Thursday, January 12, 2017

Considering Our Latter End

In the second section of Time and the End of Time: Discourses on Redeeming the Time and Considering Our Latter End (ISBN 978-1-60178-489-6), John Fox looks at Deuteronomy 32:29 and notes that we are to consider our latter end.

First, in concerning your latter end, you are seriously to consider and believe (pp. 63-85):
  1. "That it is most certain that an end will be"
  2. "That at your latter end all things in this world will fail you and take their leave of you forever"
  3. "How soon all the present pleasures of sin will be gone and leave nothing but a sting"
  4. "That only which is eternal will stand you in stead when you come to die"
  5. "Which of the two eternities you are going toward"
  6. "How near you are to your everlasting habitation"
  7. "How sudden, violent, or unexpected you end may be"
  8. "That when death comes to strike the stroke, your souls are startled--your eternity is cast without change forever"
  9. "That it is the most dreadful and amazing sight on this side [of] hell to see a Christless unbeliever breathing out his last"
Next, Mr. Fox gives five reasons to consider your latter end (pp. 86-101):
  1. "Because the only wise, gracious, most indulgent, and soul-compassionating God wishes it, and that most vehemently"
  2. "Because a deep, serious, and heart-affecting consideration of death and the grave will both realize it and represent it as near, even at the door, and make it to stand in open view"
  3. Because through grace it "will prove and absolute and sovereign antidote to expel the greatest evil"
  4. Because it "will be a powerful incentive to make you exert and put forth the greatest industry in a way of duty"
  5. "Because here lies your highest wisdom"
The applications to consider your latter end are found in four uses:
  1. "This calls aloud to all you unconverted sinners that have made no preparation for death and judgment to stand, wonder, or sit down and admire at the unwearied patience, the matchless and amazing mercy of the infinitely gracious and glorious God," (p. 102).
  2. "This justly reprehends all who slight or neglect this great duty, but especially these three sorts--none of which do seriously consider their latter end--namely: (1) the insolent, athestical sensualists; (2) the ignorant and inconsiderate; (3) the self-confident and presumptuous," (p. 104).
  3. This "is to exhort, persuade, and stir you up, to put this duty of so great and infinite concern into practice," (p. 121).
  4. This gives "comfort to the poor people of God who, through fear of death, are all their lifetime subject to bondage," (p. 148-149).
When considering the application of considering your latter end, Mr. Fox asks "why do men and women that have immortal souls think no more of it?" (p. 116).  He notes seven causes of why men and women do not consider their latter end (pp. 116-120): (1) cursed atheism and unbelief deeply rooted in hearts and minds; (2) want of spiritual and divine wisdom; (3) sensuality, worldly pleasures, and care; (4) plague on the heart and desperate security proceeding from it; (5) strong delusion of heart or satanical suggestion, (6) fear of death; and (7) fear of leaving this world.

The author lists eight motives to consider in order to persuade saints to consider their latter end:
  1. "Consider there is an absolute and indispensable necessity for the doing of it--a present necessity, an infinite and eternal necessity.  Other things may be done; this must be done," (p. 125).
  2. "Consider that it may be done.  You are in a capacity to do it," (p. 126).
  3. "Consider the omitting or neglect of it will render you the worst of fools.  If doing it be your highest wisdom, the not doing of it must needs be the greatest folly," (p. 127).
  4. Consider that "[i]n a very little time your present, powerful, and awakening helps and advantages to excite and put you in mind of the other world will be past and gone...namely, (1) awakening ordinances; (2) awakening providences; [and] (3) awakening convictions," (p. 128).
  5. "Consider that the earnest cries, tears, prayers of unbelievers when they come to die will be in vain, fruitless, and unsuccessful," (p. 131).
  6. Consider that "[i]t is the great comfort of the godly man's life to hope and know that he is fit for death," (p. 132).
  7. Consider that "[i]f you should not prepare for death, yet you will wish you had (as many do when it is too late)," (p. 133).
  8. "Consider the gain will be exceedingly great," (p. 134).
Finally, Mr. Fox concludes his book with three directions and reminders:
  1. "Search diligently to find out what it is that keeps you and the serious thoughts of death and eternity at so great a distance, and cry mightily to God speedily to remove it," (p. 143).
  2. "Diligently and faithfully use and improve the most awakening means": "Set yourself under a powerful, faithful, and soul-searching ministry," "converse with the best Christians," and "read the best books," (pp. 144-145).
  3. "Make conscience of setting apart a little time every day on purpose to think on your latter end," (p. 146).
Time and the End of Time is a very sobering book.  The author sums up the Christian's duty best: "It is the grand business of your life timely and truly to prepare for death and judgment.  It were better that all your concerns in the world were wholly neglected--namely, husband, wife, children, buying, selling, seed time, harvest, omitted and let all to ruin, than to hazard, lose, and undo your souls--for this will certainly ruin body and soul forever," (p. 125).

"O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!" (Deut. 32:29).