HERE is a story told of two soldiers who, being in the valley of Jehoshaphat, the one said to the other, "Here in this place shall be the general judgment, and therefore I will now take up my place where I will then sit;" and so, lifting up a stone, he sat down upon it, as taking his place beforehand; but, as he sat there, such a quaking and trembling fell upon him, that, falling to the earth, he remembered the day of judgment with horror and amazement for ever after.
See the books are opened, and the last assize begins, with sound of trumpet. It is even now at our doors, and the thought of it is enough to arouse the fears and startle the consciences of all but the most brutal and graceless of men.
The putting off or forgetting of the Lord's coming and the judgment is the cause of much hardness of heart. The evil servant would not have behaved himself so ill if he had looked upon his master's return as near at hand. Men who have death at their elbow, and see judgment before their eyes, are likely to break off their sins by righteousness, and seek to be reconciled to God. I have heard of the women of a certain island, that the first sheet they wove was the winding-sheet, and this they kept by them: I am afraid that this fashion has long since died out, and that both men and women live as if there would be no hereafter. This is the root of much of the impiety of our age.
Sit down, dear reader, if you are as yet unsaved, and take an hour for this solemn exercise: it may prove the turning-point of your history. In a few years you will be one of that vast assembly, and have to answer for every deed and word of your life. Think of it long; picture it vividly; let it work upon your mind. Though at the first it fill you with fear and trembling, it may conduct you to the Savior's feet, and then, looking up to him with penitential faith, you may hear how to "have boldness in the day of judgment." If you fly to Jesus as your Savior you will not fear to face him as your King. It has been well said, "Thou wilt meet the Great Day well if thou get the Great judge to judge thee every day."
Suppose that this night you should start up, and find the day of grace over, and the day of judgment beginning! Suppose you should within an hour hear the Lord Jesus say to you, "Depart!" These are no vain imaginings. If you remain as you are they will be true ere long. Do but put them before your mind's eye a little before the time, that you may judge of the wisdom of running so grave a risk. Those who wish to act well on great public occasions rehearse their parts beforehand. Unconverted friend, rehearse your part, and prepare yourself to receive the dread sentence which awaits all who are out of Christ. Are you afraid to think of it? Be much more afraid of enduring it! If even to dream of the Last Day is a terrible event, what must it be then to be there in reality? The prisoner who will not even think of his trial is in his conscience assured of a verdict of condemnation. Would he not be far wiser to seek for a Counselor to plead his cause? Will you not seek One? Jesus, the faithful Counselor, asks no fee. Commit your cause into his hand, and you need not fear the Last Assize.