32545 What is life to you,
What is life? It is even a vapour that appeared for a little time, and then vanished away." (James 4:14.) You know how swiftly a weaver's shuttle flies; but your life flies more swiftly: "My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle." (Job 7:6.) "My days are swifter than a post; they are passed away as the swift ships; as the eagle that hasted to the prey." (Job 9:25,26.) How much is already passed away. Most believers spent their first days in sin. Many hearing me gave their best days to sin and the world. Many among you have only the lame, and the torn, and the sick, to give to God.
All of you can look on the past as a sleep, or as a tale that is told. The time since I came among you appears to me just like a dream. What remains is all numbered. All of you hearing me have your Sabbaths numbered—the number of sermons you are to hear. The last one is already fixed upon. Your years are numbered. To many this is the last year they shall ever see in this world. Many will celebrate their next new year in glory. The disease is now in the body of many of you that is to lay you in the dust; and your grave is already marked out. In a little while you will be lying quietly there.
The time of this world's continuance is short. "The end of all things is at hand"—"The fashion of this world passed away." A believer stands on a watch-tower—things present are below his feet—things eternal are before his eyes. A little while, brethren, and the day of grace will be over—preaching, praying will be done. Soon we shall give over wrestling with an unbelieving world—soon the number of believers shall be complete, and the sky open over our heads, and Christ shall come. His parting cry was: "Surely I come quickly."
Then we shall see Him "whom, having not seen, we loved." A little while, and we shall stand before the great white throne: a little while, and the wicked shall not be—we shall see them going away into everlasting punishment; a little while, and the work of eternity shall be begun. We shall be like Him—we shall see Him day and night in His temple—we shall sing the new song, without sin and without weariness forever and ever. In a little moment, brethren, all this shall be: "For a small moment have I hid My face from thee; but with everlasting mercies will I gather thee."
Sit loose to the dearest objects of this world: "It remained, therefore, that they who have wives be as though they had none." Marriage is honourable in all. Husbands should love their wives, even as Christ loved the Church: "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies." Still it must not be idolatry. A married believer should be, in some respects, as if he were unmarried—as if he had no wife. "Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God grivet thee." You cannot be too kind, too gentle, too loving, to the parents whom God has given you; yet be as though you had none. Parents, love your children, and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; yet feel that the time is short.
They are only a loan from the Lord. Be not surprised if He takes His own. Esteem your ministers highly in love, for their work's sake; yet be as if you had none. Lean as entirely on Christ as if you had never seen or heard a minister. Brainerd mentions an instance of one woman, who, after her conversion, was resigned to the divine will in the tenderest points: "What if God should take away your husband from you—how do you think you would bear that?" She replied: "He belongs to God, and not to me He may do with him just what He pleases."
When she longed to die, to be free from sin, she was asked what would become of her infant; she answered, "God will take care of it; it belongs to Him—He will take care of it." Rutherford says: "Build your nest upon no tree here; for you see God hath sold the forest to Death, and every tree whereon we would rest is ready to be cut down, to the end we may flee and mount up, and build upon the Rock, and dwell in the holes of the Rock." Set not your heart on the flowers of this world; for they have all a canker in them. Prize the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley more than all; for He changed not. Live nearer to Christ than to the saints, so that when they are taken from you, you may have Him to lean on still.
Sit loose to the grief’s of this world. They that weep should be as though they wept not. This world is the value of tears. There are always some mourning. No sooner is the tear dried up on one cheek that it trickles down another. No sooner does one widow lay aside her weeds, than another takes them up. Those that are in Christ should weep as though they wept not; "for the time is short." Do you weep over those that died in the Lord? It is right to weep: "Jesus wept." Yet weep as though you wept not; "for the time is short." They are not lost, but gone before. The sun, when it sets, is not lost; it is gone to shine in another hemisphere; and so have they gone to shine in a brighter world. It is self-love that makes you mourn for them; for they are happy.
You would not mourn if they were with a distant friend on earth—why do you mourn that they are with the sinner's Friend? "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light upon them, nor the heat; for the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto fountains of living waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." (Rev. 6:16,17.) "The time is short;" and you will follow after. A few days, and you may be leaning together on the bosom of Jesus; you are nearer them today than you were yesterday. "The time is short;" and you will meet with all the redeemed at the right hand of Christ—we shall mingle our voices in the new song, and wave together the eternal palm! "Weep as though you wept not."
Do you weep over those that died out of the Lord? Ah! There is deeper cause for weeping here; and yet the time is short, when all this will be explained to you, and you will not be able to shed a tear over the lost. A little while, and you will see Jesus fully glorified, and you will not be able to wish anything different from what has happened. When Aaron lost his two sons, he held his peace.
Do you mourn over bodily pain, and poverty, and sickness, and the troubles of the world? Do not murmur: "The time is short." If you have believed in Christ, these are all the hell you will ever bear. Think you the dying thief would complain of his pains when he was within a step of paradise? So it is with you. Your hell is dried up, and you have only these two shallow brooks to pass through—sickness and death; and you have a promise that Christ shall do more than meet you—go with you, foot for foot, and bear you in His arms. When we get to the presence of Jesus, all our griefs shall look like children’s' griefs: a day in His presence will make you remember your miseries no more. Wherefore take courage, and run with patience.
It is quite right for a believer to use the things of this world, and to rejoice in them. None has such a right as the believer has to rejoice and be happy. He has a right to use the bodily comforts of the world—to eat his meat "with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God." He has a right to all the joys of home, and kindred, and friendship. It is highly proper that he should enjoy these things. He has a right to all the pure pleasures of mind, of intellect, and imagination; for God has given him all things richly to enjoy. Still, he should "rejoice as though he rejoiced not, and use this world as not abusing it;" for "the time is short." In a little while, you will be at your Father's table above, drinking the new wine with Christ. You will meet with all your brothers and sisters in Christ—you will have pure joy in God through ceaseless ages.
Do not be much taken with the joys that are here. I have noticed children, when they were going out to a feast, they would eat but sparingly, that they might have a keener appetite for the coming dainties; so, dear friends, you are going to a feast above, do not dull your appetite with earthly joys—sit loosely to them all—look upon them all as fading. As you walk through a flower garden, you never think of lying down, to make your home among its roses; so, pass through the garden of this world's best joys.
Smell the flowers in passing; but do not tarry. Jesus calls you to His banqueting house—there you will feed among the lilies on the mountains of spices. Oh! it ill becomes a child of God to be fond of an earthly banquet, when you are looking to sitting down so soon with Jesus—it ill becomes you to be much taken up with dress and show, when you are so soon to see the face that was crowned with thorns. Brethren, if you are ever so much taken up with any enjoyment that it takes away your love for prayer or for your Bible, or that it would frighten you to hear the cry: "The Bridegroom cometh:" and you would say: Is He come already? Then you are abusing this world.
Sit loose to the occupations of the world. It is right for Christians to be diligent in business. I often wonder how unconverted souls can be so busy—how, when you are bustling along, filling up all your time with worldly things, it never occurs to you that there will be none of this in eternity. How can I be so busy for my body, when my poor soul is not provided for? But those in Christ may well be diligent.
They have a good conscience—that oils the wheels. "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." A light heart makes easy work. They love to honour their Lord. They would not have it said that a believer in Jesus was an idler or a sluggard—the love of Jesus constrains them to all that is lovely. And yet a believer should "buy as though he possessed not;" for "the time is short." Oh! believers, ye cannot be misers; for you are but stewards. All that you possess here is your Lord's'; and the day is at hand when He will transfer you to take care of another property in a brighter land.
You are but servants. It would not do if you were to set your hearts on the things of this lower room; for in a few days the Master is to call you to serve in His own dear presence. Dear believers, be ready to leave your room for the golden harp, at a minute's warning; be ready to leave your desk for the throne of Jesus—your pen for the palm of victory; be ready to leave the market below, for the street of the new Jerusalem, where the redeemed shall walk. If you were in a sinking ship, you would not cling hard to bags of money—you would sit loose to all, and be ready to swim. This world is like a sinking ship, and those who grasp at its possessions will sink with it. Oh, buy as though you possessed not; for "the time is short."