by James Smith
I have just heard of another sudden death. How many have died suddenly of late! Sudden death is very solemn. We do not sufficiently think of its solemnity. Any one of us may be called away without a moment’s warning. If we should be — what would be the consequence? A question proposed in the book of Job, impresses my mind at this moment:
“But man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more — and where is he?”
Where is the departed one? He is somewhere, for the soul must live, must be conscious. Where, then, is he? Let me look at two or three other questions which may help me to answer this.
Where WAS he? He was in a land of light, and within the sound of the gospel — but was he in the world, or in the church? Was he in Christ, or in his natural state. What was he! Profane, or moral? Natural, or spiritual? Was he a Christian, or an undecided character? If he had never experienced the new birth, if he had not a living faith in Christ, if he was not a holy man, whatever else he may have been — he is not in heaven! For, “except a man is born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” “He who believes not, shall be damned.” “Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.”
Nothing can be more positive, more plain, or decided, than these testimonies from God’s word. He may have been moral, harmless, and a well-meaning man; but if he was not a new creature — then he is not in heaven! Not in heaven! What, are none in heaven of all who have died — but such as were new creatures? Not one! The word of God is clear upon this point. But if he is not in heaven — where is he then? Ah, the sentence may seem severe — but it is true: if he is not in heaven — then certainly he is in hell.
Where IS he? Is it possible for the man who died suddenly yesterday, to be in hell today? What, go from such a comfortable home, from such a respectable family, from such an honorable position in society — to hell? How dreadful the thought!
To be mixed up with the devils, and the vilest of the human race!
To be tormented in flames that cannot be extinguished, and by a worm that cannot die!
To be accursed of God, and to be treated with contempt forever!
O how terrible is the supposition! It is terrible — but it is the doom of all who die unconverted, for the Lord Jesus has said,
“Except you are converted, and become as little children — you shall never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
There is but one way to heaven, and Jesus is that way; no one therefore can go to heaven — but through Jesus. And it is not hearing of Jesus, or reading of Jesus, or talking of Jesus, or using the name of Jesus in our prayers — which will take us to heaven! We must have personal dealings with Jesus, we must be washed in his blood, we must be clothed in his righteousness, we must eat his flesh, and drink his blood; our souls must live upon Christ — or we cannot be saved.
Reader, suppose you were to die suddenly, to die today — where would you be? Have you secured a saving interest in Christ? Is your heart right with God? Are you fit to go direct to heaven? Remember, death does not fit us for heaven. It neither changes our state, nor our nature. It simply separates the body from the soul; and what the soul is when death finds it — such it will be when death leaves it.
If death finds us pardoned, justified, and sanctified — it simply delivers us to the angel who is to conduct us to heaven. And if death finds us condemned, in our sins, or in our natural state — it delivers us to the devil, who is to drag us to the place of torment.
It is therefore of the greatest importance that we should be found ready. And as death may suddenly meet us at any moment — we should not delay an hour in seeking that preparation which would warrant our friends to say, if the question were proposed, “Where is he?” “In Heaven! Unquestionably in Heaven!”
Who can tell the distress of a parent, weeping over the corpse of a beloved child, when left in a state of uncertainty: “Where is he? Where the soul of my beloved son? Where is she, the soul of my beloved daughter?” If you would not therefore add to the pangs of a beloved parent, and almost break the heart that throbs with intensest love to you — seek and obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus.
Or, think of a wife, or husband standing by the coffin that contains the corpse of one tenderly beloved, in a state of uncertainty as to the destiny of the immortal soul. What piercing pangs would the question produce, “Where is he?” “Where is she?” The mere doubt would be dreadful. But to be obliged to fear the worst must be unspeakably dreadful. If you, therefore, O wife, love your husband — or if you, O husband, love your wife, and would not pierce the bereaved one through with many sorrows — then make sure to yourself, and evident to all around you, that you are saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation.
If I were to die suddenly, if I were to die suddenly today — where would I be? Could I be admitted to God’s holy heaven in my present state? Am I fit to meet the eyes of a just and holy God? Am I prepared to share in the employments and enjoyments of a world where all are holy, as God is holy? Have I a title to heaven, without which there can be no admission? Am I made fit for heaven, for I can never be allowed to enter there if I am not. Lord, impress these solemn questions on my mind, for Christ’s sake. Lord, by your Holy Spirit, prepare me, if I live, to live to you; or if I die, to die to you; so that whether I live or die, I may be yours!
by James Smith