‘The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.’ 1 Corinthians 15:26
Suggested Further Reading: Romans 8:35–39
To live well is the way to die well. Death is not our first foe but the last; let us then fight our adversaries in order, and overcome them each in its turn, hoping that he who has been with us even until now will be with us until the end. Notice, dear friends—for herein lies the savour of the thought—it is the last enemy. Picture in your mind’s eye our brave soldiers at the battle of Waterloo; for many weary hours they had been face to face with the foe; the fight had lasted so long and been so frequently renewed that they seemed to have encountered successive armies, and to have fought a dozen battles; charge after charge had they borne like walls of stone: imagine then that the commander is able to announce that they have only to endure one more onslaught of the foe. How cheerfully do the ranks close! How gallantly are the squares formed! How firmly their feet are planted! ‘Now,’ say they, ‘let us stand like a wall of rock; let no man shrink for a moment, for it is the last the enemy can do. He will do his worst; but soon he will be able to do no more but sound to boot and saddle, and leave the field to us.’ The last enemy! Soldiers of Christ, do not the words animate you? Courage, Christian, courage; the tide must turn after this; it is the highest wave that now dashes over you; courage, man, the night must close; you have come to its darkest hour; the day star already dawns! Now that you are dying, you are beginning to live. The last enemy conquered! Does it not bring tears to your eyes to think of bearing your last temptation? Little care we who the foe may be, if he be but conquered and be but the last.
For meditation: Christ’s veteran soldiers were calm as they prepared to do battle with the last enemy (2 Timothy 4:6–8; 2 Peter 1:12–15). ‘Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 15:57). Do we have a similar attitude to our own death?
Sermon no. 721
18 November (1866)