Is it Possible?
James Smith, 1856
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction — and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life — and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14
Reader, I am going to propose a question, a very solemn question, to you. I do so in love. It has rested on my own mind, and has been working in my own heart. It has not done me any harm, nor do I believe it will do you any. It is plain — but do not be offended at its plainness. Receive it, consider it, and reflect upon it, in the same spirit in which it is proposed.
"Do you believe it is possible, that you may go to Hell?" That many go to Hell, cannot be doubted. That Hell is a dreadful place, cannot be questioned. That many are now on the road to it, is as clear as daylight. That few are sufficiently concerned to escape from it, is very evident.
"Do you believe it is possible, that you may go to Hell?" You, who, perhaps never entertain a thought of doing so! The very supposition is alarming, is it not? But may not any sinner go to Hell? And are not you a sinner? If any sinner may go to Hell, and you are a sinner, why may not you go there? What if you should!
Yet, it is not only possible — but certain, unless you experience a very great change. For "unless a man is born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." These are the words of One who knew well what was requisite. They were spoken in tender love. They are the words of truth and soberness. Yet are they very little considered. They are not heartily believed. Therefore they produce no deep impression on the mind. How many who have heard them, and read them, live just as if they had never been acquainted with them! They go on as careless, as thoughtless, as indifferent about their souls — as if they thought it impossible for them to go to Hell.
There is John Jones, the weaver. He has read the New Testament, he has heard the gospel, he knows he has an immortal soul; but he never prays, he seldom attends the means of grace, he spends his Saturday night very often at the ale-house, he lies late in bed on the Lord's-day morning, and he wastes most of his Sunday hours. Week after week he goes on like this. He has no care for his own soul, or the souls of his wife and children. He knows he must die. He is not an infidel, and therefore professes to believe in Heaven and Hell — but he acts just as if he never thought for one moment, that it was possible for him to go to Hell. Indeed, he troubles himself so little about God, or his soul, or eternity — that it appears that the thought has never entered into his head!
This is a sad case — but there are thousands of such in our districts. Men go on in darkness. They live as if the present life bounded their existence. They confine their attention to the body — and if they can gratify its appetites, and meet its needs — they do not trouble themselves any farther. They are in a fearful state! To Heaven they cannot go, without a change of heart. And, therefore to Hell they must go — if they live and die in their present state. Oh that every one who is spending his time, like John Jones, would seriously consider this! May the Holy Spirit produce conviction of sin, concern for immediate salvation, and lead the reader to Jesus for eternal life and peace with God.
Roger Thomas, the blacksmith, knows all the news of the village. He talks much. He reads some. He swears often. He loves his pipe and his ale. He goes to church now and then on the Sunday; but if you mark his conduct, listen to his conversation, and notice his spirit — you will be led to conclude that he never asks himself the question, "Is it possible fok me to be sent to Hell?" No, no, he has too good an opinion of himself to suppose such a thing. He has no idea that God would ever treat him so harshly as that. What, send him to Hell? If so, what would become of most of the people in the parish! No, no, God is merciful. He intends to repent by and bye. When he comes to his death-bed — then he will pray, read his bible, and make his peace with God. Thus he flatters his own pride, deceives his soul, and secures his own damnation!
And how many do the same! What multitudes are living pretty much as he lives, and thinking as he thinks; and, if spoken to, would talk as he talks. Intimate to them that they will be lost forever, and they immediately ask, "Then who on earth will be saved?" or, "Do you mean to say that nearly the whole world will be damned?" Ah, friend, we do not mean to sit in judgment on the world, or say how many will be lost — right glad would we be if none were; but the Lord Jesus has said, "Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leads unto life, and few there are who find, it. But because wide is the gate, and broad is the road, that leads to destruction — many there be that go in thereat." What if you should be with the many!
Reader! Do you believe it possible that you may go to Hell? Has the thought ever struck you? If so, how did it make you feel? Did it awaken fear? Did it produce concern? Did it lead you to examine your own heart? Did it cause you to search your bible to see who would go there? Did it prompt you to flee to Jesus to save you from that dreadful place? Did you feel as if you could not be too sure, and therefore was willing to make assurance doubly sure? It is a solemn fact, that you, whoever you are — may go to Hell, if you are heedless. It is certain that you must go to Hell — if you live without faith in Christ, if you die without a change of nature.
There is one promise of God's Word which I would recommend you to plead, until you feel in yourself that it is fulfilled — it is this: "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws!" Ezekiel 36:25-27.
And there is one prayer I would recommend you to use until it is answered: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." For if that promise is fulfilled in your experience — and if that prayer is answered in your person — and if the question arises in your heart, "Is it possible for me to go to Hell?" — then you will be able to reply, "No! Hell is no place for those who are born of God, who have the Spirit of Christ, and who are zealous for good works. Heaven is the place for such, where they will join in the new song, behold the Savior's face, and be filled with perfect satisfaction and exquisite delight."
May I meet every one of my readers in that holy, happy place!
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" Matthew 7:21-23