Hezekiah, lying on what he thought was his death-bed, called God to remember how he had walked. God’s mouthpiece, the prophet, had just been in and said, “Thou shalt die and not live.” Hezekiah expected to die and prayed, “Lord, remember how I have walked before Thee,” and as a man’s daily walk partially consists of his actions, we want you to notice how Hezekiah had acted in public.
Our first Scripture lesson said that he cut down the groves and brake up the idols and that he smashed the brazen serpent which Moses had made. No matter if Israel was backslidden, and though he might have to stand alone in the course he would pursue, he got an old battle-ax and started in. Sometimes we have imagined him swinging and cutting right and left, and on his death-bed telling God he had done that which was right in His sight. He was not ashamed of his public actions, and when he lay on his deathbed he dared to look up to God and actually beseech Him to remember how he had done.
Friend, you who read these lines, could you do the same? If you were on your death-bed this hour, could you beg God, as Hezekiah, to remember how you had walked before Him, and beseech Him to remember what you had done in your public life? Come on, look straight at the question.
In his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul wrote: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in the body according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” That means the things we do while we live in these bodies. What about your public actions? Would you be willing to meet them at the judgment this hour and there partake of them? Are you the man or woman you pretend to be? Are your public actions straight and clean? How about it? The time is rapidly approaching when we must all stand before the Judgment-seat and receive the things we have done. Look back over your life. What about your public actions? What a sight the Judgment will be, when men and women, stripped of all their shams and make-beliefs and all that is artificial, stand to receive that which they have done in this life. What will the saloonkeeper receive for his awful actions in selling liquor that has broken up homes, murdered innocent children, blighted, blasted, blackened, and damned men and women forever? What will that man receive who voted for the sale of the infernal stuff, who helped to keep the saloon open, and who helped to put in power the political party that would license the sale of the soul-damning thing; who threw his influence with those who were engaged in the wholesale destruction that the whole infernal liquor business does? What shall he receive who, for the sake of a few dollars in taxes (?) on his property, or to hold a customer, voted to continue the sale of liquor, thereby filling the asylums with idiots, and the penitentiaries with criminals; who by his vote helped to fill the country with rum, riot ruin, and murder; who by his vote helped to put liquor where men, unable to curb their appetites, would drink, and by so doing bring irresponsible children into this world and help swell the army of idiots already here? Seventy-five per cent. of our idiots and 80 per cent. of the paupers come from intemperate parents; 82 per cent of the crimes committed are by men under the influence of liquor, and about 90 per cent. of the adult criminals are whiskey made; and the man who votes for its sale is guilty before God of the crimes the liquor caused them to commit. What will he receive at the Judgment-seat of Christ?
On our desk lies a little slip of paper with the following printed on it: “A flour-mill cannot run without grist; a sawmill cannot run without logs; a gin-mill cannot run without boys. Have you one to spare?” And the man that sells liquor, the man who votes for liquor, the man who votes for a party that licenses liquor, and the man who refuses to throw his influence against the virtue-stealing, home-blighting, soul-damning traffic, will have to appear at the Judgment-seat of. Christ to receive the things he has done while he lived in the body he wears here on this earth! What about your actions ? And what shall we say of men who, posing as ambassadors of the Lord Jesus, are too cowardly to take their stand against the liquor traffic or to throw their influence against it?
In the recent fight in Missouri against liquor, the papers of that state were full of what men had to say against prohibiting the traffic. During the time, the Evangelical Lutheran Missouri Synod, comprising several hundred preachers, was in session, and they issued an official statement which was printed in a leading daily paper. The statement in part as it was printed in the paper, reads: “A campaign for and against Prohibition is at present being waged in our state. As a church body, we do not intend to participate in this movement; neither do we purpose to dictate to the conscience of our Christians how they are to cast their vote. We believe that Church and State have entirely different functions, and these must not be confused. Since, however, various church denominations have dragged religion into this purely political question, and since our Christians, in consequence of misinterpretation of Scripture by the Prohibition agitators, are perturbed and confused, and raise the question whether or not the use of alcoholic beverages is compatible with the tenets of Christianity, we hereby desire to state briefly the Bible position respecting this important question.”
After quoting a few passages of Scripture on the subject, the statement continues: “It is therefore clearly a matter of Christian liberty to use wine and other alcoholic beverages, and no one dare say you sin, if you use it. If anyone would deprive us of this Christian liberty, and condemn as a sin the use of spirituous liquors, we retort with St. Paul: ‘Let no man, therefore, judge you in meat or in drink.’ (Col. 2:16).”
No man who has a thimbleful of brains can help but see that those preachers deliberately sold their influence to the liquor business and to the devil. That kind of religion is helping the devil to damn mankind. The endeavor to stop the sale of liquor in that state was defeated and the hellish business can go on, thanks to the assistance of those preachers. What will they receive at the Judgment for their public actions in the matter? We would not want to stand in their places before the bar of God’s wrath.
In the whirl of circumstances that surround them today, men forget that God is looking down upon them and that they must face their own actions at the Judgment. Mr. Edison has given to the world a wonderful instrument called the kinetoscope. Two prize fighters may take their places on the stage and, in spite of the rapidity of their actions, the machine will photograph every movement they make, and in a short time reproduce it all on canvas. He can photograph an express train running at tremendous speed or a baseball field with the entire group of players in action, and reproduce it all in motion just as it was acted out.
Friend, did you ever stop to think that God has a photograph of your every action, and by and by you will appear at the Judgment-seat and face the record? In the Book of Revelation, 20th chapter and 12th verse, it tells us of the Book of Life, and also of the other books, and says that we will be “judged out of those things which are written in the books,” according to our works. Does that not coincide with what Paul says about “appearing at the Judgment-seat of Christ to receive the things done in the body”? We often wonder how some folks who profess to be Christians will at that time appear when they see the way they acted in some meetings they attended.
When the leader, under direction of the Holy Spirit, and in his effort to get men to see themselves, was led to ask all present who were ready to meet God to stand, and they, in spite of their profession, sat rigid in their seats along with the liars, whoremongers and adulterers and all kinds of sinners, we wonder how they will like the company they will find themselves in at that time. There will be no dodging the fact, for they would not arise, but acted just the way the other sinners did. Oh, my friend, you may say you don’t believe in tests and propositions. Well, that may be so, but it is not what you believe or do not believe we are calling your attention to; it is your public actions. It was in a public meeting and others saw you, and may have been influenced by your actions. Your boy may have seen you, or your daughter or neighbor, and because of your self-will and prejudice, you deliberately sat still with those who could not stand and thus declare that the blood of Jesus had cleansed their heart and that they were ready to meet God, and your actions have gone down in the book and you will meet them again; how will you like the picture?
You may try to make excuse, but there is the picture and it shows you saying by your public actions that you were not right, not ready to meet God. What good will your excuse and explanation do? God help you to understand that it will be too late to make excuses and explanations then. Today is the day of trial, but that will be the Day of Judgment, when the sentence will be carried out, and you will be judged by the things written in the books, and if you are found sitting still with whoremongers, adulterers, liars and sinners, who will be to blame but yourself? And by allowing prejudice to keep you from standing under the call of God’s servant, you may have influenced others who may be kept out of the kingdom by your actions. Do you think such actions would corroborate a man’s testimony that he was walking with God?
What was the result of the public actions of those ten false spies? A whole nation was turned away from entering the “goodly land.” May the precious Holy Spirit open your eyes to the tremendous influence your public actions may have on others, lest you cause them to falter in their march toward Canaan’s land, and be held responsible for their damnation at the Judgment.
If you were dying this hour, could you pray, as Hezekiah did, “I beseech Thee, Lord, remember how I have walked before Thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which was good in Thy sight”?
In our book “Jacob, the Heel-grasper,” we give an account of the hanging of five boys, at whose execution we were present. When the hangman let their bodies down and took the black death-cap off, we shall never forget the sight of their blue and bloated faces. It made us shudder at the time, but the hangman did not seem to mind. He had hung many others and did not seem to think of the awful, gruesome work that he was engaged in, or that the time would come when he, too, must die and be ushered out of this life. But the time finally came, as it will to us all.
He was taken sick and lingered some time before he died. As the days of his sickness went by, the state of his mind became terrible to those who were with him. For several days previous to his death, just at eventide he said he could see the forms of the men, whom he had hung, silently creeping out of the shadows and surrounding his bed; they would point their clammy hands at him and beckon him to come to them, making signs that he would soon be with them. He said he could see their bloated and swollen faces, with the dark purple marks around their necks made by the ropes, just as he had looked upon them many times when he had taken them down and put them in their coffins. The memories of their dying struggles and blood-bloated countenances haunted him to his last moments.
Some tried to pray with him, but not a petition fell from his lips for God to remember how he had walked before Him. His last hours were frightful. A consciousness of the way he had spent his life made his bedroom like the open door to Hell. And when before the bar of God he stands, the books will be opened, the books containing his actions, and he will see himself once more. The Bible says that as a tree falls, so it must lie. He spent his life hanging folks here, and he will be going through the same awful scenes in Hell forever. That saloon-keeper will be still at his business there; ungodly preachers will be passing resolutions in favor of the infernal traffic; and the men who voted for the licenses, together with those who were damned by the stuff, will mingle together in that world of lost men and women; and those who refused to openly and publicly stand up ‘declaring they were right and ready to meet God, but remained seated the same as all other sinners, they will be doing that forever and forever, forever and forever.
Friends, let us ask you how you are living. What about your life ? What have you been doing? Suppose you were dying, would you pray as Hezekiah did? If a king back in the days of Hezekiah, surrounded by idolatry and without the Holy Spirit as we have Him today, so walked here on earth that on his death-bed he dared to ask God to remember how be had spent his life, how much more ought we to do so in this Holy Ghost dispensation!