James Smith, 1856
Reader, you are standing on the margin of the grave. The seeds of death are sown in your physical constitution. In a few short days they will spring up, and then, as the ivy slowly kills the oak, so they will bring you to the tomb. You are never safe. Allow me, therefore, affectionately to ask: Are you prepared to exchange worlds?
If death was to come, would it be a friend or a foe to you? Would you hail it, or dread it? This depends on the state of the heart. If you are a new creature — if you are united to Jesus — if you live in fellowship with God — if you enjoy the witness of the Holy Spirit in your heart — then you will look at death as a covenant blessing, and understand what the apostle meant when he said, "Death is yours!"
You stand in full sight of eternity. It is just before you. You may be introduced to it any moment. Many are entering it while I write — while you read these lines. What will eternity be to you? Will it be an unchangeable state of light, life, peace, joy, and unutterable pleasure? Or will it be an unchangeable state of darkness, death, sorrow, agony, and inconceivable torment? One of these it must be — which will it be? If you live in sin — you will die under condemnation; and if you die under condemnation — you must be cast into Hell. Let me beseech you, therefore, to examine into your real state in the sight of God. Examine yourself by God's Word. Ask: Do I experimentally know what is meant by "being born again" — by "passing from death unto life" — by "being justified by faith" — by "walking with God" — and by being "made fit to be a partaker of the saints in light?" All true believers know something of these things; all who go to Heaven experience them. If, therefore, you do not know them — if you have not experienced them — you are "yet in your sins," you are "condemned already," and "the wrath of God abides on you!"
You stand very near to the great white throne judgment; and you will very soon have to stand exactly before it, and there be judged according to the deeds done in the body. The day is fixed; the Lord has prepared His throne, and Jesus is appointed to fill it, and judge the world in righteousness — that Jesus, whom perhaps you have rejected, whose gospel you have slighted, and whose salvation you have neglected. You must face Him, and account for your conduct. How can you do it? How will you feel when compelled to go and appear before Him? How!
I entreat you to flee to the throne of grace now, that you may obtain mercy. On your knees before God, confess your sins, deplore your wickedness, plead for pardon, seek right earnestly for salvation; nor cease or rest until you realize that you are fully acquitted of every charge, and are saved in the Lord, with an everlasting salvation. Seek Jesus, until you find Him formed in your heart the hope of glory. Make sure work of it. Rest not short of certainty. The grave will soon be dug to receive you; eternity will soon open before you; the great white throne will soon be seen by you; and then it will be too late to cry for mercy, or seek salvation.
Believer, you are standing on the rock of ages. Having fled to Jesus for refuge from the storm — having received Jesus as God's salvation — having built on Jesus as God's foundation — imitating Jesus as God's living law — you are safe. The rock on which you stand is above the floods; the refuge in which you are hidden is out of the reach of danger. Being safe — you should be happy. Happy, because to you there is no condemnation. Happy, because Christ and your soul are one. Happy, because your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Happy, because God is your Father, and Heaven is your eternal home. Happy, for all things are yours, you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.
Believer, you are standing in God's vineyard — in the field of labor; and your God, who has conferred so many blessings upon you, who has done be much for you, says, "Son, go work today." There are weeds to pluck up — even errors, evil customs, and ungodly habits. There are plants to water — even weak, feeble, and tempted saints. There are spots to be planted with those who are without. There is something for you to do today, and every day. Something that will . . .
bring satisfaction to your soul,
benefit this poor miserable world, and
add to the strength, beauty, and increase of God's church.
While, therefore, you rejoice in your privileges, while you triumph in your safety — which you should do — see to it that you labor, and labor industriously, to promote God's cause, and instrumentally to save souls from death.
Let the love of Jesus constrain you;
let the example of Jesus excite you;
let the misery of sinners induce you;
let the command of God compel you, to work today.
Today while you have the light;
today, while you have the power;
today, while you have the opportunity;
today, while God promises to crown your efforts with success;
today, work for God.
If you work for God — you will work with God; and if you work with God — you will become increasingly acquainted with God; and as you become more and more acquainted with God — your happiness, your holiness, your honors will increase. O the honor of being able to say, "We are laborers together with God!" O the happiness of being instrumental in saving "a soul from death!"
Lord, stir up your people to rejoice in you, and to work for you. Lord, stir up my soul, that I may seize every opportunity to work for you, employ every means to bring souls to you, and consecrate every moment to your service and praise! O to feel my standing on Christ, and in Christ! O to perceive my position in the midst of a field which God wishes to have cultivated, and requires me to help to cultivate. O to hear the Lord's Word sounding in my ears day by day, "Son, go work TODAY!" O to feel my heart going forth cheerfully and regularly to work for God in my day and generation.
Brethren, the day is short, the times are perilous, souls are perishing, Satan has great power, error is industriously circulated, truth is God's instrument, and the salvation of souls should be our grand object. Let us fix the eye on it, daily aim at it, nor give ourselves one moment's rest — but as we employ all our powers to secure it!