The Voice of God in the Alarming Death of Jane!

James Smith, 1860

"O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!" Deuteronomy 32:29

An accident occurred to one of my congregation. A strong, hearty, and healthy young woman, whom I saw in her place last Sunday evening, was, on the next day following conveyed to the hospital in a most deplorable plight. She was a cook, and, while engaged in her kitchen on the Monday, a boiler burst, tearing the kitchen to pieces, hurling a large stone upon her, and crushing her limbs. Meanwhile the steam and boiling water scalded her most fearfully.

I was sent for to see her, and it was a heart-rending sight. Her agonies were fearful. She said that her pains were unbearable. I endeavored once more to point her to Jesus, and prayed with her. Rising from my knees, I asked her if she had any doubts and fears in reference to eternity; to which she replied, "No; I hope God has forgiven me."

I left her, the nurse assuring me that she could not live through the night; and about four o'clock in the morning, she died. She was shortly to have been married. The cottage was taken, and preparations were making for the wedding. But instead of a wedding there was a funeral! It was a painful sight to see the young man and her weeping sister stand by her dying bed, pierced to the heart by her agonizing groans and constant cries of pain.

Poor Jane! how soon, how suddenly, how painfully, you were taken from us! But we hope that, through the mercy of a forgiving God, and the infinite merits of the Lord Jesus Christ your sufferings ended with your life, and that, absent from the body, you are present with the Lord.

By this solemn event God speaks to each one who hears of the sad occurrence. But as he has often spoken before, and many have not heeded, methinks I hear him say as he did of Israel, "O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!" Deuteronomy 32:29

God wishes us to be wise; he uses means for this purpose, and he promises to give wisdom unto them that ask him. A wise man sets his mind upon the most important work, prepares for it, selects and procures the most likely means to accomplish it; commences his work early, nor neglects it until it is completed. God desires us to be wise as to our best and eternal interests. He has no pleasure in punishing but delights in showing mercy.

"O that they were wise!" If we are so, we shall be prepared for whatever may happen. "O that they understood this" understood that the design of the most solemn events is to lead them to seek after their true and eternal interests, even the things that belong to their peace. These things are, briefly, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

REPENTANCE is the turning of the heart from all sin and hatred of God to the love of him and delight in him. The turning of the whole life to God follows it. It is always marked by a desire to do his will, and live to his glory. It is always connected with faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, who reveals God unto us, and who has satisfied the demands of the law and justice of God for all who come to God by him.

FAITH in Christ is the embracing of his word, and resting upon his finished work, and entrusting the soul to him, that he may save it with an everlasting salvation.

Repentance and faith are certain evidences of salvation, being unquestionable proofs of the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart.

God says to us, "O that they understood this?" Understood what?

That life is fleeting like . . .
a vapor, and soon vanishes away;
a shadow that declines;
the grass that so soon withers under the power of an eastern sun;
or the swift ship, sailing under a prosperous breeze.

"O that they understood this!" Understood what?

That the day of death is uncertain, known only to God, and that, therefore, we ought to be always ready for it.

Death is always ready to seize his prey.

Death lurks . . .
in our comforts,
in our food,
in our drink,
in the fire that warms our bodies,
in our employments,
in our enjoyments.

Death may be just before us perhaps be hidden behind some bush, or concealed behind some lovely plant from which, while we are admiring, he will seize upon us, and make us his prey!

"O that they understood this!" Understood what?

That we are walking on the very margin of eternity.

One step and we are gone!

One unfavorable circumstance and we are launched on the boundless ocean of infinity.

One sudden accident and we are landed on the shores of the great unknown.

There all is fixed, and fixed forever.

No pardons are ever granted there.

No mercy is ever shown to the guilty there.

As the tree falls so it lies.

As man dies so he remains forever.

His destiny is fixed, and either happiness or woe are his endless portion!

"O that they understood this!" Understood what?

That sin cannot be hidden, and that it always brings punishment!

We talk of secret sins; and they may be secret, so far as our fellow men are concerned. But no sins are secret to God, "for all things are naked and open to the eyes of him with whom we have to do." Many sin now sin in the dark, and think of escaping from the consequences of sin. They talk of repenting in future, as if repentance and faith were now, and always would be, in their own power. Either they do not know, or they forget, that sin . . .
blinds the eyes,
and hardens the heart,
and stupefies the conscience
so that, if there is any difficulty in forsaking it and turning to God now, that difficulty will be increased tenfold by delay.

O that they understood this!"

Understood what? That the salvation of the soul is the one thing needful . . .
needful before anything else;
needful beyond everything else;
needful for every one, both young and old, rich and poor, bond and free. As, therefore, it is the one thing needful, it should be sought and secured first, before anything and everything else.

"O that they understood this!" Understood what?

That Hell or Heaven may be within a few hours of us! We may be young, strong, and healthy now but before even another hour is flown, we may be either in Hell or Heaven! In Hell, suffering its interminable torments, enduring its indescribable agonies! In Heaven, enjoying its unsullied happiness, and realizing its endless bliss.

We know not what a day what an hour may bring forth. But the end we arrive at depends on the way we take. The seed of the future is sown at present. "O that they were wise" to seek a present salvation!

Do you question the truth of any of these things? You cannot deny . . .
that life is flying,
that death is approaching,
that we are even now on the margin of eternity,
that no sin, not one, can be hid from the holy eye of God, or be excused by his impartial justice,
that the salvation of the soul is the one thing necessary,
that Hell or Heaven may be within a few hours of us.

O then, that you were wise as to your eternal good! "O that they would consider their latter end!"

Our end on earth is DEATH; for it is appointed unto men once to die. As all have sinned so all must die. To the subject of death, therefore, our attention should be directed to the pains that may precede it, that we may be fortified to bear them. The deathbed is a solemn place. It often proves a detector. Many are brought to it in an unprepared state. The cold grave follows death what hopes are often buried there! "The dust must return to the earth as it was, and the spirit to God who gave it."

After death comes the JUDGMENT. The small and great must stand before God. The books the records of time, the history of each one's life must be opened. The contents of those books every line, every letter, not blotted out by the blood of Christ, will then be eternally published. Everyone will be judged according to those things which are written in the books, according to their works.

The thoughts we now think,
the words we now speak,
the actions we now perform
are all registered and preserved, and will be then produced.

O how solemn the scene! multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision. O how important the result Hell or Heaven! An eternal Hell or an eternal Heaven, will then be adjudged to every one of us. Consider, then, your latter end, for it may be near, very near; it will, it must be, most solemn.

Prepare for it for its pains, reflections, and results.

Prepare for the PAINS that precede it, for you may do so. But how can anyone prepare for the pains of Hell?

Prepare for the REFLECTIONS of your latter end. O how bitter have the reflections of many been on a sick pillow or a dying bed! But what, O what must be the reflections of a lost soul in Hell? In Hell, not as the result merely of a just decree of the Most High God, condemning the ungodly but as the result of its own deliberate and determined choice, carried out through a number of years on earth carried out in the face of . . .
the most solemn warnings,
the most gracious invitations, and
the proclamation of a free salvation.

Prepare for the RESULTS of the just judgment. But who can prepare for Hell? How can we prepare to eternally endure weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth? How can we prepare to swelter and be eternally tormented in the flames of Hell? Escape them we may now, by flying to Jesus but how any one can harden himself so as to prepare to endure them easily, I know not.

But we may prepare for Heaven. By means of . . .
faith in Jesus,
union with Jesus, and
conformity to Jesus
we may be prepared and made fit for the inheritance of the saints in light. Yes, by seeking and receiving the Holy Spirit, and by his sanctifying operations on the soul we may be prepared to shine in light, to dwell in glory, and to share with saints and angels in the splendors of the celestial world.

O that every reader of these lines may take warning, apply to the Savior, ask for and obtain the Holy Spirit, and so escape the just punishment of sin, and enjoy all the happiness of a Heaven which is the gift of God, the gift of grace!

Reader, God speaks to you and to me by the solemn and affecting occurrence which has occasioned these lines. He has often spoken to us before, for "God speaks once; yes, twice, and man perceives it not." He asks us now to hear his voice, to heed his warning, and to improve the event. Shall we do so? Or shall we turn a deaf ear, as so many have done before? God will soon speak to us for the last time, and then he will give us up, as he did Israel of old. "But My people did not listen to My voice, and Israel did not obey Me. So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, to walk in their own devices." Psalm 81:11-12

Must it not be a dreadful thing to be given up by God? Then . . .
the conscience becomes seared,
the eyes of the understanding are darkened,
the heart is hardened through the deceitfulness of sin,
and Satan takes full possession of the soul!

Such a man first walked in the counsel of the ungodly, then he stood in the way of sinners, and now he sits in the seat of the scornful. He tries to laugh at true godliness, denies the truth of the Holy Scriptures, and is given up to a reprobate mind. Oh fearful state! Oh dreadful condition! Let us beware!

Today let us hear God's voice; new let us accept our Creator's loving message; "while the evil days come not, nor the years draw near wherein we shall say, I have no pleasure in them."

May poor Jane's sudden and distressing death be made the life of many. May the living lay it to heart.

It speaks especially to servants; for Jane was a servant, and at work in her kitchen. She might have been supposed to be safe. But safety is of the Lord of the Lord alone. Reader, are you a servant? If so, do you regularly attend the worship of God, where the gospel is preached plainly and powerfully? Do you daily read your Bible, in which God speaks to you in tones of mercy and love? Do you daily pray, and in prayer do you speak to God, as a poor sinner seeking for mercy, or as a loving child to enjoy fellowship with a loving Father? Do you believe in Jesus so believe as to be able to say with the apostle, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day?"

Is your soul in the hands of Jesus, placed there by yourself placed there to be . . .
washed in his blood,
clothed with his righteousness,
sanctified by his Spirit,
and saved by his grace?

If so, happy, thrice happy are you. But if not, you are in a perilous state; your danger is imminent. It is so great that I cannot describe it; therefore I once more beseech you to come to Jesus to come just as you are, and to commit, without the least reserve, your soul to him, to be saved by him, as by an able, willing, and Almighty Savior.

O there will be mourning
Before the judgment seat,
When this world is burning
Beneath Jehovah's feet!

O there will be mourning
Before the judgment-seat,
When the trumpet pealing
The sinner's ear shall greet!

O there will be mourning
Before the judgment seat,
When, from dust returning,
The lost their doom shall meet!

O there will be mourning
Before the judgment seat;
Justice, awful frowning,
Shall seal the sinner's fate!

Friends and kindred then shall part,
Shall part, to meet no more;
Wrath consume the rebel's heart,
While saints on high adore!