Category Archives: Puritan

What God Hates Man Loves (and Vices Versus)

Yesterday, I wrote down a couple of short lists I had been thinking about on my drive in to work:

God in His natural state (The Spirit):
Hates
sin, injustice, unrighteousness, selfishness, dishonesty, deception
Loves
grace, justice, righteousness, selflessness, honesty, truth, order

Man in his natural state (The Flesh):
Hates grace, justice, righteousness, selflessness, honesty, truth, order
Loves sin, injustice, unrighteousness, selfishness, dishonesty, deception

In thinking about our “natural” tendencies, it is striking to note the clear opposition between God and man (the Spirit and the flesh).

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (Galatians 5:17)

I recently got Andrew Gray’s A Door Into Everlasting Life and started reading it just last night.  Written by this Scottish preacher who died at the age of 22, I felt almost as if we were having a conversation as he expounded and expanded upon my thoughts of the day.

It is a very sad, but yet an apparent truth, that there is no creature in the world so merciless and mischievous to itself as man is. For whereas everything naturally desires, or tends to its own preservation, man unweariedly endeavors his own destruction. He becomes his own murderer and executioner, by loving vice, and hating virtue, by forsaking Christ, to follow the world, by poisoning his soul to please his senses, by leaving the safe and pleasant way of holiness, to walk in the dangerous and destructive way of wickedness. Wicked men turn their backs upon God, and are ruled by sin and Satan at their pleasure. Such profane beasts are many. They glory in their shame. Like Sodom, they carried their sin in their foreheads, oathing it, telling of their cheats, how many they have defrauded, and of their whoredoms, how many they have defiled. Alas, they have not so much as one grain of grace in their hearts, nor the least sign of holiness in their lives. Though, by the ministry of the word, they be called upon to be holy, yet the more they are called unto holiness, the further do they run into all sin and wickedness.

Yes, God’s own children make but little progress in holiness. The estate of many is a declining estate. They have lost the savouriness of their spirits, and their delight in communion with God. They are weak in resisting temptations to sin, from the devil, the world, and the flesh. They are often overcome by sensuality, pride, worldliness, envy, etc. Their heart is less watched, their tongue less bridled, and their conversation more vain than formerly. What then more needful, than to have before our eyes such arguments, as are most likely to deter us from sin, to prevail with us to loath and leave all our lusts and transgressions, and to walk humbly and holily before God all our days. May the Lord open our eyes, to see the baseness of sin, and sanctify our hearts, that we may never welcome nor embrace it anymore, but may grow holier every day than the other. So living holily, may we die happily, and after death, reign with God gloriously forever.

In order to realize this, let these following considerations sink into our hearts. We must be holy, because the Lord our God is holy. “You shall be holy—for I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev. 19:2). “It is written, Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:16). God’s holiness is the great ground and cause of our holiness, and the motive of all obedience. “Let them praise Your great and awesome Name, for it is holy” (Psalm 99:3). “Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His holy hill; for the Lord our God is holy” (Psalm 99:9). We are not bound to be essentially and infinitely holy—as God is holy; yet are we bound to be perfectly holy for our state, as God is holy. You call God Father, and if He is your Father indeed, you will be like Him in holiness. You will both have the same nature for likeness. You read a Holy Bible, serve an holy God, pretend to be led by a Holy Spirit. Oh, what shame and trembling then should cover you, if you be unholy! You pretend to love God, and why are you not an imitator of God? Is it not a known saying, likeness makes love? Likeness is the cause of love, and an effect of it. If you would have God to love you, you must labor to be like Him. If you remain unholy, think with yourself, how can an infinitely holy God delight in such an unholy wretch, in such an unlovely and loathsome soul, in such a vile abominable sinner? How unfit am I for His love and embracements! If unholy, you will not endure the purity and presence of God, nor will God’s purity and presence endure you. (Andrew Gray, A Door Into Everlasting Life)

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Devotions, Puritan

Spend the Day with God (Baxter)

How to Spend the Day With God (Richard Baxter)

A holy life is inclined to be made easier when we know the usual sequence and method of our duties – with everything falling into its proper place. Therefore, I shall give some brief directions for spending the day in a holy manner.

Sleep

Measure the time of your sleep appropriately so that you do not waste your precious morning hours sluggishly in your bed. Let the time of your sleep be matched to your health and labour, and not to slothful pleasure.

First Thoughts

Let God have your first awaking thoughts; lift up your hearts to Him reverently and thankfully for the rest enjoyed the night before and cast yourself upon Him for the day which follows.

Familiarize yourself so consistently to this that your conscience may check you when common thoughts shall first intrude. Think of the mercy of a night’s rest and of how many that have spent that night in Hell; how many in prison; how many in cold, hard lodgings; how many suffering from agonizing pains and sickness, weary of their beds and of their lives.

Think of how many souls were that night called from their bodies terrifyingly to appear before God and think how quickly days and nights are rolling on! How speedily your last night and day will come! Observe that which is lacking in the preparedness of your soul for such a time and seek it without delay.

Prayer

Let prayer by yourself alone (or with your partner) take place before the collective prayer of the family. If possible let it be first, before any work of the day.

Family Worship

Let family worship be performed consistently and at a time when it is most likely for the family to be free of interruptions.

Ultimate Purpose

Remember your ultimate purpose, and when you set yourself to your day’s work or approach any activity in the world, let holiness to the Lord be written upon your hearts in all that you do.

Do no activity which you cannot entitle God to, and truly say that he set you about it, and do nothing in the world for any other ultimate purpose than to please, glorify and enjoy Him. “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Diligence in Your Calling

Follow the tasks of your calling carefully and diligently. Thus:

(a) You will show that you are not sluggish and servants to your flesh (as those that cannot deny it ease), and you will further the putting to death of all the fleshly lusts and desires that are fed by ease and idleness.

(b) You will keep out idle thoughts from your mind, that swarm in the minds of idle persons.

(c) You will not lose precious time, something that idle persons are daily guilty of.

(d) You will be in a way of obedience to God when the slothful are in constant sins of omission.

(e) You may have more time to spend in holy duties if you follow your occupation diligently. Idle persons have no time for praying and reading because they lose time by loitering at their work.

(f) You may expect God’s blessing and comfortable provision for both yourself and your families.

(g) it may also encourage the health of your body which will increase its competence for the service of your soul.

Temptations and Things That Corrupt

Be thoroughly acquainted with your temptations and the things that may corrupt you – and watch against them all day long. You should watch especially the most dangerous of the things that corrupt, and those temptations that either your company or business will unavoidably lay before you.

Watch against the master sins of unbelief: hypocrisy, selfishness, pride, flesh pleasing and the excessive love of earthly things. Take care against being drawn into earthly mindedness and excessive cares, or covetous designs for rising in the world, under the pretence of diligence in your calling.

If you are to trade or deal with others, be vigilant against selfishness and all that smacks of injustice or uncharitableness. In all your dealings with others, watch against the temptation of empty and idle talking. Watch also against those persons who would tempt you to anger. Maintain that modesty and cleanness of speech that the laws of purity require. If you converse with flatterers, be on your guard against swelling pride.

If you converse with those that despise and injure you, strengthen yourself against impatient, revengeful pride.

At first these things will be very difficult, while sin has any strength in you, but once you have grasped a continual awareness of the poisonous danger of any one of these sins, your heart will readily and easily avoid them.

Meditation

When alone in your occupations, improve the time in practical and beneficial meditations. Meditate upon the infinite goodness and perfections of God; Christ and redemption; Heaven and how unworthy you are of going there and how you deserve eternal misery in Hell.

The Only Motive

Whatever you are doing, in company or alone, do it all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Otherwise, it is unacceptable to God.

Redeeming The Time

Place a high value upon your time; be more careful of not losing it than you would of losing your money. Do not let worthless recreations, idle talk, unprofitable company, or sleep rob you of your precious time.

Be more careful to escape that person, action or course of life that would rob you of your time than you would be to escape thieves and robbers.

Make sure that you are not merely never idle, but rather that you are using your time in the most profitable way that you can and do not prefer a less profitable way before one of greater profit.

Eating and Drinking

Eat and drink with moderation and thankfulness for health, not for unprofitable pleasure. Never please your appetite in food or drink when it is prone to be detrimental to your health.

Remember the sin of Sodom: “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food and abundance of idleness” – Ezekiel 16:49.

The Apostle Paul wept when he mentioned those “whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame — who set their minds on earthly things, being enemies to the cross of Christ” – Philippians 3:18-19. O then do not live according to the flesh lest you die (Romans 8:13).

Prevailing Sins

If any temptation prevails against you and you fall into any sins in addition to habitual failures, immediately lament it and confess it to God; repent quickly whatever the cost. It will certainly cost you more if you continue in sin and remain unrepentant.

Do not make light of your habitual failures, but confess them and daily strive against them, taking care not to aggravate them by unrepentance and contempt.

Relationships

Remember every day the special duties of various relationships: whether as husbands, wives, children, masters, servants, pastors, people, magistrates, subjects.

Remember every relationship has its special duty and its advantage for the doing of some good. God requires your faithfulness in this matter as well as in any other duty.

Closing the Day

Before returning to sleep, it is wise and necessary to review the actions and mercies of the day past, so that you may be thankful for all the special mercies and humbled for all your sins.

This is necessary in order that you might renew your repentance as well as your resolve for obedience, and in order that you may examine yourself to see whether your soul grew better or worse, whether sin goes down and grace goes up and whether you are better prepared for suffering, death and eternity.

May these directions be engraved upon your mind and be made the daily practice of your life.

If sincerely adhered to, these will be conducive to the holiness, fruitfulness and quietness of your life and add to you a comfortable and peaceful death.

Leave a comment

Filed under Devotions, Puritan, Worship

Baxter, Time-Wasters, and the New Year

Ah, the New Year. . . time for resolutions!  Time to redeem “the time”.  Time for all those promises we’ve been failing to keep already, to make them anew and to hope again, even if it’s just for a few short days.

Do I sound too pessimistic?  I certainly don’t mean to, but I know too well the way things go and the waywardness of man.  Lord, would you help me this year, to promise less and deliver more. . . and to be more delivered by the promise!

I thought I would post here a list I found on another blog today (Puritan Fellowship).  It seemed fitting going into the new year.  Here are some thieves that the Puritan Richard Baxter warned the believers of his today to guard against.  Interestingly, there is one for every hour on the clock.  I think this list is just as applicable today as the day in which Baxter wrote it.

Thief I: One of the greatest time-wasting sins consists of idleness or sloth.

Thief II: The next thief or time-waster is excess of sleep.

Thief III: The next thief or time-waster is an inordinate adorning of the body.

Thief IV: Another time-wasting thief is unnecessary pomp and curiosity in retinue, attendance, house furniture, provision and entertainments, together with excess of compliment and ceremony, and servitude to the humors and expectations of time-wasters.

Thief V: Another time-wasting sin is needless and tedious feastings, gluttony, and tippling. (Tippling – drinking)

Thief VI: Another time-waster is idle talk.

Thief VII: Another thief which by the aforesaid means would steal your time, is vain and sinful company.

Thief VIII: Another notorious time-wasting thief, is needless, inordinate sports and games, which are stigmatized by the offenders themselves, with the infamous name of pastimes, and masked with deceitful title of recreations;

Thief IX: Another time-wasting thief is excess of worldly cares and business.

Thief X: Another time-waster is vain ungoverned and sinful thoughts.

Thief XI: Another dangerous time-waster sin is the reading of vain books, play-books, romances, and feigned histories; and also unprofitable studies, undertaken but for vain-glory, or the pleasing of a carnal or curious mind.

Thief XII: But the master-thief that robs men of their time is an unsancitified, ungodly heart; for this loseth time whatever men are doing; because they never intend the glory of God.

Leave a comment

Filed under Devotions, Puritan

The Misery of the Unconverted (Lewis Bayly)

This post was totally pilfered from one of my favorite sites, Grace Gems.  It is the first I have ever read of Lewis Bayly.  I doubt it will be the last.

The Practice of Piety—a Puritan devotional manual, directing a Christian how to live, that he may please God

by Lewis Bayly (1611)

Meditations on the miserable state of those not reconciled to God in Christ

O wretched man! Where shall I begin to describe your endless misery, who are condemned as soon as conceived; and judged to eternal death, before you were born to a temporal life! A beginning indeed, I find—but no end of your miseries. For when Adam and Eve, being created after God’s own image, and placed in Paradise, that they and their posterity might live in a blessed state of life immortal, having dominion over all earthly creatures, and only restrained from the fruit of one tree, as a sign of their subjection to the almighty Creator; though God forbade them this one small thing, under the penalty of eternal death; yet they believed the devil’s word before the word of God, making God, as much as in them lay, a liar. And so being unthankful for all the benefits which God bestowed on them, they became malcontent with their present state, as if God had dealt enviously or niggardly with them; and believed that the devil would make them partakers of far more glorious things than ever God had bestowed upon them; and in their pride they fell into high-treason against the Most High; and disdaining to be God’s subjects, they attempted blasphemously to be gods themselves, equals to God. Hence, until they repented they became like the devil; and so all their posterity, as a traitorous brood (while they remain impenitent, like you) and are subject in this life to all cursed miseries, and, in the life to come, to the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Lay then aside for a while your doting vanities, and take the view with me of your doleful miseries; which duly surveyed, I doubt not but that you will conclude, that it is far better never to have been born, than not to be by grace, a practitioner of religious piety.

Consider therefore your misery:
1. In your life.
2. In your death.
3. After death.

In your life, 1. The miseries accompanying your body; 2. The miseries which deform your soul.

In your death, The miseries which shall oppress your body and soul.

After death, The miseries which overwhelm both body and soul together in hell.

I. Miseries in this PRESENT LIFE.

A. The miseries of the BODY from infancy to old age.

And, first, let us take a view of those miseries which accompany the body in the four ages of life, namely infancy, youth, adulthood, and old age.

1. What were you, being an INFANT—but an helpless unconscious creature, having the human form—but without speech or reason? You were born with the stain of original sin, and cast naked upon the earth. What cause then have you to boast of your birth, which was pain and anguish to your mother, and to yourself the entrance into a troublesome life? The greatness of which miseries, because you could not utter in words, you did express as well as you could in weeping tears!

2. What is YOUTH—but an untamed beast? All whose actions are rash and crude, not capable of good counsel, when it is given; and, ape-like, delighting in nothing but in toys and baubles? Therefore you no sooner began to have a little strength and discretion—but immediately you were kept under the rod, and fear of parents and masters; as if you had been born to live under the discipline of others, rather than at the disposition of your own will. No tired horse was ever more willing to be rid of his burden, than you were to get out of the servile state of this bondage—a state not worth the description.

3. What is ADULTHOOD but a sea, wherein, as waves, one trouble arises on the crest of another—the latter worse than the former? No sooner did you enter into the affairs of this world—but you were enwrapped about with a cloud of miseries. Your flesh provokes you to lust, the world allures you to pleasures, and the devil tempts you to all kinds of sins; fears of enemies affright you; lawsuits vex you; wrongs of bad neighbors oppress you; cares for wife and children consume you; and disquietness from open foes and false friends do in a manner confound you; sin stings you within; Satan lays snares before you; conscience of past sins, dog behind you.

Now adversity on the left hand frets you; anon, prosperity on your right hand flatters you! Over your head God’s vengeance due to your sin is ready to fall upon you; and under your feet, hell’s mouth is ready to swallow you up! And in this miserable estate, where will you go for rest and comfort? The house is full of cares, the field is full of toil, the country is full of crudeness, the city is full of factions, the court is full of envy, the church is full of sects, the sea is full of pirates, the land is full of robbers. Or in what state will you live, seeing wealth is envied—and poverty despised; wit is distrusted—and simplicity is derided; superstition is mocked—and religion is suspected; vice is advanced—and virtue is disgraced?

Oh, with what a body of sin are you compassed about, in this world of wickedness! What are your eyes—but windows to behold vanities? What are your ears—but flood-gates to let in the streams of iniquity? What are your senses—but matches to give fire to your lusts? What is your heart—but the anvil whereon Satan has forged the ugly shape of all lewd affections?

Are you nobly descended? You must put yourself in peril of foreign wars to get the reputation of earthly honor; oft-times hazard your life in a desperate combat to avoid the aspersion of a coward. Are you born in poverty? What pains and drudgery must you endure at home and abroad to get maintenance; and all perhaps scarcely sufficient to serve your necessity. And when, after much service and labor, a man has got something, how little certainty is there in that which is gotten? You see in daily experience, that he who was rich yesterday, is today a beggar; he that yesterday was in health, today is sick; he that yesterday was merry and laughing, has cause today to mourn and weep; he that yesterday was in favor, today is in disgrace; and he who yesterday was alive, today is dead! And you know not how soon, nor in what manner you shall die yourself! And who can enumerate the losses, crosses, griefs, disgraces, sicknesses, and calamities, which are incident to sinful man? To speak nothing of the death of friends and children, which oft-times seems to us far more bitter than present death itself.

4. What is OLD AGE—but the receptacle of all maladies? For if your lot be to draw your days to a long date, in comes old bald-headed age, stooping under dotage, with his wrinkled face, decaying teeth, and offensive breath; testy with irritability, withered with dryness, dimmed with blindness, obscured with deafness, overwhelmed with sickness, and bowed together with weakness; having no use of any sense—but of the sense of pain, which so racks every member of his body, that it never eases him of grief, until it has thrown him down to his grave.

Thus far of the miseries which accompany the body. Now of the miseries which accompany chiefly the soul in this life.

B. The miseries of the SOUL from infancy to old age.

The misery of your soul will more evidently appear, if you will but consider—

The felicity she has lost.

The misery which she has brought upon herself by sin.

1. The felicity the soul has LOST was,

First, the fruition of the image of God, whereby the soul was like God in knowledge, enabling her perfectly to understand the revealed will of God (Col. 3:10; Rom. 12:2)

Secondly, true holiness, by which she was free from all profane error.

Thirdly, righteousness, whereby she was able to incline all her natural powers. And to frame uprightly all her actions, proceeding from those powers. With the loss of this divine image, she lost the love of God, and the blessed communion which she had with Him, wherein consists her life and happiness. If the loss of earthly riches vex you so much, how should not the loss of this divine treasure perplex you much more?

2. The misery which the soul has brought upon herself by sin, consists in two things:
Sinfulness
Cursedness

1. SINFULNESS is an universal corruption both of the soul’s nature and actions. The soul’s nature is infected with a proneness to every sin continually (Eph. 2:3; Gen. 6:5). The mind is stuffed with vanity (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:17). The understanding is darkened with ignorance (1Cor. 2:14). The will affects nothing but vile and vain things (Phil. 2:3). The soul’s actions are evil (Rom. 3:12). Yes, this deformity is so violent, that often in the regenerate soul, the appetite will not obey the government of reason, and the will wanders after, and yields consent to sinful motions. How great, then, is the violence of the appetite and will in the reprobate soul, which still remains in her natural corruption! Hence it is that your wretched soul is so deformed with sin, defiled with lust, polluted with filthiness, outraged with passions, overgrown with vile affections, pining with envy, overcharged with gluttony, surfeited with drunkenness, boiling with revenge, transported with rage—and the glorious image of God transformed into the ugly shape of the devil (Jn. 8:44)—so far as it once “repented the Lord, that ever he made man!” Gen. 6:6.

2. From the former flows the other part of the soul’s miseries, called CURSEDNESS (Dt. 27:26; Gal. 3:10; Ps. 119:21); whereof there are two degrees:
in part
in the fullness thereof

1. Cursedness in PART is that which is inflicted upon the soul in life and death, and is common to her with the body.

2. The cursedness of the soul in life, is the wrath of God, which lies upon such a creature so far, as that all things, not only calamities—but also very blessings and graces turn to ruin (Rom. 2:4,5; Jer. 28:13; Isa. 28:13); terror of conscience drives him from God and his service, that he dares not come to his presence and ordinances (Gen. 3:8,10; 4:14; Heb. 2:15)—but is given up to the slavery of Satan, and to his own lusts and vile affections (Rom. 1:21,24,26; Eph. 2:2; Col. 1:13). This is the cursedness of the soul in life. Now follow the cursedness of the soul and body in death.

II. The Misery of the body and soul in DEATH.

After that the aged man has battled with long sickness, and having endured the brunt of pain, and now expect some ease—in comes death, nature’s slaughter-man, God’s curse, and hell’s supplier—and looks the old man grim and black in the face; and neither pitying his age, nor regarding his long-endured dolours, will not be hired to refrain either for silver or gold; nay, he will not take to spare his life, skin for skin (Job 1), and all that the old man has! But death batters all the principal parts of his body, and arrests him to appear before the dreadful Judge. And as thinking that the old man will not despatch to go with him fast enough, Lord!—how many darts of calamities does he shoot through him—pains, aches, cramps, fevers, obstructions, weak heart, shortness of breath, colic, stone, etc. Oh, what a ghastly sight it is, to see him then in his bed, when death has given him his mortal wound! What a cold sweat over-runs all his body—what a trembling possesses all his members! The head hangs limp, the face waxes pale, the nose purples, the jaw-bone hangs down, the eye-strings break, the tongue falters, the breath shortens and smells foul, and at every gasp the heart-strings are ready to break asunder!

Now the miserable soul sensibly perceives her earthly body to begin to die; for as towards the dissolution of the universal frame of the great world, the sun shall be turned into darkness, the moon into blood, and the stars shall fall from heaven, the air shall be full of storms and flashing meteors, the earth shall tremble, and the sea shall roar, and men’s hearts shall fail for fear, expecting the end of such sorrowful beginnings; in like manner, towards the dissolution of man, which is his little world, his eyes, which are as the sun and moon, lose their light, and see nothing but blood-guiltiness of sin; the rest of the senses, as lesser stars, do one after another fail and fall—his mind, reason, and memory, as heavenly powers of his soul, are shaken with fearful storms of despair, and fierce flashings of hell fire—his earthly body begins to shake and tremble, and the phlegm, like an overflowing sea, roar and rattle in his throat, still expecting the woeful end of these dreadful beginnings.

While he is thus summoned to appear at the great assizes of God’s judgment, behold, a quarter-sessions and jail-delivery is held within himself; where reason sits as judge, the devil puts in a bill of indictment, wherein is alleged all your evil deeds that ever you have committed, and all the good deeds that ever you have omitted, and all the curses and judgments that are due to every sin. Your own conscience shall accuse you, and your memory shall give bitter evidence, and death stands at the bar ready, as a cruel executioner, to dispatch you. If you shall thus condemn yourself, how shall you escape the just condemnation of God, who knows all your misdeeds better than yourself? (1Jn. 3:20) Gladly would you put out of your mind the remembrance of your wicked deeds that trouble you; but they flow faster into your remembrance, and they will not be put away, but cry unto you—We are your works, and we will follow you!

And while your soul is thus within, out of peace and order, your children, wife, and friends trouble you as fast, to have you put your goods in order; some crying, some craving, some pitying, some cheering; all, like flesh-flies, helping to make your sorrows more sorrowful (Lk. 12:20). Now the devils, who are come from hell to fetch away your soul, begin to appear to her; and wait, as soon as she comes forth, to take her, and carry her away. Your soul would like to stay within—but that she feels the body begin by degrees to die, and ready, like a ruinous house, to fall upon her head. Fearful she is to come forth, because of those hell-hounds which wait for her coming.

Oh, she that spent so many days and nights in vain and idle pastimes, would now give the whole world, if she had it, for one hour’s delay, that she might have space to repent, and reconcile herself unto God! But it cannot be, because her body, which joined with her in the actions of sin, is altogether now unfit to join with her in the exercise of repentance—and repentance must be of the whole man.

Now she sees that all her pleasures are gone, as if they had never been; and that but only torments remain, which never shall have an end of being. Who can sufficiently express her remorse for her sins past, her anguish for her present misery, and her terror for her torments to come?

In this extremity she looks everywhere for help, and she finds herself every way helpless. Thus in her greatest misery, desirous to hear the least word of comfort, she directs this or the like speech to her eyes—O eyes, who in times past were so quick-sighted, can you spy no comfort, nor any way how I might escape this dreadful danger? But the eye-strings are broken, they cannot see the candle that burns before them, nor discern whether it is day or night.

The soul, finding no comfort in the eyes, speaks to the ears—O ears, who were accustomed to recreate yourselves with hearing new pleasant discourses, and music’s sweetest harmony, can you hear any news or tidings of the least comfort for me? The ears are either so deaf, that they cannot hear at all, or the sense of hearing is grown so weak, that it cannot endure to hear his dearest friends speak. And why should those ears hear any tidings of joy in death, who could never abide to hear the glad tidings of the gospel in this life? The ear can minister no comfort.

Then she intimates her grief to the tongue—O tongue, who were accustomed to brag it out with the bravest, where are now your big and daring words? Now, in my greatest need, Can you speak nothing in my defense? Can you neither daunt these enemies with threatening words, nor entreat them with fair speeches? Alas! the tongue two days ago lay speechless—it cannot, in his greatest extremity, either call for a little drink, or desire a friend to take away with his finger the phlegm that is ready to choke him.

Finding here no hope of help, she speaks to the feet—Where are you, O feet, which once were so nimble in running? Can you carry me nowhere out of this dangerous place? The feet are stone-dead already—if they be not stirred, they cannot stir.

Then she directs her speech to her hands—O hands, who have been so often approved for manhood, in peace and war, and wherewith I have so often defended myself, and conquered my foes, never had I more need than now. Death looks me grim in the face, and kills me—hellish fiends wait about my bed to devour me—help now, or I perish forever. Alas! the hands are so weak, and do so tremble, that they cannot reach to the mouth a spoonful of liquid, to relieve languishing nature.

The wretched soul, seeing herself thus desolate, and altogether destitute of friends, help, and comfort, and knowing that within an hour she must be in everlasting pains, retires herself to the heart (which of all members is prime faculty), from whence she makes this doleful lamentation with herself.

O miserable coward that I am! How do the sorrows of death encompass me! How do the floods of Belial make me afraid! (2 Sam. 22:5) Now have, indeed, the snares both of the first and second death overtaken me at once. O how suddenly has death stolen upon me with insensible degrees! Like the sun, which the eye perceives not to move, though it be most swift of motion. How does death wreak on me his spite without pity! The God of mercy has utterly forsaken me; and the devil, who knows no mercy, waits to take me! How often have I been warned of this doleful day by the faithful preachers of God’s word, and I made but a jest of it! What profit have I now of all my pride, fine house, and mirthful apparel? What is become of the sweet relish of all my delicious foods? All the worldly goods which I so carefully gathered, would I now give for a good conscience, which I so carelessly neglected. And what joy remains now of all my former fleshly pleasures, wherein I placed my chief delight? Those foolish pleasures were but deceitful dreams, and now they are past like vanishing shadows! But to think of those eternal pains which I must endure for those short pleasures, distresses me as hell—before I enter into hell.

Yet justly, I confess, as I have deserved I am served; that being made after God’s image a reasonable soul, able to judge of my own estate, and having mercy so often offered, and I entreated to receive it—I neglected God’s grace, and preferred the pleasures of sin before the pious care of pleasing God; lewdly spending my short time, without considering what accounts I must make at my last end. And now all the pleasures of my life being put together, countervail not the least part of my present pains! My joys were but momentary, and gone before I could scarcely enjoy them; my miseries are eternal, and never shall know an end. O that I had spent the hours that I consumed in card-playing, dice-throwing, and other vile exercises—in reading the scriptures, in hearing sermons, in weeping for my sins, in fasting, watching, praying, and in preparing my soul—that I might have now departed in the assured hope of everlasting salvation! O that I were now to begin my life again! How would I despise the world and its vanities! How piously and purely would I lead my life! How would I frequent the church, and use the means of grace!

If Satan should offer me all the treasures, pleasures, and promotions of this world, he could never entice me to forget these terrors of this last dreadful hour. But, O corrupt carcass and loathsome carrion! How has the devil deluded us! And how have we served and deceived each other—and pulled swift damnation upon us both! Now is my case more miserable than the beast that perishes in a ditch—for I must go to answer before the judgment-seat of the righteous Judge of heaven and earth, where I shall have none to speak for me! And these wicked fiends, who are privy to all my evil deeds, will accuse me, and I cannot excuse myself; my own heart already condemns me; I must needs therefore be damned before his judgment-seat, and from thence be carried by these infernal fiends into that horrible prison of endless torments and utter darkness, where I shall never more see light, that first most excellent thing that God made.

I, who gloried heretofore in being a free man, am now enclosed in the very claws of Satan, as the trembling partridge is within the gripping talons of the ravenous falcon. Where shall I lodge tonight—and who shall be my companions? O horror to think! O grief to consider! O cursed be the day wherein I was born—let not the day wherein my mother bore me be blessed! Cursed be the man who showed my father, saying, “A child is born unto you,” and comforted him; cursed be that man because he slew me not! O that my mother’s womb might have been my grave! How is it that I came forth of the womb to endure these hellish sorrows—and that my days should thus end with eternal shame? Cursed be the day that I was first united to so vile a body! O that I had but so much favor as that I might never see you more! Our parting is bitter and doleful—but our meeting again, to receive at that dreadful day the fullness of our deserved vengeance, will be far more terrible and intolerable.

But what do I mean thus—by too late lamentation, to seek to prolong time? My last hour has come, I hear the heart-strings break! This filthy house of clay falls on my head! Here is neither hope, help, nor place of any longer abiding. And must I needs be gone, you filthy carcass? O filthy carcass! Farewell, I must leave you!

But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your soul will be demanded from you. Now who will get the things you’ve accumulated?” (Luke 12:20). And so all trembling, the lost soul comes forth from the body, and instantly is seized upon by infernal fiends, who carry her with violence to the bottomless lake that burns with fire and brimstone; where she is kept as a prisoner in torments until the general judgment of the great day (Rev. 21:8; Jude, verse 6; 1Pet. 3:19.)

The loathsome carcass is afterwards laid in the grave. In which action, for the most part, the dead bury the dead; that is, they who are dead in sin, bury those who are dead for sin. And thus the godless and unregenerated worldling, who made earth his paradise, his belly his God, his lust his law; as in his life he sowed vanity, so he is now dead, and reaps misery. In his prosperity he neglected to serve God—in his adversity God refuses to save him! And the devil, whom he long served, now at length pays him his wages. Detestable was his life, damnable is his death. The devil has his soul, the grave has his carcass—in which pit of corruption, den of death, and dungeon of sorrow—let us leave the miserable sinner, rotting with his mouth full of earth, his belly full of worms, and his carcass full of stench; expecting a fearful resurrection, when the body shall be reunited with the soul; that as they sinned together, so they may be eternally tormented together!

Thus far of the miseries of the soul and body is death, which is but cursedness in part—Now follows the fullness of cursedness, which is the misery of the soul and body after death.

III. The misery of a man AFTER death, which is the fullness of cursedness.

The fullness of cursedness, when it falls upon a creature, not able to bear the brunt of it, presses him down to that bottomless deep of the endless wrath of Almighty God, which is called the damnation of hell (Lk. 8:28, & 16:23; 1Th. 1:10; Mt. 23:33). This fullness of cursedness is either particular or general.

PARTICULAR is that which, in a less measure of fullness, lights upon the soul immediately, as soon as she is separated from the body (Lk. 16:22,23; 1Pet. 3:19; Jude, verses 6,7); for in the very instant of dissolution she is in the sight and presence of God—for when she ceases to see with the organ of fleshly eyes, she sees after a spiritual manner; like Stephen, who saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at his right hand (Acts 7:5); or as a man who, being born blind, and miraculously restored to his sight, should see the sun, which he never saw before. And there, by the testimony of her own conscience, Christ, the righteous Judge, who knows all things, takes her, by his omnipresent power, to understand the doom and judgment that is due unto her sins, and what must be her eternal state. And in this manner standing in the sight of heaven, not fit, for her uncleanness, to come into heaven, she is said to stand before the throne of God. And so immediately she is carried by the evil demons, who come to fetch her with violence into hell, where she is kept, as in a prison, in everlasting pains and chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day; but not in that extremity of torments which she shall finally receive at the last day.

The GENERAL fullness of cursedness is in a greater measure of fullness which shall be inflicted upon both soul and body, when, by the mighty power of Christ, the supreme Judge of heaven and earth, the soul shall be brought out of hell, and the body out of the grave, as prisoners, to receive their dreadful doom, according to their evil deeds (2Pet. 2:9; Jude, verse 7; Rev. 11:18; Jn. 5:28,29; Rev. 20:13). How shall the reprobate, by the roaring of the sea, the quaking of the earth, the trembling of the powers of heaven (Mt. 24:29; Lk. 21:24,25), and terrors of heavenly signs—be driven, at the world’s end, to their wits’ end! Oh, what a woeful salutation will there be between the damned soul and body, at their reuniting at that terrible day!

O sink of sin, O lump of filthiness (will the soul say to her body), how am I compelled to re-enter you, not as to an habitation to rest—but as a prison, to be tormented! How do you appear in my sight, like Jephtha’s daughter, to my great torment! Would God you had perpetually rotted in the grave, that I might never have seen you again! How shall we be confounded together to hear, before God, angels, and men—laid open all those secret sins which we committed together! Have I lost heaven for the love of such a foul carrion? Are you the flesh for whose pleasures I have yielded to commit so many fornications? O filthy belly! How did I become such a fool as to make you my god! How insane was I, for momentary joys—to incur these torments of eternal pains! You rocks and mountains—why do you skip away from me—and will not fall upon me, to hide me from the face of him who comes to sit on yonder throne; for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand? (Rev. 6:16,17) Why tremble you thus, O earth, at the presence of the Lord—and will not open your mouth, and swallow me up, as you did Korah—that I may be seen no more?

O evil fiends! I would you might without delay tear me in pieces—on condition that you would tear me into nothingness!

But while you are thus in vain bewailing your misery, the angels (Mt. 13:41) drag you violently out of your grave to some place near the tribunal-seat of Christ; where being, as a cursed goat, separated to stand on the left hand of the Judge—Christ will pass sentence upon you (Mt. 25:33)

Within you, your own conscience (more than a thousand witnesses) shall accuse you. The devils, who tempted you to all your lewdness, shall on the one side testify with your conscience against you! And on the other side shall stand the holy saints and angels approving Christ’s justice! Behind you, an hideous noise of innumerable fellow-reprobates waiting to receive you into their company! Before you, all the world burning in flaming fire! Above you, an wrathful Judge of deserved vengeance, ready to pronounce his sentence upon you! Beneath you, the fiery and sulphurous mouth of the bottomless pit, gaping to receive you! In this woeful estate, to hide yourself will be impossible, for you would wish that the greatest rock might fall upon you! (Rev. 6:16,17). To appear before the holy Lamb will be intolerable, and yet you must stand forth, to receive with other reprobates, this sentence—”Depart from me, you cursed one, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels!”

Depart from Me—there is a separation from all joy and happiness.

You cursed one—there is a black and direful exclusion from a holy God.

Into fire—there is the cruelty of pain.

Everlasting—there is the perpetuity of punishment.

Prepared for the devil and his demons—there are your infernal tormenting and tormented companions.

O terrible sentence! From which the condemned cannot escape; which being pronounced, cannot possibly be withstood; against which a man cannot deny, and from which a man can nowhere appeal—so that to the damned, nothing remains but hellish torments, which know neither ease of pain, nor end of time! From this judgment-seat you must be thrust by angels, together with all the devils and reprobates, into the bottomless lake of utter darkness, that perpetually burns with fire and brimstone (Rev. 21:8). Whereunto, as you shall be thrust, there shall be such weeping, woes, and wailing, that the cry of the company of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, when the earth swallowed them up, was nothing comparable to this howling! Nay, it will seem unto you a hell, before you go into hell—but to hear of it.

Into which lake, after that you are once plunged, you shall ever be falling down, and never meet a bottom; and in it you shall ever lament, and none shall pity you; you shall always weep for pain of the fire, and yet gnash your teeth for the extremity of cold; you shall weep to think, that your miseries are past remedy; you shall weep to think, that to repent is to no purpose; you shall weep to think, how, for the ‘shadows of short pleasures’—you have incurred these sorrows of eternal pains; you shall weep, to see how weeping itself can nothing prevail; yes, in weeping, you shall weep more tears than there is water in the sea; for the water of the sea is finite—but the weeping of a reprobate shall be infinite!

There your lascivious eyes will be afflicted with sights of ghastly spirits; your curious ears affrighted with hideous noise of devils, and the weeping and gnashing of teeth of reprobates; your dainty nose will be cloyed with noisome stench of sulphur; your delicate taste pained with intolerable hunger; your drunken throat will be parched with unquenchable thirst; your mind will be tormented to think how, for the love of pleasures, which perished before they budded—you so foolishly did lose heaven’s joys, and incur hellish pains, which last beyond eternity! Your conscience shall ever sting you like an adder, when you think how often Christ by his preachers offered the remission of sins, and the kingdom of heaven freely to you, if you would but believe and repent; and how easily you might have obtained mercy in those days; how near you were many times to have repented, and yet did allow the devil and the world to keep you still in impenitency; and how the day of mercy is now past, and will never dawn again. How shall your understanding be racked, to consider, that, for momentary riches—you have lost the eternal treasure, and exchanged heaven’s felicity for hell’s misery; where every part of your body, without intermission of pain, shall be continually tormented!

In these hellish torments you shall be forever deprived of the beatifical sight of God, wherein consists the sovereign good and life of the soul; you shall never see light, nor the least light of joy—but lie in a perpetual prison of utter darkness, where there shall be no order—but horror; where there shall be no voice—but of blasphemers and howlers; where there shall be no noise—but of tortures and tortured; where there shall be no society—but of the devil and his angels, who being tormented themselves, shall have no other ease but to wreak their fury in tormenting you; where shall be punishment without pity; misery without mercy; sorrow without support; crying without comfort; mischief without measure; torment without ease—where the worm dies not and the fire is never quenched; where the wrath of God shall seize upon the soul and body, as the flame of fire does on the brimstone. In which flame you shall ever be burning, and never consumed; ever dying, and never dead; ever roaring in the pangs of death, and never rid of those pangs, nor knowing end of your pains.

So that after you have endured them so many thousand years as there are grass on the earth, or sand on the sea shore—you are no nearer to have an end of your torments, than you were the first day that you were cast into them! Yes, so far are they from ending, that they are ever but beginning! But if, after a thousand times so many thousand years, your lost soul could but conceive a hope that her torments should have an end, this would be some comfort—to think that at length an end will come. But as oft as the mind thinks of this word NEVER—it is as another hell in the midst of hell!

This thought shall force the damned to cry, “Woe! Woe!” as much as if they should say, not ever, not ever, O Lord, not ever, not ever torment us thus! But their conscience shall answer them as an echo, “Forever! Forever!” Hence shall arise their doleful woe, and alas forevermore!

This is that second death, the general complete fullness of all cursedness and misery, which every damned reprobate must suffer—so long as God and his saints shall enjoy bliss and felicity in heaven forevermore.

Thus far of the misery of man in his state of corruption—unless he is renewed by grace in Christ.

Leave a comment

Filed under Devotions, Puritan

Directions Against Covetousness (Baxter)

Directions Against Covetousness, or Love of Riches, and Against Worldly Cares
by Richard Baxter

I shall say but little on this subject now, because I have written a Treatise of it already, called “The Crucifying of the World by the Cross of Christ;” in which I have given many directions (in the preface and treatise) against this sin.

Direct. I. Understand well the nature and malignity of this sin; both what it is, and why it is so great and perilous. I shall here show you, 1. What love of riches is lawful. 2. What it is that is unlawful; and in what this sin of covetousness or worldliness doth consist 3. Wherein the malignity or greatness of it lieth. 4. The signs of it. 5. What counterfeits of the contrary virtue do hide this sin from the eyes of worldlings. 6. What false appearances of it do cause many to be suspected of covetousness unjustly.

Lawful Love of Creatures

I. All love of the creature, the world or riches, is not sin. For: 1. The works of God are all good, as such; and all goodness is worthy of love. As they are related to God, and his power, and wisdom, and goodness are imprinted on them, so we must love them, even for his sake. 2. All the impressions of the attributes of God appearing on his works, do make them as a mirror, in which at this distance we must see the Creator; and their sweetness is a drop from him; by which his goodness and love are tasted. And so they were all made to lead us up to God, and help our minds to converse with him, and kindle the love of God in our breasts, as a love-token from our dearest friend; and thus, as the means of our communion with God, the love of them is a duty, and not a sin. 3. They are naturally the means of sustaining our bodies, and preserving life, and health, and alacrity; and as such, our sensitive part hath a love to them, as every beast hath to its food and this love in itself is not of a moral kind, and is neither a virtue nor a vice, till it either be used in obedience to our reason, (and so it is good,) or in disobedience to it (and so it is evil). 4. The creatures are necessary means to support our bodies, while we are doing God the service which we owe him in the world; and so they must be loved, as a means to his service; though we cannot say properly that riches are ordinarily thus necessary. 5. The creatures are necessary to sustain our bodies in our journey to heaven, while we are preparing for eternity; and thus they must be loved as indirect helps to our salvation. And in these two last respects we call it in our prayers “our daily bread.” 6. Riches may enable us to relieve our needy brethren, and to promote good works for church or state. And thus also they may be loved; so far as we must be thankful for them, so far we may love them; for we must be thankful for nothing but what is good.

What is Covetousness?

II. But worldliness, or sinful love of riches, is, 1. When riches are loved and desired, and sought more for the flesh than for God or our salvation; even as the matter or means of our worldly prosperity, that the flesh may lack nothing to please it, and satisfy its desires.(Phil. 3:7-9; Jam. 1:10; Phil. 4:11; 1 Tim. 6:5; Prov. 23:4, “Labour not to be rich.”) Or that pride may have enough wherewith to support itself, by gratifying and obliging others, and living ostentatiously, and in that splendor, as may show our greatness, or further our domination over others. 2. And when we therefore desire them in that proportion which we think most agreeable to these carnal ends, and are not contented with our daily bread, and that proportion which may sustain us as passengers to heaven, and tend most to the securing of our souls, and to the service of God. So that it is the end by which a sinful love of riches is principally to be discerned; when they are loved for pride or flesh-pleasing, as they are the matter of a worldly, corporal felicity, and not principally for God and his service, and servants and our salvation. And indeed, as sensualists love them, they should be hated.

When Worldliness is Predominant.

Worldliness is either predominant, and so a certain sign of death; or else mortified, and in a subdued degree, consistent with some saving grace. Worldliness predominant, as in the ungodly, is, when men that have not a lively belief of the everlasting happiness, nor have laid up their treasure and hopes in heaven, do take the pleasure and prosperity of this life for that felicity which is highest in their esteem, and dearest to their hearts, and therefore love the riches of the world, or full provisions, as the matter and means of this their temporal felicity.(Luke 14:26, 33.) Worldliness in a mortified person, is, when he that hath laid up his treasure in heaven, and practically esteemeth his everlasting hopes above all the pleasure and prosperity of the flesh, and seeketh first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and useth his estate principally for God and his salvation, hath yet some remnants of inordinate desire to the prosperity and pleasure of the flesh, and some inordinate desire of riches for that end; which yet he hateth, lamenteth, resisteth, and so far subdueth, that it is not predominant, against the interest of God and his salvation.(Matt. 6:19-21,33; John 6:27; Luke 12:19, 20 18:22,23.) Yet this is a great sin, though it be forgiven.

The malignity of it.

III. The malignity or greatness of this sin consisteth in these points (especially when it is predominant). 1. The love of the world, or of riches, is a sin of deliberation, and not of mere temerity or sudden passion: worldlings contrive the attaining of their ends. 2. It is a sin of interest, love, and choice, set up against our chiefest interest: it is the setting up of a false end, and seeking that; and not only a sin of error in the means, or a seeking the right end in a mistaken way. 3. It is idolatry,(Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5; James 4:4.) or a denying God, and deposing him in our hearts, and setting up his creatures in his stead, in that measure as it prevaileth. The worldling giveth that love and that trust unto the creature, which are due to God alone; he delighteth in it instead of God, and seeketh and holdeth it as his felicity instead of God: and therefore, so far as any man loveth the world, the love of the Father is not in him, 1 John 2:15. And the friendship of the world is enmity to God. 4. It is a contempt of heaven; when it must be neglected, and a miserable world preferred. 5. It showeth that unbelief prevaileth at the heart so far as worldliness prevaileth: for if men did practically believe the heavenly glory, and the promise thereof, they would be carried above these present things. 6. It is a debasing of the soul of man, and using it like the brutes, while it is principally set upon the serving of the flesh, and on a temporal felicity, and neglecteth its eternal happiness and concernments. 7. It is a perverting of the very drift of a man’s life, as employed in seeking a wrong end, and not only of some one faculty or act: it is an habitual sin of the state and course of mind and life, and not only a particular actual sin. 8. It is a perverting of God’s creatures to an end and use clean contrary to that which they were made and given for; and an abusing God by his own gifts, by which he should he served and honoured; and a destroying our souls with those mercies which were given us for their help and benefit. This is the true character of this heinous sin. In a word, it is the forsaking God, and turning the heart from him, and alienating the life from his service, to this present world, and the service of the flesh. Fornication, drunkenness, murder, swearing, perjury, lying, stealing, &c. are very heinous sins. But a single act of one of these, committed rashly in the violence of passion, or temptation, speaketh not such a malignant turning away of the heart habitually from God, as to say a man is covetous, or a worldling.

Signs of Covetousness.

IV. The signs of covetousness are these: 1. Not preferring God and our everlasting happiness before the prosperity and pleasure of the flesh; but valuing and loving fleshly prosperity above its worth.(Rom. 13:14; Matt. 6:19; 1 Tim. 3:8; Phil 3:19; Ezek. 33:31; Jer. 9:23.) 2. Esteeming and loving the creatures of God as provision for the flesh, and not to further us in the service of God. 3. Desiring more than is needful or useful to further us in our duty. 4. An inordinate eagerness in our desires after earthly things. 5. Distrustfulness, and vexatious cares, and contrivances for time to come. 6. Discontent, and trouble, and a longing discontent at a poor condition, when we have no more than our daily bread. 7. When the world taketh up our thoughts inordinately: when our thoughts will more easily run out upon the world, than upon better things: and when our thoughts of worldly plenty are more pleasant and sweet to us, than our thoughts of Christ, and grace, and heaven; and our thoughts of neediness and poverty are more bitter and grievous to us, than our thoughts of sin and God’s displeasure. 8. When our speech is freer and sweeter about prosperity in the world, than about the concernments of God and our souls. 9. When the world beareth sway in our families and converse, and shutteth out all serious endeavours in the service of God, and for our own and others’ souls: or at least doth cut short religious duties, and is preferred before them, and thrusteth them into a corner, and maketh us slightly huddle them over. 10. When we are dejected overmuch, and impatient under losses, and crosses, and worldly injuries from men. 11. When worldly matters seem sufficient to engage us in contentions, and to make us break peace: and we will by lawsuits seek our right, when greater hurt is more likely to follow to our brother’s soul, or greater wrong to the cause of religion, or the honour of God, than our right is worth. 12. When in our trouble and distress we fetch our comfort more from the thoughts of our provisions in the world, or our hopes of supply, than from our trust in God, and our hopes of heaven.(Job 1:21.) 13. When we are more thankful to God or man for outward riches, or any gift for the provision of the flesh, than for hopes or helps in order to salvation; for a powerful ministry, good books, or seasonable instructions for the soul. 14. When we are quiet and pleased if we do but prosper, and have plenty in the world, though the soul be miserable, unsanctified, and unpardoned. 15. When we are more careful to provide a worldly than a heavenly portion, for children and friends, and rejoice more in their bodily than their spiritual prosperity, and are troubled more for their poverty than their ungodliness or sin. 16. When we can see our brother have need, and shut up the bowels of our compassion, or can part with no more than mere superfluities for his relief: when we cannot spare that which makes but for our better being, when it is necessary to preserve his being itself; or when we give unwillingly or sparingly.(1 Tim. 6:17,18; Mal. 3:8, 9; Judges. 7:21.) 17. When we will venture upon sinful means for gain, as lying, overreaching, deceiving, flattering, or going against our consciences, or the commands of God. 18. When we are too much in expecting liberality from others, and think that all we buy of should sell cheaper to us than they can afford, and consider not their loss or need, so that we have the gain: nor are contented if they be never so bountiful to others, if they be not so to us.(When Alexander sent Phocion a hundred talents, he asked, Why he rather sent it to him than all the rest of the Athenians? He answered, Because he took him to be the only honest man in Athens: whereupon Phocion returned it to him again, entreating him to give him leave to be honest still.) 19. When we make too much ado in the world for riches, taking too much upon us, or striving for preferment, and flattering great ones, and envying any that are preferred before us, or get that which we expected. 20. When we hold our money tighter than our innocency, and cannot part with it for the sake of Christ, when he requireth it; but will stretch our consciences and sin against him, or forsake his cause, to save our estates; or will not part with it for the service of his church, or of our country, when we are called to it. 21. When the riches which we have, are used but for the pampering of our flesh, and superfluous provision for our posterity, and nothing but some inconsiderable crumbs or driblets are employed for God and his servants, nor used to further us in his service, and towards the laying up of a treasure in heaven. These are the signs of a worldly, covetous wretch.

V. The counterfeits of liberality or freedom from covetousness, which deceive the worldling, are such as these 1. He thinks he is not covetous because he hath a necessity of doing what he doth for more. Either he is in debt or he is poor, and scarcely hath whereon to live; and the poor think that none are worldlings and covetous but the rich. But he may love riches that lacketh them, as much as he that hath them. If you have a necessity of laboring in your callings, you have no necessity of loving the world, or of caring inordinately, or of being discontented with your estate. Impatience under your poverty shows a love of the world and flesh, as much as other men’s bravado that possess it.

2. Another thinks he is not a worldling, because if he could but have necessaries, even food and raiment, and conveniences for himself and family, he would be content; and it is not riches or great matters that he desireth. (It was one of Chilon’s sayings, Lapideis cotibus aurum examinari: auro autem bonorum malorumque hominum mentem cujusmodi sit comprobari: i.e. As the touchstone trieth gold, so gold trieth men’s minds, whether they be good or bad. Laertius in Chil. p. 43.) But if your hearts are more set upon the getting of these necessaries or little things, than upon the preparing for death, and making sure of the heavenly treasure, you are miserable worldlings still. And the poor man that will set his heart more upon a poor and miserable life, than upon heaven, is more inexcusable than he that setteth his heart more upon lordships and honours than upon heaven; though both of them are but the slaves of the world, and have as yet no treasure in heaven, Matt. 6:19-21. And, moreover, you that are now so covetous for a little more, if you had that, would be as covetous for a little more still; and when you had that, for a little more yet. You would next wear better clothing, and have better fare; and next you would have your house repaired, and then you would have your land enlarged, and then you would have something more for your children, and you would never be satisfied. You think otherwise now; but your hearts deceive you; you do not know them. If you believe me not, judge by the case of other men that have been as confident as you, that if they had but so much or so much they would be content; but when they have it, they would still have more. And this, which is your pretense, is the common pretense of almost all the covetous: for lords and princes think themselves still in as great necessity as you think yourselves: as they have more, so they have more to do with it; and usually are still wanting as much as the poor. The question is not how much you desire? But to what use, and to what end, and in what order?

3. Another thinks he is not covetous, because he coveteth not any thing that is his neighbour’s: he thinks that covetousness is only a desiring that which is not our own. But if you love the world and worldly plenty inordinately, and covet more, you are covetous worldlings, though you wish it not from another. It is the worldly mind and love of wealth that is the sin at the root: the ways of getting it are but the branches.

4. Another thinks he is no worldling, because he useth no unlawful means, but the labour of his calling, to grow rich. The same answer serves to this. The love of wealth for the satisfying of the flesh is unlawful, whatever the means be. And is it not also an unlawful means of getting, to neglect God and your souls, and the poor, and shut out other duties for the world, as you often do?

5. Another thinks he is no worldling, because he is contented with what he hath, and coveteth no more. When that which he hath is a full provision for his fleshly desires. But if you over-love the world, and delight more in it than God, you are worldlings, though you desire no more. He is described by Christ as a miserable, worldly fool, Luke 12:19, 20, that saith, “Soul, take thy ease, eat, drink, and be merry, thou hast much goods laid up for many years.” To over-love what you have, is worldliness, as well as to desire more.

6. Another thinks he is no worldling, because he gives God thanks for what he hath, and asked it of God in prayer. But if thou he a lover of the world, and make provision for the desires of the flesh, it is but an aggravation of thy sin, to desire God to be a servant to thy fleshly lusts, and to thank him for satisfying thy sinful desires. Thy prayers and thanks are profane and carnal: they were no service to God, but to thy flesh. As if a drunkard or a glutton should beg of God provision for their greedy throats, and thank him for it when they have it: or a fornicator should pray God to pander to his lusts, and then thank him for it: or a wanton man of fashion should make fine clothes and gallantry the matter of his prayer and thanksgiving.

7. Another thinks he is no worldling, because he hath some thoughts of heaven, and is loath to be damned when he can keep the world no longer, and prayeth often, and perhaps fasteth with the Pharisee twice a week, and giveth alms often, and payeth tithes, and wrongeth no man.(Luke 18:11-13; Matt. 6:16,18.) But the Pharisees were covetous for all these, Luke 16:14. The question is not whether you think of heaven, and do something for it? But whether it be heaven or earth which you seek first, and make the end of all things else, which all are referred to? Every worldling knoweth that he must die, and therefore he would have heaven at last for a reserve, rather than hell. But where is it that you are laying up your treasure, and that you place all your happiness and hopes? And where are your hearts? On earth, or in heaven? Col. 3:1-3; Matt. 6:20, 21. The question is not whether you give now and then an alms to deceive your consciences, and part with so much as the flesh can spare, as a swine will do when he can eat no more? but whether all that you have be devoted to the will of God, and made to stoop to his service and the saving of your souls, and can be forsaken rather than Christ forsaken, Luke 14:33.

8. Another thinks that he is not covetous, because it is but for his children that he provideth: and “he that provideth not for his own, is worse than an infidel,” 1 Tim. v.8. But the text speaketh only of providing necessaries for our families and kindred, rather than cast them on the church to be maintained. If you so overvalue the world, that you think it the happiness of your children to be rich, you are worldlings and covetous, both for yourselves and them. It is for their children that the richest and greatest make provision, that their posterity may be great and wealthy after them: and this maketh them the more worldlings, and not the less; because they are covetous for after-ages, when they are dead, and not only for themselves.

9. Another thinks he is no worldling, because he can speak as severely of covetous men as any other. But many a one revileth others as covetous that is covetous himself; yea, covetous men are aptest to accuse others of covetousness, and of selling too dear, and buying too cheap, and giving too little, because they would get the more themselves. And many preachers, by their reading and knowledge, may make a vehement sermon against worldliness, and yet go to hell at last for being worldlings. Words are cheap.

10. Another thinks he is not covetous, because he purposeth to leave much to charitable uses when he is dead. I confess that much is well: I would more would do so. But the flesh itself can spare it, when it seeth that it must lie down in the grave. If they could carry their riches with them and enjoy them after death, they would do it no doubt: to leave it when you cannot keep it any longer, is not thank-worthy. So the glutton, and drunkard, and whoremonger, and the proud must all leave their pleasure at the grave. But do you serve God or the flesh with your riches while you have them? And do you use them to help or to hinder your salvation? Deceive not yourselves, for God is not mocked, Gal. 6:7.

False Accusations of Covetousness

VI. Yet many are falsely accused of covetousness upon such grounds as these: 1. Because they possess much and are rich: for the poor take the rich for worldlings. But God giveth not to all alike: he putteth ten talents into the hands of one servant, and but one into another’s: and to whom men commit much, of them will they require the more.(Luke 12:48; 16:9,10; 2 Cor. 8:14,15.) Therefore, to be intrusted with more than others is no sin, unless they betray that trust.

2. Others are accused as covetous, because they satisfy not the covetous desires of those they deal with, or that expect much from them, and because they give not where it is not their duty, but their sin to give. Thus the buyer saith the seller is covetous; and the seller saith the buyer is covetous, because they answer not their covetous desires. An idle beggar will accuse you of uncharitableness, because you maintain him not in sinful idleness. The proud look you should help to maintain their pride. The drunkard, and riotous, and gamesters expect their parents should maintain their sin. No man that hath any thing, shall escape the censure of being covetous, as long as there is another in the world that coveteth that which he hath: selfishness looketh to no rules but their own desires.

3. Others are judged covetous, because they give not that which they have not to give. Those that know not another’s estate, will pass conjectures at it; and if their handsome apparel or deportment, or the common fame, do make men think them richer than they are, then they are accounted covetous, because their bounty answereth not men’s expectations.

4. Others are thought covetous, because they are laborious in their callings, and thrifty, and saving, not willing that any thing be lost. But all this is their duty: if they were lords or princes, idleness and wastefulness would be their sin. God would have all men labour in their several callings, that are able: and Christ himself said, when he had fed many thousands by miracle, yet “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” The question is, How they use that which they labour so hard for, and save so sparingly. If they use it for God, and charitable uses, there is no man taketh a righter course. He is the best servant for God, that will be laborious and sparing, that he may be able to do good.

5. Others are thought covetous, because, to avoid hypocrisy, they give in secret, and keep their works of charity from the knowledge of men. These shall have their reward from God: and his wrath shall be the reward of their presumptuous censures.

6. Others are thought covetous, because they lawfully and peaceably seek their right, and let not the unjust and covetous wrong them at their pleasure. It is true, we must let go our right, whenever the recovering of it will do more hurt to others than it will do us good. But yet the laws are not made in vain: nor must we encourage men in covetousness, thievery, and deceit, by letting them do what they desire: nor must we be careless of our Master’s talents; if he entrust us with them, we must not let every one take them from us to serve his lusts with.

Consider the Greatness of Heaven

Direct. II. Seriously consider of your everlasting state, and how much greater things than riches you have to mind. Behold by faith the endless joys which you may have with God, and the endless misery which worldlings must undergo in hell. There is no true cure for an earthly mind, but by showing it the far greater matters to be minded: by acquainting it better with its own concernments; and with the greater miseries than poverty or want, which we have to escape; and the greater good than worldly plenty, which we have to seek. It is lack of faith that makes men worldlings: they see not what is in another world: they say their creed, but do not heartily believe the day of judgment, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. There is not a man of them all, but, if he had one sight of heaven and hell, would set lighter by the world than ever he did before; and would turn his covetous care and toil to a speedy and diligent care of his salvation. If he heard the joyful praises of the saints, and the woeful lamentations of the damned, but one day or hour, he would think ever after that he had greater matters to mind than the scraping together a heap of wealth. Remember, man, that thou hast another world to live in; and a far longer life to make provision for; and that thou must be in heaven or hell for ever. This is true, whether thou believe it or not: and thou hast no time but this to make all thy preparation in: and as thou believest, and livest, and labourest now, it must go with thee to all eternity. These are matters worthy of thy care. Canst thou have while to make such a disturbance here in the dust, and care and labour for a thing of nought, while thou hast such things as these to care for, and a work of such transcendent consequence to do? Can a man that understands what heaven and hell are, find room for any needless matters, or time for so much unnecessary work? The providing for thy salvation is a thing that God hath made thy own work, much more than the providing for the flesh. When he speaks of thy body, he saith, “Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat or drink, nor for your body, what you shall put on: —for your Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things,” Matt. 6:25, 32. “Be careful for nothing,” Phil. 4:6. “Cast all your care upon him, for he careth for you,” 1 Pet. 5:7. But when he speaks of your salvation, he bids you “work it out with fear and trembling,” Phil. 2:12; and “give diligence to make your calling and election sure,” 2 Pet. 1:10; and “strive to enter in at the strait gate,” Matt. 7:13; Luke 13:24. “Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that which endureth to everlasting life,” John 6:27. That is, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you,” Matt. 6:33. Look up to heaven, man, and remember that there is thy home, and there are thy hopes, or else thou art a man undone for ever; and therefore it is for that that thou must care and labour. Believe unfeignedly that thou must dwell for ever in heaven or hell, as thou makest thy 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 shouldst feel thy covetousness stabbed at the heart. O blinded mortals! that love, like worms, to dwell in earth! Would God but give you an eye of faith, to foresee your end, and where you must dwell to all eternity, what a change would it make upon your earthly minds! Either faith or sense will be your guides. Nothing but reason sanctified by faith can govern sense. Remember that thou art not a beast, that hath no life to live but this: thou hast a reasonable, immortal soul, that was made by God for higher things, even for God himself, to admire him, love him, serve him, and enjoy him. If an angel were to dwell awhile in flesh, should he turn an earthworm, and forget his higher life of glory? Thou art like to an incarnate angel; and mayst be equal with the angels, when thou art freed from this sinful flesh, Luke 20:36. O beg of God a heavenly light, and a heavenly mind, and look often into the word of God, which tells thee where thou must be for ever; and worldliness will vanish away in shame.

Remember the Shortness of Life

Direct. III. Remember how short a time thou must keep and enjoy the wealth which thou hast gotten. How quickly thou must be stripped of all! Canst thou keep it when thou hast it? (1 Cor. 7:31.) Canst thou make a covenant with death, that it shall not call away thy soul? Thou knowest beforehand that thou art of short continuance, and the world is but thy inn or passage; and that a narrow grave for thy flesh to rot in, is all that thou canst keep of thy largest possessions, save what thou layest up in heaven, by laying it out in obedience to God. How short is life! How quickly gone! Thou art almost dead and gone already! What are a few days or a few years more? And wilt thou make so much ado for so short a life? and so careful a provision for so short a stay? Yea, how uncertain is thy time, as well as short! Thou canst not say what world thou shalt be in tomorrow. Remember, man, that Thou must die! Thou must die! Thou must quickly die! Thou knowest not how soon! Breathe yet a few breaths more, and thou art gone! And yet canst thou be covetous, and drown thy soul with earthly cares? Dost thou soberly read thy Savior’s warning, Luke 12:19-21? Is it not spoken as to thee? “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be rerequired of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided? So is every one that layeth up riches for himself, and is not rich towards God.”(Remember Gehazi, Achan, Judas, Ananias and Sapphira, Demetrius, Demas. Jer. 6:13; 8:10.) If thou be rich today, and be in another world tomorrow, had not poverty been as good? Distracted soul! Dost thou make so great a matter of it, whether thou have much or little for so short a time? And takest no more care, either where thou shalt be, or what thou shalt have to all eternity? Dost thou say, thou wilt cast this care on God? I tell thee, he will make thee care thyself; and care again before he will save thee. And why canst thou not cast the care of smaller matters on him, when he commandeth thee? Is it any great matter whether thou be rich or poor, that art going so fast unto another world, where these are things of no signification? Tell me, if thou wert sure that thou must die tomorrow, (yea, or the next month or year,) wouldst thou not be more indifferent whether thou be rich or poor, and look more after greater things? Then thou wouldst be of the apostle’s mind, 2 Cor. 4:18, “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.” Our eye of faith should be so fixed on invisible, eternal things, that we should scarce have leisure or mind to look at or once regard the things that are visible and temporal. 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! Then keep thy wealth, or take it with thee, if thou canst.

Consider What You Really Need

Direct. IV. Labour to feel thy greatest needs, which worldly wealth will not supply. Thou hast sinned against God, and money will not buy thy pardon.(Prov. 11:4, “Riches profit not in the day of wrath.”) Thou hast incurred his displeasure, and money will not reconcile him to thee. Thou art condemned to everlasting misery by the law, and money will not pay thy ransom. Thou art dead in sin, and polluted, and captivated by the flesh, and money will sooner increase thy bondage than deliver thee. Thy conscience is ready to tear thy heart for thy willful folly and contempt of grace, and money will not bribe it to be quiet. Judas brought back his money, and hanged himself, when conscience was but once awakened. Money will not enlighten a blinded mind, nor soften a hard heart, nor humble a proud heart, nor justify a guilty soul. It will not keep off a fever or consumption, nor ease the gout, or stone, or toothache. It will not keep off ghastly death, but die thou must, if thou have all the world! Look up to God, and remember that thou art wholly in his hands; and think whether he will love or favour thee for thy wealth. Look unto the day of judgment, and think whether money will there bring thee off, or the rich speed better than the poor.

Riches are Useless at Death

Direct. V. Be often with those that are sick and dying, and mark what all their riches will do for them, and what esteem they have then of the world; and mark how it useth all at last. Then you shall see that it forsaketh all men in the hour of their greatest necessity and distress; (Jer. 17:11; Jam. 5:1-3.) when they would cry to friends, and wealth, and honour, if they had any hopes, If ever you will help me, let it be now; if ever you will do any thing for me, O save me from death, and the wrath of God! But, alas! such cries would be all in vain! Then, oh then! One drop of mercy, one spark of grace, the smallest well-grounded hope of heaven, would be worth more than the empire of Caesar or Alexander! Is not this true, sinner? Dost thou not know it to be true? And yet wilt thou cheat and betray thy soul? Is not that best now, which will be best then? And is not that of little value now, which will be then so little set by? Dost thou not think that men are wiser then than now? Wilt thou do so much, and pay so dear for that, which will do thee no more good, and which thou wilt set no more by when thou hast it? Doth not all the world cry out at last of the deceitfulness of riches, and the vanity of pleasure and prosperity on earth, and the perniciousness of all worldly cares? And doth not thy conscience tell thee, that when thou comest to die, thou art like to have the same thoughts thyself? And yet wilt thou not be warned in time? Then all the content and pleasure of thy plenty and prosperity will be past: and when it is past it is nothing. And wilt thou venture on everlasting woe, and cast away everlasting joy, for that which is today a dream and shadow, and tomorrow, or very shortly, will be nothing? The poorest then will be equal with thee. And will honest poverty, or over-loved wealth; be sweeter at the last? How glad then wouldst thou be, to have been without thy wealth, so thou mightst have been without the sin and guilt, How glad then wouldst thou be to die the death of the poorest saint! Do you think that poverty, or riches, are liker to make a man loath to die? Or are usually more troublesome to the conscience of a dying man? O look to the end, and live as you die, and set most by that, and seek that now, which you know you shall set most by at last when full experience hath made you wiser!

Beware the Perils of Riches

Direct. VI. Remember that riches do make it much harder for a man to be saved; and the love of this world is the commonest cause of men’s damnation. This is certainly true, for all that poverty also hath its temptations; and for all that the poor are far more numerous than the rich. For even the poor may be undone by the love of that wealth and plenty which they never get; and those may perish for over-loving the world, that yet never prospered in the world. And if thou believe Christ, the point is out of controversy: for he saith, Luke 18:24-27, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? And he said, The things which are impossible with men, are possible with God.” So Luke 6:24, 25, “But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation: woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger.” Make but sense of these and many such like texts, and you can gather no less than this from them, that riches make the way to heaven much harder, and the salvation of the rich to be more difficult and rare, proportionably, than of other men. And Paul saith, 1 Cor. 1:26, “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called.” And the lovers of riches, though they are poor, must remember that it is said, “That the love of money is the root of all evil,” 1 Tim. 6:10. And, “Love not the world, nor the things that are in the world: for if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him,” 1 John 2:15. Do you believe that here lieth the danger of your souls? and yet can you so love, and choose, and seek it? Would you have your salvation more difficult, and doubtful, and impossible with men? You had rather choose to live where few die young, than where most die young; and where sicknesses are rare, than where they are common. If you were sick, you had rather have the physician, and medicines, and diet which cure most, than those which few are cured by. If the country were beset with thieves, you had rather go the way that most escape in, than that few escape in. And yet, so it may but please your flesh, you will choose that way to heaven, that fewest escape in; and you will choose that state of life, which will make your salvation to be most hard and doubtful. Doth your conscience say that is wisely done? 1 know that if God put riches into your hand, by your birth, or his blessing on your honest labours, you must not cast away your Master’s talents, because he is austere; but by a holy improvement of them, you may further his service and your salvation. But this is no reason why you should over-love them, or desire and seek so great a danger. Believe Christ heartily, and it will quench your love of riches.

The More You Have…

Direct. VII. Remember that the more you have, the more you have to give account for. And if the day of judgment be dreadful to you, you should not make it more dreadful by greatening your own accounts… If you desired riches but for the service of your Lord, and have used them for him, and can truly give in this account, that you laid them not out for the needless pleasure or pride of the flesh, but to furnish yourselves, and families, and others, for his service, and as near as you could, employ them according to his will, and for his use, then you may expect the reward of good and faithful servants; but if you desired and used them for the pride and pleasure of yourselves while you lived, and your posterity or kindred when you are dead, dropping some inconsiderable crumbs for God, you will then find that Mammon was an unprofitable master, and godliness, with content, would have been greater gain.(Prov. 3:14; 1 Tim. 6:5, 6)

Consider the Cost

Direct. VIII. Remember how dear it costeth men, thus to hinder their salvation, and greaten their danger and accounts. What a deal of precious time is lost upon the world, by the lovers of it, which might have been improved to the getting of wisdom and grace, and making their calling and election sure! If you had believed that the gain of holy wisdom had been so much better than the gaming of gold, as Solomon saith, Prov. 3:14, you would have laid out much of that time in laboring to understand the Scriptures, and preparing for your endless life. How many unnecessary thoughts have you cast away upon the world, which might better have been laid out on your greater concernments! How many cares, and vexations, and passions doth it cost men, to overload themselves with worldly provisions! Like a foolish traveler, who having a day’s journey to go, doth spend all the day in gathering together a load of meat, and clothes, and money, more than he can carry, for fear of lacking by the way: or like a foolish runner, that hath a race to run for his life, and spends the time in which he should be running, in gathering a burden of pretended necessaries.(Saith Plutarch. de trauquillit. anim. Alexander wept because he was not lord of the world; when Crates, having but a wallet and a threadbare cloak, spent his whole life in mirth and joy, as if it had been a continual festival holiday.) You have all the while God’s work to do, and your souls to mind, and judgment to prepare for, and you are tiring and vexing yourselves for unnecessary things, as if it were the top of your ambition to be able to say, in hell, that you died rich. 1 Tim. 6:6-10, “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred (or been seduced) from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” Piercing sorrows here, and damnation hereafter, are a very expensive price to give for money.(Psalm 37:16; Prov. 16:8) For saith Christ himself, “What shall it profit a man to gain all the world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mark 8:36, 37; that is, What money or price will recover it, if for the love of gain he lose it? Prov. 15:27, “He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.” Do you not know that a godly man contented with his daily bread, hath a far sweeter and quieter life and death than a self-troubling worldling? You may easily perceive it. Prov. 15:16, “Better is little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure and trouble therewith.”

Consider Christ’s Example

Direct. IX. Look much on the life of Christ on earth, and see how strangely he condemneth worldliness by his example. Did he choose to be a prince or lord, or to have great possessions, lands, or money, or sumptuous buildings, or gallant attendance, and plentiful provisions? His housing you may read of, Matt. 8:20; Luke 9:58, “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” His clothing you may read of at his crucifying, when they parted it. As for money, he was fain to send Peter to a fish for some to pay their tribute. If Christ did scrape and care for riches, then so do thou: if he thought it the happiest life, do thou think so too. But if he contemned it, do thou contemn it: if his whole life was directed to give thee the most perfect example of the contempt of all the prosperity of this world, then learn of his example, if thou take him for thy Saviour, and if thou love thyself. “Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might be rich,” 2 Cor. 8:9.

Consider the Early Christians

Direct. X. Think on the example of the primitive Christians, even the best of Christ’s servants, and see how it condemneth worldliness. They that by miracle in the name of Christ could give limbs to the lame, yet tell him, “Silver and gold have we none,” Acts 3:6. Those that had possessions sold them, and laid the money at the apostles’ feet, and they had all things common, to show that faith overcometh the world, by contemning it, and subjecting it to charity, and devoting it entirely to God. Read whether the apostles did live sumptuous houses, with great attendance, and worldly plenty and prosperity? And so of the rest.(Chrysostom saith, his enemies charged him with many crimes, but never with covetousness or wantonness. And so it was with Christ and his enemies.)

Remember the Purpose of Worldly Goods

Direct. XI. Remember to what ends all worldly things were made and given you, and what a happy advantage you may make of them by renouncing them, as they would be provision for your lusts, and by devoting yourselves and them to God. The use of their sweetness is, to draw your souls to taste by faith the heavenly sweetness. They are the looking-glass of souls in flesh, that are not yet admitted to see these things spiritual face to face. They are the provender of our bodies; our traveling furniture and helps; our inns, and solacing company in the way; they are some of God’s love-tokens, some of the lesser pieces of his coin, and bear his image and superscription. They are drops from the rivers of the eternal pleasures; to tell the mind by the way of the senses how good the Donor is, and how amiable; and what higher delights there are for souls; and to point us to the better things which these foretell. They are messengers from heaven, to testify our Father’s care and love, and to bespeak our thankfulness, love, and duty; and to bear witness against sin, and bind us more tightly to obedience. They are the first volume of the word of God; the first book that man was set to read, to acquaint him fully with his Maker. As the word which we read and hear is the chariot of the Spirit, by which it maketh its accesses to the soul; so the delights of sight, and taste, and smell, and touch, and hearing, were appointed as an ordinary way for the speedy access of heavenly love and sweetness to the heart, that upon the first perception of the goodness and sweetness of the creature, there might presently he transmitted by a due progression, a deep impression of the goodness of God upon the soul; that the creatures, being the letters of God’s book, which are seen by our eye, the sense (even the love of our great Creator) might presently be perceived by the mind: and no letter might once be looked upon but for the sense; no creature ever seen, or tasted, or heard, or felt in any delectable quality, without a sense of the love of God; that as the touch of the hand upon the strings of the lute do cause the melody, so God’s touch by his mercies upon our hearts, might presently tune them into love, and gratitude, and praise. They are the tools by which we must do much of our Master’s work. They are means by which we may refresh our brethren, and express our love to one another, and our love to our Lord and Master in his servants. They are our Master’s stock, which we must trade with, by the improvement of which, no less than the reward of endless happiness may be attained. These are the uses to which God gives us outward mercies. Love them thus, and delight in them, and use them thus, and spare not; yea, seek them thus, and be thankful for them. But when the creatures are given for so excellent a use, will you debase them all by making them only the fuel of your lusts, and the provisions for your flesh? And will you love them, and dote upon them in these base respects; while you utterly neglect their noblest use? You are just like children that cry for books, and can never have enow; but it is only to play with them because they are fine; but when they are set to learn and read them, they cry as much because they love it not: or like one that should spend his life and labour in getting the finest clothes, to dress his dogs and horses with, but himself goes naked and will not wear them.(Even Dionysius the tyrant was bountiful to philosophers. To Plato he gave above fourscore talents, Laert. in Platone, and much to Aristippus and many more, and he offered much to many philosophers that refused it. And so did Croesus.)

Remember God’s Promises

Direct. XII. Remember that God hath promised to provide for you, and that you shall lack nothing that is good for you, if you will live above these worldly things, and seek first his kingdom, and the righteousness thereof. And cannot you trust his promise? If you truly believe that he is God, and that he is true, and that his particular providence extendeth to the very numbering of your hairs,(Matt. 10:30; Luke 12:7) you will sure trust him, rather than trust to your own forecast and industry. Do you think his provision is not better for you than your own? All your own care cannot keep you alive an hour, nor can prosper any of your labours, if you provoke him to blast them. And if you are not content with his provisions, nor submit yourselves to the disposal of his love and wisdom, you disoblige God, and provoke him to leave you to the fruits of your own care and diligence: and then you will find that it had been your wiser way to have trusted God.

The Mischiefs of a Worldly Mind.

Direct. XIII. Think often on the dreadful importance and effects of the love of riches, or a worldly mind.(Look upon the face of the calamitous world, and inquire into the causes of all the oppressions, rapines, cruelties, and inhumanity which have made men so like to devils: look into the corrupted, lacerated churches, and inquire into the cause of their contentions, divisions, usurpations, malignity, and cruelty against each other: and you will find that pride and worldliness are the causes of all. When men of a proud and worldly mind have by fraud, and friendship, and simony usurped the pastorship of the churches, according to their minds and ends, they turn it into a malignant domination, and the carnal, worldly part of the church, is the great enemy and persecutor of the spiritual part; and the fleshly hypocrite, as Cain against Abel, is filled with envy against the serious believer, even out of the bitter displeasure of his mind, that his deceitful sacrifice is less respected.) 1. It is a most certain sign of a state of death and misery, where it hath the upper hand. It is the departing of the heart from God to creatures. See the malignity of it before. Good men have been overtaken with heinous sins; but it is hard to find where Scripture calleth any of them covetous. A heart secretly cleaving most to this present world and its prosperity, is the very killing sin of every hypocrite, yea, and of all ungodly men. 2. Worldliness makes the word unprofitable; and keepeth men from believing and repenting, and coming home to God, and minding seriously the everlasting world. What so much hindereth the conversion of sinners, as the love and cares of earthly things? They cannot serve God and mammon: their treasure and hearts cannot chiefly be both in heaven and earth! They will not yield to the terms of Christ that love this world: they will not forsake all for a treasure in heaven. In a word, as you heard, the love of money is the root of all evil, and the love of the Father is not in the lovers of the world.(Matt. 6:25,; 13:22; Luke 16:13,14; 14:33; 18:22, 23; Matt. 6:19-21; 1 Tim. 6:6-8; 1 John 2:15; Prov. 28:9; 18:8; James 4:3; Prov. 28:20, “He that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.”) 3. It destroyeth holy meditation and conference, and turneth the thoughts to worldly things: and it corrupteth prayer, and maketh it but a means to serve the flesh, and therefore maketh it odious to God. 4. it is the great hinderance of men’s necessary preparation for death and judgment, and stealeth away their hearts and time till it is too late. 5. It is the great cause of contentions even among the nearest relations; and the cause of the wars and calamities of nations; and of the woeful divisions and persecutions of the church; when a worldly generation think that their worldly interest doth engage them, against self-denying and spiritual principles, practices, and persons. 6. It is the great cause of all the injustice, and oppression, and cruelty that rageth in the world. They would do as they would be done by, were it not for the love of money. It maketh men perfidious and false to all their friends and engagements: no vows to God; nor obligations to men, will hold a lover of the world.(Jam. 5:1-5; 1 John 3:17.) The world is his god, and his worldly interest is his rule and law. 7. It is the great destroyer of charity and good works. No more is done for God and the poor, because the love of the world forbids it. 8. It disordereth and profaneth families; and betrayeth the souls of children and servants to the devil. It turneth out prayer, and reading the Scripture, and good books, and all serious speeches of the life to come, because their hearts are taken up with the world, and they have no relish of any thing but the provisions of their flesh. Even the Lord’s own day cannot be reserved for holy works, nor a duty performed, but the world is interposing, or diverting the mind. 9. It tempteth men to sin against their knowledge, and to forsake the truth, and fit themselves to the rising side, and save their bodies and estates, whatever become of their souls. It is the very price that the devil gives for souls! With this he bought the soul of Judas, who went to the Pharisees, with a “What will you give me, and I will deliver him to you.” With this he attempted Christ himself, Matt. 4:9, “All these will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” It is the cause of apostasy and unfaithfulness to God.(2 Tim. 4:10) And it is the price that sinners sell their God, their conscience, and their salvation for. 10. It depriveth the soul of holy communion with God, and comfort from him, and of all foretaste of the life to come, and finally of heaven itself.(b) For as the love of the world keepeth out the love of God and heaven, it must needs keep out the hopes and comforts which should arise from holy love. It would do much to cure the love of money, and of the world, if you knew how pernicious a sin it is.(1 Tim. 6:17-19)

Consider the Lowliness of this Sin.

Direct. XIV. Remember how base a sin it is, and how dishonorable and debasing to the mind of man. If earth be baser than heaven, and money than God, then an earthly mind is baser than a heavenly mind. As the serpent’s feeding on the dust is a baser life than that of angels, that are employed in admiring, and obeying, and praising the Most Holy God.

Consider God’s Judgement

Direct. XV. Call yourselves to a daily reckoning, how you lay out all that God committeth to your trust; and try whether it be so as you would hear of it at judgment. If you did but use to sit in judgment daily upon yourselves, as those that believe the judgment of God, it would make you more careful to use well what you have, than to get more; and it would quench your thirst after plenty and prosperity, when you perceived you must give so strict an account of it. The flesh itself will less desire it, when it finds it may not have the use of it.(Plato compareth our life to a game at tables. We may wish for a good throw, but whatever it be, we must play it as well as we can. Plutarch. de Tranquil. Anim.)

Fight your Covetousness when it is Strong

Direct. XVI. When you find your covetousness most eager and dangerous, resolve most to cross it, and give more to pious or charitable uses than at another time. For a man hath reason to fly furthest from that sin, which he is most in danger of. And the acts tend to the increase of the habit. Obeying your covetousness doth increase it: and so the contrary acts, and the disobeying and displeasing it, do destroy it. This course will bring your covetousness into a despair of attaining its desire; and so will make it sit down and give over the pursuit. It is an open protesting against every covetous desire; and an effectual kind of repenting; and a wise and honest disarming sin, and turning its motions against itself, to its own destruction. Use it thus oft, and covetousness will think it wisdom to be quiet.

Do not Save Heaven for Last

Direct. XVII. Above all take heed that you think not of reconciling God and mammon, and mixing heaven and earth to be your felicity, and of dreaming that you may keep heaven for a reserve at last, when the world hath been loved as your best, so long as you could keep it. Nothing so much defendeth worldliness, as a cheating hope, that you have it but in a subdued, pardoned degree; and that you are not worldlings when you are. And nothing so much supports this hope, as because you confess that heaven only must be your last refuge, and full felicity, and therefore you do something for it on the bye. But is not the world more loved, more sought, more delighted in, and harder held? Hath it not more of your hearts, your delight, desire, and industry? If you cannot let go all for heaven, and forsake all this world for a treasure above, you cannot be Christ’s true disciples, Luke 14:26,27,30,33.

Mortify the Flesh

Direct. XVIII. If ever you would overcome the love of the world, your great care must be to mortify the flesh; for the world is desired but as its provision. A mortified man hath no need of that which is a sensualist’s felicity. Quench your insatiable, feverish thirst, and then you will not make such a stir for drink. Cure the disease which enrageth your appetite; and that is the safest and cheapest way of satisfying it. Then you will be thankful to God, when you look on other men’s wealth and gallantry, that you need not these things. And you will think what a trouble and burden, and interruption of your better work and comfort it would be to you, to have so much land, and so many servants, and goods, and business, and persons to mind, as rich men have. And how much better you can enjoy God and yourself in a more retired, quiet state of life. But of this more in the next part.

Conclusion

Did men but know how much of an ungodly, damnable state doth consist in the love of the world; and how much it is the enemy of souls; and how much of our religion consisteth in the contempt and conquest of it; and what is the meaning of their renouncing the world in their baptismal covenant; and how many millions the love of the world will damn for ever; they would not make such a stir for nothing, and spend all their days in providing for their perishing flesh; nor think them happiest that are richest; nor “boast themselves of their heart’s desire, and bless the covetous whom the Lord abhorreth,” Psalm 10:3. They would not think that so small a sin which Christians should not so much as “name,” but in detestation, Eph. 5:3; when God hath resolved that the “covetous shall not inherit the kingdom of God,” 1 Cor. 6:10; Eph. v.5; and a Christian must not so much as eat with them, 1 Cor. v.11. Did Christ say in vain, “Take heed and beware of covetousness,” Luke 12:15. “Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil,” Hab. 2:9. Oh what deserving servants hath the world, that will serve it so diligently, so constantly, and at so costly a rate, when they beforehand know, that besides a little transitory, deluding pleasure, it will pay them with nothing but everlasting shame! Oh wonderful deceiving power, of such an empty shadow, or rather wonderful folly of mankind! That when so many ages have been deceived before us, and almost every one at death confesseth it did but deceive them, so many still should be deceived, and take no warning by such a world of examples! I conclude with Heb. 13:5, “Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Devotions, Puritan

Puritan Richard Baxter on Television

Okay, so maybe Puritan Richard Baxter did not know much about Facebook or Television, but I find that what Richard Baxter wrote regarding books and reading is just as applicable today as it was when he wrote it.  This is essentially his insight and advice regarding the most popular medium for the exchange of ideas among the people of his time.  Over 300 years ago, books were the medium that people invested their money, time, and mind in; books were what our forefathers turned their attention to, tuned into, and went for knowledge.  Today (and sadly I will say), people spend less time turning to books, but what Baxter wrote is not just applicable to books, but to all forms of media that carry a message to our hearts.

Written by Richard Baxter (1615-1691):

[Reprinted from the Banner of Truth, Issue 11, June, 1958, p.1]

“Make careful choice of the books which you read: let the holy scriptures ever have the pre-eminence, and, next to them, those solid, lively, heavenly treatises which best expound and apply the scriptures, and next, credible histories, especially of the Church . . . but take heed of false teachers who would corrupt your understandings.”

1. As there is a more excellent appearance of the Spirit of God in the holy scripture, than in any other book whatever, so it has more power and fitness to convey the Spirit, and make us spiritual, by imprinting itself upon our hearts. As there is more of God in it, so it will acquaint us more with God, and bring us nearer Him, and make the reader more reverent, serious and divine. Let scripture be first and most in your hearts and hands and other books be used as subservient to it. The endeavours of the devil and papists to keep it from you, doth shew that it is most necessary and desirable to you.

2. The writings of divines are nothing else but a preaching of the gospel to the eye, as the voice preaches it to the ear. Vocal preaching has the pre-eminence in moving the affections, and being diversified according to the state of the congregation which attend it: this way the milk comes warmest from the breast. But books have the advantage in many other respects: you may read an able preacher when you have but a average one to hear. Every congregation cannot hear the most judicious or powerful preachers: but every single person may read the books of the most powerful and judicious; preachers may be silenced or banished, when books may be at hand: books may be kept at a smaller charge than preachers: we may choose books which treat of that, very subject which we desire to hear of; but we cannot choose what subject the preacher shall treat of. Books we may have at hand every day. and hour; when we can have sermons but seldom, and at set times. If sermons be forgotten, they are gone; but a book we may read over and over, till we remember it: and if we forget it, may again peruse it at our pleasure, or at our leisure. So that good books are a very great mercy to the world: the Holy Ghost chose the way of writing, to preserve His doctrine and laws to the ‘Church, as knowing how easy and sure a way it is of keeping it safe to all generations, in comparison of mere verbal traditions.

3. You have need of a judicious teacher at hand, to direct you what books to use or to refuse: for among good books there are some very good that are sound and lively; and some good, but mediocre, and weak and somewhat dull; and some are very good in part, but have mixtures of error, or else of incautious, injudicious expressions, fitter to puzzle than edify the weak.

While reading ask oneself:

1. Could I spend this time no better?

2. Are there better books that would edify me more?

3. Are the lovers of such a book as this the greatest lovers of the Book of God and of a holy life?

4. Does this book increase my love to the Word of God, kill my sin, and prepare me for the life to come?

We could just as easily reword these questions for today:

1. Could I spend this time no better?

2. Are there better books (or magazine, or TV shows, or web sites, etc.) that would edify me more?

3. Are the lovers of such a book (or magazine, web site, TV show, music CD) as this the greatest lovers of the Book of God and of a holy life?

4. Does this book (or magazine, web site, TV show, music CD, etc.) increase my love to the Word of God, kill my sin, and prepare me for the life to come?

Tough questions.  But necessary.  Do you make a regular habit of asking these of yourself?  And if not, why not?

Are you spending the time God has given you purusing Him or pursuing things that take you away from Him?

In the letter to the Ephesian church, the Apostle Paul writes, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17 )

And John tells us, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)

Brothers and sisters, we do not prove our love for Christ by simply saying that we love Him, but by the way we live our lives. . . by the way we spend our time, and the way in which we love and serve others.  Consider the conversation between our Lord and Peter at the end of the gospel of John:

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” (John 21:15-19)

The Lord does ask Peter if indeed His disciple loves him three times, and three times Peter assures His Master with the profession of his mouth that he loves Him.  But notice Jesus’ response all three times.  He gives Peter an instruction each time — how Peter must demonstrate his love for Jesus.  Peter confesses with his mouth his love, but Jesus instructs him what he must do if he truly loves Him.  Peter must give his life to Christ for the good of His church.  And indeed, he did.  And we know of this disciple’s love for His master precisely because of what he did, not just by what He said.

O Brothers and Sisters, how I pray that the way we live our lives will bear witness to the faith we profess with our mouths.  As James, the brother of Jesus said, “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”  Let us not deceive ourselves with vain professions that we believe Jesus Christ is Lord, but be convinced by our daily habits: our death to self and our selfish desires, our hatred for (our own) sin, our love for our Master and His Bride, and our obedience to His commandments.

O Father, do not let us be deceived, but search our hearts and reveal to us whether or not we are truly following Christ.  Is He in fact the Lord of our lives, or do we run after and serve the things of this world.  Do not let us rest until we know the truth about ourselves, and Father if the truth is not in us make it known.  Help us, great and merciful Father, to trust You, to follow Christ, and to offer our lives to You as a living sacrifice. . . that You would be glorified through us, and we would not bring reproach upon the name of Jesus.  It is in His holy and precious name that I pray, amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Puritan, Scripture, Television

What's So Bad About Hell?

I would like to thank my friend and fellow blogger, Laurie Mathers who posted this yesterday on her blog Beauty for Ashes.  I asked for her permission to re-post her entry here because I thought it was so profound and powerful that I wanted anyone visiting my site to have the opportunity to read this.  Also, please take the 9 or 10 minutes after you read it to watch Ray Comfort discussing the scene from ER with the dying man and the chaplain.  It is equally profound and powerful and went along perfectly with her post.

What’s so bad about Hell?
(by Laurie Mathers)

Is it the flames? Is it the darkness? Is it both those things wrapped up with the hopelessness of knowing there will be no end to the pain? The contemplation of just those things has been dreadful enough to lead vast numbers to reject the God of the Bible out of hand. It has led others, understandably, to try and interpret away the clear teaching of Scripture on the subject. It has led me at times to wish I could do either of those things. Yet, I’ve known all along, deep in my heart, that the horrible doctrine of Hell is true. Hating it, denying it, or wishing it weren’t so won’t change it, or make it go away. But as if that weren’t terrible enough, there’s more to Hell than flames and hopelessness. There’s something more, something more tormenting to a soul than flames are to a body – lovelessness.

I’ve recently finished reading Jonathan Edwards’ work, Charity and Its Fruits. It is a collection of lectures devoted to defining and describing authentic Christian love culminating in the a breathtaking discussion of heaven – “a world of love”. What makes heaven Heaven, is the presence of God, the Fountain of all love, and His people made perfect, once and for all, in love. “Their love shall be without any remains of any contrary principle, having no pride or selfishness to interrupt it or hinder its exercises. Their hearts shall be full of love. That which was in the heart on earth as but a grain of mustard-seed, shall be as a great tree in heaven….In heaven there shall be no remaining enmity, or distaste, or coldness, or deadness of heart towards God and Christ. Not the least remainder of any principle of envy shall exist…all the members of that blessed society rejoice in each other’s happiness, for the love of benevolence is perfect in them all. Every one has not only a sincere, but a perfect good-will to every other….”

What makes Heaven “heavenly” isn’t so much the streets of gold or the gates of pearl, though no doubt nothing on this earth that will compare to its beauty. It is much richer than that. It is the presence of God Himself and His redeemed people made perfect in love. Like a new bride, embraced by her husband for the first time, His people, purchased by His blood, will be enveloped for all eternity in the perfect love and joy which God has enjoyed in Trinity since before time began.

By contrast then, what makes Hell “hellish” isn’t so much fire. The fire speaks to something far worse than mere physical pain. In his message of heaven, Edwards takes a moment to speak of hell – the opposite of heaven. Where Heaven is the presence of God, Hell is His absence. Where Heaven is the place of God’s eternal loving embrace, Hell is the place of eternal separation from any experience of any love from God or anyone else. There is no mercy whatsoever to be found there, only wrath. There is no comfort. There is no more opportunity of reconciliation to Him.

“There are three worlds. One is this, which is an intermediate world – a world in which good and evil are so mixed together as to be a sure sign that this world is not to continue for ever. Another is heaven, a world of love, without any hatred. And the other is hell, a world of hatred, where there is no love, which is the world to which all of you who are in a Christless state properly belong. This last is the world where God manifests his displeasure and wrath, as in heaven he manifests his love. Everything in hell is hateful. There is not one solitary object there that is not odious and detestable, horrid and hateful. There is no person or thing to be seen there, that is amiable or lovely; nothing that is pure, or holy, or pleasant, but everything is abominable and odious. There are no beings there but devils, and damned spirits that are like devils. Hell is, as it were, a vast den of poisonous hissing serpents; the old serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and with him all his hateful brood. In that dark world there are none but those whom God hates with a perfect and everlasting hatred. He exercises no love, and extends no mercy to any one object there, but pours out upon them horrors without mixture. All things in the wide universe that are hateful shall be gathered together in hell, as in a vast receptacle provided on purpose, that the universe which God has made may be cleansed of its filthiness, by casting it all into this great sink of wickedness and woe. It is a world prepared on purpose for the expression of God’s wrath. He has made hell for this; and he has no other use for it but there to testify for ever his hatred of sin and sinners, where there is no token of love or mercy. There is nothing there but what shews forth the Divine indignation and wrath…

And as for Hell’s inhabitants, to use the same language of which Edwards spoke of heaven: That which was in the heart on earth as but a grain of mustard-see, shall be as a great tree…:

“There are none in hell but what have been haters of God, and so have procured his wrath and hatred on themselves; and there they shall continue to hate him for ever. No love to God will ever be felt in hell; but every one there perfectly hates him, and so will continue to hate him, and without any restraint will express their hatred to him, blaspheming and raging against him, while they gnaw their tongues for pain. And though they all join together in their enmity and opposition to God, yet there is no union or friendliness among themselves – they agree in nothing but hatred, and the expression of hatred. They hate God, and Christ, and angels, and saints in heaven; and not only so, but they hate one another, like a company of serpents or vipers, not only spitting out venom against God, but at one another, biting and stinging and tormenting each other….”

Separated once and for all from God’s patient, merciful, and restraining hand, the inhabitants of hell find themselves finally free to express themselves without restraint, and to experience the fullness of their wickedness. And so, I return to my original question. What’s so bad about hell? I venture to say, it’s not the place (as dreadful as that must be) so much as it’s the people, the hatred, the complete absence of love for all eternity. People will suffer great things for the hope of love, but to suffer great things for the sake of hatred, now that is suffering indeed.

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked….Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not him him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride in possessions – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:1-6, 15-17 (See also, 1 John 4:15-21.)

It’s been a few weeks since I first read Edwards’ words about heaven and hell. They’ve had a tremendous impact on me, and several times I’ve wanted to post them, but didn’t. To be perfectly honest, the reason I’ve resisted is because of the offensiveness of the doctrine of Hell.  That never stopped Jesus, though; and if I desire to be as He is in this world, I shouldn’t let anything stop me from speaking the truth in love. What finally propelled me beyond my fear was this: Today I was walking through my kitchen, remembering Edwards’ words about hell and thinking how I wanted to share them with the world, but didn’t want to be offensive. I headed to my computer, sat down, and clicked this link on my friend Barry’s FaceBook page:

I want to be the kind of minister that speaks the truth, in love, because of love. May God grant me grace to let perfect love overcome fear.

Leave a comment

Filed under Doctrine, Gospel, Puritan, Scripture, Theology