“I’m Glad I Settled It Last Night”
In a certain coal mining town a revival was being held. One night a miner came to the altar seeking Christ. He had a hard struggle striving to “enter in at the strait gate.” (Luke 13:24) Finally, after more than an hour of seeking, the minister dismissed the congregation, while he himself remained with the seeker. After a long time he suggested that they go home, and urged the seeker to keep on praying and come back to the altar the next night. But the penitent man would not be put off. He said, “I want this settled tonight.” Together they prayed until long after midnight, and finally the repentant sinner found the Savior and was happily converted. Oh, how he shouted the high praises of God and rejoiced in his pardoning grace!
The next morning he bade his family goodby as usual, took his dinner pail, and hurried to his work in the mines. About 4:30 p.m. the roof caved in, and several tons of slate and rock fell, catching this miner. His fellow workmen rushed to him and found his body under the mass, but his head and shoulders were protruding. He was almost gone. But as they knelt around him with their digging lamps, they saw a smile on his face. Just as he expired he whispered, “Oh, I am so glad I settled it last night.”
A minister was conducting a revival in East Liverpool, Ohio. One night a young man standing near the door began to weep while the invitation was being extended. The minister and others urged him to surrender right then and not wait another moment. He trembled from head to foot, but finally replied, “I know I ought to be saved tonight, but I am an operator at the railway station, and my duty will soon call me there. I will promise you, however, that I will come back and get saved tomorrow night.” They warned him of the danger of delay, but he kept saying, “I will get saved tomorrow night.” Shortly, he left the services.
About half an hour later, the minister was on his way home, and as he neared the railway depot he noticed a group of men running together excitedly, as though something had happened. He hurried to the spot and saw a young man lying upon the ground with both his legs cut off close to the trunk of his body. He had accidentally fallen under some shifting freight cars. The life blood was gushing from his body. The minister looked into the pale, upturned face of the dying man. He was horrified to see that it was the same young man who had, not more than 30 minutes before, stood in the meeting trembling under conviction and said, “Not tonight, but I will return and get saved tomorrow night.” He was now dying. The death damp was already gathering upon his brow, and the scenes of earth and time were forever fading from his view. As the minister knelt beside the poor dying boy as he was breathing his last, he distinctly heard him whisper, “Oh, if I had only yielded tonight.” Too late forever! Oh, how sad! He let the last opportunity pass. To the Holy Spirit he said for the last time, “Go thy way.” (Acts 24:25) He went, and the young man died in despair.
Reader, how is it with your soul today? If you are not saved, you had better decide now. Like a muffled drum, your heart is now beating a death march to the grave. The end will come, and beyond the tomb there is no hope and no power that can save you.
We moved to Oakland, Pennsylvania, in April 1909. As we were unpacking, a man came rushing into the house saying that one of our neighbor women was dying and that we should come quickly. With Bro. John R. Allen, I hurried to the bedside of the woman. From all appearances she was dying. We fell promptly upon our knees and prayed mightily to God to spare her life until she would have the opportunity to be saved. Finally she quieted down and asked us to pray for her salvation. We gave her all the instruction we could, and she joined with us in earnest prayer. After some time she claimed conversion, and when we sang some hymns she seemed to rejoice in the belief that her sins were forgiven.
The woman lived. Our church house was less than a block from her home, and to our surprise, when she recovered, she never attended any of our services. Several months later, during our winter revival meeting, she came forward and was gloriously converted. Then I asked her why she never attended meetings before. I asked her regarding her claiming to be saved when she was so near death. She replied, “I knew nothing of it. All I knew was what my friends afterwards told me. On account of my suffering, my mind was somewhat delirious and I really was not conscious of what took place when you were there.” I thought, “Oh, what a slender chance dying people have of being saved.” Had that poor woman died, no doubt most of those who were present would have thought that she was saved and that she died in hope. The fact is, she would have been lost.
On another occasion my wife and I were conducting a revival at Stoneboro, PA. We learned of a young man about eight miles distant who was in a very low condition and who was expected to die any time. We visited him. When we inquired as to his spiritual condition, he told us that he had lived in sin until his sickness, but now claimed conversion. We had prayer with him, and he joined both in prayer and in song, and apparently gave good evidence of his acceptance with the Lord.
After we closed the meeting and returned home, I received a long-distance message to come and preach his funeral. I arrived at the churchyard just as the procession drove in. When his father alighted from the carriage, I walked over to him and asked how his son died. I desired to know so I might have some comforting word for the sorrowing friends. With tears streaming down his face, the brokenhearted father related the awful death of his son. He said that George gathered them all around the bed and bade them farewell, asking each member of the family to meet him in heaven. From all appearance, he died. After several moments, while the friends were weeping, all at once he opened his eyes and said, “I have come back to tell you that I am lost. I have gone into death itself to discover that hell is my eternal doom. I am going to tell you the reason. When I had health and strength I had no desire to serve God. When I realized that I was sure to die and could not recover, I tried to get saved because I was afraid to meet God. I am lost. Hell is my doom.” Before his sickness he was a heavy beer drinker, and now he asked his relatives to please get him a glass of beer. He said, “I want one more glass of beer before I land in hell.” Some neighbors furnished the beer, and he drank it and passed into eternity.
This was one of the saddest funerals at which I ever officiated. It helped to confirm what I believe: There are very few who put off salvation until their dying hour who really find a satisfactory experience. With God all things are possible, and some souls are as brands snatched from the burning. However, it is unreasonable to think that people can sow the seeds of wickedness all through life, spurn the mercies of God by refusing to be saved, and then expect to reap a golden harvest when they have sown nothing but tares.