A Last Warning; or "Just in Time"

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 6
I was spending the afternoon of the Lord’s Day distributing tracts among a number of miners. The men were enjoying the pure air and sunlight after working all the week in the dark, unwholesome atmosphere of the mine.
I was crossing the last field that separated me from my own garden gate, when I met two young miners coming slowly towards me. I stopped as we were about to pass each other, and selecting two little books from the few that remained in my hand, I held out one to each. Each took the book and thanked me; and one, a fine, strong, healthy, and handsome young man of about twenty-five, stood still and read out the title of his, ‘Just in Time.’
A deep feeling of solemnity crept over my soul, and looking up into his frank, open countenance, I said: “Yes, my friend, and God grant you may be just in time for heaven.”
Going home I prayed, “Lord, save him.”
Tuesday night, I had retired to my room, when a loud knocking at the door made me throw open my window.
“Who is there?” I asked.
“Sir, are you the gentleman who gave a young man a booklet on Sunday afternoon called ‘Just in Time?’”
“Yes, I am.”
“Please come at once,” he said.
Hastily I dressed and went out into the summer’s night, guided by my companion. On our way he told me that his mate had gone down the shaft that afternoon as usual, and had jumped out of the bucket before it reached the bottom and was caught and crushed. His breast bones were broken in, and he was lying there, his friend said, in terrible agony, unable to speak, and just gasping for breath, while his life seemed ebbing fast away.
By the time the young man had finished his story we reached the cottage. There lay the fine strong man, whom I had seen only two days before in the full vigor of health and youth, now absolutely helpless.
He looked fixedly at me as I entered, and tried to speak; it was useless.
“Shall I read with you and pray for you?” He made a low hissing sound, the only approach to “Yes” he could make.
I read to him “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” I spoke to him of the love of God in desiring his salvation and of the efficacy of the blood of Christ to save him. I told him he was lost and ruined by nature, but that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost; that Jesus had been seeking him, wanted him; that having done the work by which sin could be put away out of God’s sight, He could now give the knowledge of the forgiveness of all his sins through His precious blood.
I read to him the story of the father and the prodigal (Luke 15) and also the prayers of the Pharisee and the publican in Luke 18. I repeated this verse, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:3737All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. (John 6:37)).
His face changed; hope lit it up; despair had fled. He signed for a drink, and his wife held the glass of water to his lips. He drank a little, and then to the amazement of all, he who had been unable to utter a sound beyond the low hissing, said in a clear voice, and with eyes lifted up as though he saw the one to whom he was speaking, “Just in time! God be merciful to me a sinner, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen!”
He had scarcely uttered the last word when his head fell back on the pillow, a little shivering sigh escaped him, and we were in the presence of the dead.
Never shall I forget the scene. To many a one present it was a warning word from the brink of eternity, and God used it for blessing.
“There is but a step between me and death” (1 Samuel 20:3).
“The Lord  ...  is  ...  not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9).
“Behold, now is the accepted time” (2 Corinthians 6:2). “Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 3:1515While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. (Hebrews 3:15)).
“Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:11Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. (Proverbs 27:1)).