Monday, November 06, 2006

This Is the Time On Which My Endless Life Dependeth

The title above? A line from Richard Baxter's [1] Essay "Directions Against Covetousness, Or Love of Riches, and Against Worldly Cares." And the directions he gives are, of course, Scriptural, and above that, as they would, make total sense. Here is the context of the quote:
Believe unfeignedly that thou must dwell for ever in heaven or hell, as thou makest preparation here, and consider of this as becometh a man, and then be a worldling and covetous if thou canst: riches will seem dust and chaff to thee, if thou believe and consider thy everlasting state. Write upon the doors of thy shop and chamber, I must be in heaven or hell for ever; or, This is the time on which my endless life dependeth; and methinks every time thou readest it, thou shouldest feel thy covetousness stabbed at the heart.
It makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?

We are less likely to be concerned about wealth when we consider how little time we spend on earth. How quickly is a person stripped of wealth when he dies? Can anyone keep any of it? Is it possible to make a deal with death so that it would not actually separate our souls from our bodies? For a long time, I would say all of us have known how little time we have on this earth, that the earth is nothing more than a motel or trip, and that the coffin that our deteriorating flesh inhabits is all that we will keep out of our large possessions. If this is the case, should we not save what we can for heaven by laying it out in obedience to God? Life is short and quickly gone, almost done when it has first begun. Should we make such ado about so short a life to make careful provision for so short a stay?

In addition to short, time is also so uncertain. We don't really know what will be tomorrow. We can die and quickly die. Should we not soberly read the warning of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Master:
And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. Luke 12:19-21
We may be rich today and be in another world tomorrow. If so, would not have poverty been just as good? Especially when worldly goods distract our souls from things that are eternal. If we were sure we would die tomorrow (or even next month or next year), would we not be more indifferent whether we were poor or rich and look more on the greater things, the eternal things?

We should take the mind of the Apostle Paul:
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18
Our eye of faith should be so fixed on the invisible, eternal things, that we are hard-pressed to give any serious regard to the things that are visible and temporal. Baxter writes:
A man that is going to execution scarce looks at all the bustle or business that is done in streets and shops as he passeth by; because these little concern him in his departing case. And how little do the wealth and honours of the world concern a soul that is going into another world, and knows not but it may be this night!
No one is taking anything with them except for three: Our own soul, the souls of others, and the things by faith we have done for Christ.

Let's think about it before it's too late.

[1] 1615-1691. Biography.


Kate said...

Oh how very true! The cares of this world hold nothing in heaven, but our treasure lies in those souls we have led to Him!!

Kent Brandenburg said...

Dave, I accidently (truly) rejected your comment. I had not read what you wrote elsewhere. You are welcome to repost. I won't reject the same message.

Thanks Kate.

Nicholas Cardot said...

We sure do get our eyes on the here and now and forget all about the eternal. Nice post. And nice blog.