Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;
~ Job 14:5
The clods of the valley shall be sweet unto him, and every man shall draw after him, as there are innumerable before him.
~ Job 21:33
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
~ Genesis 3:19
For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him.
~ 2 Samuel 14:14
There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.
~ Ecclesiastes 8:8
For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
~ Ecclesiastes 9:5
Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
~ Ecclesiastes 12:5-7
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
~ Hebrews 9:27
The Difference Between the Righteous and the Wicked in their Death, by Thomas Boston. The following contains an excerpt from Book Four, “The Eternal State”, of his work “Human Nature in its Fourfold State”.
For I know that you will bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living.
~ Job 30:23
DOCTRINE 1. The WICKED dying, are driven away in their wickedness, and in a HOPELESS state. In speaking to this doctrine,
I. I shall show how, and in what sense, the wicked are “driven away in their wickedness” at death.
II. I shall prove the hopelessness of their state at death.
III. And then apply the whole.
I. How, and in what sense, the wicked are “driven away in their wickedness.” In discoursing of this matter, I shall briefly inquire,
1. What is meant by their being “driven away.” 2. Why they shall be driven, and where.3. In what respects they may be said to be driven away “in their wickedness.”
But before I proceed, let me remark, that you are mistaken if you think that no people are to be called wicked, but those who are avowedly vicious and profane; as if the devil could dwell in none but those whose name is Legion. In Scripture account, all who are not righteous, in the manner hereafter explained, are reckoned wicked. Therefore the the text divides the whole world into two sorts– “the righteous and the wicked,” and you will see the same thing in Malachi 3:18, “Then shall you return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked.” Therefore if you are not righteous, you are wicked. If you have not an imputed righteousness, and also an implanted righteousness, or united to Christ by faith, however moral and blameless in the eyes of men your conversation may be, you are the wicked who shall be driven away in their wickedness– if death finds you in that state. Now,
1. As to the MEANING of this phrase, “driven away,” there are three things in it; the wicked shall be taken away suddenly, violently, and irresistibly.
(1.) Unrenewed men shall be taken away SUDDENLY at death. Not that all wicked men die suddenly; nor that they are all wicked that die so; God forbid. But,
1. Death commonly comes upon them unexpectedly, and so surprises them, as the deluge surprised the old world, though they were forewarned of it long before it came; and as travail comes on a woman with child, with surprising suddenness, although looked for and expected, 1 Thess. 5:3. Death seizes them, as a creditor does his debtor, to drag him to prison, Psalm 55:15, and that when they are not aware. Death comes in, as a thief, at the window, and finds them full of busy thoughts about this life which that very day perish.
2. Death always seizes them unprepared for it; the old house falls down about their ears, before they have another provided. When death casts them to the door, they have not where to lay their heads; unless it be on a bed of fire and brimstone. The soul and body are as it were hugging one another in mutual embraces; when death comes like a whirlwind, and separates them.
3. Death hurries them away in a moment to destruction, and makes a most dismal change– the man for the most part never knows where he is, until “in hell he lift up his eyes,” Luke 16:23. The floods of wrath suddenly overwhelm his soul; and before he is aware, he is plunged into the bottomless pit!
(2.) The unrenewed man is taken away out of the world VIOLENTLY. Driving is a violent action; he is “chased out of the world,” Job 18:18. Gladly would he stay, if he could; but death drags him away, like a malefactor to the execution. He sought no other portion than the profits and pleasures of this world– he has no other; he really desires no other– how can he then go away out of it, if he were not driven?
Question. “But may not a wicked man be willing to die?” Answer. He may indeed be willing to die; but observe it is only in one of three cases.
1. In a fit of passion, by reason of some trouble that he is impatient to be rid of. Thus, many people, when their passion has got the better of their reason, and when, on that account they are most unfit to die, will be ready to cry, “O to be gone!” But should their desire be granted, and death came at their call, they would quickly show they were not in earnest; and that, if they go, they must be driven away against their wills.
2. When they are brim-full of despair may they be willing to die. Thus Saul murdered himself; and Spira wished to be in hell, that he might know the uttermost of what he believed he was to suffer. In this manner men may seek after death, while it flees from them. But fearful is the violence these undergo, whom the terrors of God do thus drive.
3. When they are dreaming of happiness after death. Foolish virgins, under the power of delusion, as to their state, may be willing to die, having no fear of lying down in sorrow. How many are there, who can give no scriptural ground for their hope, who yet have no bands in their death! Many are driven to darkness ‘sleeping’– they go off like lambs, who would roar like lions, did they but know what place they are going to; though the chariot in which they are, drives furiously to the depths of hell, yet they fear not, because they are fast asleep!
(3.) The unregenerate man is taken away IRRESISTIBLY. He must go, though sore against his will. Death will lake no refusal, nor admit of any delay; though the man has not lived half his days, according to his own computation. If he will not bow, it will break him. If he will not come forth, it will pull the house down about his ears; for there he must not stay. Although the physicians help, friends groan, the wife and children cry, and he himself use his utmost efforts to retain the spirit, his soul is required of him; yield he must, and go where he shall never more see light.
2. Let us consider, WHY they are driven, and WHERE.
When the wicked die,
(1.) They are driven out of this world, where they sinned, into the other world, where they must be judged, and receive their particular sentences, Heb. 9:27, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” They shall no more return to their beloved earth. Though their hearts are wedded to their earthly enjoyments, they must leave them, they can carry nothing hence. How sorrowful must their departure be, when they have nothing in view so good as that which they leave behind them!
(2.) They are driven out of the society of the saints on earth, into the society of the damned in hell, Luke 16:22-23, “The rich man also died, and was buried. And in hell he lift up his eyes.” What a multitude of the devil’s goats do now take place among Christ’s sheep! but at death they shall be “led forth with the workers of iniquity,” Psalm 125:5. There is a mixed multitude in this world, but no mixture in the other; each party is there set by themselves. Though hypocrites grow here as tares among the wheat, death will root them up, and they shall be bound in bundles for the fire.
(3.) They are driven out of time into eternity! While time lasts with them, there is hope; but when time goes, all hope goes with it. Precious time is now lavishly spent– it lies so heavy on the hands of many, that they think themselves obliged to take several ways to drive away time. But beware of being at a loss what to do in life– improve time for eternity, while you have it; for before long, death will drive it from you, and you from it, so as you shall never meet again.
(4.) They are driven out of their specious ‘pretenses to piety’. Death strips them of the splendid robes of a fair profession, with which some of them are adorned; and turns them off the stage, in the rags of a wicked heart and life. The word “hypocrite” properly signifies a stage- player, who appears to be what indeed he is not. This world is the stage on which these children of the devil impersonate the children of God. Their ‘show of religion’ is the player’s coat, under which one must look, who will judge of them aright. Death turns them out of their coat, and they appear in their native dress– it unveils them, and takes off their mask! There are none in the other world, who pretend to be better than they really are. Depraved nature acts in the regions of horror, undisguised!
(5.) They are driven away from all means of grace; and are set beyond the line, quite out of all prospect of mercy. There is no more an opportunity to buy oil for the lamp; it is gone out at death, and can never be lighted again. There may be offers of mercy and peace made, after they are gone; but they are to others, not to them– there are no such offers in the place to which they are driven; these offers are only made in that place from which they are driven away.
3. In what respects may they be said to be driven away in their wickedness?
Answer 1. In respect of their being driven away in their sinful unconverted state. Having lived enemies to God, they die in a state of enmity to him– for none are brought into the eternal state of consummate happiness, but by the way of the state of grace in this life. The child that is dead in the womb, is born dead, and is cast out of the womb into the grave– so, “he who is dead while he lives”, or is spiritually dead, is cast forth of the womb of time, in the same state of death, into the pit of utter misery. O miserable death, to die in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity! It had been incomparably better for such as die thus, that they had never been born!
Answer 2. In regard that they die sinning, acting wickedly against God, in contradiction to the divine law; for they can do nothing but sin while they live– so death takes them in the very act of sinning; violently draws them from the embraces of their lusts, and drives them away to the tribunal, to receive their sentence! It is a remarkable expression, Job 36:14, “They die in youth,” the marginal reading is, “their soul dies in youth”– their lusts being lively, their desires vigorous, and expectations big, as is common in youth. “And their life is among the unclean;” or, “And the company” or herd “of them” dies “among the Sodomites,” namely, is taken awny in the act of their sin and wickedness, as the men of Sodom were, Genesis 19; Luke 17:28, 29.
Answer 3. As they are driven away, loaded with the guilt of all their sins; this is the winding-sheet that shall lie down with them in the dust, Job 20:11. Their works follow them into the other world; they go away with the yoke of their transgressions wreathed about their necks. Guilt is a bad companion in life, but how terrible will it be in death! It lies now, perhaps, like cold brimstone on their benumbed consciences– but when death opens the way for sparks of divine vengeance, like fire, to fall upon it, it will make dreadful flames in the conscience, in which the soul will be, as it were, wrapped up forever!
Answer 4. The wicked are driven away in their wickedness, in so far as they die under the absolute power of their wickedness. While there is hope, there is some restraint on the worst of men; those moral endowments, which God gives to a number of men, for the benefit of mankind in this life, are so many restraints upon the impetuous wickedness of human nature. But all hope being cut off, and these gifts withdrawn, the wickedness of the wicked will then arrive at its perfection.
As the seeds of grace, sown in the hearts of the elect, come to their full maturity at death; so wicked and hellish dispositions in the reprobate, come then to their highest pitch! Their prayers to God will then be turned to horrible curses, and their praises to hideous blasphemies, Matthew 25:13, “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” This gives a dismal, but correct view of the state of the wicked in another world.