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…
I. WHAT IT IS FOR A MAN TO CONSIDER HIS LATTER END. By the latter end of a particular person I understand the same that Balaam does in his wish (Numbers 23:10), where it is plain by his last end he means the time of his death, which Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 7:2, calls "the end of all men." And so indeed it is, as to all the concerns of this life and opportunities of providing for another. It puts an end to all the projects, the labours, the cares of the men of this world for the obtaining of the good things of it, and to the satisfaction they take in the enjoying those they have gotten. It puts an end to the work of good men, to all the hardships and their conflicts with their spiritual enemies. Finally, it puts an end to all that good or bad can do or suffer, which shall come into their future account. But though a man's latter end be the dissolution of the present union of soul and body, and puts a final period to all the actions of this life, yet is it the opening of a new scene, the entrance upon another state. Before I proceed to show what is implied in the word "consider," it may not be amiss to form some propositions of our "latter end," which may be the objects of your consideration. As —
1. That it is very certain that such a time as this will once happen to every one of us.
2. That, though it be certain that such a time will once come, it is not certain when it will come.
3. That as it is certain that such a time will once happen to every one of us, but uncertain when, so it is sure that it cannot be long first; for what is our life — the longest life that anyone arrives to? This is to be the object of our consideration, which implies three things.
(1) An undoubting assent to the truth of it, for propositions, however true in themselves, if they are not so to me, can make no great impression upon me.
(2) A frequent reflecting upon and revolving in my mind; for propositions which I have assented to, if I think not of them, are not like to have much more influence upon me than those which I deny or question.
(3) And chiefly, a diligent application of it to the government of my life, and the conducting it by such measures as that belief will suggest; for only such a practical consideration of this latter end will make a man wise.
II. HOW WISE IT WILL MAKE HIM; WHAT WISE PRACTICES WILL BE THE EFFECTS OF SUCH CONSIDERATION. And surely it will be allowed that it will make him very wise if it makes him wise for this world and the next too.
1. As to this world, that is certainly true wisdom which will carry a man most quietly through it with the least vexation. Now, most of the disturbances and uneasiness we meet with here arise either from our own false notions and imprudent pursuit of the good things of this world, or from those evils which befall us by the permission of providence; and the consideration of our latter end will go a great way towards the preventing or removing the former, and the alleviating and supporting us under the latter.
2. But the greatest advantage of the consideration of our latter end is that it makes us wise for the other world.
(1) To be frugal of our time, and husband it to the best advantage. This short day is all the season of working; when the night comes no one can work. Have I a great work to do in that short time? Does my eternal bliss or woe depend upon my finishing that work? And can I be so foolish as to squander away this time in idleness or riot, in vain recreations and loose conversation? Shall I suffer sleep and pleasure and sin to share it among them?
(2) Not to defer our repentance.
(3) To make use of all the means of grace that are offered us, and not neglect one opportunity that is put into our hands of waiting upon God in His holy ordinances, or of doing good to our neighbour according to our power.
(4) To go on with the work and service of God, and persevere to the end with alacrity; for it shows me these two things —
(a) That my service can be but short. And —
(b) That I shall quickly receive my wages.
(Bp. Wm. Talbot.)
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.