For What End Have I Lived?
James Smith, 1865
We are all living for some end, either right or wrong; and the end for which we live is decided by the course we pursue. If we live in the gratification of our passions, in the practice of sin, and indulging wicked propensities — we are only living to dishonor God, degrade our natures, and eternally ruin our souls! Many men never ask, "What should I have in view in my conduct?" They live in a careless, thoughtless, indifferent state. One would think that the only end of life with them was to eat, drink, work, take a little carnal pleasure — and then die. They seem seldom to raise their thoughts higher. They lose sight of the capabilities of their nature. They never reflect on the greatness and glory of God. They drive from them all thoughts of eternity. They satisfy themselves with the idea, "I dare say I shall fare as well as thousands of my fellows." Or, perhaps, they indulge the vague hope, that because God is merciful — therefore all will be well with them at last. Whereas, nothing can be more fallacious. No course of conduct can display greater folly.
Reader, what have you been living for? Do you know? Have you been living as an immortal, intelligent being — or like the beasts that perish? Have you ever steadily fixed your eye on eternity, and asked, with due seriousness: "What shall I be — when time is no more? What will be my employment in the eternal world?"
If not, it is quite time that you did. You must live eternally — whether you will or not. You have no choice as to existence. You are destined to live forever. Your soul can never die. Is it not a serious thought, "I must exist, I must live forever!" Will you not dwell upon it, and ask, "Where shall I exist? In what state shall I be? In what company shall I dwell? How will God treat me?"
Oh, if you should be fixed in a state of unchangeable woe! If you should be doomed to dwell with devils and lost souls forever! If you should, at death, be plunged into black despair — where there is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth!
But if you are — it will be your own fault. Just think over this idea, "If I go to Hell — it will be my own fault!" God sends no one to Hell, but for sin. Christ dooms no one to suffer eternal punishment — but those who refuse to be saved by his merit and mercy. If you, therefore, go to Hell, it will be because you love sin, and live in the practice of it, and because you refuse to be saved by the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you, then, should perish, will you not richly deserve it? Can you blame anyone but yourself? You have a bible — or you may have one if you desire. You hear the gospel — or you can hear it if you please. In the gospel, the gate of life is set wide open, and anyone may enter it; the road to glory is plainly marked out — and you are invited to walk in it; the way to Hell is clearly set forth, and you are warned to forsake it, and go in the way to everlasting life.
What, then, are you living for? What end do you propose to yourself in your daily walk? What do you aim at? If you wrong your own soul by losing sight of its best interests — if you perish in your sins by neglecting the great salvation — if you are condemned at last for rejecting the Lord Jesus — whom can you blame? What excuse can you make? How will you bear your own bitter reflections, or endure the endless lashings of an honest but guilty conscience?
My dear friend, do listen to one who wishes you well; to one who desires to see you happy in this world, and happy in that which is to come. Do reflect upon the life you are living, the course you are pursuing, and the end that you are likely to make. To you a Savior is made known — to you his invitation is given — for you his blood will avail — by you all the blessings of salvation may be enjoyed — and on you endless glory may yet be conferred! And you must be either happy beyond description, as the result of receiving Christ; or be miserable beyond conception, as the consequence of rejecting him! There is no alternative — one or the other it must be.