And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very fraudulent generation…
1. Men are not willing to entertain this unwelcome thought of their own latter end; the thought whereof is so troublesome a guest, that it seems to disparage all those present enjoyments of sense that this life affords.
2. A vain foolish conceit that the consideration of our latter end is a kind of presage and invitation of it.
3. A great difficulty that ordinarily attends our human condition, to think otherwise concerning our condition than what at present we feel and find.
4. It is true, this is the way of mankind to put from us the evil day, and the thoughts of it; but this our way is our folly, and one of the greatest occasions of those other follies that commonly attend our lives; and therefore the great means to cure this folly and to make us wise, is wisely to consider our latter end.
I. THE CONSIDERATION OF OUR LATTER END DOTH IN NO SORT MAKE OUR LIVES THE SHORTER, BUT IT IS A GREAT MEANS TO MAKE OUR LIVES THE BETTER.
1. It is a great monition and warning of us to avoid sin, and a great means to prevent it. When I shall consider that certainly I must die, and I know not how soon, why should I commit those things, that if they hasten not my latter end, yet they will make it more uneasy and troublesome by the reflection upon what I have done amiss? I may die tomorrow; why should I then commit that evil that will then be gall and bitterness unto me? Would I do it if I were to die tomorrow? why should I then do it today? Perchance it may be the last act of my life, and however let me not conclude so ill; for, for aught I know, it may be my concluding act in this scene of my life.
2. It is a great motive and means to put us upon the best and most profitable improvement of our time.
3. Most certainly the wise consideration of our latter end, and the employing of ourselves, upon that account, upon that one thing necessary, renders the life the most contenting and comfortable life in the world: for as a man, that is aforehand in the world, hath a much more quiet life in order to externals, than he that is behindhand; so such a man that takes his opportunity to gain a stock of grace and favour with God, that hath made his peace with his Maker through Christ Jesus, hath done a great part of the chief business of his life, and is ready upon all occasions, for all conditions, whereunto the Divine Providence shall assign him, whether of life or death, or health or sickness, or poverty or riches; he is, as it were, aforehand in the business and concern of his everlasting, and of his present state also.
II. AS THUS THIS CONSIDERATION MAKES LIFE BETTER, SO IT MAKES DEATH EASY.
1. By frequent consideration of death and dissolution, he is taught not to fear it; he is, as it were, acquainted with it aforehand, by often preparation for it.
2. By frequent consideration of our latter end, death comes to be no surprise unto us.
3. The greatest sting and terror of death are the unrepented sins of the past life; the reflection upon these is that which is the strength, the venom of death itself. He, therefore, that wisely considers his latter end, takes care to make his peace with God in his lifetime; and by true faith and repentance to get his pardon scaled; to husband his time in the fear of God; to observe His will, and keep His laws; to have his conscience clean and clear. And being thus prepared, the malignity of death is cured, and the bitterness of it healed, and the fear of it removed.
4. But that which, above all, makes death easy to such a considering man is this: that by the help of this consideration, and the due improvement of it, as is before shown, death to such a man becomes nothing else but a gate unto a better life. Not so much a dissolution of his present life, as a change of it for a far more glorious, happy, and immortal life. So that though the body dies, the man dies not; for the soul, which is indeed the man, makes but a transition from her life in the body to a life in heaven. I shall now add some cautions that are necessary to be annexed to this consideration.We are to know, that although death be thus subdued, and rendered rather a benefit than a terror to good men; yet —
1. Death is not to be wished or desired, though it be not an object to be feared, it is a thing not to be coveted; for certainly life is the greatest temporal blessing in this world.
2. As the business and employments of our life must not estrange us from the thought of death, so again we must be careful that the overmuch thought of death do not so possess our minds as to make us forget the concerns of our life, nor neglect the business which that portion of time is allowed us for. As the business of fitting our souls for heaven; the sober businesses of our callings, relations, places, stations? Nay, the comfortable, thankful, sober enjoyments of those honest lawful corn forts of our life that God lends us; so as it be done with great sobriety and moderation, as in the presence of God, and with much thankfulness to Him; for this is part of that very duty we owe to God for those very external comforts and blessings we enjoy.
(Sir M. Hale.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.