Fear not; when thou passeth through the waters I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.
J. C. PHILPOT (1802-1869): How many of the dear saints of God, when they have been brought into tribulation and sorrow, have found the fulfilment of this most gracious promise! And is there not one of these waters through which all must go―that deep and rapid Jordan every one must pass through. How dark and gloomy those waters have appeared to the eyes of many a child of God, in whom is continually fulfilled the experience of the words, “who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” But how often have these waters only been terrible in prospect, in anticipation. When he comes down to the river’s bank and his feet dip in these waters, and it appears as though they would rise higher and higher, the Lord suddenly appears in His power and presence, and then the water sinks. He speaks a word of peace to his soul upon a dying bed―reveals Christ in His love and grace and blood―removes those doubts, fears, and disturbing thoughts which have perplexed him for years, and brings into his heart a holy calm, a sweet peace, assuring him that all is well with him, both for time and eternity. Has he not then the fulfilment of the promise, When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee?
ALEXANDER CARSON (1776-1844): Were not Jesus present with His people in the time of their trial, and especially at the time of their death, nothing could deliver them from horror. That they are not only saved from fear, but enabled to rejoice and triumph in death, is the surest evidence that the gospel is true.
JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Our people die well. The world may find fault with our opinions, but the world cannot deny that our people die well.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): I am not an admirer of Addison’s death, as some are, who praise him because he sent for a young lord, and cried, “Come, see how a Christian can die!” I like better Bengel’s wish when he desired to die just as a person would slip out from company because some one beckoned him outside. Such a person modestly thinking his presence or absence to be of small account in a great world, quietly withdraws, and friends only observe that he is gone. Death should be part of the usual curriculum, the close of the day’s work, the entrance into harbour which ends the voyage.
D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): A soldier lay on his dying couch, during our last war, and they heard him say, “Here!” They asked him what he wanted, and he put up his hand and said, “Hush! they are calling the roll of heaven, and I am answering to my name.” And presently he whispered, “Here!” and then he was gone.
RICHARD CECIL (1748-1810): I shall never forget standing by the bed-side of my dying mother. “Are you afraid to die?” I asked. “No!” she replied. “But why does the uncertainty of another state give you no concern?” “Because” she said, “God has said, Fear not; when thou passeth through the waters I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.”
OCTAVIUS WINSLOW (1808-1878): While her gathered children were surrounding her dying-bed, watching the closing scene…[my mother’s] eyes partly opened, her lips moved, and with a low yet distinct voice she rapidly repeated the words, “I see Thee!—I see Thee!—I see Thee!” The unearthly grandeur of the scene transcends all description. We felt that heaven was opened—that Christ was there—that the eternal world enclosed us. “What do you see, dearest Mamma?” The only reply was, “I see Thee!—I SEE THEE!” As her voice grew fainter and fainter, and the words died softly upon her lips, she ceased to move—a holy quiet reigned—her sanctified spirit was in the bosom of her Lord.
THOMAS MCCRIE (1797-1875): “Now, for the last time,” [said John Knox] touching three of his fingers as he spoke, “I commend my soul, spirit, and body, into Thy hand, O Lord.” He then gave a deep sigh, saying, “Now, it is come!” His attendants perceiving he had lost his speech, requested him to give a sign that he heard them, and died in peace; upon which he lifted up one of his hands and sighing twice, expired without a struggle.
C. H. SPURGEON: I can see that there is no better place than the brink of Jordan, after all. I have seen the brethren, and the sisters, too, sit with their feet in the narrow stream, and they have been singing all the while. Death has not abated a single note of their song…There is nothing about death that the believer should construe it into a fear that it will separate him from the love of Christ. Christ loved you when He died; He will love you when you die. It was after death—remember that—it was after death that His heart poured out the tribute of blood and water by which we have the double cure; see, then, how He loves us in death and after death. There is nothing about death that should make Christ cease to love us; our bodies will be under His protection and guardian care, and our souls shall be with Christ, which is “far better” than being anywhere else. Do not, therefore, fear death.
SAMUEL RUTHERFORD (1600-1661): Ye have only these two shallow brooks, sickness and death, to pass through; and ye have also a promise, that Christ shall do more than meet you, even that He shall come Himself, and go with you, foot for foot, yea, and bear you in His arms.
JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): He that hath the word of Christ richly dwelling in him may lay his hand upon his heart, and say as dying Œcolampadius did, “Here is plenty of light.”
UNKNOWN: When Thomas Hooker* was dying, one said to him, “Brother, you are going to receive the reward of your labours.” He humbly replied, “Brother, I am going to receive mercy.”
WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Good Matthew Henry said as he was expiring, to his friends in the room, “you have heard and read the words of many dying men―and these are mine: I have found a life of communion with God the happiest life in the world.”
WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): It was a sweet speech of a dying saint, that he was going to change his place but not his company.
A. W. PINK (1886-1952): “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” Luke 23:46. Does not our text teach very pointedly the blessed truth and fact of communion with the Father in the hour of death! Then why dread it, fellow Christian?
BETSY RITCHIE (1752-1835): [John Wesley] paused a little, and then with all the remaining strength he had, cried out, “The best of all is, God is with us,” and then, as if to assert the faithfulness of our promise-keeping Jehovah, and comfort the hearts of his weeping friends, [he lifted] up his dying arm in token of victory, and raising his feeble voice with a holy triumph again repeated the heart reviving words, “The best of all is, God is with us!”―And the last word he was heard to articulate was, “Farewell!”
*Editor’s Note: Thomas Hooker (1586-1647) was a prominent Puritan colonial leader who founded the Colony of Connecticut.