4. The Present Evil World

 •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 8
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Oh! well it is forever,
Oh! well for evermore,
My nest hung in no forest
Of all this death-doom’d shore:
Yea, let the vain world vanish,
As from the ship the strand,
While glory―glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.
“All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” ―1 John 2:1616For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1 John 2:16)
Step over this handbreadth of world’s glory into our Lord’s new world of grace, and ye will laugh at the feathers that children are chasing in the air. I verily judge that this inn, which men are building their nest in, is not worth a drink of cold water. It is a rainy and smoky house: best we come out of it, lest we be choked with the smoke thereof.
Build your nest upon no tree here; for ye see God hath sold the forest to death; and every tree whereupon we would rest is ready to be cut down, to the end we may fly and mount up, and build upon the Rock.... There is less sand in your glass now than there was yester-night. This span-length of ever-posting time will soon be ended.
All that is under this vault of heaven, and betwixt us and death, and on this side of sun and moon, is but toys, night-visions, head-fancies, poor shadows, watery froth, godless vanities at their best, and black hearts, and salt and sour miseries, sugared over and confected with an hour’s laughter or two, and the conceit of riches, honor, vain, vain court, and lawless pleasures. If ye look both to the laughing side and to the weeping side of this world, and if ye look not only upon the skin and color of things, but into their inwards, and the heart of their excellency, ye shall see that one look of Christ’s sweet and lovely eye, one kiss of His fairest face, is worth ten thousand worlds of such rotten stuff as the foolish sons of men set their hearts upon.... Turn your heart to the other side of things, and get it once free of these entanglements, to consider eternity.... As a flood carried back to the sea, so doth the Lord’s swift post, Time, carry you and your life with wings to the grave. Ye eat and drink, but time standeth not still; ye laugh, but your day fleeth away; ye sleep, but your hours are reckoned and put by hand. Oh, how soon will time shut you out of the poor, and cold, and hungry inn of this life! And then what will yesterday’s short-born pleasures do to you, but be as a snowball melted away many years since? Or worse, for the memory of these pleasures useth to fill the soul with bitterness. Time and experience will prove this to be true; and dying men, if they could speak, would make this good.... Your love, if it were more than all the love of angels in one, is Christ’s due: other things worthy in themselves, in respect of Christ, are not worth a windlestraw, or a drink of cold water.
I know a man who wondered to see any in this life laugh or sport. Surely our Lord seeketh this of us, as to any rejoicing in present perishing things.... For I think the men of this world are like children in a dangerous storm in the sea, that play and make sport with the white foam of the waves thereof, coming in to sink and drown them; so are men making fool’s sports with the white pleasures of a stormy world, that will sink them. But, alas! what have we to do with their sports which they make? If Solomon said of laughter, that it was madness, what may we say of this world’s laughing and sporting themselves with gold and silver, and honors, and court, and broad large conquests, but that they are poor souls, in the height and rage of a fever gone mad? Then a straw, a fig, for all created sports and rejoicing out of Christ! Nay, I think that this world, at its prime and perfection, when it is come to the top of its excellency and to the bloom, might be bought with an half-penny; and that it would scarce weigh the worth of a drink of water. There is nothing better than to esteem it our crucified idol (that is, dead and slain), as Paul did. Then let pleasures be crucified, and riches be crucified, and court and honor be crucified. And since the apostle saith that the world is crucified to him, we may put this world to the hanged man’s doom, and to the gallows: and who will give much for a hanged man? as little should we give for a hanged and crucified world. Yet, what a sweet smell hath this dead carrion to many fools in the world! and how many wooers and suitors findeth this hanged carrion! Fools are pulling it off the gallows, and contending for it. Oh, when will we learn to be mortified men, and to have our fill of those things that have but their short summer quarter of this life! If we saw our Father’s house, and that great and fair city, the New Jerusalem, which is up above sun and moon, we would cry to be over the water, and to be carried in Christ’s arms out of this borrowed prison.
How soon will some few years pass away! and then, when the day is ended, and this life’s lease expired, what have men of world’s glory but dreams and thoughts?
There will be shortly a proclamation by One standing in the clouds, “that time shall be no more,” and that courts with kings of clay shall be no more; and prisons, confinements, forfeitures, wrath of Kings, hazard of lands, houses, and name, for Christ, shall be no more. This world’s span-length of time is drawn now to less than half an inch, and to the point of the evening of the day of this old gray-haired world. And, therefore, be fixed and fast for Christ and His truth for a time; and fear not him whose life goeth out at his nostrils, who shall die as a man.... Kings earthly are but well-favored little clay-gods, time’s idols; but a sight of our invisible King shall decry and darken all the glory of this world.... All the world shall fall before Him, and (as God liveth!) every arm lifted up to take the crown off His royal head, or that refuseth to hold it on His head, shall be broken from the shoulder blade. Oh, what would men count of clay estates, of time-eaten life, of worm-eaten and moth-eaten worldly glory, in comparison of that fairest... the Son of the Father’s delights!
Look beyond time: things here are but moonshine. They have but children’s wit who are delighted with shadows, and deluded with feathers flying in the air.
Verily I have seen the best of this world, a moth-eaten threadbare coat: I propose to lay it aside, being now old and full of holes. O for my house above, not made with hands!
Oh, thrice blinded souls, whose hearts are charmed and bewitched with dreams, shadows, feckless1 things, night-vanities, and night-fancies of a miserable life of sin! Shame on us who sit still, fettered with the love and liking of a piece of dead clay! Oh, poor fools, who are beguiled with painted things, and this world’s fair weather, and smooth promises, and rotten, worm-eaten hopes! May not the devil laugh to see us give out our souls, and get in but corrupt and counterfeit pleasures of sin? O for a sight of eternity’s glory, and a little tasting of the Lamb’s marriage supper! Half a draft, or a drop of the wine of consolation, that is up at our banqueting house, out of Christ’s own hand, would make our stomachs loathe the brown bread and sour drink of a miserable life. Oh, how far are we bereaved of wit, to chafe, and hunt, and run, till our souls be out of breath, after a condemned happiness of our own making!... O that we were out of ourselves, and dead to this world, and this world dead and crucified to us! And, when we should be close out of love and conceit of any masked and farded2 lover whatsoever, then Christ would win and conquer to Himself a lodging in the inmost yolk of our heart. Then Christ should be our night song and morning song; and the noise of our Well-beloved’s feet, when He cometh, and His first knock... at the door, should be as news of two heavens to us.
If contentment were here, heaven were not heaven. Whoever seek the world to be their bed, shall at best find it short and ill made, and a stone under their side to hold them waking, rather than a soft pillow to sleep upon. Ye ought to bless your Lord that it is not worse. We live in a sea where many have suffered shipwreck, and have need that Christ sit at the helm of the ship.
I recommend to you holiness and sanctification, and that you keep yourself clean from this present evil world.... Oh, how hard a thing is it, to get the soul to give up with all things on this side of death and doomsday! We say that we are removing and going from this world; but our heart stirreth not one foot off its seat. Alas! I see few heavenly-minded souls, that have nothing upon the earth but their body of clay going up and down this earth, because their soul and the powers of it are up in heaven, and there their hearts live, desire, enjoy, rejoice. Oh! men’s souls have no wings; and, therefore, night and day they keep their nest, and are not acquainted with Christ.... Take you to your one thing, to Christ, that ye may be acquainted with the taste of His sweetness and excellency; and charge your love not to Boat upon this world, for it will not do your business in that day, when nothing will come in good stead to you but God’s favor.
Let all the world be nothing, and let God be all things.
1. Weak, worthless
2. Painted