I know not when, nor where, nor how I shall breathe out my life. Into that sacred ark I cannot look—that ark of the secrets of God. I cannot pry between the folded leaves of that book which is chained to the throne of God, wherein is written the whole history of man. When I walk by the way I may fall dead in the streets; an apoplexy may usher me into the presence of my Judge. Riding along the road, I may be carried as swiftly to my tomb. While I am thinking of the multitudes of miles over which the fiery wheels are running, I may be in a minute, without a moment’s warning, sent down to the shades of death. In my own house I am not safe. There are a thousand gates to death, and the roads from earth to Hades are innumerable. From this spot in which I stand there is a straight path to the grave; and where you sit there is an entrance into eternity. Oh, let us consider then, how uncertain life is. Talk we of a hair; it is something massive when compared with the thread of life. Speak we of a spider’s web; it is ponderous compared with the web of life. We are but as a bubble; nay, less substantial. As a moment’s foam upon the breaker, such are we. As an instant spray—nay, the drops of spray are enduring as the orbs of heaven compared with the moments of our life. Oh, let us, then, prepare to meet our God, because when and how we shall appear before him is quite unknown to us. We may never go out of this hall alive. Some of us may be carried hence on young men’s shoulders, as Ananias and Sapphira of old. We may not live to see our homes again.
For meditation: The New Park Street Pulpit contains no sermons from October 1856. On the 19th a congregation of some 7,000 assembled for the first time at the Royal Surrey Gardens Music Hall. As Spurgeon prayed some troublemakers cried out “Fire” and in the ensuing panic seven people were trampled to death. Spurgeon never forgot it. “Memento mori”—“Remember you must die.”
Sermon no. 304 19 October (Preached 18 March 1860)