The James Begg Society

The James Begg Society

Publishers of Protestant, Reformed Christian Literature

Articles from our past Email Newsletters

Where is your Soul going?

by Rev. William Parks

There are few Anglicans today like Parks! As the incumbent of Openshaw, Manchester, he issued a volume of Tracts and Addresses in 1861, of which the following is one.

This article was included in our Email Newsletter No.1, 1st March 2006.

R EADER! what know you about the eternal destiny of your immortal soul? Is it on the way to heaven or hell? Perhaps you scoff at the question, and persuade yourself there is no hell! Take your Bible, and read these texts — Psalm 9:17; Matt. 10:28; Luke 12:5; Matt. 23:33; 2 Pet. 2:4; Luke 16:23; Dan. 12:2; Mark 9:43-48; Rev. 14:9-11, etc. What! no hell! Then we may eat and drink, for tomorrow we die, and there will be an end of us. But Paul was of a different opinion to you. He knew, and was persuaded, there was to be a resurrection (see 1 Cor. 15); and, if a resurrection, an eternal weight of glory, or an eternal condemnation.

Oh! if you could but feel the smoke of hell's fire in your throat for half an hour, or stand before a river of fire and brimstone broader than the earth, and think of being bound hand and foot, and cast into the midst of it alive! and then hear God locking the prison door, never to be opened for all eternity. How your conscience would shake, if it had any life in it! Perhaps you are a philosopher, and try to prove, from what you know of the attributes of God, that eternal punishment is inconsistent with His character. Ah! foolish disputer of this world, beware of philosophy and vain deceit (Col. 2:8). What do you know, or what can any man know of God, except what He has been pleased to tell us? If He has revealed Himself as the personification of "love," has He not also represented Himself as a "consuming fire" — as a God of wrath and of vengeance? (1 John 4:8, 16; Heb. 12:29; 4:31). Can you square these descriptions? Believe me, that your logic and fleshly wisdom will, sooner or later, be all branded as "foolishness" in the sight of assembled worlds. Ay, you will be taught that philosophical notions and arguings are but as thorns and briers, which the Word of God will pass through and consume!

Reader! believe me, whatever you are, whether Infidel, or Formalist, or Freethinker, whether a poor blind zealot for ceremonies, or a fantastical enthusiast, when you stand before Christ's tribunal, a marquis's or a king's word, a prime minister's or an archbishop's interest, will be lighter than the wind. I again ask you, Whither is your soul journeying? Haply you answer, "My soul is heavenward." Well, but I must inquire of you — and pardon my inquisitiveness — How do you know? Are you ready to answer, "I have never done harm to anybody; I have lived a moral life; I have regularly attended to my religious duties; and thus I cannot possibly be on any other road than that to heaven?" Shocking delusion! I exclaim, Look into your Bible once again. One reference will suffice (see Luke 18:2-14).

There was a highly moral gentleman for you — the pink of propriety, the essence of righteousness, a pattern Churchman! He might have been a Tractarian in our own day, or a decidedly pious Methodist, or a straight laced Independent, or an amiable Moravian, or a rigid Baptist. I dare say, had he lived at this time, he would have added to the list of his good deeds, "I am a Sunday-School teacher, I am a teetotaller, I subscribe to all the charities of my neighbourhood, I give liberally to missions, and am a member of the _______ Christian Association," etc. But what is the Lord's judgment upon such a one? It is decidedly against him. And why? Was the Lord a disapprover of good deeds? By no means. But "He condemned him because he sought to attain the law of righteousness, not by faith, but by the works of the law" (Rom. 9:31,32).

You are in a precisely similar position. If you have no sounder reason for believing you are journeying heavenward than what you give, you will be condemned in the end.

Reader! where is your soul going? Remember, that many go far, and reform many things, and can find tears, as Esau did; and suffer hunger for truth, as Judas did; and wish and desire the end of the righteous, as Balaam did; and profess fair, and fight for the Lord, as Saul did; and desire the saints of God to pray for them, as Pharaoh and Simon Magus did; and prophesy and speak of Christ, as Caiaphas did; and walk softly and mourn for fear of judgments, as Ahab did; and put away gross sins and idolatry, as Jehu did; and hear the Word gladly, as Herod did; and say, "Master" to Christ, "I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest," as the man who offered to be Christ's servant did; and may taste of the virtues of the life to come, and be partakers of the good Word of God, as the apostates did; and yet all these are but like gold in the clink and colour, and are watered brass and base metal. Ay, you may have renounced Popery, and fought for Protestantism; you may have disclaimed Arminianism, and espoused Calvinism; you may have emaciated your body by fasting, and beggared yourself by liberality; you may have the gifts of an archangel, and, after all, be a child of the devil. Oh! I again ask you, Whither is your soul journeying?

Some, I know, count all trouble of conscience about their eternal estate to be enthusiasm, melancholy, or mopishness; but this shows their wonderful ignorance of Scripture, and their utter unacquaintedness with the grace of God in their own souls. We live in the midst of rationalists andformalists. The one think to bring God down to their own level, the other to raise themselves up to heaven on the shoulders of hypocrisy. We have men attempting to preach God's Word who are themselves utterly unacquainted with the work of conversion in their own souls; and we are overwhelmed with baptized infidels and idolaters as gross as Papists or Heathens in our Churches. Yet the cry is, "Let us convert the nations!" Reader! are you yourself converted? The soul that is not will surely die — ay, die eternally! Be assured it is an infinite righteousness that must satisfy for you, for it is an infinite God that is offended by you. If ever your sin is pardoned, it is infinite mercy that must pardon it; if ever you be justified before God, it is infinite merit that must do it; if ever your heart be changed, and your state renewed, it is infinite power that must effect it; and if ever your soul escape hell, and be saves at last, it is infinite grace that must accomplish it.

What know you of these things? If you are unacquainted with them, your soul is this moment in awful jeopardy, I wish you well. I hope heaven may be your everlasting abode. I know it will be if ever you are awakened to take an intense interest in the question, Whither is my soul journeying?