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A New Year's Solemn Warning
(John Angell James, "A New Year's Solemn Warning")
This is what the Lord says: "I am going to remove you from
the face of the earth. You will die this year!" Jerem. 28:16
This may be the case with any one of the readers of the
present address, and therefore every one of them should
seriously reflect upon such a possibility.
This year you may die--for you must die some time--and
that time may as likely come this year as any other.
This year you may die--because you have no revelation
from God that you shall not.
This year you may die--because you are ever and
everywhere exposed to the causes that take away life.
This year you may die--because life is the most
uncertain thing in the world, and you have not
the assurance of a single moment beyond the present.
This year you may die--for it is all but certain that
many of the readers of this address will die this year
--and why not you?
This year you may die, although there is now no
indication of approaching death; for many during
the past year have been cut off, and many during
the present year will die, who may now seem very
likely to live--and why not you?
How many, then, are the probabilities that before
next new year's day, your place will be vacant in
the family, at the scene of your daily occupation,
and in the house of God! Ought not this to induce
a habit of solemn, pensive, devout, practical,
profitable, reflection. Bring home the thought. Take
up the supposition, and say, "Yes, it is possible, by
no means improbable, that I may die--this year!"
Are you really prepared for your latter end, by being
a partaker of genuine faith, the new birth, a holy life,
and a heavenly mind? Or are you a mere nominal
professor, having a name to live, while you are dead?
Do you recognize in yourselves, and do others see in
you, the marks of a state of grace? Put the question
to your own hearts, ask yourselves, "What am I? Am
I a spiritual, heavenly, humble servant of God? Am I
really crucified with Christ, dead to the world, ripening
for glory? Is there anything heavenly about me? Is my
temper sanctified, my walk consistent?"
Is your soul in that state in which you would desire
it to be found when death strikes? Are you, in your
devotional habits, your temper, your general behavior,
as you should be--with eternity so near? Would you
desire to die--just as you are now?
How many false professors will be unmasked this
year, and appear with astonishment and horror, as
self-deceivers, formalists, and hypocrites! How many
in reply to the plea, "Lord, Lord, I ate and drank in
your presence"--will hear the dreadful response,
"Depart from me, I never knew you!" and thus find
there is a way to the bottomless pit--from the
fellowship of the church! In whatever state you die
this year--that you will be forever! The seal of eternal
destiny will be put upon you! Your last words in time,
and your first in eternity, might be, "I must be what
The grand secret is about to be revealed, whether you
are a child of God--or a child of the devil! That next
moment after death--which imagination in vain attempts
to paint, is to arrive--and, waking up in eternity, you will
shout with rapture, "I am in heaven!"--or utter with a
shriek of despair, and surprise, the dreadful question,
"What! Am I in hell forever?"
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