When in the forest there is heard the crash of a falling oak, it is a sign that the woodman is around, and every tree in the whole company may tremble lest tomorrow the sharp edge of the axe should find it out. We are all like trees marked for the axe, and the fall of one should remind us that for every one, whether as great as the cedar or as humble as the cypress, the appointed hour is fast approaching.
I trust we do not, by often hearing of death, become callous to it. May we never be like the birds in the steeple, which build their nests when the bells are tolling and sleep quietly when the solemn funeral peals are startling the air. May we regard death as the most serious of all events and be sobered by its approach. It ill behooves us to play while our eternal destiny hangs on a thread. The sword is out of its sheath—let us not trifle; it is ready, and the edge is sharp—let us not play with it. He who does not prepare for death is more than an ordinary fool—he is a madman. When the voice of God is heard among the trees of the garden, let fig tree and sycamore and elm and cedar all hear the sound.
Be ready, servant of Christ, for your Master comes suddenly, when an ungodly world least expects Him. See to it that you are faithful in His work, for the grave shall soon be prepared for you. Be ready, parents, see to it that your children are brought up in the fear of God, for they will soon be orphans. Be ready, businessmen, make sure that your affairs are in order and that you serve God with all your hearts, for the days of your earthly service will soon be over, and you will be called to give account for the deeds done in the body, whether they are good or bad. May we all prepare for the tribunal of the great King with a care that will be rewarded with the gracious commendation, "Well done, good and faithful servant."1