(The “Improve Life” Sermon)
Delivered at East-Windsor, first
Society, on the first Lord’s
Day, after the
By DAVID M’CLURE, A. M.
Minister of the Church in said Society
*** The following plain discourse, on an important practical subject, is published at the request of a number of hearers.
Preparation for Death and Eternity.
Ecclesiastes ix. 10.
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might: for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest.
NOTHING is more certain than that man is born to die; yet there is no one important truth, less practically believed!
Altho’ we daily see our fellow men falling around us, victims to death, and mouldering [disintegrating] to dust, it is strange that we who are living are so secure, and unalarmed, and that we do not consider ourselves equally exposed to the arrest of death, as others. “All men think all men mortal but themselves.” Constant experience verifies the solemn truth, THAT MAN’S LIFE IS LIMITED, AND HIS ABODE ON EARTH OF SHORT DURATION. Our life is indeed short compared with the eternal existence on which we must speedily enter. The few days of life, with many, are full of trouble; and all experience more or less sorrow and vexation.
There are a happy few who make the brevity of life, and a preparation for death, the interesting subjects of their daily devout meditation; and earnestly seek for grace, that they may be prepared for a speedy summons from life, and appear with acceptance before God, thro’ the mediation of the great Redeemer. One of the ancient, servants of God, reflecting on the uncertainty and sorrows of life, earnestly prays, “teach us O Lord, so to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” In the right estimation of our days, consists that wisdom by which men are made wise for eternity.
Multiplied and various are the calls which God gives to mankind, by his word and providences, to improve life… -Read More-
A.W. Tozer (1897 – 1963)
A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary says this of Tozer: He preached the gospel so plainly that it has been said he was invited to speak everywhere—once. He refused to stand at the church door to shake hands with the congregation after church because in his mind that was “glad handing” people and setting himself up to be flattered and thus self-deceived. Biographer Lyle Dorsett put it this way: “Tozer concerned himself with the depth of his ministry, and left the breadth of his ministry up to the Holy Spirit.” and Tozer is widely regarded as one of the deepest theological thinkers of the 20th century. He is known worldwide for his prayer-bathed way of speaking pithy truth and introducing people to God. Tozer was a man of integrity. He lived simply, committed himself to lifelong learning, and drank deep from God’s Word. Clicking on his Picture will take you to an audio archive of some of Tozer’s sermons. As you know we reference Tozer now and then as a man who not only knew “Truth” and “Faith” but lived and spoke the same. In fact, if the “Church” had only listened to him then and applied the Truth he revealed what a different and amazing world we would have now!
On P.O.C. we have a category called “Occasional Boyle.” The motivation behind this category was the life, studies and writings of one of the greatest minds and theologians in history; Robert Boyle. One of his earliest books on Christian life was “Occasional Reflections” which as it turns out, four hundred years later we dubbed “Just a Thought.” So, we will read his thoughts and reflections and do our best to accurately relate them to you under this category.
Robert Boyle was born Jan. 25, 1627. Known as the father of Modern Chemistry, the experimental method, peer reviewed publication, the foundational understanding of “base elements” and “Boyles Law”. He was also one of the great yet unnoticed theologians. At a time when questioning either established science or endorsed religion was very dangerous, Boyle helped start and operate the “invisible college.” In 1660 when power changed the invisible college was made official by the king as, The Royal Society. Boyle was then elected President of the Society but turned it down because it would require him to sign an oath to an entity other than God. Boyle possessed a deep knowledge of Scripture including its original languages of Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, and Chaldean in addition to Latin, Syriac, French, and Italian. He personally funded the translation and distribution of the Bible into other languages and even provided for the continuance of his mission work in his will.
Boyle believed the study of science was another means to achieve a greater understanding of God. Boyle wrote; “the World is the great Book, not so much of Nature, as of the God of Nature, which we should find crowded with instructive Lessons, if we had but the Skill, and would take the Pains, to extract and pick them out” As a scholar of both language and science Boyle was perhaps the most qualified to comment on any conflict between science and the Bible. His explanation for such an occurrence; either a mistake in the science or an incorrect interpretation of Scripture. In other words, he believed their was no conflict between science and scripture, only man’s failure in either. To explain the latter; “I am confirmed in the belief, that by transferring our impressions to the Sacred Text, we often impute to the Scriptures our own faults and deficiencies.”
Boyle made the case that if “idle hands” were the devil’s workshop, then how much more would an idle mind be. His first book was dedicated to the practice of maintaining an active mind of intentional thought through observation and reflection. In this book, “Occasional Reflections,” he writes this of the idle mind and the opportunity it provides Satan; “scarce anything is more in his (father of lies) interest than solicitously to divert men from thinking, and discourage them in it, there being few things whereby he could more effectually oppose at once, both the Glory of God and the good of men,” In his next book “Some considerations touching the style of the Holy Scriptures” Boyle points out the solution; “Sin came into the world by the weakness of one man, listening to the words of the devil; so Divine Wisdom is pleased to make restoring Grace operate on us, in submitting our better understanding to the Word of God.”
Boyle believed, in scripture and in science, we should leave our opinions behind and take from either the truth they offer. Of scripture he said; “We should obtain our opinions from Scripture rather than take them to Scripture since Scripture is the best expositor of itself.”
The same is evidenced in his experimental philosophy for science and could be said; We should obtain our opinions from science rather than take them to science since science is the best expositor of itself. As Boyle put it there are truths science would never know existed if it were not for the Bible telling us so. Boyle: “There are divers truths in the Christian religion, that reason left to itself would never have been able to find out. … Such as … free will … that the world was made in six days, that Christ should be born of a virgin, and that in his person there should be united two such infinitely distant natures as the divine and human; and that the bodies of good men shall be raised from death and so advantageously changed, that the glorified persons shall be like or equal to, the angels.” At the age of 14 Boyle took himself to Italy to study Galileo’s mathematical theories of science. From this knowledge he decided science should not be merely passed on, but tested. From this came “The Experimental Method” and “Peer Reviewed Publishing.”
Boyle often addressed those who would separate the Old and New Testaments as separate works, viewing the Old as obsolete. One of the best examples of this gave me such an enlightened perspective that I want to share it with you. Boyle said when he read and contemplated the scriptures he saw them like this; “I sometimes contemplate Moses and Elias (Elijah) talking with Christ — I mean the law and the prophets harmonizing with the Gospel.”
I think Bishop Burnet, who spoke at Boyles funeral in 1692 summed Boyle’s outlook on science and God the best. He said; Boyle was “one of those individuals who have directed all their enquiries into nature to the Honour of its great Maker.”