The First Book of Homilies - Homily 9 Exhortation Against the Fear of Death. It is no surprise that the worldly fear to die. For death deprives them of all worldly honors, riches and possessions, in the abundance of which the worldly count themselves happy, as long as they may enjoy them as they please: and otherwise, if they be dispossessed of the same, without hope of recovery, then they think of they are unhappy, because they have lost their worldly joy and pleasure. Alas think carnal folk, shall I now depart for ever from all my honours, all my treasure, from my country, friends, riches, possessions, and worldly pleasures, which are my joy and hearts delight? Alas that ever that day shall come, when all these I must bid farewell at once, and never enjoy any of them again. So it is with great cause the wise man says, “O death, how bitter is the thought of you to one at peace among possessions, who has nothing to worry about and is prosperous in everything, and still is vigorous enough to enjoy food!” (Ecclesiasticus 41.1)? There are others, to whom this world is not so kind, they are vexed and oppressed with poverty, sickness, or some other adversity, and they fear death, partly because life is sad, and death threatens them, and partly by reason of sickness and painful disease, which are most strong pains and agonies in the flesh, and commonly come to the sick before death, or at least accompany death, when it comes. Although these two causes seem great and weighty to the worldly, so they are moved to fear death, yet there is another cause much greater than either of these, for which indeed they have just cause to fear death, and that is the state and condition at the last end death brings all them that have their hearts fixed upon this world, without repentance and amendment. This state and condition is called the second death, which shall ensue for the worldly after this bodily death. And this is the death which indeed ought to be dread and feared: for it is an everlasting loss with no remedy of the grace and favour of God, and of everlasting joy, pleasure, and felicity. It is not only the loss for ever of all the eternal pleasures, but also it is condemnation both of body and soul (without either appeal, or hope of redemption) to everlasting pain in hell. To this state death sends the unmerciful and the ungodly rich man (that Luke speaks of in his Gospel, Luke 16.19-23) who living in all wealth and pleasure in this world, and cherishing himself daily with dainty fare, and gorgeous apparel, despised poor Lazarus that lay pitiful at his gate, miserably plagued and full of sores, and also grievously pained with hunger. Both these two died, which sent Lazarus the poor miserable man accompanied by Angels to Abraham's bosom, a place of rest, pleasure, and consolation: but the unmerciful rich man descended into hell, and being in torment, he cried for comfort, complaining of the intolerable pain he suffered in that flame of fire, but it was too late. So to this place bodily death sends those that in this world have their joy and felicity, all them that in this world be unfaithful to God, and uncharitable to their neighbours, so dying without repentance and hope of God’s mercy. So it is no marvel that the worldly fear death, for they have much more cause to do so, than those who consider these things. Thus we see three causes why worldly men fear death: First. One, because they shall lose thereby their worldly honours, riches, possessions, and all their hearts desires: Second. Another, because of the painful diseases, and bitter pangs, which commonly men suffer, either before, or at the time of death: Third. The chief cause above all other, is the dread of the miserable state of eternal damnation both of body and soul, which they fear shall follow, after their departing from the worldly pleasures of this present life. For these causes are all mortal men, (who are given to the love of this world) both in fear, and state of death, through sin, as the holy Apostle says, Hebrews 2.15, so long as they live here in this world. But everlasting thanks to Almighty God forever, none of these causes, nor all of them altogether, that can make a true Christian afraid to die, who is the very member of Christ, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 3.16, the Son of God, and the very inheritor of the everlasting kingdom of heaven. Plainly contrary, they conceive great and many causes, grounded on the infallible and everlasting truth of the Word of God, which moves them not only to put away the fear of bodily death, but also for the many benefits and singular advantages which ensue for every faithful person by reason of the same, to wish, desire, and long heartily for it. For death shall be to them no death at all, but a very deliverance from death, from all pains, cares, and sorrows, miseries, and wretchedness of this world, and the very entry into rest, and a beginning of everlasting joy, a tasting of heavenly pleasures, so great, that neither tongue is able to express, neither eye to see, nor ear to hear them: nor any earthly person’s heart to conceive them. So exceeding great benefits they be, which God our heavenly Father by his mercy, and for the love of his Son Jesus Christ, has laid up in store, and prepared for those who humbly submit themselves to God, and evermore unfeignedly love him from the bottom of their hearts. And we ought to believe that death being slain by Christ, cannot keep anyone that steadfastly trusts in Christ, under perpetual tyranny and subjection: but that they shall rise from death again to glory at the last day, appointed by Almighty God, as Christ our head did rise again, according to God's appointment on the third day. For St. Augustine says, The head going before, the members trust to follow and come after. And St. Paul says, If Christ be risen from the dead, we shall rise also from the same. And to comfort all Christian persons herein, holy Scripture calls this bodily death a sleep, wherein one’s senses be, as it were, taken for a season, and yet when they awake, they are fresher than they were when when went to bed. So although we have our souls separated from our bodies for a season, yet at the general Resurrection we shall be renewed, beautiful, and more perfect than we are now. For now we be mortal, then shall we be immortal: now infected with divers infirmities, then void of all mortal infirmities: now we are subject to carnal desires, then we shall be spiritual, desiring nothing but God’s glory, and things eternal. Thus is this bodily death a door or entering into life, and therefore not so much dreadful, if it be rightly considered, as it is comfortable, not a mischief, but a remedy for all mischief, no enemy, but a friend, not a cruel tyrant, but a gentle guide leading us not to mortality, but to immortality, not to sorrow and pain, but to joy and pleasure, and that to endure for ever, if it be thankfully taken and accepted as God’s messenger, and patiently born of us for Christ's love, that suffered most painful death for our love, to redeem us from death eternal. St. Paul says, our life is hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3.3-4): but when our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory. Why then shall we fear to die, considering the many comforting promises of the Gospel, and of Holy Scriptures? God the Father has given us everlasting life, St. John says, to you that believe in the Name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have everlasting life (1 John 5.11-13) and that you do believe upon the Name of the Son of God. And our Saviour Christ says, those who believe in me have life everlasting, and I will raise them from death to life on the last day (John 6.40). St. Paul also says, that Christ ordained and made of God our righteousness, or holiness and redemption, to the intent that those who glory should glory in the Lord ( 1 Corinthians 1.30-31). St. Paul contends and sets little by all other things, esteeming them compared to that which he has at a very great price, that he might be found in Christ, to have everlasting life, true holiness, righteousness, and redemption (Philippians 3.8-9). St. Paul makes a plain argument. If our heavenly Father would not spare his own natural Son, but gave him to death for us: how can it be, that with him he should not give us all things (Romans 8.32)? Therefore if we have Christ, then we with him, and by him, have all the good things we can in our hearts wish or desire, as victory over death, sin, and hell: we have the favour of God, peace with him, holiness, wisdom, justice, power, life, and redemption, we have by him perpetual health, wealth, joy, and bliss everlasting.