Time and Eternity - A New Years Address
by Henry Dyer
Man's power of marking the flight of time is a wonderful thing. At creation God formed a marvelous way of measuring time, by so arranging the machinery of the heavens as to furnish man with a clock. At the first day of creating heaven and earth God formed light, and there was then day and night, and the day might have served man for work, and the night for sleep; but the sun and moon, which were given on the fourth day, form his chief means of reckoning time. They are like two great hands of a clock, giving us the larger and the smaller divisions of years and months, and man fashions the dial-plates of his clocks and watches on the model of the time-keeping machinery of the heavens. God was about to make man not only erect in stature so as to behold the heavens, but intelligent also to know his Maker, and his responsibility to Him. When a loving father builds a house for a son, and furnishes it, he does not forget to supply him with a clock to warn him of his time, as well as a bed for rest, and a table for his food. The house would not be complete without it. So when God built heaven and earth as a dwelling-place for man, He gave him
A GREAT CREATION CLOCK.
All this might well have instructed our first parents. There was a moment when Adam's eyes first saw the light, and creation's objects around him—both the earth beneath his feet, and the heavens above him; and we may be sure he beheld them with wonder and with delight, But what must have been the increased adoration of our first parents, when they* observed the heavenly bodies in their motions? How they would watch the setting sun of that first day of their newly-created existence! And when the sun was gone down, and the pale moon appeared with all the stars of light, and they looked first at them and then at themselves, well might they have exclaimed, in the words of Psalm viii., "When I consider Thy heavens the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained, what is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him?" They had seen the earth and heavens as a "tabernacle for the sun" (see Psalm xix.) during the day, and now they saw the wonders of the night; and Adam might say "This is the dwelling-place, the home my Maker has built for me." And doubtless this worship from His favoured creature, man, repaid the Maker in some measure for having made it all. There need be no question that the sun and moon, and the vast starry firmament, were made for this earth—this small globe of ours—and for us as dwellers on it; and God reveals even a far greater wonder than that, namely, that the Maker of the earth and heaven became on this earth the Babe of Bethlehem, and died to redeem ruined man.
"I praise Thy name. O Jesus, Lord,
Almighty Son of God!
The world's Creator, by Thy Word;
My Saviour by Thy blood."
As, therefore, the heavenly bodies were made for this earth and for man, and as we have by them
OUR POWER OF MEASURING TIME,
A remembrance of this may well call forth our gratitude and praise; and all the more because man being now a sinner, he has forfeited every good thing, and might have irretrievably lost this also. God did in many ways change creation when man sinned. He took away the earth's spontaneous fertility, and made it bring forth thorns and briers, and put mortality into man's frame; and all this it was well God should do, both for His own glory and for the sinner's good. He changed the soil beneath man's feet, to bind him to the earth by the sweat of his brow, and thus restrain his self-ruining wickedness; but God did not take from sinful man the clock of the heavens above him. As a sinner, man more than ever needed to be warned of the flight of his time, and accordingly the time-keeping movements of the sun and moon and planets are as accurate now, for aught we know, as when they were first made and sped onward in their courses. Time then, and the power to mark its flight, has great lessons for us from God, our God, who is Himself unlimited by time, and is "from everlasting to everlasting" (Ps. xc. 2). Warned by the solemn date of
we may well preach God's gospel with more solemn earnestness to the unsaved; for they, are now nearer than they were last year to the sinner's hell. The child of God also needs the lesson, lest he yield to slothfulness; but if he be watchful and diligent, he may gather fruit for eternity out of moments and hours of time. The secret of success in this is to abide in Christ, "the true Vine," who Himself abideth forever, as doth all fruit borne by us through our abiding in Him. "I have ordained you," says the Lord, that during the little day you have below, "you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain." And though our steps in time may be but few, it is His will that every step should bring forth some good thing that should continue throughout eternity. Before our conversion, our moments were as worthless as the pebbles on the shore; but now that we are saved, they are as precious as the diamonds of Goiconda.
Such portions of Scripture as link time with eternity, like Psalm xc, especially befit the children of God at this season; for they are the only people of all earth's millions who can link these two together. A man of the world lives for this mere span of time only, and would rather not hear of eternity; but a child of God loves to join the two, and rejoices both in his possession and his expectancy.
Let us now ask what it is that enables the Christian to link together time and eternity. First of all, because they stand linked together in the precious Lord Jesus Himself. As we behold Him seated now for ever at the right hand of God, we remember that He was once the Babe of Bethlehem, the "Infant of days." We are not speaking of Him now as the eternal Son of God, but as the man Christ Jesus, who "took upon Him" the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men," for our sakes (see Phil. ii. 7-12). As such, there was a moment when He was born into this world; then came His brief but blessed life, His time here below. But He is beyond all limits of time now, and is the Lord Jesus Christ forever, and will never go back to His pre-incarnate state again. One precious verse proves this: "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever"—the "yesterday," that is, of His days below; the "today," of His resurrection; and such as He now is, He abides "forever." Eighteen hundred years have not altered Him, nor will the eternal ages change Him. In Him, then, the now Eternal One, we see
TIME AND ETERNITY PRECIOUSLY BLENDED
for us, and for God's glory in and by us. They are blended also in the work of Christ as truly as they are in His person. The fruit of that work wrought here below in time stands forever. It was not all the days of His flesh that He was doing redemption-work. The mighty Samson at one midnight hour bore off the gates of Gaza to the top of the hill that is before Hebron; and it was in His atoning death that Jesus did the work that stands eternally. What fruit, and fruit forever, from those three solemn (we will not call them short) hours of His midnight toil and woe! What an everlasting stream from the once smitten Rock! What salvation even now flows on from that hour when the sword of justice pierced Him, and the prophetic word was fulfilled, "When Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin!" At one mighty draught, He drank the cup of wrath; one mighty stroke fell upon the head of that precious Sacrifice, and the work was done forever.
Time and eternity are joined, then, as truly in Christ's work as in His person; but they are joined also in our soul's experience and knowledge of Him. Till we knew Him, we cared not for eternity, but were the sport of a brief hour's pleasure; but directly that we knew Him, time and eternity were linked together in our souls. We now love to think of that one happy moment when the life-look was given us;
THAT MOMENT OF JOY
opened to us an eternity of glory. We bless our Lord that He joined time and eternity together when He made Himself the Saviour, and we in like manner joined them when we believed on Him.
The same is true in our after-experience. There were moments when we especially enjoyed His presence, and thought much of Him. Will anything ever blot out those moments from His book of remembrance? or those hours of godly assembling of which we read in Malachi iii. 16: "Then they that feared the Lord spoke often one to another: and the Lord harkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name?" All such fleeting moments, or passing hours, are indelibly recorded before God. Oh, the value, then, of moments or hours of communion with God, and of abiding in Christ! Well has one amongst us asked: "Would all the gold of earth recompense you for the loss of five minutes' communion with God?" Ask Abraham the worth to him, even now, of those bright hours when he first entertained his Divine Guest under the tree, and afterwards pleaded with Him for Sodom; or the value to him of that solemn yet joyful hour when he offered up Isaac and received him again as from the dead! And oh, ask Lot whether the life he spent in Sodom ever recompensed him for the loss of the tent and the altar which he enjoyed with Abraham! But
THE CROWNING MOMENT
of our joining time with eternity will be that "moment" that twinkling of an eye, in which we shall be changed; experiencing then a change that will last throughout eternity, for we shall pass from the brief-lived image of the earthly to the everlasting image of the heavenly! This last moment of our joining time with eternity in our experience will be the sweetest we shall have ever had, when we go up to be "forever with the Lord." Oh, bless Him who is then to be our glorious dwelling-place forever! and let us, at the opening of another measured year below, fervently ask Him that we may abide even now in the atmosphere of the "mountains of spices" (Song viii. 14), and in the sunlight of that heavenly Mount Zion which is so soon to be our eternal home.
But does time always seem thus short? Not always. Ask that suffering child of God who when it is evening wishes it were morning, and at morning wishes it were evening. To such ones time moves on slowly. We would, then, exhort them to shorten the sorrows of time by gazing into our blessed coming eternity; as did Paul when he said, "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 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." And let us all, as children of God, bring eternity to bear on time; the joys of eternity to lighten the sorrows of time, and the rewards of eternity to influence us in our use of time while it is still continued to us. Thus let us be diligent and wise in "redeeming the time" this year, and let us improve its days and hours by winning from them eternal diadems for the Lamb once slain, for He is worthy.