Thomas Brooks (d. 1680) wrote a booklet in 1657 called A String of Pearls. This booklet is based on a funeral message he gave and it contains some reflections on the death of a saint (based on 1 Peter 1:4). Below is a brief section of this booklet where Brooks gives reasons why Christians do not need to fear death. This section – which has much to do with the perseverance of the saints – can be found on pages 451 and following of Brooks’ Works, volume 1. (I’ve reworded these a bit to keep them brief and more readable for this blog post).
Why don’t you, dear Christian, need to fear death?
1) Because death cannot dissolve that glorious union that is between you and Christ (Rom. 8:35-39). As it is impossible for the leaven that is in the dough to be separated from the dough after it is once mixed…so it is impossible, either in life or death, for the saints ever to be separated from Christ.
2) Because death cannot dissolve or untie that marriage-knot that is knit by the Spirit on Christ’s side, and by faith on your side, between Christ and your soul (Hos. 2:19-20). Sin cannot dissolve that marriage-knot that is knit between Christ and a believer; and if sin cannot, then certainly death, which came in by sin, cannot.
3) Because death cannot dissolve that glorious covenant that God has taken you into. No, death can never dissolve that covenant (Jer. 32:40). Dear hearts! The covenant remains firm and good between you and the Lord both in life and in death.
4) Because death cannot dissolve that love between the Lord and your soul (Ps. 116:15, Deut. 7:7-8). Death cannot dissolve the bond of love, for his love is not founded upon any worth or excellency in me, nor upon any work or service done by me, but his love is free; he loves because he will love. His love is everlasting; it is like himself (Jer. 31:3).
5) Because death cannot dissolve those gracious grants (those grants of grace) that the Lord has vouchsafed to you: the grant of reconciliation, the grant of acceptance, the grant of justification, the grant of adoption, the grant of forgiveness, etc. No, death cannot dissolve any of these gracious grants (2 Cor. 3:21-23, Rom. 11:29).
This echoes the biblical truth captured by the Heidelberg Catechism in answer 42: “Our death does not pay the debt of our sins. Rather, it puts an end to our sinning and is our entrance into eternal life.”
rev shane lems
covenant presbyterian church (OPC)