By Lewis Bayly
When God sends death as his messenger for the regenerate man, he meets him half-way to heaven, for his conversation and affection is there before him (Phil. iii. 20; Col. iii. 2.) Death is never strange nor fearful to him: not strange, because he died daily-not fearful, because whilst he lived, he was dead, and his life was hid with Christ in God (1 Cor. i. 31; Col. iii. 3;) to die, therefore, is to him nothing else in effect, but to rest from his labour in this world, to go home to his Father's house, unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant (Rev. xiv. 13; 2 Cor. v. 6; John xiv. 2; Heb. xii. 22, &c.) Whilst his body is sick, his mind is sound; for God maketh his bed in sickness, and strengthened him with faith and patience, upon his bed of sorrow (Psal. xli. 3.) And when he begins to enter into the way of all the world, he giveth (like Jacob, Moses, and Joshua) to his children and friends, godly exhortations and counsels, to serve the true God, to worship Him truly all the days of their life (Gen. xlix.) His blessed soul breatheth nothing but blessings, and such speeches as savour a sanctified spirit. As his outward man decayeth, so his inward man increaseth, and waxeth stronger; when the speech of his tongue faltereth, the sighs of his heart speak louder unto God; when the sight of the eyes faileth, the Holy Ghost illuminates him inwardly with abundance of spiritual light. His soul feareth not, but is bold to go out of the body, and to dwell with her Lord (2 Cor. v. 8.) He sigheth out with Paul, Cupio dissolvi, "I desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ," Phil. i. 23. And with David, "As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?" Psal. xlii. 2. He prayeth with the saints, "How long, O Lord, which art holy and true?" Rev. vi. 10. "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly," Rev. xxii. 10. And when the appointed time of his dissolution is come (Job xiv. 5), knowing that he goeth to his Father and Redeemer in the peace of a good conscience (Psal. xxxi. 5), and the assured persuasion of the forgiveness of all his sins, in the blood of the Lamb, he sings with blessed old Simeon his Nunc dimittis, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace," (Luke ii. 29; Psal. xxxvii. 37; Isa. lvii. 2), and surrenders up his soul, as it were, with his own hands, into the hands of his heavenly Father, 6aying with David, "Into thy hands, O Father, I commend my soul, for thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, thou God of truth," Psal. xxxi. 5. And saying with Stephen, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," Acts vii. 59; he no sooner yields up the ghost, but immediately the holy angels (Matt. xviii. 10; Acts xii. 15; xxvii. 23) who attended upon him from his. birth to his death, carry and accompany his soul into heaven, as they did the soul of Lazarus into Abraham's bosom (Luke xvi. 22), which is the kingdom of heaven, whither only good angels and good works do accompany the soul (Matt. viii. 11; Luke xiii. 28; Acts xv. 10, 11; Eph. i. 10; Heb. xi. 9, 10, 16; xii. 22, 23; Luke xix. 9; ix. 31;) the one to deliver their charge (Psal. xci. 11; Heb. i. 14;) the other to receive their reward (Rev. xiv. 13; xxii. 12.)
The body, in convenient time, as the sanctified temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. vi. 19), the members of Christ (1 Cor. vi. 15), nourished by his body (Mat. xxvi. 26), the price of the blood of the Son of God (1 Cor. vi. 20; 1 Pet. i. 19), is by his fellow-brethren reverently laid to sleep in the grave as in the bed of Christ (1 Thess. iv. 14; Acts vii. 6; viii. 2), in an assured hope to awake in the resurrection of the just, at the last day, to be partaker, with the soul, of life and glory everlasting (Dan. xii. 2; John v. 28, 29; Luke xiv. 14; 1 Thess. iv. 16, 17; Rev. xiv. 13.) And in this respect not only the souls, but the very bodies of the faithful also are termed blessed.
Thus far of the blessedness of the soul and body of the regenerate man in death: Now let us see the blessedness of bis soul and body after death.