Monday, 1 July 2013


Prepare to meet thy God

The following is taken and slightly edited for easier reading from pages 328-330 of Thomas Boston's "Human Nature in its Fourfold State" (Banner of Truth) which we highly recommend. These old Protestant preachers fairly knew how to study and apply the Scriptures. Boston was a noted 18th Century Scottish Presbyterian preacher whose books are, unsurprisingly, still in print today.

1. Man's life is indeed reckoned in the Scriptures by hundreds of years: but no man ever arrived at a thousand, which yet bears no proportion to eternity.

2. Now hundreds are brought down to three score and ten (70) or fourscore (80) in its utmost length “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet [is] their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10)

3. Yet, as if years were too big a word for such a small thing as the life of man on earth, we find it counted by months: "The number of his months are with thee." (Job 14:5)

4. Frequently it is reckoned by days and these but few: "Man, that is born of a woman, is of few days." (Job 14:1)

5. Nay, it but one day, in Scripture account that a hireling's day, who will precisely observe when his day ends, and give over his work . "Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day." (Job 14:6)

6. Yea, the Scripture brings it down to the shortest space of time, and calls it a moment. "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;" (2 Corinthians 4:17)

7. Elsewhere, it is brought down yet to a lower pitch, further than which one cannot carry it. "Mine age is as nothing before thee..." (Psalm 39:5)

8. Agreeably to this, Solomon tells us: "There is a time to be born, and a time to die." (Ecclesiastes 3:2) but makes no mention of time to live, as if our life were but a skip from the womb to the grave.

Consider the various similitudes by which the Scripture represents the shortness of man's life:

A) Isaiah 38:12 likens man's life to a shepherds tent. The shepherds tent is soon removed, for the flocks must not feed long in one place.

B) Isaiah 38:12 also likens man's life to a weaver being cut off. It is a web which he is incessantly working; he is not idle so much as for one moment: in a short time it is wrought, and then it is cut off. Every breathing is a thread in this web; when the last breath is drawn, the web is woven out; he expires, and then it is cut off, he breathes no more.

C) Isaiah 40:6 likens man's life to the grass and the flower of the field. The grass is flourishing in the morning, but, being cut down by the mowers, in the evening it is withered, so man is sometimes is walking up and down at ease in the morning, and in the evening is lying a corpse. The flower, at best, is but a weak and tender thing, of short continuance wherever it grows. Observe, man is not compared to a flower of the garden but to the flower of the field which the foot of every beast may tread down at any time. Thus is our life liable to a thousand accidents every day, any of which may cut us off. But though we should escape all these, yet at length this grass withers, this flower fades of itself.

D) Job 7:9 likens man's life to the cloud that is consumed and which vanishes away. It looks as big as the morning cloud, which promises great things, and raises the expectation of the husbandman, but the sun soon rises and the cloud is scattered; death comes and man vanishes.

E) James 4:14 likens man's life to a vapour. It is frail and uncertain and does not last. It is as smoke, which goes out of a chimney, as if it would darken the face of the heavens, but quickly it is scattered and appears no more. Thus, departs man's life and "where is he?"

F) Job 7:7 likens man's life unto wind. It is but a passing blast, a short puff, "a wind that passeth and cometh not again" (Psalm 78:39)

G) Job 14:2 likens man's life unto a fleeting shadow which continues not. Observe how a shadow runs along the ground in a cloudy and a windy day, suddenly darkening the places beautified before with the beams of the sun, but as suddenly disappearing.

H) Job 7:6 declares that our days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle. A weaver's shuttle is very swift in its motion, in a moment it is thrown from one side of the web to the other; yet our days are swifter again.

I) Job 9:25 declares that our days are swifter than a post. The ancient post man were fast runners. Ahimaaz outran Cushi. The post runs with all his vigour, yet our days would be swifter than he.

J) Job 9:26 likens our days unto the swift ships. Ships can sail day and night without intermission, till they reach their port. Swift ships, ships of desire, in which men quickly reach their destination, or ships of pleasure which sail more swiftly than ships of burden.

K) Job 9:26 likens our days to the speed of the eagle hastening the its prey. The ordinary flight of the eagle is not sufficient to represent the swiftness of our days; but when he flies upon his prey, which is with an extraordinary swiftness. Even thus, our days flee away.



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