1 Timothy 4:8
For bodily exercise profits little: but godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the life that now is…
It is a singular and lamentable fact, that while men are so sensitive and eager in pursuing temporal interests, they are so obstinately careless with regard to those spiritual interests, which are far more expanded and enduring. The correction of the evil now adverted to, must of course be considered as a matter of transcendant importance.
I. First, notice SOME OF THE PROOFS THAT A "LIFE TO COME" DOES REALLY EXIST. There are evidences upon the subject of a future life, apart from any direct connection with revelation, to which nevertheless no insignificant weight must be assigned. I refer you especially to the masterly work of Dr. Butler, whence I imagine no candid mind can arise, without being satisfied that there is a strong probability, arising from analogy, of the continuance of conscious being after the death of the body, and entirely and absolutely uninjured by it. We may notice, again, the common consent of mankind, who, in all nations and in all ages, have admitted a futurity, although frequently with acknowledged and grievous defects: a fact, I conceive, which can only be properly accounted for by receiving the substantial and final truth of the thing which is believed. We may notice, again, the aspirations after something far beyond this transitory and mortal sphere — "longings of immortality." We may notice, again, the operations of the momentous faculty of conscience, in the judgment which it forms as to the moral qualities and deserts of actions and thoughts, and the feelings which it inspires in the bosom (by reason of its decisions) of pleasure or pain, hope or fear, satisfaction or remorse; and all these, which are entirely independent of the opinions of other men, are to be regarded as prophetic indications of a subjection to other principles of decision, and to a great system of moral government, the sanctions of which are to be found in the yet impervious and impalpable future. But we must direct our regard to revelation itself: by which, of course, we mean the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, "given by inspiration of God," and unfolding all the truths relating to the condition and to the destinies of man.
II. THE CHARACTERISTICS BY WHICH "THE LIFE TO COME" IS DISTINGUISHED. It will appear to you important, besides the contemplation of the general fact, to notice the particular attributes, which the fact involves. It is very possible, to admit the general fact, and yet to indulge great and perhaps fatal mistakes as to the detail. The heathen admits the general fact, but grievously errs as to the detail.
1. And we observe, in the first place, that "the life to come" will comprehend the whole nature of man.
2. We are to observe, that "the life to come " is purely and entirely retributive. God has arranged it as the scene, where He will apply to His intelligent creation the sanctions of that great system of moral government, under which they have existed.
3. Again, "the life to come," which thus will comprehend the whole nature of man, and which is purely retributive, will be unchangeable and eternal. We can conceive nothing of what is indestructible in "the life that now is"; all around us breathes with decay arid dissolution. The attributes which now are noticed do not merely apply to abstract existence, but to the condition of existence. In other words, the rewards and the punishments, which have been adverted to, will be unchanging and will be everlasting too.
III. THE POWER, WHICH THE PROSPECT OF "THE LIFE WHICH IS TO COME" SHOULD POSSESS OVER THE MINDS AND HABITS OF MEN.
1. First, "the life which is to come" ought to be habitually contemplated. It has surely been revealed that it might be pondered; and admitting the fact that there is a life to come, a mere sciolist, a child, would be able to arrive at the conclusion, how it ought to be made the object of thought and of pondering. Think how noble and how solemn is your existence.
2. Again "the life to come" ought to be diligently prepared for. Your contemplations are for the purpose of leading you to preparation. And how are we to prepare, so as to escape the world of punishment and to receive the world of reward? The merit of penitence is nothing; the merit of what you regard good works is nothing. There is only one method of preparation; and that is, according to the announcements of the system of grace, in the volume which is before us. For the "life to come" many of you are prepared. Arc there not some, who have never offered these aspirations, who themselves are not vet prepared?
Parallel VersesKJV: For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.