Prepare to Meet Thy God
“Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.” — Amos iv. 12.
GOD had in the days of Amos by different ways rebuked the sin of his people Israel. He had wasted them with famine and sword; he had withheld the rain; he had sent forth the pestilence after the manner of Egypt; he had smitten their fields and gardens with blast and mildew, and he had overthrown some of them, as Sodom and Gomorrah; but they still persevered in their rebellion, and therefore he declares that he will send them no more of his messengers, and shoot no more of his far-reaching arrows, but will come himself, in his own person, to deal with them. God’s way of dealing with rebellious humanity is, at first to upbraid and persuade with words, soft, gentle, tender words; these he repeats many times, accompanying them with tokens of tenderness and grace; by-and-by he exchanges these words of tenderness for words of mingled threatening: he begins to expostulate with them— why will they drive him to this, why will they die, why will they bring ruin upon themselves? Then, if words are of no effect upon them, he turns to blows, but his strokes fall softly at the first; yet if these avail not, his strokes gather strength, till at last he smites them with the blows of a cruel one, and wounds them sore. If after this the sinners remain obstinate, the Lord’s longsuffering turns to wrath, and die saith, “Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more. Already your whole head is sick and your whole heart faint; what shall I do unto thee? What shall I do unto thee?” Things have come to a dreadful pass when at last the Lord puts aside the rod, when he puts aside afflictions which he has sent as chastisements, and comes forth himself to end the strife, crying, “Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies.” Such was the position of Israel in the text. They had scorned all the milder dealings of God, and now he saith to them, “Prepare to meet me, even God himself, in all the terror of justice.” The prophet may be understood as in irony challenging the proud rebels to meet in arms the God whom they have despised. Let them prepare to fight it out with him whom they have made to be their enemy, and against whose laws they have so continually revolted. “Prepare,” says the prophet, “O ye potsherds, to strive with your Maker, ye worms, to battle with Omnipotence.” As it stands, the text is an awful challenge of almighty wrath when at last longsuffering vacates the throne, and justice bares its two-edged sword. Woe, woe, woe to boastful scoffer? in that great and terrible day.
We shall not, however, dwell upon the particular position of the text, nor confine ourselves to the meaning of the words as the prophet used them. We shall, however, hope as fully as possible to illustrate the natural sense of the text, in the hope that such earnest and solemn words may awaken in some hearts tenderness towards God, and the desire to be prepared to meet him. “Prepare to meet thy God.”
We have before us a most important call, and we shall consider first the divers tones in which it may be uttered; secondly, the heavy tidings conveyed by it to the ungodly; and thirdly, the weighty admonition given therein.
I. First, then, let us think of these words in THEIR DIVERS TONES, they vary from grave to gay, from dread to delight: “Prepare to meet thy God.”
Why, methinks there are no more joyous words under heaven than these under some aspects, certainly none more solemn out of hell under others. “Prepare to meet thy God.” These words may have sounded through the green alleys of Paradise, and have caused no discord there. Blending with the sweet song of new created birds, these notes would have but given emphasis to the harmony. Often from the mossy couch whereon he reclined in the happy life of his innocence and bliss, the great sire of men would be aroused by this holy summons. When the sun first scattered the shades of darkness, and began to gild the tops of the snow-clad hills with morning light, Adam was awakened by the birds amid the groves of Eden, whose earliest song his heart interpreted, as meaning, “Awake, O wondrous man, and prepare to meet thy God.” Then climbing some verdant hill from whence he looked down upon the landscape, all aglow with glory and with God, Adam would in holy rapture meet his God, and in lowly reverence would speak with him as a man speaketh with his friend. Then, too, at eventide the dewdrops as they fell, each one would say to that blest man, “Prepare to meet thy God.” The lengthened shadows would silently give forth the selfsame message, and peradventure it is no imagination, angels would alight upon lawns besprent with lilies, and pause where Adam stood pruning the growth of some too luxuriant vine, and would with courteous speech remind him that the day’s work was over, for the sun was descending to the western sea, and it was time for the favoured creature to have audience with his God. The faintest intimation would suffice for our first parent, for the crown of Paradise to him was the presence of the Lord God; and Eden’s rivers, though they flowed over sands of gold, had no river in them equal to the stream whereby the spirit of Adam was gladdened when he had communion with the Most High, for then he drank from that river of the water of life which floweth from underneath the throne of the Great Supreme. Unfallen man had no greater joy than walking with God. It was heaven on earth to meet in converse tender and sublime with the great Father of Spirits. No marriage bells ever rang out a sweeter or more joyous melody than these glad words as they were heard amid the myrtle bowers and palm groves of Eden by our first parents in the heyday of their innocence, “Prepare to meet your G-od.” Then, when Jehovah walked in the garden in the cool of the day, he had no need to say aloud, “Adam, where art thou?” for his happy creature whom he had made to have dominion over all the works of his hands was waiting for him as a child waiteth for his father when the day’s work is done, watching to hear his father’s footfall, and to see his father’s face. Oh, yes! those were words in fullest harmony with Eden’s joys, “Prepare to meet thy God.”
But, brethren, weep not over those withered glories as those who are without hope, for the words have something of a paradisaical sound to those who have been begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. We, though fallen and sinful, and therefore naturally averse to God, have many of us been renewed in the spirit of our minds, and now oftentimes to us the welcome message comes, “Prepare to meet thy God,” in a sense most delightful and most entrancing. It is our summons to devotion. It is morning, and as we put on our garments before we go forth to the battle of life, the angel of the Lord whispers to us, “Prepare to meet thy God;” and on our knees we seek our Father’s face, and pray that we may be under his guardian care throughout the day. Think not that the holy voice is silent until nightfall. Oh, no! ofttimes as business gives us pauses, and as our avocations may allow us leisure, we hear the inner life, or what if I say the indwelling Holy Ghost, softly saying to our heart, “Prepare to meet thy God,” and we, in spirit, put off our shoes from off our feet, and feel that the place whereon we stand is holy ground! We may be in a poor workshop, but our spirit makes it a cathedral as it hath communion with the Most High. Our study may be littered over with our books, and papers, and letters; but it becomes a sacred oratory on a sudden, and all things fall into order as the voice is heard and obeyed. Perhaps we may be in the cornfield, or on the barleymow, but if the voice saith, “Prepare to meet thy God,” the true heart stands as a priest before the altar, and worships in spirit and in truth. Even the streets of busy London may become a silent temple when the heart is solemnly absorbed in worship; for preparation to meet our God means no change of vestments, nor even the washing of the hands. There is a cleansing of the heart, and a putting on of the white linen, which in the righteousness of saints is performed in a moment, and the soul stands before her God in happy fellowship.
Then, my dear brethren, there are set times with us when we prepare to meet our God, as for instance, on the eve of the Lord’s-day. It always seems to me to be so pleasant at the family altar to make mention of the coming Sabbath-day, and to ask the Lord that we may lay aside our cares, and be quit of every earthly impediment, and may sit in the heavenly places on the day of rest with our Father and our God. I know how late some of you have to keep your shops open on Saturday nights, and how it almost runs into the Sabbath before you can be done with your business, but still I hope you do before you come here make a point of preparing for this meeting place with God by meeting him first at home. I would not have you come hither unprepared, as though the mere coming into the assembly would be enough; I anxiously desire to see you come with prepared hearts, with longing appetites, with holy aspirations. Bring your harps with you already tuned. Make ready for the holy convocation. Lay by in store your offering, prepare your song, uplift your heart. Yes, and besides the Sabbaths, there are certain other times with us when we are specially called to meet our God. We keep no holy days by the almanack, but we have holy days apportioned us by providence and by the Holy Spirit; I mean that there are seasons hallowed by holy memories, or by present circumstances when sorrow and joy, earth and heaven, all without and within, bear to us a call both loud and sweet, “Prepare to meet thy God.” Then we set apart a special time, the hour is consecrated to secret communion; God has claimed his portion of the day, and we sacredly guard it by entering into our closet, and shutting to the door. Inward motions of the Holy Spirit frequently calls us away to loneliness— let us not be slow to follow the blessed bidding; the voice of the Beloved invites us to his banquet of wine, he allures us to the secret chambers where divine love is revealed, he bids us stand in the cleft of the rock, while the glory of Godhead passes by. On such happy seasons, and I hope they are not infrequent with us, the silver trumpets of Jubilee ring through our souls the notes, “Prepare to meet thy God,” and then our motto is, “Up, and away, to the beds of spices, to the garden of pomegranates, where the Beloved will reveal himself and give us an audience with the King.”
Once again, these words, “Prepare to meet thy God,” have no gloomy significance to some of my dear brethren and sisters here present, even though we attach to them the sense of the believer’s meeting God in a disembodied state. Christians, especially when they grow aged, must often hear the angel-whisper, “Prepare to meet thy God.” From the inevitable process of decay which takes place in the body, from the failure of eyesight, the tottering of the limbs, and the grey hairs, there must come subdued and tender voices all saying, “Prepare to meet thy God.” The tent is being taken down, the cord is loosed, the tent pin no longer holds to the earth, soon must the canvas be rolled up and put away; but thou hast a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, look up, then, and prepare to dwell therein. Prepare thy spirit not to be unclothed, but to be clothed upon with thy house which-is from heaven. My aged brethren, I can imagine how it is with you. The dear friends who have been the companions of your childhood and your manhood depart before you, and as they wing their happy flight to the land of the living, they look back and say, “Prepare to follow us.” Nor are you at all grieved at such an invitation, rather do you sometimes feel impatient for the gladsome time when you may join that cloud of doves which flock to those everlasting windows, and find their resting places with the Wellbeloved. Friends gathering in the upper sanctuary beckon to you whose years are threescore and ten, and you feel the attractions of their blest society. On happy Sabbaths when the atmosphere of your souls is clear, and the Sun of Righteousness shines forth with power, you dwell in the land Beulah, and behold so vividly the New Jerusalem and its royal Lord, that, as though an angel spoke, you hear the sound, “Prepare to meet your God.” Often when the hymn is swelling up to heaven, you feel as if you could mount upon it and pass through the gate of pearl. At the holy supper table, how loud is the call to come up higher into the excellent glory! Young as I am, and earthbound, to me, even to me, the communion table has made me unloose my cable, spread my sails, and long for that last voyage which shall make this world a foreign shore, and the glory land the harbour of our spirits. Surely, my aged brethren, it must be far more so with you who have so many friends across the water, so many of your best beloved on the other side of Jordan, your strength of experience and your weakness of body must both tend to give frequency to the message, “Prepare to meet thy God.” To you the tidings are happy; you are exiles and you long for home, you are children at school and you pine for your Father’s house.
But now I must pass on to notice that these words have not always that sweet ring of the silver bells about them. They are words of caution to the vast majority of men. “Prepare to meet thy God.” Alas! how many of you to whom I now speak are unprepared! It pains me to think of it. As I sat last night about eight o’clock, revolving in my mind a subject for this hour’s discourse, there came a knock at my door, and I was earnestly entreated by a father to hasten to the deathbed of his dear girl. I wanted much my time for preparation, but as the dear one was in such a case, and had long been a constant hearer of the word in this Tabernacle, I felt it my duty to go whether I could prepare a sermon or not. Glad I was to hear that sick one’s testimony. She told me with what I fear was her dying breath, that she was not fully assured of her interest in Christ, but she left me no room to doubt when, between paroxysms and convulsions, she said, “I know I do love Jesus, and that is all I know.” Ay, and I thought it is all I want to know. If any one of us always knows that he loves the Saviour, what more does he require of testimony as to his state?
But my mind was sore oppressed then, as it is now, with the thought that so many of you are not prepared to die at all. I see my sermons in sick rooms often, and I come to think of preaching sermons in a different light from what many do. I will try to preach sermons which will suit your most solemn hours and most serious circumstances. I would fain deliver sermons which shall haunt your sickbeds, and accuse you unless you yield to their persuasions, and believe in Jesus. When you lie on the borders of the spirit world, you will count all religious trifling to be cruel mockery; so let me say it affectionately, but very earnestly, to you, “Prepare to meet your God,” for I am afraid many of you are quite unprepared. You have seen others die; they preach to you from their graves, and they say, “So to the dust must thou also come, my friend. Be thou ready, for in such an hour as thou thinkest not, the Son of Man will call for thee.” You have had sicknesses in your own body; you are not now the strong man you once were; you have already passed through many perils; what are all these but voices from the God of mercy saying, “Consider your ways”? You are not such a simpleton as to think that you shall never die— you know you will. Neither are you so insane as to think that when you die, your death will be that of a horse or a dog. You know there is a hereafter and a state of being in which men shall be judged according to the deeds that they have done in the body, whether they be good or whether they be evil; may I therefore press upon your earnest recollection, and your intense consideration at this present moment, the exhortation of the text, “Prepare to meet thy God!”
Once more, let me say that this sound, which, as I have now put it, has little melody in it, will by-and-by be heard in ungodly ears as a peremptory summons, and then there shall be no music in it, but a horrid clangour that shall drive away all hope, “Prepare to meet thy God.” That summons will come to each one of you unconverted people, and when it comes it will admit of no postponement. Call in the wisest surgeon, or the most accomplished physician, and he cannot nut off for an hour the execution of God’s death-warrant. “Prepare to meet thy God,” will mean that at such a time, and such an hour, and at such a moment , the spirit must return to God who gave it. There will be no evasion of that summons; there will be no possibility then of a substitue dying in your stead. “Prepare to meet thy God” will come to you, my hearer, beyond all doubt. Oh, how I wish that you were prepared for it! You must assuredly meet your God whom you have forgotten all these years, your Creator, whose rights you have ignored, your Preserver, to whom you have rendered no kind of recompense; your King, whose name it may be you have blasphemed. You have denied his existence, but you will meet him; you have lived in open revolt against his righteous laws, but you will certainly meet him. No exemption will be possible; before his judgment-seat you must stand. Prepared or unprepared at the sound of the resurrection trumpet, you must appear at his bar. No words of mine, however terrible they may be, can by any possibility equal the horror which the judgment to come and the wrath to be measured out will cause to the unregenerate heart. We are sometimes accused, my brethren, of using language too harsh, too ghastly, too alarming, with regard to the world to come; but we shall not soon change our note, for we solemnly believe that if we could speak thunderbolts, and our every look were a lightning flash, and if our eyes dropped blood instead of tears, no tones, words, gestures, or similitudes of dread, could exaggerate the awful condition of a soul which has refused the gospel and is delivered aver to justice. “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Remember his own words, “Consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.” Ps. 1. 22. Certain prophets of smooth things rise up among us, deluding the people with thoughts that the judgment to come will not be terrible, but will end in eternal sleep. Into their secret my soul cometh not. I must speak the Master’s truth and the Master’s words. O ye ungodly, your punishment will not end, for he hath said it, “These shall go away into everlasting punishment.” Your miseries shall have no cessation, for he who cannot lie, declares, “The smoke of their torment goeth up for ever and ever.” From the lips of Jesus at the day of judgment you shall receive the sentence of everlasting blessedness or everlasting punishment, and no other. May God grant that you may not dare to sin under the notion that your sin is a mere trifle, for both you and it will soon cease to be. Nature itself teaches you that your soul will exist for ever, O make it not for ever a ruin, bring not upon yourself everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power!
Thus have you rung the changes on the tones of these words, and I leave them with you.
II. Secondly, and very briefly. There are HEAVY TIDINGS in these words , heavy tidings for the ungodly, for thus they run— “Prepare to meet thy God.”
I wish I could take hold of every unbeliever here, of every man whose heart is not right with God, and personally speak to him, just as of old the prophet spoke to Jeroboam’s wife, and said, “I have heavy tidings from the Lord for thee.” So would I speak to him, “I have heavy tidings, unconverted friend, from the Lord for thee.” And the tidings are these, “You will ere long have to meet your God. Listen to the words, ‘meet your God.’ You have by some means passed through this world without meeting him. He is everywhere, but you have managed not to see him. He has fed you, and in him you have lived and moved, and had your being; but you have contrived so to stultify yourself that you have never yet perceived him. You will perceive him soon. When the flesh shall fall off from your spirit, your disembodied soul will see without these eyes far more clearly than it now does, for you will begin to see the spiritual world which is now hidden from you, and chief and foremost you will meet your God. Now you say in your heart ‘no God,’ because the thought of God is objectionable to you. You could not sin as you do if you remembered that the all-seeing eye is in the chamber, nay, is in your heart itself. Remember you will not be able soon to shake off the thought of God, for you will meet him face to face. Not the thought of God only, but the actual being of God will confront you in your dying hour; you will be compelled to meet him. It will be a close meeting, not as though he looked upon you from afar, or you surveyed him from a distance; but you will so meet him that all the glory of his majesty will operate upon you like the fire which devoureth the stubble, for our God is a consuming fire. His holiness will become wrath against your sin, not wrath treasured up and removed far away, but wrath that shall come nigh to you to consume you. It will be an inevitable meeting, from which you will not be able to escape. From your fellow creature, whom you do not wish to see, you readily withdraw yourself, but you cannot escape from God. The rays of the morning’s sun could not carry you so fast as the Lord’s right hand can move; the uttermost parts of the sea cannot conceal you, the night shall be light about you. Neither the heights of heaven, nor the depths of hell, can conceal you from him. You must meet face to face your God; and it must be a personal meeting. God and you will meet as if alone. God alone and you alone. What if there be angels; what if there be ten thousand times ten thousands of your kindred sinners? yet to you, virtually, it shall be solitude itself. You must meet your God, you, you.” O my dear hearer, it is a sad thing that this should be heavy tidings to you, for if you were what you should be, it would be joy to you to think that you shall be near your God, and dwell, in his embrace. But, unconverted as you are, no tidings can have more of horror in them than these, that you, do as you will and steel your heart as you may, must by-and-by confront your God.
Think awhile upon who it is that you have to meet! You must meet, your God— your God! That is, offended justice you must meet whose laws you have broken, whose penalties you have ridiculed; justice righteously indignant with its sword drawn you must confront. You must meet your God; that is, you must be examined, by unblinded omniscience. He who has seen your heart, and read your thoughts, and jotted down your affections, and remembered your idle words, you must meet him; and infinite discernment you must meet; those eyes that never yet were duped; the God who will see through the veils of hypocrisy and all the concealments of formality. There will be no making yourself out to be better than you are before him. You must meet him who will read you as a man readeth a bools- open before his eyes. You must meet with unsullied holiness. You have not always found yourself happy on earth when you have been with holy men; you could not act out your natural impulses in their presence, they were a check upon you; but the infinitely holy God, what must it be to meet him? It will be such an interview for a sinner to meet with the thrice holy God as for dross to meet with the refiner’s fire or stubble with the flame. You will have, moreover, to meet with insulted mercy, and perhaps this will be the most dreadful meeting of the whole, when your conscience will remind you that you were invited to repent, that you were urged to lay hold of Christ, that you were honestly bidden to be saved, but you hardened your neck and would not be persuaded. O sinner, by so much as Cod is patient with you now, by so much will he be angry with you then. They who slight the warnings of his grace shall feel the terrors of his wrath. To none shall it be so hard to meet God in justice as to those who would not meet him in grace— vengeance taketh the place of slighted mercy. God grant you may never know what it is to meet insulted love, rejected mercy, and tenderness turned to wrath! O sinner, if thou hast to meet thy God as thou now art, thou wilt find him everlasting truth, fulfilling every threatening word of his law and gospel. Every black word that is in this book shall be fulfilled over thy head, and every dreadful syllable be verified in thy loins and in thy heart. Remember too, that thou wilt meet with him who has omnipotent power, against whom thou canst no more contend than the smoke against the wind, or the fuel against the furnace. Thou shalt then know how God can punish, and thou wilt find him not a weak and trembling God, but an omnipotent God, putting forth his power to destroy his adversaries who have dared to assail against his majesty.
Thus have I put a few thoughts together, in very feeble language I confess, but they ought of themselves, apart from mere words, to have power with you. I pray God the Holy Spirit that thou, dear hearer, mayst prepare to meet thy God. You see who it is you have to meet, and what it will be to meet him. May God make you to be prepared for what must occur.
III. The last point is this. Here is A WEIGHTY PRECEPT prepare to meet God.
How can a man be prepared to meet God? In the text there is an allusion to preparing for battle, but none of you would wish to contend with God hereafter. Who is he that thinketh that with a thousand he can meet one that cometh against him with a countless host of ten thousand times ten thousand? O rebel, the warfare is hopeless, ground thine arms. It were worse than madness to dream of contending with God. Submit, for resistance is vain. Better far is it to prepare to meet God as sinners. We are to-day like prisoners who are waiting for the assize, and the news has come that the judge is ready, and we, the prisoners, are to prepare to meet him. Sooner or later it must be the lot of us all to come before the Judge. Now, brethren, what is the right way to prepare to meet a judge? If any of you can plead “Not guilty,” your preparation is made; but there is not one man among us who dares think of that. We have sinned, great God, and we confess the sin. What preparation, then, can we make? Suppose we sit down and investigate our case. Can we plead extenuations? Can we urge excuses or mitigations, or hope to escape by promises of future improvement? Let us give up the attempt, my brethren. We have gone astray wilfully and wickedly, and we shall do it again, and it is of no use for us to set up any kind of defence that is grounded upon ourselves. How, then, can we be prepared to meet our God? Hearken. There is an Advocate, and it is written, “If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” Let us send for him. We poor prisoners lying waiting in the cells, send for Jesus the Son of God to be our Intercessor and Advocate. Will he undertake our cause? O that he would plead the causes of our souls, and be our Daysman to speak with God on our behalf- Yes, he will accept the office, and be our Advocate, for he has said, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Then let us apply to him, and say, “Jesus, undertake our case.” Will ye not do this? Oh, I pray God you may! Sitting in these pews, you may engage the services of the great Advocate. Cry in your hearts, “Thou Son of David, undertake for me, undertake my case.” Well, now, supposing we have put it all into his hands, and he who is called Wonderful is received as our Counsellor to plead for us, what is next to be done? First he bids us prepare to meet our God by at once taking up our true position as sinners. Let us plead guilty. Let us make a full and penitent confession. We cannot be saved by Christ unless we will do as he bids us. Faith is only real as it is obedient. One of the first gospel exhortations which Jesus gives us is this, that we confess our sins. O that we may honestly plead guilty, for our iniquity stares us in the face, and we ought heartily to make acknowledgment of it, for it is an evil and a bitter thing, and has wrought us woful damage. O great Counsellor, if thou biddest us plead guilty, we do so with many tears and with broken hearts. We do confess that all our hope must lie in divine mercy, for we have no merit. Lost and undone we cry, “Have mercy upon us, miserable sinners!” But what next? Why then, the great Counsellor will enter a plea for us, which will bar all further action against us. Though we have confessed that we are guilty, he knows how at the great judgment-seat to plead a legal argument for the removal of all punishment. And what doth he plead? Here is his argument, “My Father,” saith he, “I stood of old in the room, place and stead of these who have committed their case to my hands, and who plead guilty at thy judgment-seat. I suffered for their sins; I bore that they might never bear thy righteous ire; I satisfied thy law on their behalf. I claim, my Father, that they go free.” The infinite Majesty admits the plea. O brethren and sisters, if your case is in the hands of Christ, and you confess your guilt, do you not see how he sets you free so that you may be prepared to meet your God, because you can plead the blood of Jesus, the atonement of the great Substitute for sinners, and covered with that substitution, you can stand accepted in the Beloved I “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”
But you have not heard the Counsellor through yet, for as he goes on to speak before the infinite Majesty, he pleads, “My Father, I obeyed the law on their behalf; I kept it in its very jots and tittles; I made it honourable, and now the righteousness which I achieved, I have made over unto them, for all that I am is theirs; my righteousness is their righteousness, and they shall stand accepted in the Beloved.” The great Judge of all admits the fact, and he receives into his bosom and into his glory poor souls who had sinned and pleaded guilty, but who now have imputed to them the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and are justified by faith which is in him, all their iniquities being blotted out. O see ye not, dear friends, what it is to be prepared to meet God! for now we have a good case, now we are not afraid of the last assizes; our case is in the hands of a blessed Advocate, whose pleading must prevail. All that you and I have now to do is to prove by our actions that we really have believed in Christ. Let us go on to justify our faith, if indeed our faith has justified us. Let us prove the sincerity of our confidence in Christ by the holiness of our lives, by the devotedness of those lives to his honour and glory. Let us wake up all our powers and passions that we may become his servants to the highest extent and manhood’s energy, living, labouring, working for Christ, because he has undertaken our case, and will save us at the last.
Thus have I set before you what it is to be prepared to meet God, in the hope that many here will make ready to meet him. And now let me remind you that the subject on which I have spoken, this morning, may have a much nearer interest to some of you than you imagine. It has a very near interest to every one of us; it is but a matter of time, and all of us must appear at the divine tribunal— but there are some to whom it may have a peculiarly close bearing. As I just told you, I did not select this subject, I had no idea of preaching from it: the subject selected me. I was dragged into this present line of thought; I am a pressed man in this service. That sick young woman’s necessities forced me to this subject. Why this special arrangement? I believe the reason is because there are some here this morning who are now receiving the last warning they will ever have. I am solemnly persuaded that I have among my hearers and readers some to whom this feeble word of mine is no other than an arrow from the bow of the Almighty God. To fillers it is a final message of mercy, and if this do not strike them, wound them, and drive them to Christ, nothing ever will. From this day forth they shall feel no more stirrings of conscience, or strivings of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps ere another Sabbath’s bell shall ring, some of you now listening to my voice will be in the land of spirits and have past the solemn test— weighed in the balances and found wanting. If it be so, and it were hard for any man here to prophecy that it shall not be so, for where several thousands are met together, the very chances of mortality, as men call them, go to make us fear it. The fact of this subject being thrust upon me, makes me feel as though a prophetic impulse were in it; then, if it be so, you and I, whoever you may be, fated for death this week, stand in a peculiar relationship to each other. I may be gazing straight into those eyes which shall never look upon me again till we meet at the judgment-bar, and if I be not faithful to your soul, you may rise up amidst that throng and say, “I strayed into that Tabernacle, and I listened to you, but you played with your theme, you were not earnest, and so I was lost.” So then I will be earnest. I conjure thee by the living God, escape from the wrath to cornel As the Lord liveth, there is but a step between thee and death! Flee for thy life! Look not behind thee! Turn thy whole soul to Jesus! A crucified Saviour waits for a lost sinner, willing to receive him, willing to receive him now! Now thou canst not look me in the face in the next world, and say I did not speak to thee earnestly. O that the glance which we exchange at this moment may be succeeded in that tremendous day by a glance of recognition in which there shall be the soft emotions of gratitude and affection, as thou and I shall say to each other there, “Blessed be God we met on that hallowed Sabbath-day, for now we shall meet for ever before the throne of him that liveth and was dead, and is alive for evermore, and hath the keys of hell and of death.” God bless you, every one of you, richly, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.