I was reading John Wesley’s journals today and came across a reference to him preaching from Revelation 20:12 to a crowded house. Not having memorized Revelation, I looked up the verse:
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. (NIV)
The journal entry was from 1789, a couple years before Wesley’s death. And here he was preaching still on the question of eternity. It was the guiding star of his preaching from the beginning. His introduction to his first collection of published sermons included one of my favorite bits of his writing:
To candid, reasonable men, I am not afraid to lay open what have been the inmost thoughts of my heart. I have thought, I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God and returning to God: Just hovering over the great gulf; till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing — the way to heaven; how to land on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way: For this very end he came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. Give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God!
I often find myself wondering what it would be like to live with Wesley’s attention to eternity, to see every moment of this life in light of eternal life.