By Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. — James 4:13–14
We should have some affection to the enjoyments of this world; otherwise they would cease to be enjoyments. If we have no degree of rejoicing in them, we cannot be thankful for them. We may take delight in earthly friends and other earthly enjoyments. But by setting our hearts on these things—by fixing our minds on them so much that we cannot well enjoy ourselves without them—we show that we have our dependence on another day.
If men are proud of their worldly circumstances, it shows that they have a dependence on tomorrow; for no man would think it worth his while to vaunt himself in that which is to be depended on only for a day. Though a man has a great estate today, he will not be puffed up with it, unless he depends on having it tomorrow.
A person will not be proud of his fine clothes if he understands that he may be stripped by death and wrapped in a burial sheet tomorrow—to be carried to the grave, there to rot, and be covered and filled with worms.
When men envy others’ worldly enjoyments, their wealth, their worldly ease, or their titles and high places—their sensual pleasures, or any of their worldly circumstances—it shows that they set their hearts on the things of the world. So when they contend about worldly possessions and enjoyments, (as almost all the contentions that are in the world are about these things,) it shows that they have dependence on tomorrow.
Those who are secure in their sins are generally so because they boast themselves of tomorrow. They depend on future opportunity—they flatter themselves with hopes of living long in the world—they depend on the fulfillment of their good intentions as to what they will do at a more convenient season.
Would not your behavior be very different from what it is now if you every day lived and acted without any dependence on seeing one day more? God has concealed from us the day of our death, without doubt, partly for this end, that we might be excited to be always ready, and might live as those that are always waiting for the coming of their Lord.
*Abridged and language updated from Procrastination: The Sin And Folly of Depending on Future Time by Jonathan Edwards.