Sermon 635. Are You Prepared To Die?
A SERMON PREACHED BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE NEWINGTON.
"How will you do in the swelling of Jordan?" Jeremiah 12:5.
CANAAN may be considered as a type of two states or conditions in the Christian's life. It was the land of rest to the childrenof Israel after a weary pilgrimage in the wilderness. Now it is written that "we who believe do enter into rest." A true Christianpossessed of strong faith will not havea wilderness state on earth so much as a land flowing with milk and honey because his faith will give him the substanceof things hoped for and be the evidence of things not seen. Many disciples live a life of depression, wretchedness, and discomfortwhich would be completelychanged if they had faith in God and lived a higher life of devotedness and love.
Canaan may be fairly considered as a type of that better state of Christianity which some enjoy. It is not altogether freefrom ills. The Canaanite dwells in the land and there are still wars and fights, but there is rest and there is the spiritof service developing itself in the cultivation ofthe promised land. But Canaan is generally used to shadow forth "the rest which remains for the people of God" beyond theskies. Heaven is thus frequently described as corresponding to the earthly inheritance of the Jews.
It is our hope-the end of our pilgrimage. It contains our Jerusalem and the temple "not made with hands." When this is theview taken of the type, then Jordan is not unnaturally likened unto death. Its dark waters are made to picture forth to ourminds the chill stream through which we wadein our dying hour. It is a beautiful emblem and we have all doubtless often sung Dr. Watt's hymn with much feeling-
"There is land of pure delight, Where saints immortal reign. Infinite day excludes the night, And pleasures banish pain. There everlasting spring abides, And never-withering flowers. Death, like a narrow sea, divides This hea venly land from ours."
Taking "the swelling of Jordan" to represent the precise time of death, the question really is what shall we do when we cometo die? "How will you do in the swelling of Jordan?"
I. We notice, in the first place, that this is an EXCEEDINGLY PRACTICAL QUESTION. "How will you do?" is the enquiry. Thereare some subjects which are more or less matters of pure faith and personal feeling. And though all Christian doctrines bearmore or less directly upon the Christian life, yetthey are not what is commonly meant by practical subjects. Our text, however, brings us face to face with a matter whichis essentially a matter of doing and of acting- it asks how we mean to conduct ourselves in the hour of death.
We sometimes hear the remark made by those who object to doctrinal preaching that we are too speculative and utter our ownopinions which feed men's fancies but do not regulate their life. Now we believe that every promise leads to a precept andevery doctrine has its duty-so we will notadmit the justice of the insinuation even if we did preach doctrine entirely to the exclusion of the Commandments-whichwe emphatically deny. But here we have, at any rate, a topic practical enough. I am only afraid it will be a little too muchso for some! They will turn itinto a sentiment and a feeling and not act upon it so as to put it into practice and exemplify its power in after days.
Christians may differ with me on some points, but I am sure that here we are united in belief-we must die and ought not todie unprepared. There is a divergence of opinion as to what we ought to do at the commencement of our
Christian life-I maintain that we ought to follow Christ and be immersed in water, "for thus it becomes us to fulfill allrighteousness." Others oppose that as being unnecessary, inexpedient, or what not. We differ at the beginning of life, butwe agree in the end-we must die. And weall want to die the death of the righteous and to have our last end like his.
II. We notice, in the second place, that it is UNDOUBTEDLY A PERSONAL QUESTION. How will you do? It individualizes us andmakes us, each one, to come face to face with a dying hour. Now we all need this and it will be well for each one of us tolook for a minute into the grave. We are too apt toregard all men as mortal but ourselves. Somehow we can see frailty of life as well as all the other frailties which we possessin common much more clearly in other people than we can in ourselves.
We are far too much blind to our own weakness and shall do well to ask ourselves, each of us, "My Soul, how will you do inthe swelling of Jordan?" The ancient warrior who wept because before a hundred years were passed he knew his immense armywould be gone and not a man remain behind to tell thetale, would have been wiser if he had wept also for himself and left his bloody wars alone and lived as a man who must oneday die and find after death a day of judgment! Each one of you must die. If I were addressing an assembly of the sages ofthe world, I should say, "All yourcombined wisdom cannot lengthen the days of one of you even a single minute. You may reckon the distance of the stars andweigh worlds, but you cannot tell me when one of you will die, nor how many grains of sand are left behind in the hourglassof time which shows the exit of eachspirit from the world."
I say now to you, the wisest of you must die! And you know not but that you may die before long. So with the mightiest andthe richest of men. Samson was mastered by a stronger than man and the wealthiest of men cannot bribe Death to delay his dartfor a single hour. We all come into the world oneby one and will go out of it alone, also. Loved ones come to the brink of the dark stream, but there they shake hands andsay, "farewell," and we go on alone. The Prophet's companion and successor followed his master till the fiery chariot cameto take his leader away. And when themessengers of God came they left the servant behind, vainly crying, "My father, my father! The chariot of Israel and thehorsemen thereof."
We had better, therefore, take the question up as individuals-seeing that it is one in which we shall be dealt with singlyand be unable, then, to claim or use the help of an earthly friend. I put to the young, to the old-to the rich, to the poor-toeach one of this vast assembly!I put it as if we were alone before our God-"How will you do in the swelling of Jordan?"
III. As a third thought we call attention to the fact that it is one of the MOST SOLEMN questions. Death and life are sternand awful realities. To say that anything "is a matter of life and death" is to bring one of the most emphatic and solemnsubjects under our notice. Now the question we areconsidering this morning is of this character and we must deal with it as it becomes us-as a subject involving the everlastinginterest of souls. The question is of infinite importance to all, but there are some whose case is manifestly such that theyneed to gird up the loinsof their minds and address themselves to its consideration with intense thought and care.
Let me call attention to one or two cases-for while I wish to stir up all-I am bid to have special compassion on some, makinga difference, so that I may pluck them as brands out of the fire. I have been curious enough to think that I should like toask that question of a Jew, of onewho rejects Christ as the Messiah. "How will you do in the swelling of Jordan?" According to the Law, and it is that underwhich every Jew is born, "Cursed is everyone that continues not in all things that are written in the book of the Law to dothem."
Now there never was and never will be any man who did, or could, "continue in all things written in the book of the Law todo them"! And consequently every man becomes accursed. And it must be a dreadful thing for a man to think of dying under thecurse and ban of his own religious faith! And yetevery Jew is so cursed by his own book of Law- accursed forever! What comfort will that yield him when he comes to the swellingof Jordan? I have thought, too, that I should like to ask the atheist, the unbeliever, this question, "How will you do inthe swelling of Jordan?"
He tells me, perhaps, that he believes in annihilation-he will need comfort when he is lying upon that last weary bed. Willhe get it out of that well? The dreary blank of total destruction, of ceasing to be-is there anything to help a spirit whenit lies where it most wantsconsolation, tossing to and fro in pain and weakness? I think not. I should like also to put the question to a Roman Catholic-howwill he do "in the swelling of Jordan?"
Some time ago, you will remember, a Prince of the Catholic Church departed-where did he go? I am not versed in such mattersand should not like to judge anybody's soul, but on the coffin of the Cardinal we find a request that we would pray for hissoul-and there have been masses saidfor its repose. It is evident, therefore, that the Cardinal's soul went somewhere where it needs praying for and to someplace where it is not in repose. Now if this is to be the lot for a Cardinal Archbishop, there is but a poor outlook for anordinary professor of the same faith!If a prince in the church dies and does not go to Heaven as we have been hoping, not to eternal rest-but to a place wherehe needs our intercession and where he has no repose for his soul-why then it must be dreadful work to die with such a creedas that!
I would sooner have beneath my head the most prickly thorn bush than have that for my dying pillow! Oh, we want somethingbetter than this! We desire a hope more rapturous, more Divine, more full of immortality than the certainty of going to aplace where there is no repose and where our souls needthe prayers of sinful men on earth! But I do not know that we have very much to do with any of these-they must "gang theiram gait"-they must go their own way. And if they are found wrong at the last, we are sorry that it should be so. Our own businessis certainly thefirst matter in hand. Therefore, forgetting them, let the question come to each of us, "How will you do in the swellingof Jordan?"
IV. Remember, in the fourth place, that this question was put by way of REBUKE to the Prophet Jeremiah. He seems to have beena little afraid of the people among whom he dwelt. They had evidently persecuted him very much, mocking him and laughing himto scorn. But God tells him to make his facelike flint and not to care for them, for, says He, "If you are afraid of them, how will you do in the swelling of Jordan?"
This ought to be a rebuke to every Christian who is subject to the fear of man. I do not believe that any preacher will belong in his pulpit without having the temptation to be afraid of some man or another. And if he does not stand very firmlyupon his integrity he will find some of the best ofhis friends getting the upper hand with him. And this will never do with God's minister. He must deal out God's Word impartiallyto rich or poor, to good or bad. And he must determine to have no master except his Master who is in Heaven-no bit nor bridlefor his mouth exceptthat of prudence and discretion-which God Himself shall put there.
If we are afraid of a man that shall die and the son of man that is crushed before the moth, how fearful shall we be whenwe have to talk with the grim king of terrors! If we are afraid of puny man, how shall we be able to face it out before thedread ordeal of the Day of Judgment? Yet I know someChristians that are very much abashed by the world's opinion-by the opinion of their family circle-or of the workshop. Nowwhat does it matter, after all? There is an old proverb, that "he is a great fool that is laughed out of his coat." And therewas an improvement onit, that "he was a greater fool who was laughed out of his skin."
And there is another, that "he is the greatest fool of all who is laughed out of his soul." He that will be content to bedamned in order to be fashionable pays dearly, indeed, for what he gets. Oh, to dare to be singular, if to be singular isto be right! But if you are afraid of man, what willyou do in the swelling of Jordan? The same rebuke might be applied to us when we get fretful under the little troubles oflife. You have losses in business, vexations in the family-you all have crosses to carry-but my text comes to you and it says,"If you cannot bearthis, how will you do in the swelling of Jordan? If your religion is not equal to the ordinary emergencies of common days,what will you do when you get to that extraordinary day which will be to you the most important day of your being?"
Come Friends, be not bowed down with these things! Bear them cheerfully since there is much sterner work to do than any thatyou have met with in the battle of life. And the same reproof might come to us when we get petulant under pains of body. Thereare some of us who, as soon as we get a littlesick, become so fretful that those who like us best are farthest from us! We can scarcely have a little depression of spiritbut straightway we are ready to give up all for lost and like Jonah, say, "We do well to be angry even unto death." Now thisought not to be! We should quitourselves like men and not be perturbed with these little rivulets-for if these sweep us away, what shall we do when Jordanis swollen to the brim and we have to pass through that?
When one of the martyrs, whose name is the somewhat singular one of Pommily, was confined previous to his burning, his wifewas also taken up upon the charge of heresy. She, good woman, had resolved to die with her husband and she appeared, as faras most people could judge, to be very firm in herfaith. But the jailer's wife, though she had no religion, took a merciful view of the case as far as she could do so andthought, "I am afraid this woman will never stand the test. She will never burn with her husband-she has neither faith norstrength enough to endure thetrial." Therefore, one day calling her out from her cell, she said to her, "Lass, run to the garden and fetch me the keythat lies there."
The poor woman ran willingly enough. She took the key up and it burned her fingers, for the jailer's wife had made it redhot. She came running back crying with pain. "Yes, Wench," said the jailer's wife, "if you cannot bear a little burn in yourhand, how will you bear to be burned in your wholebody?" And this, I am sorry to add, was the means of bringing her to recant the faith which she professed, but which neverhad been in her heart.
I apply the story thus-If we cannot bear the little trifling pangs which come upon us in our ordinary circumstances whichare, as it were, the burning of our hands, what shall we do when every pulse beats pain and every throb is an agony and thewhole tenement begins to crumble about thespirit that is so soon to be disturbed? Come, let us pluck up courage! We have yet to fight the giant! Let us not be afraidof these dwarfs! Let the ordinary trials of every day be laughed to scorn! In the strength of Divine Grace, let us sing withour poet-
"Weak as I am, yet through Your strength, I all things can perform."
For if we cannot bear these, how will we do in the swelling of Jordan? This is what the text was originally meant to teach.We will now use it for a further purpose.
V. The question may be put as A MATTER OF CAUTION. In this assembly there are some who have no hope, no faith in Christ. NowI think if they will look within at their own experience they will find that they are by no means completely at ease. Thepleasures of this world are very sweet, but how soonthey sour if they do not sicken the appetite! After the night of merriment there is often the morning of regret. "Who haswoe? Who has redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine. They that go to seek mixed wine."
It is an almost universal confession that the joys of earth promise more than they perform and that in looking back upon themthe wisest must confess with Solomon, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." Now if these things seem to be vanity while youare in good bodily health, how will they look whenyou are in sickness? If vanity while you can enjoy them, what will they appear when you must say farewell to them all? Ifit were vanity to the rich man while he was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day, what greatervanity it must have been when it wassaid, "This night your soul shall be required of you: then whose shall those things be which you have provided?"
How will you do in Jordan when these joys shall vanish and there shall be a dreary blank before you? Moreover, you feel alreadythat conscience pricks you. You cannot live without God and be perfectly at ease unless you are one of those few who are givenup to judicial blindness and hardness ofheart. You could not take an hour quietly to think about yourself and your state and yet go to your bed easily. You knowright well that the only way some of you can keep your peace of mind at all is by going from one gay assembly to another andfrom one party of frolic to another,or else from business to business and from care to care.
Your poor soul, like the infant which is to be cast into Moloch's arms, cries, and you do not hear its cries because you drownit with the noisy drums of this world's pleasures and cares. But still you are not at rest-there is a worm in your fair fruit-thereare dregs at the bottom ofyour sweetest cups and you know it. Now, if even now you are not perfectly at peace-if in this land of peace wherein youhave trusted you are getting weary of these things-then "how will you do in the swelling of Jordan?"
Moreover, you sometimes have, if I am not mistaken, very strange apprehensions. I have known some of the most reckless sinnerswho have had fearful times when nobody could cheer them when a certain fearful looking of judgment has haunted them. The mostsuperstitious people in the world are thosewho are the most profane. It is a strange thing that there is always that weak point about those who seem to be most hardened.But you that are not thus hardened-you know that you dare not look forward to death with any pleasure-you cannot! To go tothe grave is neververy joyous work with you. Yes, and if you were certain that there could be no more death, it would be the best news thatyou had ever heard! But to some of us it would be the worst that could ever come.
Ah, well! If the very thought of death is bitter, what will the reality be? And if to gaze at it from a distance is too harda thing for your mind, what will it be to pass under its yoke-to go through its dark valley, to feel its dart-to know thatthe poison is rankling in your veins?What will you do? "How will you do in the swelling of Jordan?" Well, I shall not describe what you will do, though I haveseen it and you must have seen it, too. Sometimes a man dies at ease, like a sheep, because he has been dosed with the opiumof self-confidence. At other timesthe man is awakened and sees the dreadful doom to which death is driving him and starts back and shrinks from the wrathto come and cries and shrieks- and perhaps swears that he will not die! And yet die he must-dragged down to that place wherehe must lift up his eyesto see nothing that can give him hope-nothing that can take away the sharpness of his anguish.
I leave this point. God make it a caution to many now present. Some of you men and women here may be nearer death than youdream of. I wish you would answer the question, "How will you do in the swelling of Jordan?"
VI. But now I intend to use the question as EXCITING MEDITATION in the breasts of those who have given their hearts to Christand who, consequently, are prepared to die whenever the summons may come. Well, what do we mean to do-how shall we behaveourselves when we come to die? I sat down totry and think this matter over, but I cannot, in the short time allotted to me, even give you a brief view of the thoughtsthat passed through my mind.
I began thus, "How shall I do in the swelling of Jordan?" Well, as a Believer in Christ, perhaps I may never come there atall, for there are some that will be alive and remain at the coming of the Son of Man and these will never die For so saysthe Apostle-"Behold, I show you a mystery; weshall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump."
This thought we wish to keep ever before us. My real hope is the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. I would far rather see theMaster return than see the messenger, Death. I regulate my life as one who is looking for and hastening unto the coming ofthe Son of Man. I will not pay more attention tothe servant than to the Lord of All. "Come, Lord Jesus! Yes, come quickly," is the prayer of our hearts continually. Andas the bride of Christ, we ought to have our hearts filled with rapture at the thought of His return to claim us as His own.If He sends for us, "It is well." Butbest of all, if He comes Himself again the second time without sin unto salvation. A sweet truth, which we place first inour meditation. I may not sleep, but I must and shall be changed!
Then I thought again, "How shall I do in the swelling of Jordan?" I may go through it in the twinkling of an eye. Rememberthat good man who some time ago was getting ready to preach as usual, but the sermon was never delivered on earth? I meanthe President of the Wesleyan Conference-howspeedily was he taken to his rest! And how happy it is just to close one's eyes on earth and open them in Heaven! Such,also was the death of one of God's aged servants, Mr. Alleine, who had battled well for the Truth of God. He was suddenlytaken ill and was advised to retire tobed. "No," he said, "but I will die in my chair. And I am not afraid to die."
He sat down and only had time to say, "My life is hid with Christ in God," and he closed his eyes with his own hands and fellasleep. When Ananias, a martyr, knelt to lay his white head upon the block, it was said to him as he closed his eyes to receivethe stroke, "Shut your eyes a little, OldMan, and immediately you shall see the light of God." I could envy such a calm departing. Sudden death, sudden Glory! Takenaway in Elijah's chariot of fire-with the horses driven at the speed of lightning so that the spirit scarcely knows that ithas left the clay before itsees the brightness of the beatific vision! Well, that may take away some of the alarm of death-the thought that we maynot be even a moment in the swelling of Jordan!
Then again, I thought if I must pass through the swelling of Jordan, yet the real act of death takes no time. We hear of sufferingon a dying bed. The suffering is all connected with life, it is not death. The actual thing called death, as far as we know,does not cost a pang-it is the lifethat is in us that makes us suffer-death gives one kind pin's prick and it is all over. Moreover, if I pass through theswelling of Jordan, I may do so without suffering any pain. A dying bed is sometimes very painful with certain diseases, andespecially with strong men it isoften hard for the body and soul to part. But it has been my happy lot to see some deaths so extremely pleasing that I couldnot help remarking that it were worth while living only for the sake of dying as some have died!
We have seen consumption for instance-how gently it takes down the frame very often. How quietly the soul departs. And inold age and debility how easily the spirit seems to get away from the cage that was broken, which only needed one blow andthe imprisoned bird flies straight away to itseternal resting place! Well, then, as I cannot tell in what physical state I may be when I come to die, I just tried tothink again, how shall I do in the swelling of Jordan? I hope I shall do as others have done before me who have built on thesame Rock and had the same promises tobe their succor.
They cried, "Victory!" So shall I, and after that die quietly and in peace. If the same transporting scene may not be mine,I will at least lay my head upon my Savior's bosom and breathe my life out gently there. You have a right, Christian, to expectthat as other Christians die, so shall you. Howwill you die? Why, you will die as your sainted mother did! You will die as your father did. When the time came for the"silver cord to be loosed and the golden bowl to be broken, for the pitcher to be broken at the fountain and the wheel brokenat the cistern," the pitcher wasbroken and the cord loosed and their spirits went to God who gave them. How will you die?
Why, as I mused on this I took down my little book of "Promises," for I thought I shall certainly do as God says I shall.Well, how is that? "When you pass through the rivers I will be with you." And again, "Though I pass through the valley ofthe shadow of death, I will fear no evil." And again,"He shall swallow up death in victory." And again, "He shall make all your bed in your sickness." And yet again, "Fear not,I am with you. Be not dismayed, I am your God. I will never leave you nor forsake you." You know what a many dying pillowsGod has made for His dear people inthe hour of their departure! "How shall I do in the swelling of Jordan?" Why, manfully, patiently, if God shall keep Hispromise as we know He will!
Now let me speak to you all again-I mean you that are in Christ. "How will you do in the swelling of Jordan?" Why, you willdo as a man does who has had a long day's walk and he can see his home. You will clap your hands. You will sit down upon thenext milestone with tears in your eyes andwipe the sweat from your face and say, "It is well, it is over. Oh how happy it is to see my own roof-tree and the placewhere my best friends, my kindred, dwell. I shall soon be at Home-at Home forever with the Lord."
How will we do? Why we will do as a soldier does when the battle is fought! He takes off his armor, stretches himself outat length to rest. The battle is all over. He forgets his wounds and reckons up the glory of the victory and the reward whichfollows. So will we! We will begin to forget thewounds and the garments rolled in blood and we will think of the "crown of life that fades not away." How will we do inthe swelling of Jordan? We will do as men do when they launch for a foreign country. They look back upon those they leavebehind and wave their handkerchiefs aslong as they can see them-but they are soon gone.
And we will bid adieu to dear ones. They shall have the tears, but we shall have the joy-for we go to the islands of the blest,the land of the hereafter, the home of the sanctified-to dwell with God forever! Who will weep when he starts on such a voyageand launches on such a blessedsea? What will we do when we come into the swelling of Jordan? Why I think, dear Friends, we shall then begin to see throughthe veil and to enjoy the Paradise of the blessed which is ours forever! We will make that dying bed a throne and we willsit and reign there with ChristJesus! We will think of that river Jordan as being one tributary of the river of Life which flows at the foot of the jasperThrone of the Most High!
We will live in the land of Beulah on the edge of Jordan with our feet in the cold stream, singing of the better land. Wewill hear the songs of angels as celestial breezes bring them across the narrow stream. And sometimes we will have in ourbosom some of the spices from the Mountains of Myrrhwhich Christ shall give us across the river. And when we come to die, what will we do in the swelling of Jordan? Why wewill try and bear our dying testimony-
"My joyful soul on Jordan's shore, Shall raise one Ebenezer more."
Oh, that was a grand thing when Joshua said to the twelve men, "Take up twelve stones and set them down in the midst of Jordanwhere the priests' feet stood still. And take up twelve other stones and set them up on the other side of Jordan, where thechildren of Israel first trod the promisedshore." You and I will do this-we will leave twelve stones in the midst of Jordan. They shall tell our friends and kindredhere of the good words we said, the adieu we gave them and the joyful hopes which cheered us-the song we sang when death beganto stay our throat.And then we will raise another Ebenezer in Heaven!
There shall be twelve stones there that will tell the angels and the principalities of the love which cleft the Jordan andbrought us through it as on dry land. This is how we will do in the swelling of Jordan! We are not looking forward to deathwith any fear, with any dread. When we get hometonight we shall begin to take off our garments one by one. We shall not shed a tear. Nor shall we when we come to die-
"Since Jesus is mine, I will not fear undressing, But gladly put off these garments of clay. To die in the Lord is a comfortand blessing,
Since Jesus to Glory through death led the way."
This is how we shall do in the swelling of Jordan-take off our garments to put on the celestial robes. As the bridegroom longsfor the marriage day, and as the bride waits until she is joined unto her husband in wedlock, even so our spirits wait forGod. As the exile pants to be delivered andthe galley slave to be separated from his oar, so we wait to be set free for Glory and immortality! As she that mourns herabsent lord pines for his return. As the child longs to reach his father's house and to see his father's face, so do we!-
"My heart is with Him on His Throne, And ill can brook delay, Each moment listening for His voice, 'Make haste and come away.'"
I must finish, for time has gone. But I meant to have said a word or two by way of warning. I can only do so now briefly,abridging them and compressing the thoughts as tightly as I can. "How will you do in the swelling of Jordan?" may well beused by way of warning. I think, dear Friends, youought to ask yourselves one question. Some of you never think of dying and yet you should. You say you may live long-youmay-and you may not. If there were a great number of loaves upon this table and you were to eat one every day and if you weretold that one of thoseloaves had poison in it, I think you would begin every one with great caution. And knowing that one of them would be yourdeath, you would take each up with silent dread.
Now you have so many days and in one of these days there is the poison of death. I do not know which one. It may be tomorrow.It may not be until many a day has gone. But I think you ought to handle all your days with holy jealousy. Is not that a fairparable? If it is, then let me ask you to thinkupon the question, "How will you do in the swelling of Jordan?" You grant that you will die and you may die soon. Is itnot foolish to be living in this world without a thought of what you will do at last?
A man goes into an inn and as soon as he sits down he begins to order his wine, his dinner, his bed. There is no delicacyin season which he forgets to request. There is no luxury which he denies himself. He stays at the inn for some time. By-and-bythere comes the bill and he says, "Oh, I neverthought of that-I never thought of that!" "Why," says the landlord, "here is a man who is either a born fool or else a thief!What? Never thought of the reckoning-never thought of settling-day!" And yet this is how some of you live! You have this andthat and the otherthing in this world's inn, (for it is nothing but an inn), and you have soon to go your way and yet you have never thoughtof settling-day!
"Well," says one, "I was casting up my accounts this morning." Yes, I remember a minister making this remark when he heardof one that cast up his accounts on Sunday. He said, "I hope that is not true, Sir." "Yes," he said, "I do cast up my accountson Sunday." "Ah, well," he said, "the Day ofJudgment will be spent in a similar manner-in casting up accounts and it will go ill with those people who found no othertime in which to serve themselves except the time which was given them that they serve God."
You have either been a dishonest man, or else you must be supremely foolish to be spending every day in this world's inn andyet to be ignoring the thought of the great day of account! But remember, though you forget it, God forgets not. Every dayis adding to the score. Photographed in Heaven isevery action that you perform. Your very thoughts are photographed upon the eternal mind. And in the day when the book shallbe opened it will go ill with you. Perhaps you will say, as one did in the Book of Kings, "Well, I was busy here and there.I was looking after my family andmy property. I was looking after politics. I was seeing after such-and-such an investment. And my soul is gone."
Yes, but that would not bring it back again. And what shall it profit you, though you gain the whole world and lose your ownsoul? It is no business of mine what becomes of you, except this-I do desire to talk with you at all times, that if you perishit may not be laid at my door. What wouldyou say to that soldier who should be told by his commanding officer to fight with the foe on the field of battle and theso-called soldier were to reply, "I don't know anything about battle or fighting. I never thought of the battlefield, I cando anything but fight"?
The general would be sorely amazed. He would want to know what the soldier lived for, if it were not to fight and defend hiscountry in the hour of his country's need. What do we live for if it is not to prepare for a hereafter life and for the dayfor which all days were made? What? Are we sentinto this world and told that we are to "prepare to meet our God," and we do everything else but that one thing? This willnot be wise. And when the Lord of the whole earth shall come out of His place to judge the sons of men, bitterly shall werue our folly!
Be wise now! Remember this and consider your latter end. What words shall I use to urge you to consider the subject and takemy warning? Is Heaven a place you would like to enter? Is Hell a place you would like to avoid, or will you make your bedin it forever? Are you in love with eternal miserythat you run to it so madly? Oh, stop! Turn! Turn! Why will you die? I do pray you stop and consider. Consideration doesno man harm. Second thoughts here are for the best. Think and think and think again and oh, may God lead you, through thinking,to feel your danger and may youthen accept that gracious remedy which is in Christ Jesus!
For whoever believes in Him is not condemned! Whoever trusts in Christ is saved! Sin is forgiven, the soul is accepted, thespirit is blessed the moment it trusts the Savior. Before I close the subject I must guide your thoughts to what is the truepreparation for death. Three things presentthemselves to my mind as being our duty in connection with the dying hour. First seek to be washed in the Red Sea of thedear Redeemer's blood. Come in contact with the death of Christ and by faith in it you will be prepared to meet your own.Without giving an opinion upon the meritof that system of medicine which professes to cure diseases by producing an effect upon the system akin to the originalmalady, or as they put it, "like curing like," we recommend it in spiritual things.
Come into union with Christ's death and that will take away the evil and sting of your own. Be buried with Him in Baptismunto death and have part with Him in the reality symbolized in that blest ordinance and you will not dread Jordan's swellingsif the full tide of the Redeemer's blood has rolledover you so that you are washed and clean. If guilt is on your conscience, it will be as a millstone round your neck andyou will sink to endless woe! But if the love of Jesus is in your heart, it will buoy up your head and keep you safe so thatalthough heart and flesh fail you,you will have God to be the strength of your heart and your portion forever!
Again, learn of the Apostle Paul to "die daily." Practice the duty of self-denial and mortifying of the flesh till it shallbecome a habit with you and when you have to lay down the flesh and part with everything, you will be only continuing thecourse of life you have pursued all along. No wonderif dying should prove hard work if you are completely unused to it in thought and expectation! If Death comes to me as astranger, I may be startled-but if I have prepared myself to receive him, he may come and knock at my door and I shall say,"I am ready to go with you, forI have been expecting you all my life."
How beautiful this expression of the Apostle, "I am ready to be offered up and the time of my departure is at hand." He waswaiting for death as for a friend, and when it came I am sure he was well pleased to go. He tells us he had "a desire to departand to be with Christ which is far better."Even so may we learn to look at the time when we shall hear the summons, "Come up higher," as to a time to be longed forrather than dreaded. Learn to submit your will to God's will daily. Learn to endure hardness as a good soldier of the Crossso that when the last conflict comesit may find you able, by the Grace of God, to bear the brunt of the final contest with unflinching courage.
And as the last preparation for the end of life, I should advise a continual course of active service and obedience to thecommands of God. I have frequently thought that no happier place to die in could be found than one's post of duty. If I werea soldier I think I should like to die as Wolfedied-with victory shouting in my ear! Or as Nelson died in the midst of his greatest success. Preparation for death doesnot mean going alone into the chamber and retiring from the world, but active service-"doing the duty of the day in the day."
The best preparation for sleep, the healthiest soporific, is hard work and one of the best things to prepare us for sleepingin Jesus is to live in Him an active life of going about doing good. The attitude in which I wish Death to find me is withlight trimmed and loins girt-waiting andwatching-at work, doing my allotted task and multiplying my talent for the Master's Glory. Idlers may not anticipate rest,but workers will not be unwilling to welcome the hour which shall hear the words, "It is finished."
Keep your eye upon the recompense of the reward. Lay up treasures in Heaven and thus you will be ready to cross the streamand enter the beloved land where heart and treasure have gone beforehand to prepare the way. Washed in the blood of Christ!Accustomed to submit to whatever God wills and tofind our pleasure in doing His will on earth as we hope to do it in Heaven! Joined to a life of holy service I am persuadedthat we shall be prepared with one of old to say, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept thefaith." And with him, calmly andjoyfully, to anticipate the crown which fades not away. God bring you to this point, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.
TO MY READERS-DEAR FRIENDS, Refreshed in body and mind I am on my way homeward to my pulpit and my work. I trust that my absencefrom labor, so profitable to my own health, may prove to be no loss to you from the stores which I have gathered in my traveling.It is no small strain upon a man'smental powers to preach to the same people and to publish the sermons for eleven years consecutively. In time the mind whichcontinually labors ceases to be fresh and vigorous and craves for rest. The soil without fallow grows poor. Rest is true medicine.
That rest, I bless God, I have been enabled to enjoy in the most agreeable and instructive manner and trust that it will enableme, by Divine assistance, to avoid the sameness and repetition which are sure signs of exhaustion of mind and poverty of thought.To be in the very best condition to beused of God is my heart's desire. I would be a bow well-strung. An arrow sharpened by the King. He who works for God shouldseek to do his work well and should strive to be fit for labor. To feed the saints and gather in Christ's blood-bought wanderersis my highest ambition restingor working-my eye is on this.
The most indefatigable must sometimes submit to rest in order to avoid being laid aside altogether. But work is the happiestand best state for Believers. And I feel that it is so. Oh that we, like the spirits before the Throne, could serve God dayand night without sin or ceasing! May I beg acontinued interest in my readers' earnest prayers. And may I hope that if ever they receive a blessing in reading my discoursesthey will kindly introduce them to their friends and neighbors. Yours to serve in the Gospel, Bell Alp, Switzerland, June16th, 1865 C. H. SPURGEON.