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The Challenge to Death

The Challenge to Death

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Lord Bishop of Rochester

O death, where is thy sting, O grave, where is thy victory
i COR. xv. 55.

Lord Bishop of Rochester

O death, where is thy sting, O grave, where is thy victory
i COR. xv. 55.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jun 13, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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THE CHALLEGE TO DEATHBY ATHOY W. THOROLD, D.D.Lord Bishop of RochesterO death, where is thy sting, O grave, where is thy victoryi COR. xv. 55.THE apostle's heart is on fire. He is notreasoning or arguing now. Shadows anddoubts and perplexities are far beneath him,like mists on the face of a swamp for the tra-veller who is climbing the hill. His enrapturedvision already penetrates the invisible world.He hears the trumpet sound, he sees the gravesopen, above him in the parting clouds the Lordof Hades is seated in glory ; all round him, inthe ecstasy of his enraptured vision, the saintsare being clothed with their immortal bodies,and death is being swallowed up of life. Heeven apostrophises and challenges and tauntsdeath, the universal conqueror, with its owndiscomfiture and disgrace ; and dares to makenothing of it, with all its anguish and terror,in view of the resurrection triumph. "O death,where is thy sting ? O grave, where is thyvictory ? "Why has Let us glance for a moment at what theapostle calls the sting of death, and the victoryof the grave ; and then try to steep and envelopdeathslinsCHRIST RISE 107our spirits in the golden atmosphere of hope
and gladness and triumph in which his loftyspirit rose above the lamentations and desola-tions and partings and lonelinesses of death, tothe contemplation of the final joy. The word"sting" here is in the original the word whichin the Acts (in St. Paul's defence of himself before Agrippa) is rendered " prick." It is asting that gives a sharp and piercing wound.There are many things to make death sad,lonely, and terrible. But the sting is in therecollection of sin. Whether the apostle herehad in his mind the deepening penitence of thedying saint, who, while he clings to the cross,does not wish to forget why he needs to clingto it ; who, while he has perfect and unwaveringtrust in the power of the precious blood to makehim whiter than snow, feels the shamefulnessof the stains while he accepts the gift of thewhiteness, we will not pause to inquire. Tosome it is a needful though an awful disciplineto have the heart once more broken for the sinsof years ago, before they go to the Judge.Others, not of necessity saintlier, seem to dis-appear in a rapture of thankfulness. This alsois worth observing, that those about whose ac-ceptance we feel most uneasy and uncertain arenot unfrequently those who have no sense of sin and no fear of judgment, who go becausethey can't help going, but to whom God is notFather nor Heaven home. There is not uncom-io8 QUESTIOS OF FAITH AD DUTYmonly a curious stolidity and insensibility aboutthe very souls which we should have thoughtbeforehand would have shivered and trembled atdeath. They pass, and we do not know whathappens to them, except that God is more mer-ciful than man, and that His righteousness isthe righteousness of Him whose name and natureis Love.The nature The sting of death perhaps means threes "^'things. So far as anything we can do is con-cerned, sin is irremediable, it is irrevocable, it is
inextinguishable. o tears, no sacrifices, noprayers of ours can heal its deadly wound.There it is still doing its deadly work, sowingitself, multiplying itself, from soul to soul, fromfamily to family, from nation to nation, from ageto age. Our sins against our own souls arebad enough, but the sins which we have temptedothers to sin are perhaps the most intolerable.But as we tempted our fellows, they havetempted others ; and sometimes to a good man,even in his latest days, the thought of a youthfulfolly or the companionship with a multitude to doevil, works in the memory with a sharp jerk of anguish.How does the resurrection turn this " mourn-ing into joy, and give us the garment of praisefor the spirit of heaviness ? " St. Paul answersthe question elsewhere in his great argument tothe Romans on peace by faith — " Who shall layanything to the charge of God's elect ? It isCHRIST RISE 109God that justifieth." " Who shall separate usfrom the love of Christ ? .... As it is written,for Thy sake we are killed all the clay long, weare accounted as sheep for the slaughteray, in all these things we are more than con-querors through Him that loved us." He Whohas seen it all, and abhors it all, He againstWhom it was sinned, He Who suffered, as nohuman mind can know, to put it away, is pleasedto forgive, wholly, freely, publicly, instantly,finally ; and if He can forgive us, who are weto say it is impossible we can be forgiven ? If His death procures the forgiveness, and Hisresurrection confirms it, and His ascension appliesit, and His advent in glory proclaims it, let usnot presume to be holier or wiser than He is :our faith shall save us, we will go in peace./ know Thee, Saviour, who Thou art ;

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