“Fear not: I have the keys of hell and of death.”—Revelation 1:17,18
Is it Jesus, all precious, all lovely, all powerful Jesus, that saith this? He who hath redeemed my soul from hell, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling? And hath Jesus, my Husband, my Brother, my Redeemer, the keys both of hell and of death? Why then it is impossible for any to open death’s door one moment before that he gives the appointment. And doth he command me to fear not? Oh then, my soul, dismiss all anxiety about thy departure. Thy time is in Jesus’s hands; the keys are hanging at thy Redeemer’s girdle. Never fear, neither to die as thou hast lived, and art living, in a believing frame in Jesus. This is as much suited to a dying time, as it is to a living time; for with this thou mayest go out of the world, as safe as living in it. “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” God’s covenant love, and God’s covenant promises in Jesus, are the same. They are, both in death and life, fixed and sure. When Jesus therefore comes, when the Master calls for thee, wilt thou feel reluctant? What, reluctant to go to Jesus? Is this thy love, thy kindness to thy friend? Forbid it, dearest Lord! No, my precious, blessed Jesus, open the gate of death to me when thou pleasest, where thou pleasest, and how thou pleasest. Sure I am thou wilt be present, and that is enough for me; and when the ground of all sensible comforts is sinking under me, Oh for a vigorous effort of faith communicated by thee, that I may drop the body, and leap at once into thy arms, with the last cry of faith, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit, for thou hast redeemed me, Oh Lord, thou God of truth.”
Robert Hawker (1753-1827) was an Anglican (High-Calvinist) preacher who served as Vicar of Charles Church, Plymouth. John Hazelton wrote of him:
“The prominent features…in Robert Hawker's testimony…was the Person of Christ….Dr. Hawker delighted to speak of his Lord as "My most glorious Christ.” What anxious heart but finds at times in the perusal of the doctor's writings a measure of relief, a softening, and a mellowing? an almost imperceptible yet secret and constraining power in leading out of self and off from the misery and bondage of the flesh into a contemplation of the Person and preciousness of Christ as "the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely." Christ and Him crucified was emphatically the burden of his song and the keynote of his ministry. He preached his last sermon in Charles Church on March 18th, 1827, and on April 6th he died, after being six years curate and forty-three years vicar of the parish. On the last day of his life he repeated a part of Ephesians 1, from the 6th to the 12th verses, and as he proceeded he enlarged on the verses, but dwelt more fully on these words: "To the praise of His glory Who first trusted in Christ." He paused and asked, "Who first trusted in Christ?" And then made this answer: "It was God the Father Who first trusted in Christ."