Sermon 2861. 'The Time Is Short'
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10, 1903.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"The time is short." 1 Corinthians 7:29.
THE text does not say that time is short. That would have been a true statement, but compared with eternity, time, at thevery longest, is but as a pin's point. But note what the text does say-" The time is short." It is the time of our life, thespace of our opportunity, the little while we shall be upon the present stage of action that is short. It is narrow and contracted,as the original implies. "Behold," said the Psalmist, "You have made my days as a handbreadth and my age is as nothing beforeYou." Brief is the season we have allotted to us, Brothers and Sisters, in which we can serve the Lord our God.
This is a Truth of God which everybody believes, knows and confesses. It is trite as a proverb on every tongue, yet how fewof us act as if we believed it! We are conscious of the precariousness of other people's lives, but, somehow or other, wepersuade ourselves that our own time is not quite as limited as theirs. We think we have "ample time and verge enough," butwe wonder that our neighbors can be so careless and prodigal of days and years, for we observe the wrinkles on their brows,we detect the gray hairs on their heads and perceive the signs of death in their bearing and we doubt not they will soon haveto render in their account. "All men think all men mortal but themselves," is a "night thought" that may well startle us aswe rest from the business and the bustle, or the waste and wantonness of each succeeding day. Why do you hide from yourselvesthe waning of your own life-work, the weakening of your own strength, the weaving of your own shrouds? As a creature, youare frail-as an inhabitant of the world, you are exposed to casualties. As a man, there is an appointed time for you on earth.You must be swept away by the receding tide-you must go with the rest of your generation.
Ask an angel what he thinks of the life of a mortal and he will tell you that he remembers when the first man was made-andsince then the earth has been always changing its tenants. Perhaps he is baffled to recall the races that have come and gonein countless succession. For a little while they floated on the surface, then they sank beneath the stream. At first theystruggled on through centuries, but, after that, they failed, any one of them, to attain a tenth of that pristine age. "Short-lived!"says the angel, "they seem to me as leaves upon a tree, as insects on the earth, as flies in the air. Like the grass thatflourishes in the meadows, scarcely have I gazed upon them before they are cut down, withered and gone." Oh, if you nevermeet with an angel to interrogate him, talk familiarly with one of the trees of an ancient forest! Ask what it has seen and,though it cannot speak in articulate tones, you can lend it a tongue and it will tell you that hundreds of years have passedand history has accumulated, from the time when it was an acorn, till now. It covers a wide space with its far-spreading foliage.Yes, the oak and elm can tell us that man is but an infant of today!
Would you rather take counsel of your fellow creatures? Then ask the old man what he thinks of life. He will tell you thatwhen he was a boy, he thought he had a vast length of time before him. So heavily did the days hang on his hands that he playedthe hours away and was glad when birthdays told of the years that were gone. It was his strong desire and his panting ambitionto break loose from the moorings of childhood and launch out into the great wide sea of turmoil and enterprise! But now helooks back on these 70 years that have been gradually accumulating, as a dream. Through all the fitful stages of life's journey,present time is always perplexing-it must be past before it is understood! It seems to him only as yesterday when he lefthis father's roof to be an apprentice. He remembers it distinctly and fondly tells you of
some quaint things that happened in those olden times. How short a while since the bells rang out his marriage peal and nowhis children have reached their manhood-and his children's children climb upon his knee and call him "Grandfather." Yet heremembers when, as it were but yesterday, he was himself a little child and his grandfather clasped him to his bosom! My venerableFriends, you will bear witness that I do not exaggerate when I speak thus-my language is only the feeble expression of a forcibleexperience. You can realize more vividly than I can paint the sensation of looking back over the entire span of threescoreyears and ten! To the stripling, this appears a very long period, while to you it merely seems as a watch in the night.
And yet, perhaps there are among you, some hoary veterans, some elderly matrons who need to be reminded that "the time isshort." Present health and activity may tempt you to forget that nature, in your case, stands upon the verge of her confines.What if your frame is strong? What if the bloom still lingers on your checks? You have nearly reached the goal, the allottedterm that mortals cannot pass. I have seen fine days, in autumn, when the air was soft as in balmy spring, but they gave nopromise of another summer. I knew the season was too far advanced for winter to delay its approach much longer. So, you, myaged Friend, can be sure that the hour of your departure is drawing near. Should five, or even 10 more years be granted toyou, how quickly they must pass when 70 by-gone years have so rapidly fled! The remnant of your days will surely cover littlespace when the whole compass of your life has stretched over so small an area. Be frugal of minutes, now, though you may havebeen, at one time, prodigal of years! At the end of life you have no time to parley and postpone-to resolve and yet to triflewith resolutions-to waste and squander golden opportunities. "The time is short"!
But to estimate this Truth aright, we may well turn from the cycles that angels have witnessed, the centuries that trees haveflourished and the seasons that have come and gone in the memory of our grandparents to consider "the years of the right handof the Most High." Enquire at the mouth of the Lord. Take counsel of the eternal God. Remember how it is written, "A thousandyears in Tour sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night." "One day is with the Lord as a thousandyears, and a thousand years as one day." "He sits upon the circle of the earth and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers"-insectsof an hour compared with Him. Like the grass, we spring up, and like the grass we are mowed down! Compared with the lifetimeof the Eternal, what is our life? No, there is no comparison! It is almost too insignificant for contrast. "My days are likea shadow that declines, and I am withered like grass. But You, O Lord, shall endure forever; and Your remembrance unto allgenerations." I wish I had the power to impress this Truth on every heart. As I have not, I shall try to point the moral itsuggests and pray that the Spirit of God may seal the instruction upon every heart.
"The time is short," so, first, it warns. Next, it suggests. Then, it inspiresand, lastly, it alarms.
I. First, IT WARNS. If you knew the sterling worth of time, you would shrink from the smallest waste of so precious a thing.Fools say that time is long, but only fools talk like that. They say that "time is made for slaves." He alone is a free manwho knows how to use his time properly-and he is a slave, indeed, who finds it slavery to pursue his calling with a good conscienceand serve his God with diligence, fidelity and zeal. Knowing that "the time is short," you and I have not an hour to squanderupon unprofitable amusements. There are some diversions which afford a respite from the incessant strain of labor and anxietyand are profitable to strengthen the mind and brace up the nerves. These are not only allowable, they are fit and proper.But while recreation is both necessary and expedient to keep the mental and physical powers in working order, we can giveno countenance to such dissipation as tends rather to enervate than to invigorate the constitution. Popular taste displaysits own perverseness in seeking to extract pleasure from folly and vice. Fashion lends its sanction to many a pastime thatill becomes any wise, rational, intelligent person. But the Christian, in his relaxations, must seek healthy impulse and avoidbaneful stimulant. "The time is short." We cannot afford to lose it in senseless talk, idle gossip, or domestic scandals.
Nor can we afford to plan a round of empty frivolities to while away an afternoon or an evening, as the manner of some is.Our time is too precious to be frittered away in formal calls and punctilious visits. Well might Cotton Mather complain ofthe intrusion of a certain person who had called to see him, as people will call on ministers, as though their time was ofno importance. "I would sooner have given that man a handful of money," he said, "than that he should have thus wasted mytime." You count it a little thing to trespass on our minutes, but in so doing you may spoil our hours! Whether you thinkso, or not, it is often distracting to us to be troubled with trivial things in the midst of our sacred
engagements. We may be called from an absorbing study. We may be rudely interrupted when our knees are bent and our heartis being lifted up to God in intercession. We may have our minds drawn from the weightiest matters to listen to the most frivolousobservations. It is said of Henry Martyn that he never wasted an hour. I wish it could be said of us that we wasted neitheran hour of our own time, nor an hour of other people's time! Brothers and Sisters, the time is too short to make a desirefor a friendly visit an excuse for frothy conversation. It requires no stretch of imagination to picture to ourselves twomen who are both Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, "called to be saints," and accounted faithful, meeting in a room andgreeting each other as friends. They will surely have something choice to talk about. All Heaven is full of God's Glory andthe earth is full of His riches. There is range enough for thought, for speech, for profitable converse!
But listen awhile. One observes that the weather is very cold. "Yes," says the other, "the frost is still very sharp." Therethey stick-they have nothing further to say till, presently, one of them remarks, "It will be rather slippery travelling tonight,"to which comes the reply, "I daresay many horses will fall down." And are these the men of whom Peter testifies that theyare redeemed with the precious blood of Christ from their vain conversation received by tradition from their fathers? Arethese the men who have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit? Is this frivolity becoming to the heirs of Heaven? Yet thus,often is precious time squandered and the faculty of speech abused! There is an ancient prophecy which I would love to seefulfilled in modern history. In "David's Psalm of Praise," (only one Psalm, the 145th, is so entitled), he says, "All Yourworks shall praise You, O Lord; and Your saints shall bless You. They shall speak of the glory of Your Kingdom, and talk ofYour power; to make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of His Kingdom." By such converse asthat, Beloved, you might "redeem the time" in these evil days!
But you are afraid of being charged with cant, or with pushing your religion a little too far. Brothers and Sisters, it ishigh time we had a little more of such cant and that we did push religion a little farther than has been our habit! Goldenopportunities are lost and profitable interchange of holy thought is lamentably neglected in these days! In days of yore,"they that feared the Lord spoke often, one to another, and the Lord listened and heard it." Not much of this now prevailsamong professing Christians. Little enough is said that is worth men's hearing, much less worth God's hearing-and if He didhear it, instead of putting it down in "a Book of Remembrance" and saying, "They shall be Mine," surely, in His Infinite Mercy,He would forbear to record the vain thoughts and empty words which could only be a stigma upon their characters! By the brevityof time, then, and by the rapidity of its flight, I admonish you to refrain from all abuses of the tongue. Invest each hourin some profitable manner that, when past, it may not be lost. Let your lips be a fountain from which all streams that flowshall savor of Grace and goodness.
The time, moreover, is much too short for indecision and vacillation. Your resolving and retracting, your planning and scheming,your sleeping and dreaming, your starting up from slumber only to sink down into a drowsier state than before are a mockeryof life and a willful murder of time! Of how many of you is it true that if you ever did entertain a noble purpose, you neverfound a convenient season to carry it out? On the verge of conversion, sometimes, you have halted till your convictions havegrown cold. Ten or 20 years ago, you listened to the appeal, "My son, give Me your heart," and you answered, "I will." But,to this day you have never fulfilled your word! "Go work in My vineyard," said the Master. "I go, Lord," was your prompt reply-yetyou have never gone! Today, as before, you stand idling. Some of you, indeed, were in a more hopeful condition 30 or 40 yearsago than you are at present! What account can you give of yourselves? What has become of those intervening years? The InfiniteMercy of God has kept you out of Hell, but there is no guarantee that His long-suffering will shield you from destructionanother instant. O Sirs, "the time is short," the business urgent, the crisis imminent! 'Tis madness to be halting betweentwo opinions! If God is God, serve Him-and if not, take the alternative and serve Baal! Let your mind be made up, one wayor the other, without another moment's delay. How long do you waver between two opinions?
And you Christian people with your grand illusive projects, how they melt away! Some of you would have done a great deal thatis useful by now if you had not dreamed of doing so much that is imposing. Oh, what wonderful plans for evangelizing London,for converting the whole Continent of Europe to Christ float in the brain, or evaporate in a speech-and nothing is done! Weare like a certain Czar of Russia, of olden times, who always wanted to take a second step before he took the first. We arealways projecting some wonderful scheme that proves too wonderful to ever be carried out! So we dream of what ought to beand should be-of what might be and as we hope may be! Such "dreams are the children of an idle brain." The dreamers grow listlessand nothing is done. In the name of the eternal God, I beseech
you, if you love Him, get to work for Him! Better slay a single enemy than dream of slaughtering an army! Better that yousow a single grain of corn or plant a single blade of grass, than dream about fertilizing the Sahara, or reclaiming from themighty sea untold acres of fertile land! Do something, Brothers and Sisters, do something! It is high time to awake out ofsleep, for "the time is short."
This thought may serve to warn us against another folly-that of speculating upon the points of controversial theology. Youknow how the schoolmen used to debate and wrangle about how many angels could stand on the point of a needle-and with manyother propositions, no less absurd, did they weary themselves. Strange, indeed, was the ingenuity of men taxed to find subjectsfor discussion in the dark days of those dull doctors of learning. There is something of that spirit abroad even now. Ministerswill devote whole sermons to the discussion of some crotchet or quibble that does not signify the turn of a hair to anybodyin the universe! I have generally noticed that the less important the point is, the more savagely will some persons defendit-as if the world might go to rack and ruin-and all the sinners in it go blindfold to Hell and the work of salvation muststand still to have this point discussed! One Brother who occasionally meets me, can never be five minutes in my company,but what he attacks me upon the question of free agency and predestination. I told him the last time I saw him that I wouldhave it out with him one of these days, but I must defer it till after the Day of Judgment, for I was too busy to talk aboutit just now. And I feel like that about a great many questions!
There are Brothers who can fully explain the Book of Revelation, though I generally find that they exclaim one against theother, till they declaim each other off the face of the earth! I would sooner be able to proclaim the Cross of Christ andexplain the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, than to decipher the imagery of Ezekiel, or the symbols of the Apocalypse.Blessed is he who can expound the mysteries. I have no doubt about his blessedness, but I am perfectly satisfied with anotherblessedness, namely, if I can bring sinners to Jesus and teach the saints some practical Truths which may guide them in dailylife. It seems to me that the time is much too short to go up in a balloon with speculations, or to go down into the minesof profound thought to bring up some odds and ends and scraps of singular knowledge. We want to save souls and to conductthem to that Heaven where God's Presence makes eternal day! This seems to me to be the pressing demand upon us now that "thetime is short" and, "the night comes when no man can work."
Let this also admonish us, Brothers and Sisters, to singleness of purpose. We must have only one aim. Had we plenty of time,we might try two or three schemes at once, though even then we should most probably fail for lack of concentrating our energies.But as we have very little time, we had better economize it by attending to one thing. The man who devotes all his thoughtand strength to the accomplishment of one reasonable objective is generally successful. My Soul, bend yourself down and layyourself out for the Glory of God! Be this the one aim of your entire being! Form your friendships and order your occupationsso as to fulfill this first and highest duty of life. Be it your one sole motive to live for His honor and, if necessary,even to die to promote His renown among the sons of men! "Present your bodies a living sacrifice." Attune your souls to thegreat Hallelujah-"While I live will I bless the Lord. I will sing praises unto my God while I have my being. Let everythingthat has breath praise the Lord. Praise you the Lord."
O Brothers and Sisters, this sublime enthusiasm will work wonders! You dissipate your strength and fritter away your opportunitiesby dividing your attention. You say that you want to be a Christian-meanwhile, your heart is set upon getting riches, youseek to store your mind with the learning and wisdom of the world, you wish to gain repute as a good talker in company anda convivial guest at the social board. Ambition prompts you to seek fame among your fellows. Very well, I shall not denounceany one of these things, but I would use every persuasive to induce you who are Believers in Christ to renounce the world!If Christ has bought you with His blood and redeemed you from this present evil world, He has a claim on you as His servantand it is at your peril that you take up with any pursuits that are inconsistent with a full surrender of yourself to Him.You belong to Him, so live wholly to Him! The reason why the majority of Christians never attain to any eminence in the Divinelife is because they let the floods of their life run away in a dozen little, trickling rivulets, whereas, if they coopedthem up into one channel and sent that one stream rolling on to the Glory of God, there would be such a force and power abouttheir character, their thoughts, their efforts and their actions that they would really "live while they lived."
II. "The time is short. THIS SUGGESTS.
Do you know what reflection this fact suggested to me? "Surely, then," I thought, "I have some opportunity to follow out thework of faith, the patience of hope and the labor of love, though not the opportunity I once had." Then, pic-
turing to myself an ideal of a short life all used, nothing wasted, all consecrated, nothing profaned, I seemed to see a boygiving his young heart to Christ. I saw the lad believing in Jesus while yet beneath his father's roof and under his mother'scare. No sooner saved than he began at once to serve God after a boy's way. And still increasing in intelligence and energyas a stripling and afterwards as a young man, from the first he devoted himself, with all the intensity of his being, to hisLord's service. So diligent and persevering was he that he lost no time. So jealously did he watch his own heart and so farwas he from falling into sin, that there were no dreary intervals spent in wandering and backsliding, and retracing his stepsin repenting of the evil, in getting lukewarm and then rekindling former ardor. With my mind's eye, I followed that youngman living a holy life through a succession of years, getting up to the highest possible platform of spirituality and stayingthere, and all the while blessed with such abundance of the Graces and gifts of the Spirit of God as should make him bringforth much fruit to the Glory of the Father, do much for the honor of Jesus, prove a great blessing to the Church, bear arich testimony to the world and spread saving benefits to the souls of men.
This was my ideal of a vessel "meet for the Master's use." I lingered lovingly upon it. The child became a man. His life wasbrief. It was soon over. Our days on earth are as a shadow but happily they may be radiant and leave a trail of light behindthem. Might not even God, Himself, look down, with a measure of admiration, from His eternal dwelling place on the careerI have sketched? The slender threads of fleeting moments are worked up to the goodly fabric of a complete biography. Endowedwith one talent, this and that endowment sparse-the gift so prized as to be economized, so looked after that it is never squandered,so usefully employed that its judicious expenditure can never be vainly regret-ted-so profitably invested that the faithfulsteward welcomes the advent of his Lord, ready and anxious to give in his account! This is as I would wish to be!
Some of you, who are unconverted can never hope to receive the greeting that awaits such a faithful servant of the Lord JesusChrist. You have lost your golden opportunity. You have wasted your substance in riotous living. But are there not childrenhere to whom this is possible? And youths who might convert my daydream into a narrative? Oh for men and women with the ambitionand one enterprise to glorify the Lord! Ardently do I desire that God should be glorified in me and that not in a small measure.I have prayed and I do pray Him to make the most He can make of me, to do it anyway He wills. What, if to this end, I mustbe cast into the furnace of action and suffer for His sake? What if my honor should be trampled in the dust and my name becomea hissing and a by-word, and a reproach among the sons of men while the witness of my integrity is on high? Here am I, O Lord,to do anything, to bear anything that You shall bid! Only get as much Glory to Your own name as can be got out of such a poorcreature as I am! Who will join me in this petition? Vows made in our own strength are vain, but I solemnly charge each Christianyoung man to foster this aspiration. In the name of Him who has redeemed you with His blood, gird up the loins of your mindand survey the course you have to run. Prepare for the good fight of faith in which you are to engage. Live to the utmostpossible consecration of your entire manhood in its triple nature-spirit, soul, and body. Yield yourself up unreservedly tothe Lord Jesus Christ! Do not stop to parley. "The time is short," therefore, "whatever your hand finds to do, do it withall your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave where you go."
III. "The time is short." THIS INSPIRES US.
It ought to fire us with zeal for immediate action. The sun hastens on, the sands run down. "Now is the accepted time." Letthose who love the Lord be prompt. The time to do the deeds that you must do, or leave them undone, flies swiftly past. Saynot, "I will do this, by-and-by." Do it at once! Other duties await you. Brief is the space allotted you for all. Are yourchildren converted? Pray with them tonight. Let not tomorrow come without putting your arms about their necks and kneelingdown with them devoutly-and praying fervently that God would save their souls. It is the King's business and it demands haste!"The time is short" for others as well as for yourself. A dear Brother told me, a week or two ago, that a man who frequentlyworked for him, brought in goods when they were finished. And he thought that the next time the man came in, he would speakto him about his soul. When he came, however, business absorbed the employer's attention and the man went his away. He felt,he did not know exactly why, pricked in his conscience, and resolved that on the next occasion, he would enquire as to hiseternal interests. But he was too late.
Instead of coming again, a messenger brought tidings that he was dead. Startled by the news, our Brother could find no comfortin regrets, though he bewailed as one who could not forgive himself a hundred wasted opportunities in the presence of onekeen self-reproach. Oh, that an inspiration would constrain you to serve the Lord now! Every time the
clock ticks, it seems to say, "now." The time is so short that the matter is urgent. Do not wait, young man, to preach Jesustill you have had more instruction-begin at once! You who mean to do something for the poor of London when you have hoardedup more money, spend your money now-do it at once! You who mean to leave a large sum to charities when you die, defer it not-beyour own executors. Lay out the capital at once! Get some joy and comfort out of it yourselves. Now is the time to carry agood purpose into good effect. Before you were saved, the message to you was, "Today, if you will hear His voice, harden notyour heart." After you are saved, the message to you is, "Today, obey His voice and serve the Lord your God with all yourheart, and mind, and soul, and strength." "The time is short," so make the most of it!
"The time is short." I want to ring this sentence louder and louder in your ears, that it may inspire you to pray for immediateconversions. I have met with many who are hoping to get converted some day, but not now. Is not such procrastination perilous?Dare any of you run the risk of willfully abiding in unbelief another hour? Can you brook the thought of remaining, monthafter month in jeopardy of your soul? Is it safe to tempt the Lord and provoke the anger of the Most High? O Sirs, while youflatter yourselves with pleasing prospects, you are beguiling your hearts with a reckless presumption! We want you to be convertedand no time can be more suitable than this present time. Forsake your sin immediately! Do not turn back to dally with it alittle longer. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and lay hold on the promise of eternal life without any further delay! Youmay never see another morrow, or the desire that whets your appetite now may fail you then. This is our prayer, that you may,this very hour, be brought into the fold of Christ!
Then seeing that "the time is short," let us bear with patience the ills that vex us. Are we very poor? "The time is short."Does the bitter cold pierce through our scanty garments? "The time is short." Is consumption beginning to prey on our tremblingframe? "The time is short." Are we unkindly treated by our kinsfolk? Do our comrades revile and our neighbors mock us? "Thetime is short." Have we to bear evil treatment from an ungenerous world? "The time is short." Do cruel taunts try our tempers?"The time is short." We are travelling at express speed and shall soon be beyond the reach of all the incidents and happeningsthat disturb and distract us. As we travel home to our Father's House, the distance diminishes and we begin to see the cityof the blessed, "the home over there." It is needless to murmur or repine! Why trouble yourselves about what you will do amonth or two from now? You may not be here! You may be in Heaven. Your eyes will have beheld "the King in His beauty," youwill have seen "the land that is very far off."-
"The way may be rough, but it cannot be long, So smooth it with hope, and cheer it with song."
Worldly-mindedness ill becomes us who have confessed that we are "strangers and pilgrims on the earth." "The time is short"in which we can hold any possessions in this terrestrial sphere. Then let us not love anything here below too fondly. We broughtnothing into the world and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Survey your broad acres, but remember that you will notlong be able to walk across them. Look on your plenteous crops, but before long another shall reap the profit of those fields.Count your gold and silver, but know that wealth, greedily as it is sought, will not give you present immunity from sicknessand sorrow-neither will it secure your welfare when called to quit your frail tenement. Trust in the living God! Love theLord and let eternal things absorb your thoughts and engage your affections. "The time is short"-it remains that both theythat have wives be as though they had none. And they that weep, as though they wept not. And they that rejoice, as thoughthey rejoiced not. And they that use this world, as not abusing it, for the fashion of this world passes away."
Are these gloomy reflections? No, dear Brothers and Sisters, the fact that "the time is short" should inspire us, who areof the household of faith, with the most joyous expectations!Do you really believe in the everlasting Kingdom of our Lordand Savior Jesus Christ? Do you really believe that your head is to wear a crown of life that fades not away? Do you reallybelieve that these feet of yours, all shod with silver sandals, will stand upon that street of pure gold? Do you really believethat these hands shall pluck celestial fruit from trees whose leaves can never wither and that you shall lie down in the spice-bedsin the gardens of the blessed? Do you believe that these eyes shall see the King in that day when He comes in His Glory andthat these bones shall rise again from the grave and your bodies shall be endowed with an incorruptible existence? "Yes,"you say, "we do believe it and believe it intensely, too." Well, then, I would that you realized it as so very near that youwere expectant of its fulfillment! Who would cry and fret about the passing troubles of a day when he saw the heavens open,beheld the beckoning hand and heard the voice that called him hence? Oh, that the glory might
come streaming into your soul till you forget the darkness of the way! Oh, that the breeze from these goodly mountains wouldfan you! Oh, that the spray from that mighty ocean would refresh you! Oh, that the music of those bells of Heaven in yonderturrets would enliven you! Then would you speed your way towards the rest that remains for the people of God, inspired withsacred ardor and dauntless courage! But the ungodly are not so. It is to them I must address the last word, "The time is short."
IV. THIS ALARMS US. And well it may on their account. Let me toll a knell. It is a dismal knell I have to toll for the unconvertedman to whom life has been a joy, for he has prospered in the world. You have succeeded in the enterprise on which you setyour heart. You have bought the estate that you longed to secure. It is certainly a fine place, but you have only got it fortwo or three years! Would I have taken it for that term? No, I would not have taken it on a 999 years' lease. Freeholds forme! Did I say two or three years? No, there is not a man beneath the sun who can guarantee that you will hold it for threeweeks! "The time is short." Drive down the broad avenue, walk round the park-look into the old feudal mansion, but, "the timeis short," very short, and your tenure very limited. You have gained your objective, you are possessed of real property-whatnext? Why, make your will! The thing is urgent. "The time is short." But what have you not done?
You have not believed in Christ! You have not embraced the Gospel. You have not found salvation, you have not laid hold oneternal life-you have not a hope to solace you when your strength fails and you pant for breath! How few the opportunitiesthat remain! Some of you have attended my ministry all the while I have been in London. I wonder how much longer you willhear me and yet remain unsaved? Your turn to die will come at length. You ail a little, but your trifling indisposition doesnot yield to treatment. The symptoms grow serious, the disease is dangerous, your death is imminent. Pain unnerves you. Terrordistracts you. Your family and your friends look at you with helpless pity. The doctor has just left you in dismay. Send forthe priest, or fetch the parson-but what can they do for you unless you believe in Jesus? 'Tis over, the last struggle!
Then picture yourself to yourself-a lost spirit asking for a drop of water to cool your tongue! That will be your portion,Sinner, unless you repent! Think, Sirs-there is but a step between you and death-a short step between you and Hell unlessyou believe in Jesus! Do you still imagine that there is time enough and to spare? I beseech you, do not cherish so vain athought! It may be that you suspect me of exaggerating, but that I cannot do in such a case as this. Time is rushing on, swiftlybut silently. While I speak, the minutes pass, the hour is soon gone, the day is almost spent. I charge you, then, by theever-blessed Spirit, listen now to the warning-escape from sin! Get out of that broad road which leads to destruction! Believein Jesus! Lay hold on eternal life! May the Spirit of God awaken you! May these words be blessed to you! They would be putmore forcibly if I knew how. With all the fervor of my soul, I entreat you, for I know your everlasting interests are in imminentjeopardy! God grant that you may not linger longer, lest haply you linger too long and perish in your lingering! "The timeis short."
In a little while there will be a great concourse of people in the streets. I think I hear someone enquiring, "What are allthese people waiting for?" "Do you not know? He is to be buried today." "And who is that?" "It is Spurgeon." "What? The manthat preached at the Tabernacle?" "Yes. He is to be buried today." That will happen very soon and when you see my coffin carriedto the silent grave, I would like every one of you, whether converted or not, to be constrained to say, "He did earnestlyurge us, in plain and simple language, not to put off the consideration of eternal things. He did entreat us to look to Christ.Now he is gone, our blood is not at his door if we perish."
God grant that you may not have to bear the bitter reproach of your own conscience! But, as I feel that "the time is short,"I will stir you up as long as I am in this Tabernacle! And I do pray the Lord to bless the word every time I preach it fromthis platform. Oh, that some souls may be saved, that Jesus Christ may be glorified, Satan defeated and Heaven filled withsaved ones!-
"'Tis not for man to trifle! Life is brief And sin is here!
Our age is but the falling of a leaf, A dropping tear.
We have no time to sport away the hours All must be earnest in a world like ours. Not many lives, but only one, have we-
Frail, fleeting man!
How saved should that one life ever be- That narrow span!
Day after day filled up with blessed toil, Hour after hour still bringing in new spoil."