Quote about pondering one's own death

Discussion in 'Puritan Literature' started by Relztrah, Nov 4, 2019.

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  1. Relztrah

    Relztrah Puritan Board Freshman

    I remember reading in one of the Puritans, and I think it was Owen or Watson but I could be wrong, a quote about pondering one's own death. Or to meditate much on the day of your death, or words to that effect.

    At the time I thought it was rather morbid, but as I grow older I see the wisdom of that counsel. It is very similar to Edwards's Resolution, "9. Resolved, To think much, on all occasions, of my dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death." But it wasn't Edwards because at that time I was not familiar with his writings.

    Does anybody know the passage I am thinking about?
  2. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

  3. hammondjones

    hammondjones Puritan Board Sophomore

    Does certainly sound like Watson to me. Perhaps this


    Section 10. Meditate upon DEATH.

    We say we must all die—but how rare it is—that anyone meditates seriously upon death?

    1. Meditate on the certainty of death; it is appointed for all, once to die, Heb. 9:27. Death is an inviolable reality.

    2. Meditate upon the proximity of death, it is near to us.We are almost setting our feet upon the dark entry of death. The poets painted time with wings; it flies—and carries us upon its wings. The race is short between the cradle and the grave! The sentence of death is already passed, Gen. 3:19. "To dust you shall return;" so that our life is but a short reprieve from death which is granted to a condemned man. "You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath." Psalm 39:5. Nay, our life is less than nothing, reckoned with eternity.

    3. Meditate upon the uncertainty of time. We have no lease—but may be turned out the next hour; there are so many casualties, that it is a wonder if life be not cut off by untimely death. How soon may God seal us a lease of ejectment? Our grave may be dug before night. Today we may lie upon a pillow of down, tomorrow we may be laid upon a pillow of dust. Today the sermon-bell tolls, to morrow our death bell may toll.

    4. Think seriously, that to die is to be but once done, and after death our state is eternally fixed. If you die in your impenitency, there is no repenting in the grave. If you leave your work at death half done, there is no finishing it in the grave, Eccl. 9:10, "There is no work, nor device, nor wisdom in the grave where you go." If a garrison surrenders at the first summons, there is mercy. But if it battles until it is stormed and captured, there is no mercy then. Now it is a day of grace, and God holds forth the white flag of mercy to the penitent; if we battle with God until he storms us by death—there is no mercy. There is nothing to be done for our souls after death. O meditate on death. It is reported of Zeleucus, that the first piece of house-hold stuff he brought to Babylon, was a tomb-stone; think often of your tomb-stone.

    Meditation on death would work these admirable effects.

    1. Meditation on death would pull down the plumes of pride; you are but animated dust! Shall dust and ashes be proud? You body will be turned into grass—and shall shortly be mowed down!

    2. Meditation on death would be a means to give a death-wound to sin. No stronger antidote against sin, says Augustine, than the frequent meditation on death. Am I now sinning—and tomorrow I may be dying? what if death should take me doing the devil's work, would it not send me to him to receive double pay! Carry the thoughts of death as a book always about you, and when sin tempts, pull out this book, and read in it—and you shall see sin will vanish. We should look upon sin in two looking-glasses—the glass of Christ's blood, and the glass of death.

    3. Meditation on death would be a bridle for intemperance; shall I pamper that body which must lie down in the house of rottenness? Our Savior at a feast breaks forth into mention of his burial, Mat. 26. Feeding upon the thoughts of death would be an excellent preservative against gluttony.

    4. Meditation on death would make us use time better, and crowd up much work in a little space. Many meet in taverns to trifle away time; the apostle bids us redeem time. "Redeeming the time." Our lives should be like jewels, though little in bulk, yet great in worth. Some die young, yet with gray hairs upon them. We must be like grass of the field, useful; not like grass of the house-top, which withers before it is grown up. To live and not be serviceable, is not life—but wasting life.

    5. Meditation on death would spur us on in the pursuit after holiness. Death is the great plunderer, it will shortly plunder us of all our outward comforts. Our feathers of beauty and honor must be laid in the dust—but death cannot plunder us of our graces. The commonwealth of Venice, in their armory, have this inscription, "happy is he who in time of peace, thinks of war." He who often meditates of death—will make the best preparation for it.
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