Prepared for the Worst!
James Smith, 1865
"I am prepared for the worst!" said a young man, as he went off on a journey, with his heavy coat and umbrella. And in the sense in which he used the words, he was, as he only referred to a little cold or rain.
But the words may be taken in a much more important sense, and even then, there are some who can say, "I am prepared for the worst!" What is the worst? and what is it to be prepared for the worst? These are very important, interesting, and solemn questions. Let us look at them for a few moments.
DEATH!Is that the worst? So perhaps some would think. It is the most solemn event that can happen to us in this world. It has been called "the king of terrors," and of all terrible things — it has been said to be "the most terrible." Well, death, in one view of it, is a bad thing. It is the enemy of our nature. We cannot love it. It makes wives widows, children fatherless, and affectionate husbands unhappy. It has caused floods of tears to flow, and human nature to shudder.
But it is most terrible to its victim. It terminates his mortal course. It ends his existence in the present state. It introduces him to an unseen world, to an unknown state of existence. It terminates his plans, schemes, and pleasures — and puts his purposes and pretensions to the test. It is very solemn.
Are we prepared for death? Unless our sins are pardoned,
our natures are renewed, and our souls are reconciled to God — we cannot be.
Sin is the sting of death. It gives it power to injure us, to wound
us, to destroy our brightest hopes. If sin reigns in us — it will
ruin us. If death finds us in an unpardoned state — it will be dreadful
to us. But if, through faith in Jesus, our sins are all forgiven — if, by
the operation of the Holy Spirit, the stony heart has been taken
away, and the heart of flesh given — if we are reconciled to God by the
death of his Son, and are at peace with him — we are prepared for death. It
may seize us — but it cannot hold us; it may lay the body in the grave — but
it cannot touch the soul. Its very nature is changed to us, and
instead of injuring, it only lays the body to sleep in the grave, and
introduces the soul to God and glory!
JUDGMENT!Is that the worst? Is standing before the infinite God to be judged the worst? So some would say. It is enough to awaken the most serious thoughts, and arouse ten thousand fears. To appear before Divine justice, represented by the Son of God, whose eyes are as a flame of fire, to give an account of our conduct, or rather misconduct, for twenty, or forty, or sixty years — how solemn! How fearful is this!
To account for sins against the best of beings, against the plainest precepts — for so many years, and to feel that we have not the least excuse to offer for our conduct! How fearful is this!
He never provoked us by his conduct towards us, or injured us in his dealings with us. We sinned — just because we would sin, and we persevered in sin — just because we perversely preferred doing so, to obeying his wise and holy precepts. He has commanded us to prepare to give an account in his word; he will apprehend us by his officer death; and he will summon us to appear before his judgement. Are we prepared for this? We may be — but are we?
If so, we have embraced the Savior, and are justified through his finished work. We have sought and received the Holy Spirit, and are sanctified by his power, grace, and indwelling. We have come to the Father through his Son, and he has blotted out all our sins in his precious blood. But is this the case?
If we have only one sin to answer for — we are undone. We
might have obtained a pardon — we were promised one, if we applied for it
while Jesus was on the throne of grace; but we neglected or refused, and now
the door of hope is shut, the throne of grace is vacated — and
mercy has given place to justice. That we have one sin laid to
our charge, to be accounted for by ourselves, is wholly and entirely our own
fault. God was ready to pardon. Jesus was exalted to give repentance and the
remission of sins. We were assured again and again, that by him, all who
believe are justified from all things. But if we would not go unto
him that we might have life — if we refused to receive the pardon
presented, or to seek the reconciliation promised — then who is to blame? We
might have been pardoned — but we would not stoop to accept it. We might
have been justified from all things, in the finished work of the Lord Jesus
— but we would not embrace that work; and now our pride and self-sufficiency
have brought us low. If one sin is charged up on us, it is because Christ
Jesus has been rejected by us.
HELL!Is that the worst? Yes, this is the worst thing! Nothing can be compared to Hell. What is it, but the wrath of God endured, the endless lashings of a guilty conscience experienced, the desert of sin inflicted upon the sinner? In Hell, black despair reigns, remorse is eternally felt, and pain and agony must be eternally endured. In Hell, justice appears in all its terrible majesty, mercy is forever excluded, and sinners are left to torment themselves, and to be tormented by Satan and his demons without end.
Reader, are you prepared for this? Can your heart endure, and can your hands be strong, in the day that God shall deal with you? Will you go to Hell? This question is proposed to you every time you hear the gospel. Will you go to Hell? This question I most solemnly ask you now.
You need not, for there is a way of escape. You need not, for God is good and ready to forgive. You need not, for the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin. You need not, for the Spirit and the Bride say, "Come, and take of the fountain of the water of life freely." But if you refuse to come, I assure you that you shall surely perish. If you reject the Savior, I ask you in his own words, "How shall you escape the damnation of Hell?"
Are you prepared to suffer eternally in endless pains? Are you prepared to dwell with devouring fire, to languish in everlasting burnings? Are you? Can you be?
Let me beseech you with all earnestness, with all tenderness, to lay these things to heart. Flee, flee at once to Jesus! Receive him into your heart by faith. Renounce all your refuges of lies, give up yourself to him, and spend your remaining days for Him; so will you be prepared for the worst. Yes, then you may look through time and all its changes, and into eternity with all its solemnities, and sing —
Now let the wildest storms arise,
Let tempests mingle earth and skies
I'm safe in Christ, the ark of grace.
And soon shall see him face to face!
Death will to me be life and peace,
A rest from sin, a sweet release;
For I through Jesus' precious blood,
Shall rise from death, to live with God!