” The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” 1 Cor. 15:26.
What would we not do to have a joyous deathbed! What a dreadful death it will be if we have neglected the time of grace and cannot look forward to anything but being cast into hell immediately upon death! How wretched it is even for believers when we must die in darkness; if we do not know whether there has ever been grace in the soul; if we fear that we shall not be saved, but rather must perish at that very moment; or if we must breathe our last breath in such a state of confusion and perplexity! What a joyful deathbed it is, on the contrary, if we may be strong in the faith, know ourselves to be reconciled in Christ and clothed with His righteousness, see heaven opened and Jesus standing ready to receive the soul, and presently taste the beginning of eternal joy! Oh, then death is not death! However, this frequently follows upon being occupied habitually with the preparation for death. It can happen that a feeble Christian, who has struggled much with sin and has been lethargic in seeking after God, has nevertheless a joyous end, whereas one who was a strong Christian in his lifetime occasionally dies in darkness. However, that is the exception. Generally, dying will be consistent with the measure in which one has prepared for it. It is not contingent upon the many comforts one has enjoyed in this life, but according to what extent he has been exercised spiritually. Those who have had much strife in this life, have experienced much darkness, have lived in weakness of faith, and have wrestled with the power of corruption, generally die in faith. Therefore, he who desires to have a joyous deathbed ought to be active in spending much time in preparing for death.
Question: What am I to do? In what does preparation consist?
Answer: First, in this time wean yourself from this world. “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” (Luke 21:34). A tree which has burrowed its roots deep in the earth can only be extracted from the earth with much pulling and tearing, whereas a young tree not yet deeply rooted can easily be extracted from the earth. Such is also true for a person who greatly cleaves to this earth. Wilhelmus a Brakel