This is Part 7 of a series of writings from Puritan Thomas Manton’s excellent case showing that it is no easy thing to be saved. This part comes from his sermon on 2 Cor. 4:18. While this is a different sermon than the original discussed in the first six parts, I came across this one and thought it was relevant to the topic of how difficult is the path to salvation.
These sections below are only part of the sermon, so I hope you will take the time to read the entire thing, as the whole sermon is beneficial, and you can find it here:
And here are the previous blog posts:
Part 1 – Astonishment at Rich Men’s Difficulty
Part 2 – Doubt at Difficulty, but Generally Proved
Part 3 – Human Nature & the Habit of Worldliness
Part 4 – The Power of Worldliness
Part 5 – Why This Is Important
Part 6 – How to Use This Information
From Thomas Manton:
2 Cor. 4:18 – “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
3. To negligent and sensual worldlings, who wholly busy themselves about the matters of this life, and are hurried hither and thither: Ps. xxxix. 6, ‘Surely every man walketh in a vain show; they are disquieted in vain.’ Our life is but a picture, image, shadow, or dream of life; it vanisheth in a trice. All must be suddenly parted with here, all the riches and honours; and yet we cark and labour and turmoil to get these transitory things, as if they would continue with us to all eternity, and had some durable satisfaction in them. Present pleasures and profits cloud our minds, and till we can get this veil drawn aside, this cloud scattered, we do not discern our mistake.
Oh, consider who “would redeem the short pleasure of a dream with the torment of many days!
Our days upon earth are as a shadow, and yet this shadow do we cleave to instead of the substance, and though earthly things be short in their continuance, and uncomfortable in their end, yet these take up our life, and love, and care, and thoughts. Just as those that want children take pleasure in keeping little dogs and cats, so do they embrace the shadow for the substance, vainglory for eternal glory, a little pelf for the true riches, a little paltry business for the great work and end of our lives; and when all is done, it is but a spider’s web, Job viii. 14. The trust of the carnal man shall be but as the spider’s web. As the spider out of his own bowels weaveth a web to catch flies, and frameth it with a great deal of art, but it is gone with the turn of the besom [a broom made of twigs tied around a stick], so is the fruit of all their plots, and cares, and labours, and running up and down, when in the meantime we are unmindful of eternity.
Oh, when will these distracting worldlings find a time for God and everlasting happiness? Childhood is not serious enough, youth must take their pleasure, manly age is too full of business, and old age is too feeble.
4. It reproveth God’s children, who are too lazy, and have not that life and seriousness in a spiritual business which they have in an earthly. If eternity be your aim, why are you so dead and dull in a course of holiness? The apostle biddeth Timothy to follow after holiness: ‘To fight the good fight, to lay hold on eternal life,’ 1 Tim. vi. 12; implying if the one were his aim, he would do the other.
If we press towards the mark, why are we so frozen and cold in our zeal for God, so inclinable to every motion of sin, so easily overcome by temptations? Alas! making eternal things our scope is but a notion, unless we provide forthwith with greater care, exactness, and diligence. There should be a suitableness and proportion between the exactness of our conversation [behavior] and the greatness of our hopes: 1 Thes. ii. 12, ‘Walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.’ That worthiness is the worthiness of condignity [as if our reward for works was heaven], congruity [appropriateness], and condecency [the decency of living a holy life].
But alas! do we labour as for eternity? so follow after righteousness, so fight the good fight of faith, so despise the world, deny ourselves, run through all straits, triumph over all difficulties, mortify and subdue our own carnal inclinations? Alas! we are so bold in sinning, so cold in holy things, and do so little exercise ourselves unto godliness, as if we had no such great matters in view and chase; and carry it so as if our hopes were only in this world, and not as if the eternal God had promised these eternal things to us. Surely if our belief of them were stronger we should be other persons than we are, in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter iii. 11.
May the Lord grant us a desire and help to spend our time, instead of building our treasures of earthly, worthless shadows, following after righteousness, fighting the good fight of faith, despising the world, denying ourselves, running through all straits, triumphing over all difficulties, and mortifying and subduing our own carnal inclinations!
Stay tuned for part 8, if the Lord wills!