And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit,
seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
—1 Tim. 3.16.

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A SERMON.

Christ’s Command Enforced: or why

We should Provide for Eternity.

“Be ye also ready.” Matthew 24:44.

By T. James Blair.

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TrueCovenanter.com Editor’s Introduction.

The following sermon was first published with the printed Minutes of the General Meeting of the Reformed Presbyterian Church Held at North Union, Butler County, PA. – 1916.  It is here presented as typeset according to a 1956 mimeograph, and then corrected according to the printed edition of 1916.  The title page of the 1956 mimeograph is provided at the end of the document.  At the time the sermon was preached and published, Mr. Blair was the only remaining preacher among the Reformed Presbyterians who still professed adherence to the historic R.P. Testimony in its principles and the application thereof.

This sermon is also available as audio, read by the editor of truecovenanter.com.

2013.07.16.

“Be ye also ready.”  Mat. 24:44

If any one is about to receive an invitation from his prince to visit his royal abode, he will certainly be careful to prepare for the journey and audience, especially if he expects to remain for a time at the palace.  He will be practicing court manners and court speeches, and his mind will be much set on the journey; he will tell all his friends and neighbors of his splendid prospect; and the invitation will be often on his mind.  If no definite time is mentioned in the invitation; but only that a messenger will call for him presently; do you suppose he will just go on with his ordinary affairs without making any preparation for the great event?  Far from it!  The very uncertainty of the time will make him to prepare the more diligently, for perhaps the messenger may come tomorrow.

But the call here given is transcendently excellent and glorious, and not to be compared with the calls of earthly princes.  The speaker here is our Savior, the “King of Kings, the Lord of Lords,” the governor of the Universe.  Those to whom He speaks are His disciples as we see from the beginning of the Chapter.  “His disciples came to Him for to show Him the buildings of the temple.”  Christ took occasion to preach to them a prophetical sermon concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans.  The ruin of the Jewish church and nation were now hastening on and were completed in less than 40 years after this.  This sermon of our Lord’s comprises Vs. 4-31; and in the remaining part of the Chapter, Vs. 32-51, he makes a practical application for the awakening and quickening of his disciples; that they may be prepared for those days of trouble and tribulation.

But this prophecy refers not merely to judgments on the Jewish church and nation, but especially to the events preceding the Millenium, and also to Christ’s coming at the last day; so the application has a threefold aspect looking to all these times. {}

And there is implied or included in these predictions a personal warning to each and every one to prepare for their latter end.

Our Savior makes a very plain and practical application of what He has said, using illustrations that those of the weakest comprehension might understand.

Our text is the key note to Christ’s whole discourse in this chapter; for it brings home to each believer his or her duty in the times spoken of.  It may be understood of being ready for these judgments before predicted, but also to Christ’s coming to each one at the day of death; and this is the sense in which we shall endeavor its application.  Times of trouble and tribulation are special warnings to prepare for death’s messenger, for then we are more forcibly reminded that the eclipse of life’s shadow is at the door.  And there is an intimate connection between Christ’s coming at the day of Judgment and His coming to each one at death: for after death the judgment, and as death leaves us so judgment will find us:  “where the tree falleth, there it shall be.” Ec. 11:3.

In considering this text we will inquire:

I. Who are the “ye” here addressed?

II. Why we should “be ready.”

III. What we are to understand by being ready.

IV. The reward promised those that are prepared.

V. Make application.

I. Who are the “ye” addressed?  In general it includes all His disciples to the end of time; for without preparation none can come into His presence.  The wicked will not hear His voice or obey His summons, but defiantly disregard both His word and providence.  In particular it denotes  1. The aged, those well advanced in years.  2. Those in the prime of life.  3. The young, youths and little children.

1. Those in advanced years; standing as it were, with one foot already in the grave, and knowing that they have but a little time until the final summons comes, it well becomes them to be prepared.  They have had experience of the {} vanity of earthly things; they can look back and see how often they have been disappointed in the expectations they had of things of the world.

The aged are past the time for enjoying the things of this life; Barzillai says, “Can I taste what I eat or what I drink?  Can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women?” 2 Sam. 19:35.  Old age fades away and is no longer able to bear burdens; “when the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail.” Ec. 12:5.  The grave is opening its mouth, and soon they must be devoured, if they attempt to stand in their own strength!  What a mournful spectacle is the gray head and tottering step of one not prepared for death: there is none to support, none to help: conscience smites with the remembrance of mercy offered and rejected; of the times and seasons given to prepare for death, but all neglected or misspent.  “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” Jer. 8:20.

2. Those in the prime of life.  Those that have come to the summit of life’s pathway, looking forward seem to see many years yet before them, and they make great plans for the future.  Busied with the cares and occupations of life, perhaps, they take little or no time to consider their soul’s case; but say in their hearts, “when I have a little more leisure, when the cares of the world are not so pressing, I will give my chief attention to religion.”  But those who have not taken the day at the beginning should know, “that now it is high time to awake out of sleep” (Rom. 13:11); for only the afternoon of the day remains, perhaps, not even that.  “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ec. 9:10), is especially true of preparation for death; for, those in their prime have no more lease of life than the aged.

How many strong men and women are taken away almost without warning, or stricken down in a day.  Then how needful to remember the command: “Prepare your hearts unto the Lord.” 1 Sam. 7:3. {}

3. Childhood and Youth.

Youth is the time of buoyancy and lightheartedness, not burdened with cares, they look forward with eagerness, and imagine that life’s pathway is all strewn with roses.  How seldom do the young think of death, it seems far distant; no need to burden themselves with cares about it; others live to old age and may not they also?

But, consider, youth is the golden time in which to prepare for eternity.  Let it not slip, for it will never return.  “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.” Ec. 12:1.  Here is the Holy Spirit’s antidote against the temptations of youth.  Here is the royal road to wisdom, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Prov. 9:10.

And why should youth not prepare for death?  Put in your reasons against it.  Youths and little children may die.  None have any certain lease of life.  Your time for making ready may be very short; and even if you live to gray hairs, you need every moment of that short breathing space to prepare for the advent of the King’s messenger.  O remember, young folks! this is the fittest time for closing with Jesus Christ – for making ready for eternity, now the heart is more tender and easily melted for sin, and less burdened with the cares of life; and God looks that you bear fruit to him.  Surely, then, it is wisdom to lay a sure foundation stone to-day; relying on needed and promised grace to say: “I will keep Thy statutes.” Ps. 119:145.

II. Why We Should “Be Ready.”

1. It is the command of God.  2. The day and hour of death are uncertain.  3. The many ways whereby death comes.

1. Because it is God’s command; and every command of His should be obeyed with alacrity and delight.  It is the entreaty of our loving Father, and all for our benefit.  God will be glorified and have full complacency and satisfaction in himself whether we obey or not; those that refuse to obey He will be glorified in their everlasting punishment. {}

Analyze this command: It is a voice of ineffable love and compassion.  Death is before us, we know not how near; in our own strength we are unable to meet it, and disinclined naturally to make preparation for it.  God’s command bids us prepare to meet the grim messenger, that “we may be more than conquerors through him that loved us.” Rom. 8:37.  To those who are unprepared death comes as a devourer that destroys all before him.  All not united to Christ, it will devour; but, for His people, “He will rebuke the devourer.” Mal. 3:11.  (2) It is most reasonable.  What king will employ those for soldiers who are not trained in military tactics?  What business man will hire those to assist that refuse to learn his employment?  Those that would minister to Nebuchadnezzar must be “taught the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.” Dan. 1:4.  Surely, then, all who would attend at the court of heaven need preparation to stand before the “King of Kings.”  (3) It brings great gain.

The unskilled workman is soon dismissed from the shop.  The wicked, the unprepared, are “chased out of the world.” Job 18:18.  But those in Christ, those prepared to depart, in dying, gain the final victory: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” 1 Cor. 15:26.

2. The day and hour of death are uncertain.  It is the “day and hour whereof no man knoweth,” that all may “take heed, watch and pray.” Mark 13:32,33.

Our Savior illustrates it by the householder watching for the thief, Verse 43.  Men will carefully guard the safety of their earthly goods, “The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” Luke 16:8.  And should not we much rather be ready for death at whatever moment the call may come?  (2) It is certain to come.  Though there is much uncertainty as to the time, there is none as to the event itself.  “Death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Rom. 5.12.  It is appointed unto men once to die. {} Heb. 9:27.  All are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Ec. 3:20.

3. The many ways by which death comes.

Death is daily before us in hundreds of forms.  Consider how many diseases we are liable to; how many accidents by which the brittle thread may be broken.  Solomon compares it to the loosing of a cord, to the breaking of a pitcher, Ec. 12:6.  When we think how fitfully our candle burns, and how many ways its feeble flame may be snuffed out, it seems like a constant miracle that man lives so long on the earth.  It well becomes us to pray: O Lord, “Remember how short my time is” (Ps. 89:47); and give me grace and strength to prepare for the day of my death.

III. What we are to understand by being ready.  The Holy Spirit speaking by Solomon says: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die.“ Ec. 3:1,2; and preparation is necessary if we would be furnished against the day of death.

1. Not to be taken up with the things of the world.  2. Begin and end every day with God.  3. Make sure of an interest in Christ.  4. Regeneration.  5. Repentance.  6. Make religion the business of our life.  7. Be fruitful in good works.

1. Not to be taken up with the things of the world.  Sit loose to the things of the world, that at our departure we may cast it off like Elijah his mantle.  We as travelers to the Jerusalem above should “pass the time of our sojourning here in fear” 1 Pet. 1:17.  “Let us always be ready to arise and depart for this is not our rest.” Mic. 2:10.  If we would be right travellers to Zion above, we must, as Willison says: “Have Christ in our hearts, heaven in our eye, and the world under our feet;” esteem the world a wilderness, and be pilgrims journeying to Canaan.  Our Savior esteemed the world at its true worth, and in the days of His humiliation had not so much as “where to lay His head.” Matt. 8:20. {} Boston compares this world to “a great inn on our road to eternity; the things of the world, as servants belonging to the inn wait upon us while here; but, when we depart they depart not with us, but remain to attend others that come after us.”  This world is but a vain pomp, a passing show, “for the fashion of this world passeth away.” 1 Cor. 7:31.

A consideration of death should check earthly mindedness; “wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not” (Prov. 23:5); for we may behold the world and the things of it today, but tomorrow our bark may sail into the sea of eternity, and they be lost forever to our view.

2. Begin and end every day with God.  Let prayer be the key to open your heart to God in the morning, and close it against enemies at night.  Willison says: “Do not think it enough to say your prayers, but be sure and pray your prayers; pray with sincerity and fervor.”  “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16) to prepare for eternity.  Pray for direction.  “Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk” Ps. 143:8.  Ask your Heavenly Father to prepare you for your latter end; but do not ask and then forget all about it; live every day as if it were your last on earth.  “Think with yourself this morning may be my last morning, or this night my last night; for certainly that morning cometh of which you will never see the night; or that night in which you will never see the morning.” Willison.

Every morning when you arise your first thought should be: what preparation am I making for eternity?  And let the ending of the day put you in mind of the ending of all your days by the night of death.

3. Make sure of an interest in Christ.  Out of Christ none can prepare for death; for He himself says: {} “Without me ye can do nothing.” Jno. 15:5.  Like a galley slave chained to his oar, the sinner can do nothing toward his freedom; he is under the power of sin and Satan, and dead in trespasses and sins, he must be quickened by the blood of Jesus Christ.

We must make sure of an interest in His death and Sufferings.  He conquered death and him that had the powers of death; He took the sting and substance out of death and left it but a harmless shadow that passes over His people but hurts them not.  Those united to Christ can meet death without fear of arrest, for He, as our surety, paid every farthing of debt that the law demands; but those that have no interest in Christ, the law takes them by the throat, saying, “pay me that thou owest” (Matt. 18:28); and the miserable wretch utterly unable to give satisfaction is cast into hell forever.  “These shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous (those who have made sure an interest in Christ) into life eternal.” Mat. 25:46.

4. Regeneration.  Heaven is shut and barred against you unless you are regenerated.  “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Jno. 3:13.  And there can be no holiness without regeneration, for it is “the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Eph. 4:24.  Without holiness none can be ready for death; for, “without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” Heb. 12:14.  All that are unregenerate are without Christ and so without preparation for the life to come.

5. Repentance.  The regenerated soul, the new nature, fights against whatever would destroy it; sin would do so, therefore the penitent wars against sin, and is truly and genuinely sorry for his sins; abhors them and turns from them.

If we have the true grace of repentance it will not be a transient pang, a sigh that soon dies away; but a new {} frame and disposition of heart, disposing one to turn from sin to God on all occasions.  The real penitent must have the springs of repentance opened by the Holy Spirit to give him a true sense of sin; “My sin is ever before me.” Ps. 51:3.

Unless we truly repent of our sins we cannot prepare for the day of death, for we will not see our need of preparation.  We must see our sinfulness of nature, heart, and life; the evil of our sin, in the misery and danger of it to ourselves, and the dishonor it does to God.  We must feel the burden of sin as too heavy to bear, before we will come to Christ and obey His command to make ready for His coming.

6. Make religion the chief business of our lives.  Paul exhorts us to be, “Not slothful in business” (Rom. 12:11); and the chief business of the christian is preparation for the heavenly country; to “lay up treasures in heaven, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Mat. 6:20,21.  The heart follows the treasure as the needle is drawn to the magnet.  Where the treasure is, there the love and affection will be; and the command is, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Col. 3:2.  Many profess to be laying up treasure in heaven, who in their practice give little or no evidence of it.  Where religion is the chief business of the life; there will be family religion: the fire will be always burning on the family altar; the reading of, and meditation on God’s Word will be kept up with profit and delight; and the windows of prayer be continually open toward the heavenly Jerusalem.  The heart that is preparing to abide in the eternal mansions (Jno. 14:2) will be lifted up above the low and groveling things of earth.

7. Be fruitful in good works.  Have a walk and conversation becoming the gospel.  “As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.” Col. 2:6.  Erskine says: “Religion doth not make men loiterers but laborers.  After a man hath believed in Christ, and {} received him, he is not then to lie down on a bed of slothfulness; he hath much work relative to God’s glory and his own good, to be employed about.”  To be fruitful in good works is to be diligent in following our duties, first to God and then to our fellows.  Those only are good works that are done according to God’s commands and with an eye single to His glory.  “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Eph. 2:10.

Good works are an important part of our preparation for the day of death; not that we merit from God by them, or that they are in any way a cause of our salvation; but as they are an evidence of our faith in Jesus Christ, as “he is the propitiation for our sins.” 1 Jno. 2:2.  Oh that we were more diligent in walking with God! “more zealous of good works!” (Titus 2:14) while journeying to “a better country, that is, an heavenly.” Heb. 11:16.

IV. The encouragement given.

Men are encouraged to continue at their labors by the hope of obtaining some returns for their work.  The faithful soldier looks for praise from his general, or the reward of promotion.  The husbandman hopes for a bountiful crop of the fruits of the earth.  But such rewards cannot be compared to those offered believers in Christ.

It imports:  1. That there are but few who are faithful. “Who then is a faithful and a wise servant.” Ver. 45.  He is one of a thousand.  Solomon says: “A faithful man who can find.” Prov. 20:6.  Christ commands, “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life.” Rev. 2:10.  How men strive and labor to obtain an earthly crown that soon vanishes; but here is one both precious and everlasting; “they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” 1 Cor. 9:25. {}

2. God owns them for his children.  What a glorious encouragement is this: “Ye shall be my sons and daughters saith the Lord Almighty.” 2 Cor. 6:18.  Because they prepare for “a better country, God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” Heb. 11:16.  This is the greatest honor that any can be made partakers of.  He who is the possessor of heaven and earth, the Lord of the whole world is their God, their everlasting portion.

3. A blessing pronounced on them.  It is said of the faithful steward: “Blessed is that servant.” Ver. 46.  It is Christ who pronounces this blessing, so it will assuredly be his portion.  Those who are prepared for death dwell in God, and God in them; so they are heirs of the blessing: “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.” Rev. 14:13.

4. Notice is taken of them.  Those who are humble, faithful and diligent in their place and station are noticed with favor by all wise princes and rulers.  And the omniscient eye of our righteous Redeemer looks with favor and love on those who prepare their hearts for His coming; and in the judgment of the great day He will dignify them by the glory which is conferred upon them.  “Behold the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear Him.” Ps. 33:18.

Lastly:  A rich reward is promised.

“He hath prepared for them a city.” Heb. 11:16.  This glorious habitation was designed for them from eternity.  “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Mat. 25:34.  This city is fitted and prepared for them by Christ Himself: “I go to prepare a place for you.” Jno. 14:2.  “Since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him.” Is. 64:4.

V. The fifth thing was the application, which we will briefly consider in sundry uses.

1. For our information.  This world is our state of probation or trial for eternity; and it is short, very short.  Man’s life is a swift thing, not only a passing, {} but a flying vanity.  When we come to the threshold of the grave, even though we have lived our allotted threescore and ten, or fourscore years, we can all say with Jacob: “Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been.” Gen. 47:9.  Therefore we have great need to make a due improvement of our day; for when it is past we will never have another time assigned us for trial.  “In the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.” Ec. 11:3.

Much depends on how we improve our probation time.  We must double our diligence to glorify God, and make sure the salvation of our immortal souls.  “Be much in the exercise of self-examination, humiliation for sin, believing in Christ, renewing covenant with God, mortifying of sin, trimming the lamp, meditating of heaven, living by faith, deniedness to the world, studying to overcome the love of life and fears of death.” – Willison.  All are on their trial for eternity, and at the end will either hear the welcome plaudit; “Well done thou good and faithful servant”; or the awful doom, “Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness.” Mat. 25:21,23.

2. See how graciously and lovingly Jesus Christ deals with His people.  He gives warning upon warning, and invitation upon invitation to prepare for their lasting change.  “Take ye heed, watch and pray, for ye know not when the time is.” Mark. 13:33.  “Let us not sleep as others do but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thess. 5:6.  “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden” (Mat. 11:28), and I will take you to the mansions above.  “Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all” (Gen. 45:20) the heavenly country is yours.  “Incline your ear and come unto me.” Is. 55:3.

3. Remember at what infinite cost our blessed Savior purchased redemption for us.  It was at the cost of His own precious blood; “As ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 1 Pe. 1:18,19.  “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law being made a curse for us.” Gal. 3:13.  Behold Him lifted upon the cross suffering the utmost agonies of the body, and at the same time the {} terrible weight of His Father’s wrath; and all that we might have acceptance at the court of heaven.  And shall we despise the dearly bought privilege by neglecting to prepare for the day of our appearance?  “Be ye also ready” should sound loudly in our ears, that we may be stirred up to make all preparation for the day of our death.

Second, for examination.  1. Do we keep in mind the brevity of our days on earth, and that the messenger of death will soon be at our door?  We are creatures of a day, and that a hireling’s [day] who will strictly observe when it is time to quit work.  “Till he shall accomplish as an hireling his day.” Job 14:6.  The Psalmist compares it to the latter part of a day, “my days are like a shadow that declineth.” Psalm 102:11.  How soon does the lengthening shadow flee away.

The apostle James propounds the question, “What is your life?”  And then he answers it: “It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away” (Jas. 4:14); an hour’s sunshine and it is gone.  Are we improving the few moments that we have ere the messenger arrives?

2. Try whether you are in Christ.  If not, then you are dead in trespasses and sins, and can do nothing to prepare for death.  Before any man can prepare for death he must be brought out of his natural state into a state of grace and salvation.  He must lay hold on Jesus Christ by faith, and Christ lay hold on him by His word and spirit and engraft him into Himself.  Believers being united to Christ as branches to the vine, derive strength from Him to make all needful preparation for their latter end.  Being united to Him they prepare to pass triumphantly through the valley of the shadow of death into eternal life and blessedness.

Third, For warning.  Consider the evil and danger of delaying or putting off until some future time the work {} of preparation for eternity.  Alas! it is the common practice of the generality of men to give little or no heed to our Lord’s injunction: “Be ye also ready.”  Remember it is you to whom He speaks, whoever reads or hears His word, be you young, middle-aged, or old; to all the command is given.

O Sinners! how base and ungrateful it is to slight Christ’s gracious invitation.  Is it fitting that we should give our time and strength now (for the present only is ours) to the devil; and only offer the future (which is not ours, and may never be ours) to God?  Will the Most High accept such an offering?  “Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” Heb. 4:7.  “Behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Cor. 7:2.

2. Death may soon come to take you away quickly without allowing you any time to repent and prepare for eternity.  “How many are there who project long lives, and look for time before death to repent, that get a surprising call to remove from the earthly tabernacle, and have not one minute to provide another lodging!  Thousands are hurried into eternity, and presented before a tribunal, without being allowed so much time as to think one serious thought, or speak one word; not one moment to consider where they are going, or to cry to God for mercy.” – Willison.  Death’s chariot is a fearful conveyance for those who do not have a white stone with a new name written therein. Rev. 2:17.

3. The business of our lives “is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever,”  And it is certain if we do not begin to glorify Him here we shall never enjoy Him hereafter.  “Lo, they that are far from Thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from Thee.” Ps. 73:27.  “Then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me ye workers of iniquity.” Mat. 7:23.  Ponder on the end of your existence here and provide for it.

Fourth, for exhortation.  1. Be persuaded to prepare in time of health and strength for your journey to the court {} of heaven.  Be diligent in learning the manners and speech of Heaven.  And you have no garment of your own in which you can appear at court; none are accepted there – only these who have on the wedding garment.  “Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.” Mat. 22:12.

You are without excuse, if you come presumptuously without a “wedding garment,” for the King has provided them freely for all who will come.  Christ’s righteousness is the robe which is provided for us, and faith the hand by which we put it on.  “Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” 1 Cor. 1:30.  “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Rom. 13:14.  “It is good for those that have a place in the church, often to put it to themselves, How came I in hither?  Have I a wedding garment?” – Henry.

It is a dreadful thing to act hypocritically; to pretend to believe in Christ, and to be preparing to dwell at the court of heaven, and yet the heart be far from Him.  “They that are far from thee shall perish.” Ps. 73:27.  Then said the King to the servants, “bind him hand and foot and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness.” Mat. 22:13.

Be sensible of the misery of a Christless state, and see the great, the absolute need you have of Christ, and meditate on the happiness of being found in Him.  Those who are in Christ have made the supremely necessary step in preparation for eternity.  “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” 1 Jno. 5:12.  What will you do in the hour of death?  What in the judgment of the great day without an interest in Christ?  Christless soul what shall become of thee to all eternity?  Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?  Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? Is. 33:14.

2. The sickness and death of others, especially of {} relatives and friends, should make us diligent in our preparation for death.  How frequently does the calling of friends and neighbors, from time to eternity, sound warning to us, “Be ye also ready.”  Be exhorted to prepare in time of health for your latter end.  Yester-night death laid his hand on a friend and tomorrow he may come for you.  Are you ready?  Remember the fate of the foolish virgins.  “While they went to buy, the Bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with Him to the marriage; and the door was shut.” Mat. 25:10.  Dreadful discovery to those left outside the wedding palace; the door is shut and barred against them forever.  “It will be sad, if, when the Bridegroom is come, we have our oil then to buy, when the market is over.  Now is the time for providing oil; now is the market of grace; now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation.” – Willison.

3. Abide in this world as pilgrims and sojourners ready to depart upon short warning.  Strive earnestly to live every day as if it were your last on earth.  Consider yourselves as standing every day on the entrance to eternity; any hour your time may come to enter, and shall it be into the abode of the blessed or into the eternal misery of the damned?  Willison remarks: “This short life being only a passage to eternity, it should be spent as a continual preparation for eternity.”  We have no certain abode nor continual resting place here, so let us always be prepared to arise and depart.  “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” Heb. 13:14.  “This world never did, and never will, give a state of rest and satisfaction to believers.  It will not afford them a city.” – Owen.

4. Do not delay repentance and godly sorrow for sin.  Have faith and fruits meet for repentance, for mere grief and the sorrow of the world will never serve your turn; God will not accept such a sacrifice.  The longer repentance and closing with Christ is delayed, the harder the task will be, and less likely that ever you will close with Him.  “He {} that goes on from day to day in sin, will find his indisposition to repent daily increased, the habits of sin strengthened, and himself brought at length under the power of an inveterate custom.” – Willison.

When we are in the midst of imminent dangers delay would be folly and madness; but what are earthly affairs compared to salvation work?

Be admonished to prepare for the day of death.  The time is fast drawing to a close, and our immortal souls the prize.  Knox says: “O serve the Lord in fear, and death shall not be terrible to you: blessed is the death of those that have part in the death of Jesus.”  May the blessed Lord give you grace to make the needful preparation for death, and to His name be all the glory.  Amen.

X

[ Title Page from 1956 Mimeograph ]

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Sermon

Preparation for Eternity

“Be ye also ready” Matthew 24:44

IN MEMORIAM

Mrs. Margaret Blair Watson

Born – March 18, 1869 * Died – Sept. 7, 1956

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