How often, when reading the history of the children of
Israel going up out of Egypt, have I condemned their longing for their
flesh-pots, and other things with which they had been entertained in the
land of their bondage, when they had Canaan before them! But now I may turn
from them, and leave my complaint upon myself, since I am guilty of the same
sin. If my hopes are fixed in eternity, why do I take pleasure in the
things of time! Will I by profession seek after immortality, yet
practically pursue dying vanities? O! when shall the world cease to
allure me, cease to find reception in my soul?
When shall the beautiful field, while I behold the better
country, become as a barren wilderness to me; and the fine flower garden, as
the top of a rock that is neither plowed nor sown? When shall honor be to me
as disagreeable as the din and confusion of great cities; and fame as the
tumultuous noise of an enraged mob, when the most part know not why they
have come together? When shall my well-informed judgment esteem riches no
better than wild brier, whose single flower on the top, is attended with
innumerable prickles round about below? When shall I possess unenvied
solitude, and retire into my own bosom, counting it a happiness neither to
much know, or to be known, in a vain, a transitory world? Can an old man,
who is half blind, and half deaf, be delighted with the harmony of sounds,
the neatness and richness of attire, and the frolicsome amusements of youth?
And should not the mature believer, (how sad my condition!) give a greater
disrelish to the pleasures of the world, than the decays of nature?
Henceforth, may I use the world as not abusing either it or myself!
How would it look in one sent expressly from his prince,
on matters of the greatest importance, to sit down by the first pleasant
grove he came to, and forget his mission, until the night had enrapt him up
in darkness, when he could not pursue his journey? So I am on the journey of
salvation, by order of the Prince of the kings of the earth, who has
commanded me to run while I have the light, and work while I have the day;
not to cast off my pilgrim-staff, ungird my armor, or forego my traveling
posture; nor to let my affections settle on anything below, lest the shadows
of the everlasting evening be stretched out, and thickest darkness cover me!
As men look on children, in all their mirthful imaginations and sportive
jollity, with pity and disdain; so should I look on the grandeur of the
world, which is more so in comparison of diviner glories, of sublimer bliss.
But, when Israel came near the promised land, the
pleasant inheritance—there was not one word of Egypt and all its dainties.
So, as a sign that I am drawing near the better country to inherit it for
eternity, let the things of this world not once be named by me, as becomes
an expectant of the vast reserve of love. O happy day! when all shall be
tasteless and insipid but Christ—when this struggle between my carnal
desires and renewed affections, shall issue in complete victory over the
creature and its enchanting charms!