Page images

you have any senses at all, you now feel whether being in this state be living or not! Where is now thy God? Let your Elias save you now if he will have you ! - let him come and save


now! Against these bitter taunts of the ungodly he encourages his mind, and suffers not himself to be weakened and moved from his holy purpose, but consoles himself thus.--Let me die as much as I may, yet that death is nothing. It is only my Father's rod. It is not his wrath, but (as the Germans say) ‘a fox's brush :' that is, a gentle chastisement which causes no pain. It is no proof of severity or of anger. The Lord does not by it declare any thing severe or cruel. But he chastises me in this manner, as a father chasteneth his son whom he loveth. This death is not indeed sweet or pleasant to the flesh, but bitter. It does not taste of honey, but of gall. It is I know a ród: but which, so far from bringing me into real death, translates me into real and eternal life!

And is there not here a wonderful interpreter, and a firm confuter of objections? Is it not a wonderful turn and blessed interpretation, to make of the word, death, a saving and life-giving rod ? No one can teach this skill, but the Holy Spirit and the right hand of God. For no one can describe how the flesh is thrown into perturbation, tortured, distressed, and grieved; when, to these corporal murderings, pains, and dire afflictions, there are added insults, jeers, taunts, scoffings, and abuses; and when the wicked, by wagging their heads, and by virulent abuse, agitate and revile the saints, as the Jews did Christ when he hung upon the cross.-Flesh and blood will do just the contrary. They will judge the rod, which is wholesome and beneficial, to be death and hell. They fall immediately into unbelief, and go into desperation, even when left to want a loaf of bread only. But this is not a right and spiritual interpretation. The far greater and more glorious skill is, to be enabled, when the devil, while death, not a common but a dreadful and most horrid death, is before the eyes, irritates and galls the heart of the godly with such taunts and jeers as those with which he tortured Job and number

[ocr errors]

less other saints; then, I say, the far greater and more glorious skill is, to be enabled to sing this verse, “I shall not die but live!” “He will not give me over unto death!” For Satan can render death horribly bitter

, fearful, and dreadful to the godly heart. Because, when he tempts, he does not say, as man would say, Thou shalt be cast into the fire: Thou shalt be drowned in the water : Thou shalt have thy head taken off, &c. : but he exaggerates and augments all things to the greatest degree : he terrifies the godly with the sight of death: he paints it forth as being horrible, terrible, cruel, eternal, and having no end: and he exaggerates, at the same time, the wrath and indignation of God above measure: and, by horrid maneuvres, impresses it upon the heart. Thus, he butchers the man, torturing him, and overwhelming him with these cruel cogitations so horribly, bitterly, and incredibly, that such temptations cannot be overcome or 'endured by any human powers whatever.

Here the man must be a good interpreter, who may be able to sing this verse, and by it overcome and beat off Satan, and say, Death is not, no, it is not, a proof of an angry mind, but a discipline of mercy and a fatherly chastisement. I am surely persuaded, that my God will not give me over unto death. Nor will I ever believe, or ever allow myself to be persuaded, that he is angry with me, even if all the devils in hell should get around me together, and declare it with the loudest bawlings : nay, if even an angel from heaven should tell me so, I would say “let him be accursed :” farther, if God himself should tell me so, yet would I firmly believe, that I was only tried by him in the same manner as he tried Abraham; and that he only made and appeared as though he were somewhat angry, but that, in truth and in deed, he was not angry with me. For God never recals or alters his word, but commands me to be persuaded in

“ The Lord chasteneth me, but he doth not given me over unto death.” I will not suffer this to be taken from me, nor will be persuaded, or suffer my case to be interpreted otherwise. This I will firmly be


, and to say,

lieve : this I will keep fixed in my mind: not one shall pluck this from me.

Thus the Psalmist, though he feels death, yet will not feel it; nor will he suffer it to be called death ; but he lays hold of the right hand of the mercy of God, and cleaves unto it. He does not however deny that death is sent upon him of God, but there is a sweet and silent understanding between God and himself. And that understanding between them is such, that death is not called death, nor is death, but that fatherly rod and discipline by which the sons are chastised. All these are truly singular and wonderful words, which are not to be found in, nor indeed can enter into, the hearts either of men or of princes. So the apostle Paul saith, 1 Cor. ii. that he is speaking of wisdom “in secret” and “in a mystery:” which none of the princes of this world knew. Thus have I spoken upon this glorious canticle and triumphal song of the saints !



Martin Luther.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »