Suppose I Should Die Suddenly
James Smith, 1865
A sudden death has recently taken place here.
Sudden death is a very solemn event.
Death has a voice — it is sent with a message to us. It says, "I am coming for you soon! Be ready!"
Sudden death reminds us . . .
that time is short,
that life is uncertain,
that death is always near,
that we may be die at any moment,
that there is only a thin veil between us and eternity,
that dying is going to an eternal abode, from whence we shall never return!
Death is always solemn! SUDDEN death is peculiarly so. It should make as serious. It should lead to reflection. Let me, then, direct my thoughts to it for a few minutes.
Suppose I should die suddenly? I may. There is no security against it. It is possible, if not probable:
"Dangers stand thick all around,
To push us to the tomb!"
Any one of these dangers may push me down, and in a moment the body and soul may part. Well, suppose it should be so — am I ready? Is sudden death an event to be dreaded on my own account, or only on account of others?
To the true Christian, sudden death — is sudden glory! The soul departs to be with Christ — which is far better than remaining here on this poor earth. But would this be my case? Am I in Christ? Is Christ found in my heart, as the hope of glory? Is my body the temple of the Holy Spirit? Am I born again? Solemn inquiries these! Without a new birth, there can be no salvation. Jesus has most distinctly and positively declared it. His words are peculiarly solemn and striking. May they sink down deep into our hearts. "Truly, truly, I say unto you — unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." This is true of all people, of every person. Therefore it is true of me. I must be born again — or I cannot see, I cannot enter into, the kingdom of God.
Ought I not, then, to examine myself very closely? To compare the state of my heart, and the course of my life — with the word of God. If I should imagine that I am born again when I am not, and then if, while deceived by such a vain hope, I should die suddenly — what dreadful consequences would follow! Such a mistake could never be rectified. The effects of it must be endured forever! How very strange it is that we can rest satisfied one hour, without good evidence that we are born again — when we know that we may die suddenly, and that after death our state is fixed forever!
Suppose I should die suddenly today! I may! And if I do,
where will I spend this night?
Where will I be tomorrow?
What will be my portion forever?
Jesus tells us of one who in this life, had everything his heart could wish, and to warn us against neglecting the soul, while feasting the body, he utters these solemn words: "The rich man died and was buried; and in Hell he lift up his eyes being in torments!" Most likely, he was taken by surprise — he never thought that he would sink into Hell!
I dare say, that none of his friends judged so uncharitably, or rather so justly — as to suppose that he was lifting up his eyes in Hell, being in torments. But it was so, and he is in torments now — and in these torments he will remain forever!
O fearful case! But will it be mine? Is it possible that it may be my doom, or that of any one nearly related to me? Oh, it is possible — it is more than possible! Who has not a relative on the road to Hell? Who has not a relative already in Hell? What a dreadful meeting it must be to meet near and once dear relatives in Hell — and yet it is constantly taking place!
If I go to Hell — whom shall I meet there? If my relatives go to Hell — can they cast any part of the blame on me? Have I warned them? Have I done all I can to prevent so fearful a doom? Conscience, I charge you to be honest, answer me — have I done all I can to prevent my relatives from going to that place of torment?
I may die suddenly. Then let me see to it at once, that all is right for eternity. Let me make sure work. Let there be no procrastination. Let there be no excuses indulged. Let me never rest satisfied another night without faith in Christ, repentance toward God, and that holiness, without which no man can see the Lord. Let me ask of God to give me his Holy Spirit, to renew my mind, to take away the stony heart, and to give me a heart of flesh. Then if I die suddenly — how glorious the transition will be. How wonderful, to be one hour in a poor world like this — engaged in its difficult duties, enduring its sore trials, and suffering from its evil habits and customs; and the next moment to be in the presence of God, suddenly free from sin, sorrow, care, and trouble; beyond the reach of doubt, fear, and the devil; and to enjoy safety, satisfaction, and the fullness of joy forever.
But the alternative! Ah, the alternative! If I die suddenly, and die unholy and unsaved — how dreadful even the supposition! But what must the reality be? To be one hour in comfort, surrounded by kind relatives and friends, in the land of hope and mercy — and the next moment in the regions of eternal despair, filled with anguish, bitter regrets, and hopeless misery!
Reader, you may die suddenly! You may die today — and if you do, your state will be fixed forever. Do not conclude that you are safe, without a thorough examination. Let nothing decide your case, but God's unerring word. There is but one foundation for a sinner's hope, and that is Christ Jesus. There is no certainty of life beyond the present moment. Therefore make your calling and your election sure.
Seize the kind promise while it waits,
And march to Zion's Heavenly gates;
Believe — and take the promised rest,
Obey — and be forever blessed.