who serve the living God? Since the living God hath manifested himself so

wonderfully to you, ought you not to live unto him to the utmost? God

bless you for Jesus’ sake. Amen.



     Exodus 3:1-10; Luke 20:27-30.




"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.

Materials are reproduced by permission."


This material can be found at:


If this exposition is helpful, please share with others.