Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mark What Dying Men Say

Edward Young, The Complaint; or, Night Thoughts (Night the Second, On Time, Death, and Friendship 48-55):

Youth is not rich in time, it may be poor;
Part with it as with money, sparing; pay
No moment, but in purchase of its worth;
And what its worth, ask death-beds; they can tell.
Part with it as with life, reluctant; big
With holy hope of nobler time to come;
Time higher aim’d, still nearer the great mark
Of men and angels; virtue more divine.

Richard Baxter understood that all men are dying, from the moment of our birth. He wrote:

I Preach'd, as never sure to Preach again,
And as a dying man to dying Men!

In a separate work, Of Redemption of Time (The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, Vol. 4, p. 1041), he offers this consideration concerning the preciousness of spending well the time that is given to us:

Quest. 7. Do you mark what dying men say of time, and how they value it (unless they be blocks that are past feeling)? How ordinarily do good and bad then wish that they had spent time better, and cry out, Oh that it were to spend again! Then they are promising, Oh if it were to do again, we would spend that time in heavenly lives and fruitful obedience, which we spent in curiosity, idleness, and superfluous, sensual delights. Then they cry, Oh that God would renew our time, and once more try us how we will spend it! Alas! sirs, why should wise men so much differ in health and sickness? Why should that time be vilified now, which will seem so precious then?

Claudius Salmasius on his deathbed:

O, I have lost a world of time—time, the most precious thing in the world; whereof had I but one year more, it should be spent in David's Psalms and Paul's epistles. O sirs, mind the world less, and God more.

Queen Elizabeth I on her deathbed:

All my possessions for a moment of time.

James Hamilton, The Royal Preacher: Lectures on Ecclesiastes, p. 79:

Alas! For the knowledge which knows no Savior. Alas! for the science which includes no Gospel. The most erudite of lawyers was [John] Selden. Some days before his death he sent for Archbishop [James] Ussher, and said, “I have surveyed most of the learning that is among the sons of men, and my study is filled with books and manuscripts on various subjects, yet at this moment I can recollect nothing in them all on which I an rest my soul, save one from the sacred Scriptures, which lies much on my spirit. It is this: “The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good work!”

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