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The Valley of Death Opening to Life and Immortality

The Valley of Death Opening to Life and Immortality

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY REV. JOHN SUMMERFIELD, A.M.



Psalm xxiii., 4, 5. — Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil ; for thou art with me ; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies : thou anointest my head with oil ; my cup runneth over.
BY REV. JOHN SUMMERFIELD, A.M.



Psalm xxiii., 4, 5. — Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil ; for thou art with me ; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies : thou anointest my head with oil ; my cup runneth over.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Apr 18, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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THE VALLEY OF DEATH OPEIG TO LIFE AD IM- MORTALITY. BY REV. JOH SUMMERFIELD, A.M.Psalm xxiii., 4, 5. — Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil ; for thou art with me ; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies : thou anointest my head with oil ; my cup runneth over. I. The passage of good men to the mansions of light and life lies through the dark valley of the shadow of death. II. It is God's gracious presence with us, and his power- ful protection, that must enable us to go through without fear, nay, with confidence and comfort. I. The passage of good men, &c. 1. How significantly is death represented as a shady val- ley. It is in itself the most deplorable temporal calamity that can befal our nature. In Scripture, affliction and mis- ery are represented as darkness ; and because our dying mo- ments are naturally the most frightful, the greatest of other dangers are often called the shadow of death. Thus in Psalms : " Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron." " He brought TO LIFE AD IMMORTALITY. 191 them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bonds asunder." Because of the gloomy darkness in solitary valleys, overshadowed by high mountains, this adds a farther emphasis to import the depth and extremity of dis- tress, in which there appears little hope of relief. — Such is death to the eye of sense.
 
Again, it intimates our natural dread of it and aversion to it. "What a grim and ghastly aspect has death ! We start and shrink when we are called to walk even under his shadow ! See his harbingers — racking pains, convulsions, agonies, &c. — and then the invisible world beyond ! How often do good men look on the gloomy side of it, for who knows what it is to die ? 2. Vindicate the necessity even of good men passing through this valley. First. It is necessary for the demonstration of God's im- partial justice against sin. Death is not the result of our natural constitution, but the punishment of sin. The em- pire of death, then, is rendered as universal as the empire of sin. Wherever the hateful leprosy has spread, the walls of this clay must be pulled down ! Secondly. This conduct of God is highly conducive to the glory of his infinite wisdom. For this animal life is now only suited to this state of probation. The rewards of grace are more than the soul could enjoy in this present body ; we could not see God and live. — We must have spiritual bodies. # # # # % Again, it is congruous to glorify God by the exercise of our faith in dying as well as in living. We glorify God when we live by faith ; and not less by dying in faith, as Job: " Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." And, farther, it is no impeachment of God's justice and goodness that good men die ; for, indeed, from them the sting of death is removed. 3. The Psalmist supposes death to be the passage to a better life. Without this he could not say, " I will fear no evil;" for such it would be if it were the ex- tinction of our being — and not to fear it would be stu-
 
192 THE VALLEY OP DEATH, ETC. pidity. The gloomy thought, " wherefore hast thou made all men in vain ?" would then sink even a saint to de- spair. II. Consider the grounds of confidence and comfort sug- gested. 1. God's gracious presence in a dying moment. And oh ! we never need it more ! — the light of his countenance ! The wolves were wont to set upon the sheep in solitary val- leys, and then they most needed the shepherd's care and presence. But what encouragement to trust God then ? " And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee ; he will not fail thee nor forsake thee : fear not, neither be dismayed." " For this God is our God forever and ever. He will be our guide even unto death." 2. God's merciful disposal and conduct of the Christian after death. He sees the shepherd going before, and fol- lows him ; he sees the pastoral staff conducting, and though the passage be dark he treads it firmly ; he hears the prom- ise, " I know my sheep, and I give unto them eternal life ; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hands." He has already passed under his rod, and been numbered among God's chosen, and he knows that he shall be brought to the heavenly fold. Again. The lively belief of God's presence will carry him through, not only without fear, but with comfort. To such a one, then, there is nothing terrible in death. Fears he the agonies and pains which are its forerun- ners ? eedful support shall be afforded.

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