13 JANUARY (PREACHED 31 DECEMBER 1769)
The seeds of eternity are sown in time
‘For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.’ Psalm 90:9
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Ecclesiastes 12:1–14
As a tale that is told. Let us consider the comparison. As a tale: the margin reads ‘a meditation’, whether silent or expressed—a thought, or a word, or a discourse. I judge our translation to be exceeding proper, suited to the scope of the passage and the nature of our life. The chief pleasure of a tale or relation lies in the hearing or telling it while it is new. When well known or often told, it ceases to please. A worn-out tale is a proverb for what is tedious. Such is our life—every year is in the main a repetition of the same poor story. Youth, when just entering upon it, are all attention—but O if old people were to speak, how insipid and tasteless is the tale of life to those who know not the pleasures of communion with God. Few and evil, says Jacob, have the days of my life been [Genesis 47:9]. Of the good, nothing remains but the remembrance—and this was mixed with so much evil that few people would have the courage to live a year over again, if they were to choose—and yet, alas, afraid to die. O the vanity of man! When the tale is told, or the word spoken, it is gone beyond recall. Many consequences often follow from one improper speech, but that which was said cannot be unsaid. In the former view, life appeared quite insignificant, but in this it appears of the greatest consequences. I have somewhere met a sentence which much struck me. I wish it may affect all who hear it: ‘The seeds of eternity are sown in time.’ According to our pursuits and conduct in this momentary life, such will be our condition for ever. So the Apostle reminds us in Galatians 6:7–8, Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
FOR MEDITATION: Time is short—and the nature of our employment while it lasts is well suited to raise our thoughts above the little concerns of such a life as this.… The love of Christ, the worth of souls, the honour of being instrumental in their recovery, a glorious endless state of happiness and holiness—how light must our present sufferings appear when weighed in the scales of the sanctuary against these things. Let us not be weary in well-doing, for in due time we shall reap if we faint not.
SERMON: PSALM 90:9 [2/3] [ALSO PREACHED 28 DECEMBER 1783]