Clough's words - Thou shalt not kill, but needst not strive officiously to keep alive - recognise the indignity of seeking to prolong human life when the time has come to let it go. That moment when we relinquish our hold on this world must come to each one of us. However, it's not only extreme bad manners to arrive before we're invited but deprives us of the opportunity to reach the ultimate potential of our lives.
Doctors have assisted the death of the body since the first physician donned his toga, the quietus administered when all consciousness had fled and all that remained was the last winding-down of the mechanical organism. A slight touch of the finger on the still-moving pendulum of a clock whose spring would never hold tension again. Such intervention is both ethical and moral.
No Christian however can support the premature termination of a living conscious soul, however debilitated and however hopeless any prospect of recovery. Whilst the senses function, whilst the mind has capacity, however diminished, then the hold on life must be maintained. For who knows, even in that final pain and despair might come the grace of God's insight, might come Divine love, might come some necessary internal packing of the untidy luggage of our lives. Winning tries are scored in the last few seconds of the match; a drive to outfield as the last of the light fades can secure the innings. A team that walked off the pitch five minutes before full time because they thought their position hopeless would earn our derision.
And for those Englishmen who believe in an afterlife, the prospect of arriving on your host's doorstep an hour early to be greeted by a strained smile is surely just too awkward to be contemplated.