James Smith, 1859
A visit to friends or like-minded relatives is very pleasant — and often as profitable as pleasant. How pleasant to meet, to recall old scenes, to talk over past times, and to seem to live over again the years long gone by. But the pleasantest visit must end. Everything earthly must pass away.
It was so with my pleasant visit. I had enjoyed it much. Friends were kind. Conversation was pleasant and sweet. The time fled swiftly, and before it was desired, parting time came.
We must say farewell to each other, and who can say that we shall ever meet again? Life is so uncertain. Accidents are so common. Diseases are so powerful. Death is so certain. Once parted — we may meet no more below. We may have taken the last look, have heard the last sounds of our friends' voice, and have left their hospitable house forever.
This is all true, but — ah, that but! — but if we are in Christ, if we belong to the Lord's family, we shall meet again — for we are all going home to our Father's house, there the whole family will be collected, not a child will be missing — but each and every one will be there. Sweet thought, delightful prospect, this!
We shall have a more solemn parting yet, for at death we must part. All our earthly associations must be broken up. All the ties of nature must be severed. Each must go his own way. The one to the duties of life — and the other to appear in the presence of God. With some the separation will bo final. They will have but one more interview, and that will be at the judgment seat of Christ. Oh, what partings will take place at that solemn tribunal! Then, the wife will be separated from the husband, and be separated forever. Then, the children will be separated from the parents, and be separated forever. The one will be placed on the right hand, among the sheep; and the other on the left hand, among the goats. The one will be invited to come and inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world; and the other will be commanded to depart into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. Who, oh, who can describe the horrors of that day? Who can set forth the terrors produced by that separation?
Then, the daughter will be separated from her fond mother, whose admonitions she neglected, and whose persuasive entreaties she resisted. What, oh, what will be her feelings, to see that face for the last time, and to hear her mother's voice acquiesce in her eternal doom!
Then, the son will be separated from his sainted father, whose advice he disregarded — and whose exhortations he despised. The father will be received up into glory — and the son be thrust down to Hell. Who, oh, who can describe the agonies of that son, when he reflects on his folly, remembers all the efforts of his father to save him from destruction — but now hears him testify to the justice of the sentence which banishes him from hope forever?
Then, the godly wife will be for ever severed from her ungodly husband; and she will justify God in banishing him from his presence, notwithstanding all the prayers she had offered, and the means she had tried to lead him to the Savior.
Then friends and neighbors must part forever, to live at an infinite distance from each other forever.
Parting then will be dreadful! Parting then will be final! The glory and the happiness of the one may be seen by the other — but it will only augment their woe, and increase their agony. For there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth — when they see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all true Christians, in the kingdom of God — and they themselves thrust out! And the saints looking down from the celestial city, from their thrones of glory, will sing, "Hallelujah!" while they see the smoke of their torment ascend up forever and ever! (Rev. 19:1-3.)
Reader, you may have had many a painful parting here — but partings on earth, however painful, are nothing — when compared with that terrible parting at the last day. Is it probable that you will be separated from all that you love, and separated forever? Is it — can it be? Oh, make sure of a saving interest in Christ, and then you will never be separated from Christ, or from the saints — but will enjoy their society forever!
Are you afraid that your children, or brothers, or sisters, or husband, or wife, will be separated from you? Oh, do all you can to prevent it! Try and win them to Jesus. By loving words, by a meek and quiet spirit, by earnest prayers, by constant and prudent efforts — endeavor to save their souls from death. Make up your mind to this, that if they are lost, it shall not be your fault, for you will not be accessory to their destruction; but that the blame, and the whole blame, shall rest upon their own heads! And make up your mind, too, that if anything you can do, or say, or suffer, can secure their salvation — that you will omit no duty, lose no opportunity, and neglect no means, likely to secure such an all-important result!