This is from J.C. Ryle’s Thoughts For Young Men, Chapter 1: Reasons for Exhorting Young Men: Forgetting Judgment
For another thing, death and judgment are before young men, even as others, and they nearly all seem to forget it. Young men, it is appointed unto you once to die (Heb 9:27); and however strong and healthy you may be now, the day of your death is perhaps very near. I see young people sick as well as old. I bury youthful corpses as well as aged. I read the names of persons no older than yourselves in every churchyard. I learn from books that, excepting infancy and old age, more die between thirteen and twenty-three than at any other season of life. And yet you live as if you were sure at present not to die at all!
Are you thinking you will mind these things tomorrow? Remember the words of Solomon: “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Pro 27:1). “Serious things tomorrow,” said a heathen (Archias, the Theban4), to one who warned him of coming danger; but his tomorrow never came. Tomorrow is the devil’s day, but today is God’s. Satan cares not how spiritual your intentions may be, and how holy your resolutions, if only they are fixed for tomorrow. Oh, give not place to the devil in this matter! Answer him, “No, Satan! It shall be today, today.” All men do not live to be patriarchs like Isaac and Jacob. Many children die before their fathers. David had to mourn the death of his two finest sons; Job lost all his ten children in one day. Your lot may be like one of theirs, and when death summons, it will be vain to talk of tomorrow—you must go at once.
Are you thinking you will have a convenient season to mind these things by and by? So thought Felix and the Athenians to whom Paul preached (Act 24:10-22; 17:22), but it never came. Hell is paved with such fancies. Better make sure work while you can. Leave nothing unsettled that is eternal. Run no risk when your soul is at stake. Believe me, the salvation of a soul is no easy matter. All need a “great” salvation, whether young or old. All need to be born again; all need to be washed in Christ’s blood; all need to be sanctified by the Spirit (Joh 3:3; Rev 1:5; 1Pe 1:2). Happy is that man who does not leave these things uncertain, but never rests till he has the witness of the Spirit within him that he is a child of God.
Young men, your time is short. Your days are but a span long—a shadow, a vapor, a tale that is soon told. Your bodies are not brass. “Even the young men,” says Isaiah, “shall utterly fall” (Isa 40:30). Your health may be taken from you in a moment: it only needs a fall, a fever, an inflammation, a broken blood vessel—and the worm would soon feed upon you. There is but a step between any one of you and death. This night your soul might be required of you (Luk 12:20). You are fast going the way of all the earth; you will soon be gone. Your life is all uncertainty; your death and judgment are perfectly sure. You too must hear the archangel’s trumpet, and go forth to stand before the great white throne (Rev 20:11). You too must obey that summons which Jerome5 says was always ringing in his ears: “Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment.” “Surely I come quickly” (Rev 22:7) is the language of the Judge Himself. [Therefore] I cannot, dare not, will not let you alone.
Oh, that you would all lay to heart the words of the Preacher: “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment” (Ecc 11:9). Incredible, that with such a prospect, any man can be careless and unconcerned! Surely, none are so mad6 as those who are content to live unprepared to die. Surely, the unbelief of men is the most amazing thing in the world. Well may the clearest prophecy in the Bible begin with these words, “Who hath believed our report?” (Isa 53:1). Well may the Lord Jesus say, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luk 18:8). Young men, I fear lest this be the report of many of you in the courts above: “They will not believe.” I fear lest you be hurried out of the world, and awake to find out, too late, that death and judgment are realities.
I fear all this, and therefore I exhort you.
Study Questions (from Chapel Libary) :
Very Important Note: We ask you to always get your answer from the text, but use your own words in your answer. Please do not merely quote the text for your answer. Rather, read what the text says, think about the meaning of what it says, and summarize the meaning of the text in your own words for your answer. In this way, you will learn much more than simply a “search/find/quote” method for answering the questions. Read: First, please read the reading text. Please answer the questions below from the information in this chapter. Read the Scriptures: The author will refer to Bible verses, it is to your utmost benefit to read the verses. Read Slowly: Please read slowly enough so you understand what you read. Read Prayerfully: Please also pray before each lesson asking the LORD for wisdom to apply what you learn to your life, and to enable you to love Him with all your mind, heart, soul, and strength, for this is the greatest commandment (Mar 12:30).
Why do people tend to put off serious things until “tomorrow,” and then never get around to them?
What is the answer for these temptations to delay fulfilling responsibilities?
Making It Personal: “Surely none are so insane as those who are content to live unprepared to die.”
- Do you agree or disagree? Why?
- Are you prepared to die? Why?
To God be the glory!