We stood on the brow of the hill gazing
out over the valley beneath us. In the distant
west the sun sank quietly and serenely toward
the horizon. The purpling shadows of the hills
grew longer in the valley. The clouds overhead,
which scarcely seemed to move, were in broken,
fluffy masses. As we gazed upon the scene, the
sun as a mighty king in stately majesty and
resplendent glory sank to his evening repose.
The clouds caught the afterglow, looking as if a
gigantic brush had swept across the sky
scattering gold and orange and crimson and
purple. The sun had gone, but the glory of his
vanished presence still lingered in the beauty
of the clouds.
At the close of another day we stood on
the same hilltop. The sun was hanging low. The
purpling shadows lengthened in the valley. The
sun did not sink in glory tonight, but passed
out of sight into a bank of dark and threatening
clouds. The voices of the day were stilled. A
solemn and foreboding hush seemed over all, and
our spirits felt the general gloom. There was no
afterglow. There was no resplendent painting of
the sky. All was somber and gloomy; nature
seemed to await what would come, in expectancy
and awe. And as the darkness fell, we saw a
gleam of lightning play across the distant
How like the sunsets of some lives were
these two sunsets! In my mind, unfading while I
live, are the memories of two life-sunsets. When
but seven summers had passed over my head, my
little sister and I were at a neighbor's two or
three miles from home. In the early twilight a
horseman came galloping down the road bearing
the fateful news that Mother was dying. Quickly
placing me behind him on the horse and taking my
little sister in his arms, he galloped away
through the early night.
When we arrived at home, we found the
house filled with neighbors. Upon her bed lay
Mother with pallid face. Through the hours of
the night we watched by her bedside. About three
o'clock in the morning she asked them to sing
that old song "Shall We Gather at the River?"
With choking voices and tear-dimmed eyes the
little band of neighbors sang the song. The eyes
of the sufferer gazed stedfastly above. A
heavenly light beamed forth from he countenance.
A smile of joy was upon her face. Presently she
called the sorrowing relatives one by one and
bade them a last good-by. I fell upon my knees
by her bedside and sobbed out my childish grief.
She turned and looked fondly down upon me and,
laying her hand upon my head, said, "Charlie, be
a good boy and meet me in heaven."
A little while she was quiet. Then her
life's sun sank to its rest. But the afterglow
of that beautiful life still shines in that
community. Circumstances later took me far away;
but after sixteen years, I again stood upon the
scene, and over and over during my stay the
neighbors told me of her beautiful Christian
life. Many a time during those years when I was
tempted to do evil, I would behold that scene
again, and those last words of my sainted mother
would ring in my ears; they stood as a bulwark
between my soul and evil.
The same afternoon that the message so
dreadful came to me grandmother visited a
neighbor who was drawing near to his life's
sunset. When she came back, she told what passed
while she was there. The man was a skeptic.
There was no life beyond the grave for him.
There was not hope of reunion around the throne
of God. Grandmother spoke to him of his
approaching end and asked him if he was
prepared. His answer I shall never forget. Young
as I was, it struck me with terrible force. With
a look of deepest melancholy on his face he
said, "It is taking a leap into the dark."
A few days later he passed away, and he
and mother lie there in the little country
cemetery waiting till the voice of the Son of
God shall call them forth. But ah, the
difference between those two life-sunsets! One
left the glorious hop of a Christian shining
forth, tinting the sky with beauty; the other's
sun sank into a dark cloud of despair, lighted
only with the lurid glare of the lightning of
Reader, what will be your life's sunset?
Will it be serene and calm and peaceful, lighted
up with glory from the throne of God, or will it
be dark, without a promise or ray of hope? You
are fast hastening to that hour. It may be
nearer than you think. If you live without God,
you will die without God. Take a view of
yourself, now. Would you like for your life's
sunset to find you as you now are? If not, what
assurance do you have that it will be different?
Good intentions will never change it. Good
desire will never change it. God only can make
you ready for that hour. Unless you seek him,
you too will take a "leap into the dark;" for
you there will be only the "blackness of
darkness forever." "If ye will hear his voice,
harden not your