I read this story last night via a daily e-mail update to which I subscribe. Oh my.
Some 250 years ago William Law* portrayed a "very prosperous and busy young tradesman" who was "about to die in his thirty-fifth year." The young man had this to say to the friends who came to express their sympathy:
You look upon me with pity, not that I am going unprepared to meet the Judge of quick and dead, but that I am to leave a prosperous trade in the flower of my life.... And yet what folly of the silliest children is so great as this?
Our poor friend Lepidus died...as he was dressing himself for a feast. Do you think it is now part of his trouble that he did not live till that entertainment was over? Feast and business and pleasures and enjoyments seem great things to us-but as soon as we add death to them they all sink into an equal littleness....
If I am now going into the joys of God, could there be any reason to grieve that this happened to me before I was forty years of age? Could it be a sad thing to go to heaven before I had made a few more bargains or stood a little longer behind a counter?
And if I am to go amongst lost spirits, could there be any reason to be content that this did not happen to me till I was old, and full of riches...? Now that judgment is the next thing that I look for, and everlasting happiness or misery is come so near to me, all the enjoyments and prosperities of life seem vain and insignificant....
But my friends, how I am surprised that I have not always had these thoughts...! What a strange thing it is that a little health or the poor business of a shop should keep us so senseless of these great things that are coming so fast upon us!
Does this impact you as it does me? Oh, to live with this eternal perspective!