The covenant of God’s grace with Adam reveals that our exclusion from God’s presence is both a blessing and a curse. Knowing the grace and goodness of God in the exclusion of Adam and Eve from the garden causes us to see both blessings and curses in the sickness and death which results from our being away from God’s presence. Richard Baxter’s Directions for a Peaceful Death point us toward the blessings. Here are two edited directions of his eighteen:
Comfort is not desirable only as it pleases us, but also as it strengthens us, and helps us in our greatest duties. And when is it more needful than in sickness, and the approach of death? I shall therefore add such directions as are necessary to make our departure comfortable or peaceful at the least, as well as safe.
Direct. II. Misunderstand not sickness, as if it were a greater evil than it is; but observe how great a mercy it is, that death has so suitable a harbinger or forerunner: that God should do so much before he takes us hence, to wean us from the world, and make us willing to be gone; that the unwilling flesh has the help of pain; and that the senses and appetite languish and decay, which did draw the mind to earthly things: and that we have so loud a call, and so great a help to true repentance and serious preparation! …ordinarily it is a mercy to have the flesh brought down and weakened by painful sickness, to help to conquer our natural unwillingness to die.
Direct. III. Remember whose messenger sickness is, and who it is that calls you to die. …You cannot deny him to be the disposer of all things, without denying him to be God: it is he that loves us, and never meant us any harm in any thing that he has done to us; that gave the life of his Son to redeem us; and therefore thinks not life too good for us. Our sickness and death are sent by the same love that sent us a Saviour, and sent us the powerful preachers of his word, and sent us his Spirit, and secretly and sweetly changed our hearts, and knit them to himself in love; which gave us a life of precious mercies for our souls and bodies, and has promised to give us life eternal; and shall we think, that he now intends us any harm? Cannot he turn this also to our good, as he has done many an affliction which we have complained about?
I know this post jumps the gun as I am yet to give the biblical and systematic justification for my understanding of the covenant of grace in the garden. Time was against me this morning. This quote was ready to post. And, we can enjoy these blessings without the justification for now.