W. S. Plumer
Reason would show that we should try so to live as to be useful after death. The
Scriptures say that some men are so. ‘He being dead yet speaketh.’ This was said of a man four thousand years after his time. Surely this should encourage us to zeal in our Master’s service. Such cases are not rare, nor are they confined to olden times.
How do such events invest life with the deepest solemnity. ‘Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.’
In this world nothing is finished. Sin is not finished. Righteousness does not see the end of its labours and sufferings. All is incomplete. We see the little rill rising in the mountain. We cannot now follow it to the ocean, where, having received the rills of ten thousand tributaries, it pours out its immense floods.
If these things are so, it is a solemn thing to live. It is a great blessing to be born.
We ought to thank God for creation. But, then, life is a boon received under responsibilities as solemn and as lasting as eternity. We may sin away our day of grace, our opportunity for making peace with God, and laying up treasure in heaven, but not our accountability to God the Judge.
And what a contrast between the righteous and the wicked! Here, one sows to the Spirit, the other sows to the flesh. In the next world the reaping will be as diverse as the sowing.
If the righteous have posthumous influence for good, the wicked have also posthumous influence for evil. If Alexander’s Evidences are leading men to embrace the truth, Paine’s
Age of Reason is seducing many unwary souls to ruin. Men are constantly passing away from this world and appearing at the tribunal of God, who have been made what they were, at least in part, by these celebrated writers.
We lose many right perceptions of the future world by virtually stripping men of that conscious activity, and even identity, which they have here. Judas’s conscience, which flamed out so terribly here, did not cease to burn and rage when he entered the eternal world. Nor did Paul lose that peace of God, nor John that tender love, which constituted their happiness here, when they passed into the invisible world. He who is hateful, or filthy, or unjust here, awakes to the full consciousness of his character there. And he whose greatest anguish on earth was caused by his remaining corruptions, will, to his everlasting delight, there find that his heart is wholly sanctified. ‘Oh, to be done with temptations for ever!’ was the triumphant shout of one of the best men as he left the world.
Nor shall God cease to own his people, whose prayers, examples, and writings in this life exert an influence after they have left earth. However
long ago genuine prayers may have been offered, they are still sweet odours before God. Many have suggested that Saul of Tarsus was probably converted and saved in answer to the last prayer of the first martyr, Stephen. And a good life, how does God delight in it! He never forgets it. He has a book of remembrance in which it is all delineated, even down to the giving of a cup of cold water. Why, then, should good books not be blessed also, long after their authors are dead? Their virtue ever depended on the truth they taught and the spirit they breathed, and not at all on the natural life of those who wrote them.