July 12th On the soul’s first entering into another world
Consider first, how the soul in death shuts her eyes in a moment to this world, and to all persons and things which she has affected here, never to take any more part in the transactions of this life, and immediately opens them to a new and surprising scene, quite strange to her, in a region of spirits, an unknown land, of which before she had no idea. She awakes, as it were, out of a dream which is now slipt away from her, and leaves both her hands and her heart empty; all is over with her as to this world, she is estranged for ever from all conversation of mortals; no one of her dearest friends can accompany her or attend her now; she finds herself abandoned by all her lovers, quite naked, and what is most frightful, encompassed with infernal furies, that use their utmost efforts to lay violent hands upon her. Good God, who shall protect us at that hour from these our mortal enemies?
Consider 2ndly, the immense difference there is found at this time between the souls of the servants of God and the souls of the wicked. For although both the one and the other are to expect that the common enemy with all his hellish forces will exert himself on this occasion, and do his worst to get their souls into his claws, yet the servants of God are defended from his assaults by the care of their guardian angels, and under the cover of their wings go forward with joy and security, being also encompassed on all sides with their good works as with a strong rampart, which both keeps the devil at a distance and gives them a comfortable assurance of coming off well at their trial. Whereas the wicked, that have made no such provision for themselves, shall now lie at the mercy of the infernal spirits, having nothing else to carry with them to the bar but the consciousness of their past crimes, which shall be more terrible to them than the devil himself. O! my soul, let us at least be more wise, and take care, whilst we have time, to lay up for ourselves a store of good works; and thus make ourselves friends to stand by us at that hour that is to decide our eternal doom. Such as these will be friends indeed that will never forsake us, but will effectually plead our cause at the bar where no other eloquence shall be regarded.
Consider 3rdly, in what a wretched plight poor worldlings shall find themselves now who have provided no such friends as these to plead for them, who have seldom or never thought of this hour, but have lived as if they were never to die. Alas! what will all their honours, riches, and pleasures avail them now? Where is now their state and retinue? Where are all their servants and attendants? What is become of the multitude of their flatterers and visitors? See how they have left them all alone in the evil day, and whatever way they now look for help or comfort, they meet with none – their time is past, they are hurried away to be immediately tried and examined at the dreadful bar of a just judge, and all things, both within and without them, declare to them the horrible sentence that is just going to fall upon their heads for eternity. Sweet Jesus, preserve me from ever having any part to act in so dismal a tragedy!
Conclude to live now in such a manner as to have no reason to apprehend this scene of dismal evils, which shall terrify the sinner at this departure hence, but that thy passage into eternity may be to the gate of a life that knows no death. O take care to carry nothing with thee hence that may give the enemy any hold of thee then.