Remember Where You Are Going
James Smith, 1859
Some time ago, a father was sending his son on some business. He had given him directions — but as he was leaving the house, the father's voice was heard shouting to him, "Now, remember where you are going." Of the business on which the lad was sent, or where he was going, I know nothing — but the father's words made an impression on my mind, and I feel disposed to reiterate them, and say to my reader, "Remember where you are going."
You are on a journey — traveling from time to eternity. This world is not your rest. Earth is not your final abode. Yet how many live, as if they were to live here always. They seem to forget where they are going. They lose sight of the solemn fact, that they must soon stand before the judgment seat of Christ. But though they lose sight of it, it remains a fact notwithstanding. Therefore, I call unto you, reader, be you who you may, "Remember where you are going!" But let me speak to myself as well as others, for I also need reminding where I am going.
Well, we are going to meet sickness and death. Let us not forget that. In sickness, we shall need something to comfort us; and in dying, something to support us. Nothing but the word, the grace, and the promise of Jesus, will be sufficient to comfort and support us then. It is therefore all-important, that we believe and treasure up that word in our memories now; that we obtain that grace, and get it rooted in our hearts now; and that we obtain the promise, the assurance, that Jesus will meet us, manifest himself to us, and comfort us then. What can we do in sickness, without the comforts of a Savior's love? What can we do in the swellings of Jordan, without the supporting presence of Jesus? Let us study these questions, and "Remember where we are going."
We are going to the judgment seat of Christ. There we shall appear as convicted criminals to be condemned — or as justified believers to be rewarded. Solemn therefore as that great assize will be, the most important question for us to decide is — in what character shall we appear there? The future will depend on the present. If now, as lost, ruined, and condemned sinners, we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ — we obtain everlasting life, we are acquitted of all charges by God the Judge of all; and to us there it, there will be, there can be, no condemnation: for the righteousness of Christ is ours. To go to the judgment seat of Christ, assured of our justification and acceptance, as solemn as it may be, it cannot be dreadful or alarming.
But to go to that tribunal as criminals — criminals charged with breaking God's law, refusing to accept a pardon during the day of salvation — as implicated in, and having to answer for, the rejection and murder of the Son of God — must be dreadful indeed. Reader, if you are not a believer — if you have not a living, influential faith in Christ — such is your case, and I would have you "Remember where you are going,"
Beyond the judgment-seat, there are but two states, two dwelling-places, Heaven and Hell, and to one or the other we are going. If we are going to Heaven, we are now in the way, and Christ is the way — the only way to Heaven; consequently, we are in Christ. But if we are not in Christ, do what we may, feel what we may, profess what we may — we are not in the only way to Heaven. There must be faith in him, union to him, and communion with him — or we cannot be saved by him; and if we are not saved by him, we are not in the way to Heaven. And if not in the way to Heaven, we are, we must be, in the way to Hell. Yes, with all our morality, all our good deeds, and all our amiable tempers — we are in the way to Hell. What a solemn thought is this! What a dreadful idea! Yet, it is as true as it is solemn and dreadful, "Remember therefore where you are going."
Have you decided where you are going? I know you have practically — but I mean have you seriously considered the subject, and deliberately made up your mind, "I am going to Heaven!" Or, "I am going to Hell!" You ought to have done so; and if you have not — the sooner you do so the better. Look the matter in the face.
Take time, and with God's law before you, ask, "Where am I going according to this?" Then place Christ's gospel before you, and ask, "Where am I going according to this?" You cannot go to Heaven by the law, unless you have a perfectly holy nature, and present to it a perfect obedience. As therefore you cannot meet its requirements, it cannot justify you; and as it cannot justify, it cannot save you. You must therefore turn from the law, to the gospel. The gospel sets before you a perfect Savior, and requires you to renounce all, and everything, and trust in him alone for salvation. You must depend on his atoning blood for your pardon — upon his obedience unto death for your justification — and then yield yourself up to be ruled by his precepts, and seek in all things to do his will.
It is for you therefore to inquire: Have I renounced every work of my own, and do I depend on the sacrifice of Christ alone for pardon? Have I seen the insufficiency of everything within me, and without me, to justify me before God — and do I trust in the righteousness of Christ alone? Am I presenting my body a living sacrifice to Jesus, desiring to think as Jesus wishes me, to feel as Jesus desires me, and to do what Jesus commands me?
If so, there is no doubt of your salvation; and under all your conflicts, trials, troubles, losses, and crosses, for your comfort we should say, "Remember where you are going!"
But if you have not renounced self, it you have not a settled trust in Christ — if you are not seeking to do his will from the heart: or in other words, if you are not taking the Lord Jesus to be everything for you, in order to your justification before a just and holy God; and if you are not surrendering yourself to be wholly and entirely for Jesus before men — then you are not saved; and amidst all your temporal prosperity, freedom from pain, and enjoyment of earthly things, we would say to you, in order to produce solemn reflection, "Remember where you are going."
To go to Hell under any circumstances, must be dreadful; but to go from ease and plenty, from health and worldly enjoyments, from respectable society and the company of the amiable and polite — to dwell forever with devils and lost souls, in the lake of fire, must be unutterably awful. Yet this is the doom of many. Remember therefore in health and ease — you are going to sickness and death. Remember in life and comfort — you are going to the judgment seat of Christ. Remember always, every day remember, you are going either to Hell — or Heaven — and may soon, suddenly be summoned there!