But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.…
The true significance of death lies not in its physical pain, in its breaking in upon the plans of life, but in the fact that it brings men into final moral relations with God. Now let us consider, as calm and prudent men, the full effect and the true character of deferring the preparation for death until the dying hour.
1. To thus defer this preparation is to deprive life itself of one of its chief steadying elements.
2. Living without conscious preparation for death is a risk which neither prudence nor self-respect should allow. A man guards himself with a wise providence of the future. No man puts his affections as they are involved in the family to such peril. He is perpetually forethinking; working to provide against evils; making preparation today and this year for tomorrow and next year.
3. There is a view which will have weight with men who are just, and who are honestly seeking to guide themselves by principles of honour. It is the ignoring, the dishonouring of God's love, His will and His commands, all one's life, and then at death, for fear, or for the sake of interest, rushing into a settlement. A child is reprobate, and breaks away from home, and squanders all he can get, and becomes a wreck and a wretch, and apparently is to be disowned. He hears, at last, after years and years of dissipation, that his father is weakening and drawing near to death; and he scents the opportunity, and rushes home, and professes repentance and reformation, in order that his father may reconstruct his will, and leave him a part of his estate. What would you think of a child that should do that? What would you think of a child that should deliberately calculate upon it, and say in himself, "The old man has oftentimes, with tears in his eyes, warned me against my gambling companions; but there is time enough yet. He is rich, and I want a part of his money, and I know his heart, and I mean to come in for a share by and by. I am going to have my pleasure; I am going to eat, drink, and be merry; I am going to have my royal debauch with my companions; and when I see the old man is about pegging out I will go home and reform; because I do not mean to lose that property; I am going to enjoy myself as I please, and have that too"? What would you think of a child that should say that, and then keep his eye on his father, and calculate his chances and run scuttling home just in time to get his name put in the will right, in order that he might have the property? What name is there in any language that is adequate to express your feelings, toward such baseness as that? And yet, are there not in my hearing men that are living precisely so with respect to their Father who is in heaven?
4. There are prudential considerations of a very solemn nature which one should employ. Those who think that they shall prepare for death in the last hour of life, ought to consider some of their chances. As a matter of fact, more than half that die in this world die without consciousness. Not alone of those that die by accident, by sudden stroke, but of those that die by disease, more than one half die under a cloud, so that they have no use of their reason.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.