“If we desire to end our days in joy and comfort, let us lay the foundation of a comfortable death now betimes. To die well is not a thing of that light moment as some imagine: it is no easy matter. But to die well is a matter of every day. Let us daily do some good that may help us at the time of our death. Every day by repentance pull out the sting of some sin, that so when death comes, we may have nothing to do but to die. To die well is the action of the whole life.” – Richard Sibbes
While in London last week I visited Bunhill Fields Burial Grounds, the cemetery where many famous Nonconformist Christians are buried. I spent about three hours there contemplating what an amazing legacy these great saints have left us. I thought what a sight it will be when Christ returns and all these saints rise from their graves! It was a deeply moving experience for me.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, ESV)
Above is a photo of me at the tombstone of Isaac Watts. He is credited with writing 750 hymns, one of which is below.
Below is a photo of the tombstone of Theophilys Lindsey, M.A.; Reverend Lindsey commands my respect because he was a man of high stature in “institutional Christianity” who gave up his position and titles for sake of the truth and a good conscience. Thank God for shepherds like this man! How we need some pure-hearted men like this in the church today.
“Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Matthew 19:27-30, ESV)
Here is what Reverend Theophilus Lindsey’s marker says:
THEOPHILUS LINDSEY, M.A.
LATE OF ST JOHN’S COLLEGE IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE AND SOMETIMES VICAR OF CATTERICK IN YORKSHIRE HAVING RESIGNED HIS PREFERMENT IN THE CHURCH FOR THE SAKE OF TRUTH AND A GOOD CONSCIENCE HE BECAME THE FOUNDER OF THE CHAPEL IN ESSEX STREET THIS VENERABLE CONFESSOR ENDED HIS BLAMELESS AND EXEMPLARY LIFE III DAY OF NOVEMBER MDCCCVIII, AGED LXXXVI
If you would like further insight into the life of this man you can read this document:
THE APOLOGY OF THEOPHILUS LINDSEY, M. A, ON RESIGNING THE VICARAGE OF CATTERICK, YORKSHIRE.
There are several prominent Christian authors today attempting to make the case (and sell books) that unless you are a missionary serving in a foreign land, a land in which your life is daily at risk for spreading the gospel, you probably are not living your life totally sold out for Christ. To debunk that notion I offer you the example of the life of Joseph Hardcastle. His tombstone reads:
THE FAMILY GRAVE OF
JOSEPH HARDCASTLE 1752-1819
A MERCHANT OF THE CITY OF LONDON
LIES BENEATH THE LAWN IN FRONT
OF THIS STONE. HE WAS A FOUNDER
OF THE BRITISH AND FOREIGN
BIBLE SOCIETY AND FIRST TREASURER
OF THE LONDON MISSIONARY SOCIETY
AND WAS ASSOCIATED WITH WILLIAM
WILBERFORCE IN THE CAMPAIGN TO
Do you think his life didn’t make a difference?
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Finally I want to mention this grave marker of Joseph Hart. There was writing on all four sides and it expressed sentiments that all Christians can identify with.
By lovers of
Published in 1759
And still richly prized
By the church of God
The author’ remains
In this spot
As the original stone
Yet remains to show
Minister of the Gospel
Died May 24th 1768, Aged 56
Was by the free
And sovereign grace
And Spirit of God raised up
From the depths of sin
And delivered from
The bonds of mere profession
And led to rest entirely
For salvation in the
And perfect obedience of Christ.
“Mercy is welcome news indeed
To those who guilty stand:
Wretches, who feel what help they need
Will bless the helping hand
Though I am a stranger
To others and a wonder to
Myself yet I know Him (Christ)
Or rather am known of Him
“where sin abounded grace
Did much more abound.”
“O bring no price!
God’s grace is free
To Paul, to Magdalene, to me.”
“None but Jesus
Can do helpless sinners good.”
I could add several more saints to this list, but time precludes me from adding John Owen, John Gill, Thomas Goodwin and Susanna Wesley. I will close with a hymn written by Joseph Hart: