I Do Not Believe in a Future (2)
“There is no truth in what those preachers say about eternity. I do not believe in a future.” Such was the proud boast of a fashionable worldly lady to her Christian maid, who had ventured to speak to her about her eternal welfare.
She was a favourite of society, and had moved in a gay and pleasure-seeking circle all her days, but at the comparatively early age of fifty-six she was somewhat suddenly called away from the scene of gaieties.
Early in March, 1895, she complained of feeling unwell, but insisted on fulfilling her theatre engagement at an afternoon performance. She went, and that night she was taken ill.
It was Tuesday, but she refused to see a doctor until Thursday. When he came he said, “It is only influenza, but IT IS TOO LATE! She has gone too far!”
Soon after she sank into unconsciousness, and remained thus for two or three hours. Suddenly emerging from that state, she turned to one by her side and said: “I wish everybody in the house to come into my room.”
A few minutes found doctor, son and daughter, and servants round her bed. Drawing herself up, she said in bushed tones: “I wanted to see you all together, and to tell you I have had an awful vision! I have never before believed in a future, but I do now. I have seen God, and He has told me I am entering upon my first week in hell!”
The doctor raised his hand as though to check her, but, with those awful words upon her lips, she gasped her last, AND WAS GONE!—but where?
Such is the true, unvarnished, solemn account of the close of the life of this lover of pleasure.
The shock of this God-given, vision collapsed her infidel opinions, and woke her to the fact that eternity is a stern reality, and that hell lies at the end of the slippery, downward path of the pleasure-hunting, sin-loving, Christ-rejecting worldling. How true are the words of the Psalm: “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth: in that very day his thoughts perish” (Ps. 146:4).
A few short sentences can sum up the life and death of such an one, but what tongue can utter, what pen describe—
“The horrors that roll o’er the godless soul
Waked up from its death-like sleep,
Of all hope bereft and to judgment left,
For ever to wail and to weep.”
Scoffing scepticism and callous indifference are very short-lived.
Fifty-six years sufficed to span sin’s pleasures for the poor lady, but only eternity can measure sin’s wages.
Be assured, dear reader, that SIN’S FLEETING PLEASURES for a lifetime will certainly be followed by SIN’S BITTER WAGES for eternity!
God has inseparably linked together this world’s joys with this world’s judgment. “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth . . . BUT KNOW THOU, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment” (Eccl. 11:9).
A gloomy subject this, you may say. Yes, gloomy indeed as far as this case is concerned, and alas! absolutely unrelieved by one single ray of hope.
But don’t suppose that the intimation of an early prospect of entering eternity fills everyone with dismay!
What a striking contrast is presented between the end of this gay society lady and that of a young man who had just terminated a very brilliant university career, and whose prospects were equally bright and promising.
He had just risen from the dinner table of a friend one Sunday, when before he could reach the couch he broke a blood-vessel!
Medical aid was immediately summoned, and after the haemorrhage had been staunched, a careful examination revealed the very serious condition of his lungs.
The faithful doctor did not hide from his patient the truth of his condition, but told him gently but plainly that he could not live more than three months!
The doctor then retired, leaving his patient very pale and weak through loss of blood.
Drawing his chair close to the couch, his kind friend said in tenderest sympathy, “I am so sorry to learn the poor account that the doctor has to give of you, Mr. A—.”
The young man opened his eyes, and with a face lit up with a radiant smile said in a whisper, “Oh, don’t say that, Mr. W—! don’t say that! It has just filled every crevice in my heart with joy!”
Think of that! A young man whose circumstances were naturally calculated to make life most sweet and attractive is practically sentenced by the doctor to die in three months, and yet this bit of news, instead of plunging him into a fit of melancholy, “fills every crevice of his heart with joy!”
What is the cause of that, think you? And may I ask a still more pertinent question: “Would it do the same for you today?” If not, why not? “Oh,” say you, “this is a very exceptional case!” I answer No, by no means!
There are thousands who have been able to sing in the presence of death:—
“Farewell mortality!—Jesus is mine!
WELCOME ETERNITY!—JESUS IS MINE!”
Depend upon it, dear friend, that was the grand secret of this dear young fellow’s overflowing joy! He had learned to say, “Jesus is Mine!” He had had for some time a heart acquaintance with the Lord Jesus, and had found in Him:—
“. . . An object bright and fair
To fill and satisfy the heart.”
He had already in spirit tasted something of the sweet significance of those words, “In Thy presence is fullness of joy, at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11).
To be told that he was within measurable distance of those pleasures in all their eternal and divine fullness seemed to him to call more for congratulation than commiseration.
God speaks in Psalm 17:14 of “Men of the world which have THEIR PORTION IN THIS LIFE,” and it was as such that the worldling sought her pleasures in this world, and found at the end that in very truth “this life’s” narrow confines bounded her all, and that beyond this she had nothing!
The Psalmist said, “I was envious . . . when I saw the prosperity of the wicked . . . until I went into the sanctuary of God; THEN understood I their end” (Pa. 73:3, 17). “What shall the end be?” is the grand moral test of everything.
With these two true witnesses before you, I can well understand your saying, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” (Num. 23:10).
“MY last end!” Weigh every word, dear friend. It is certainly coming, and think what it will mean for you.
Time, with swift wing, is speeding you on, and the moment is surely coming, whether your days are few or many, when YOU must enter upon your first week in eternity! And rest assured of this, your eternal weal or woe will then be fixed for ever.
Dying in your sins will mean dying without hope of mercy—for
“There are no pardons in the tomb,
And brief is mercy’s day.”
The star of hope never casts its genial rays beyond the horizon of time, can never lighten the gloomy regions of the lost, and is never needed in heaven’s eternal sunshine.
It shines brightly for thee now, poor sinner, through the thickening moral darkness of this death-stricken world.
“A door of hope” has been thrown wide open by the hand of a Saviour-God, who is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).
Sin’s penalty must be borne, and sin’s defilement must be removed, or heaven must be an utter impossibility for any poor sinner: therefore, “The Son of Man must be lifted up,” that by His atoning work God may be enabled righteously to proclaim eternal forgiveness to every guilty sinner, and that forgiveness shall be yours if you will repent and believe the gospel (Acts 10:43). “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). God’s holiness demanded it, divine love provided it, and simple faith appropriates it.
Trust it, and you trust that which has met every claim of divine justice and holiness, and shelters the feeblest believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Despise it, and you despise God’s only means of removing all that unfits you for His holy presence.
“Though thy sins be red like crimson,
Deep in scarlet glow,
Jesus’ precious blood can make them
White as snow.”
Unknown reader, art thou cleansed by this precious blood? If not, delay no longer. “The coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (Jas. 5:8)—and with it the closing for ever of “the door of hope!” “Flee from the wrath to come!” “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
The Gospel Messenger 1921, p. 49