Wesley, John - Sermon 139 - On love and dying
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extract from The Sermons of John Wesley - Sermon 139 -On Love
PREACHED AT SAVANNAH, FEBRUARY 20, 1736
Without love, nothing can make death comfortable.
By comfortable I do not mean stupid, or senseless. ....by a comfortable death, I mean, a calm passage out of life, full of even, rational peace and joy. And such a death, all the acting and all the suffering in the world cannot give, without love.
To make this still more evident, I cannot appeal to your own experience; but I may to what we have seen, and to the experience of others. And two I have myself seen going out of this life in what I call a comfortable manner, though not with equal comfort. One had evidently more comfort than the other, because he had more love.
I attended the first during a great part of his last trial, as well as when he yielded up his soul . .....Calling all that were near him by their names, he said, "Think of heaven, talk of heaven: All the time is lost when we are not thinking of heaven." Now, this was the voice of love; and, so far as that prevailed, all was comfort, peace, and joy. But as his love was not perfect, so neither was his comfort. He had intervals of [anger or] fretfulness, and therein of misery; giving by both an incontestable proof that love can sweeten both life and death. So when that is either absent from, or obscured in, the soul, there is no peace or comfort there.
It was in this place that I saw the other good soldier ... . And it was, indeed, a spectacle worthy to be seen, of God, and angels, and men. Some of his last breath was spent in a psalm of praise to Him who was then giving him the victory; .... When he was asked, "Hast thou the love of God in thy heart" he lifted up his eyes and hands, and answered, "Yes, yes!" with the whole strength he had left. To one who inquired if he was afraid of the devil, ..., he replied, "No, no: My loving Saviour .... is with me. I fear nothing." ... Nor was it long before he fell into a sort of slumber, wherein his soul sweetly returned to God that gave it.
Here, we may observe, was no mixture of any passion or temper contrary to love; therefore, there was no misery; perfect love casting out whatever might have occasioned torment. And whosoever thou art who hast the like measure of love, thy last end shall be like his.
Edited by George Lyons with corrections by Ryan Danker for the Wesley Center for Applied Theology of Northwest Nazarene University (Nampa, ID).
Copyright 1999 by the Wesley Center for Applied Theology. Text may be freely used for personal or scholarly purposes or mirrored on other web sites, provided this notice is left intact. Any use of this material for commercial purposes of any kind is strictly forbidden without the express permission of the Wesley Center at Northwest Nazarene University, Nampa, ID 83686.
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Observation contributed by: Francis Keeble