Most people think about their own death as a fearful prospect, but the title of a famous Puritan funeral sermon offers a pleasing alternative: a believer's last day on earth is his or her best day.

The Puritans of the 16th and 17th centuries produced a wealth of writing that can be read devotionally. They were at their devotional "best" in a genre that falls into the category of "best kept secrets," namely, funeral sermons. By the time a Puritan funeral sermon found its way into print, it had often been expanded into a small book. Puritan funeral sermons announce a single Bible verse at the outset, but as the sermons unfold they almost always become a mosaic of evocative verses on the subjects of death, heaven, and immortality. Some of these sermons are small anthologies of choice Bible verses.

When Thomas Brooks preached a sermon at the funeral of Mrs. Martha Randall at Christ's Church, London, on June 28, 1651, he chose a title that is a stroke of genius. By calling a believer's last day on earth his or her best day, Brooks at once demolished the conventional view of death as an earthly calamity. The following excerpt brings together a few key passages from the sermon.

Death is a believer's coronation day and marriage day.

Death is a change of our imperfect and incomplete enjoyments of God, for a more complete and perfect enjoyment of him. As no believer has a clear sight of God here, so no believer has a full and perfect sight of God here. In Job 26:14, how little a portion is heard of him—speaking of God—and of that is heard, ah how little a portion is understood! It is an excellent expression that Augustine has: "The glorious things of heaven are so many—that they exceed number; so precious—that ...

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