Words to the Dying

AnselmIf you were at the side of a dying man, what would you say?

Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), a weighty and time-honored theologian, once wrote a piece intended for that very purpose: to bring comfort to  dying Christians. His words are immensely comforting and powerful and worthy of slow, careful meditation.

The first set of questions is intended for dying clergyman:

Question. Do you rejoice, brother, that you are dying in the Christian Faith?
Answer. I do rejoice. . . .

Question. Do you confess that you have lived so wickedly, that eternal punishment is due to your own merits?
Answer. I confess it.

Question. Do you repent of this?
Answer. I do repent.

Question. Do you have the willingness to amend your life, if you had time?
Answer. I have.

Question. Do you believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died for you?
Answer. I believe it.

Question. Do you thank Him [for His passion and death]?
Answer. I do thank Him.

Question. Do you believe that you cannot be saved except by His Death?
Answer. I believe it.

Come then, while life remains in you, in His death alone place your whole trust; in nothing else place any trust; to His death commit yourself wholly; with this alone cover yourself wholly; in this enwrap yourself wholly.

And if the Lord your God wishes to judge you, say, “Lord, between Your judgment and me I present the death of our Lord Jesus Christ; in no other way can I contend with You.”

And if He shall say that you are a sinner; you say, “Lord, I interpose the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my sins and You.”

If He says that you have deserved condemnation; say, “Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my evil deserts and You; and His merits I offer for those which I ought to have, but have not.”

If He says that He is angry with you; say, “Lord I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between Your wrath and me.”

And when you hast completed this, say again, “Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between You and me.”

This done, let the sick man say thrice, “Into Your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit, for You have redeemed me, O Lord, God of truth.” . . .

The second portion is intended for the dying layman:

If he is a layman, he should be questioned after the following manner . . .

Question. Do you believe the things which belong unto the Christian faith, so far as regards what has been determined by the church?
Answer. I do believe.

Question. Do you rejoice that you are dying in the Christian faith?
Answer. I do rejoice.

Question. Do you grieve that you have offended your Creator?
Answer. I do grieve.

Question. Do you purpose, if God prolong your life, to abstain from offending Him?
Answer. I do purpose.

Question. Do you hope and believe, that not by your own merits, but by the merits of the passion of Jesus Christ, you may attain to everlasting salvation?
Answer. I do.

If any oppose you, and should object to you, set between him and you the merits of Christ’s passion.

HT: Nathan Busenitz

About Dana Dill

I'm a Christian, husband, daddy, pastor, professor, and hope to be a friend to pilgrims on their way home.
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