A Morning Thought

James Smith, 1859


"I may be a corpse before night!"
Yes, many who appear as healthy as I am will die today. I myself may die and what if I should! Am I ready? Am I safe for eternity? Are my evidences of a saving interest in Jesus, sure ones. Is my title to everlasting life unquestionable? My soul, see to it that all is right, that all will be well with you in death, and well with you forever. On what are you building? On what rests your everlasting all? I build on Jesus, and on Jesus only. I rest on what he has done and suffered in my stead. I have no righteousness in which I dare to trust, therefore I trust in the righteousness of Jesus. I can make no atonement for my sins, and therefore I depend on the atonement Christ has made. I feel that I am on a perilous sea, amid rocks, and storms, and wrecks, and I have no hope but in my life-boat and that life-boat is Jesus. If this can fail, I am lost, lost forever. But it never sank yet, no one was ever washed out of it, or perished in it and therefore I believe I am safe.

"I may be a corpse before night!" Yes, it is possible. But if I should then what a change will take place! In what different circumstances I would be! There is something solemn, and solemnizing in the thought. To have taken the last look at my nearest, and dearest earthly friends. To have spoken the last words I shall ever utter in this world. To have written the last line, I shall ever trace for the good of my fellow men. To have given up everything earthly, and to have lost my interest in everything below. To close the eyes on all the old sights, and to shut the ears on all the old sounds and to feel that one has done so forever! These are serious things, especially as introductory to what follows.

Eternity treads on the heels of time. The things which are seen are temporal the things which are unseen are eternal. Eternal! How solemn! How impressive! Yes, the joys of Heaven, are eternal; and the pains of Hell, are eternal. Our eternal state once fixed is fixed forever. Now I may repent, flee to Jesus, and obtain deliverance from the wrath to come; but after death, there can be no change. Hell is the worst place in God's universe we can go to no worse; and Heaven is the best place there can be no better.

"I may be a corpse before night!" Then surely I ought to be serious. Then whatever my hand finds to do, I should do it with my might, for there is no work, nor device, nor wisdom in the grave. Then I should set, and keep my house in order, that nothing may be left in disorder, so as to cause confusion, or contention after I am gone. Yes, I should live every day, as if it were the last day, or as if I should hear the sound of the last trumpet before bedtime.

What a change will take place in me, when I die. In this poor body, all its aches and pains, and all its gratifications and pleasures, will be forever ended. And in my soul,
all its darkness and deadness,
all its sorrows and sadness,
all its hopes and fears,
all its doubts and distresses,
all its gloom and grief
will be brought to a close. It will burst its prison, it will be released from its cage, it will lay down its burden and it will escape forever from the windy storm and tempest!

Then Satan will no more tempt or torment me,
then sinners will no more wound or vex me,
then providence will no more baffle or try me,
then corruption or sin will no more harass and distress me
  but I shall be free from the whole, and free forever!

With such views, I ought not to fear death. I ought not to be alarmed if it should suddenly call me. Nor ought I to be anxious to live but only desire to glorify my God, whether it be by life or by death. O to be quite ready if I should be a corpse before night!