THE ART OF DYING: IN LUTHER'S SERMON ON PREPARING TO DIE

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Abstract

Luther counseled those preparing to die to ponder the three ‘glowing pictures’ of Christ –‘life, grace, and heaven’, as well as the affective ‘sign’ of the sacrament – to drive out the three counterpictures produced by the devil –‘death, sin, and hell’. The proper timing of contemplation before death and the proper orientation of clinging to Christ and his merciful acts on the cross will empower the sufferer to face death with confidence. Before the saving image of Christ, the trilogy produced by evil vanishes of itself without opposition, a psychological phenomenon which incites faith in us and praise of God at this last hour. The annihilating knowledge of the negative images may be useful, therefore, if it drives us into the arms of Christ.

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