by J. C. Ryle

"God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain." Revelation 21:4

Beloved Children—A Bible text stands at the top of this page. I would like you to read it twice over. I am going to tell you something which, I hope, will make you remember that text as long as you live.

I am going to tell you about three places, of which the Bible says a great deal. It matters little what we know about some places; but it matters much to know something about the three places of which I am now going to speak.

Firstly: There is a place where there is a great deal of crying.

Secondly: There is a place where there is nothing else but crying.

Thirdly : There is a place where there is no crying at all.

Now, attend to me, and I will tell you a few things worth knowing.

I. First of all, there is a place where there is A GREAT DEAL OF CRYING.

What is that place? It is the world in which you and I live. It is a world full of beautiful and pleasant things. The sun shining by day and the stars by night; the green hills looking up to Heaven, and the rolling sea ebbing and flowing; the broad quiet lakes, and the rushing restless rivers; the flowers blooming in the spring, and the fields full of grain in autumn; the birds singing in the woods, and the lambs playing in the meadows—all, all are beautiful things! I could look at them for hours and say, "What a beautiful world it is!" But still it is a world where there is a great deal of crying. It is a world where there are many tears.

There was "crying" in Bible times. Hagar wept when she thought Ishmael was dying; Abraham mourned when Sarah died; Joseph wept when his brothers sold him into Egypt; David wept when Absalom was killed. There was weeping at Jerusalem when good king Josiah was slain in battle. There was weeping at Bethlehem when Herod killed all the little children who were under two years old. These things, and many like them, you will find in your Bibles.

There is "crying" now all over the world. Little babies cry when they want anything, or feel pain. Boys and girls cry when they are hurt, or frightened, or corrected. Grown up people cry sometimes when they are in trouble, or when they see those die whom they love. In short, wherever there is sorrow and pain—there is "crying."

I dare say you have seen people come to church all dressed in black. That is called being in mourning. Some relation or friend of these people has died, and therefore they dress in black. Well, remember when you see people in mourning, that somebody has been "crying."

I dare say you have seen graves in churchyards, and have heard that when people die, they are buried there. Some of them are very little graves—shorter than you are. Well, remember that when those graves were made, and little coffins were let down into them, there was "crying."

Children, did you ever think where all this crying came from? Did you ever consider how crying first began? Did you ever hear how weeping and tears came into the world? God did not make crying—that is certain. All that God made was "very good." Listen to me, and I will tell you how "crying" began.

Crying came into the world by reason of sin. Sin is the cause of all the weeping, and tears, and sorrow, and pain, which are upon earth. All the crying began when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit—and became sinners. It was sin which brought into the world pain and sickness and death. It was sin which brought into the world selfishness, and lying, and unkindness, and quarreling, and stealing, and fighting. If there had been no wickedness, there would have been no weeping. If there had been no sin, there would have been no "crying."

See now, my beloved children, how much you ought to hate sin! All the unhappiness in the world came from sin. How strange and astonishing it is—that anyone can take pleasure in sin! Do not let that be the case with you. Watch against sin. Fight with it. Avoid it. Do not listen to it. Take the advice of the apostle Paul: "Hate that which is evil." Take the advice of King Solomon: "When sinners entice you—do not consent!" Say to yourself every morning, "Sin caused crying—and so I will hate sin!"

See, again, my beloved children, how foolish it is to expect perfect happiness in this world. It is expecting what you will not find. This world is a place where there is much "crying," and where things do not always go on pleasantly. I hear many boys and girls talking of pleasures they will have when they are grown men and women. I am sorry for them when I hear them talking in this way. I know they are mistaken. I know they will be disappointed. They will find when they grow up, that they cannot get through the world without many troubles and cares. There are no roses without thorns. There are no years—without dark and rainy days. There is no living on earth—without "crying" and tears!

I will now speak of the second place about which I promised to tell you something.

II. There is a place where there is NOTHING ELSE BUT "CRYING."

What is this place? It is the place to which all bad people go when they are dead. It is the place which the Bible calls HELL. In Hell there is no laughter and smiling. There is nothing but "weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth!" In Hell there is no happiness. Those who go there, cry all day and all night without stopping. They have no rest. They never go to sleep and wake up happy. They never stop crying in Hell.

Beloved children, I am sorry to tell you—that there are many people going to Hell. "For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to Hell, and many enter through it!" I am afraid that many children are going to Hell. I see many boys and girls who are so naughty and ill-behaved, that I am sure they are not fit for Heaven. And if they are not fit for Heaven—where will they go if they die? There is only one other place to which they can go. THEY MUST GO TO HELL!

Dear children, it makes me sad to say these things. I cannot bear the thought of boys and girls going to that dreadful place where there is nothing but crying. My heart's desire and prayer to God for you—is that you may not go to Hell. But I want you to know some things which you must mind if you would not go to Hell. Listen to me now while I ask you a few questions.

For one thing, I will ask you—Do you love Jesus Christ? You ought to love Him. He died for sins upon the cross—that He might save people from Hell. He allowed Himself to be shut up in the dark prison of the grave, that sins might be forgiven, and that people might not be chained in Hell forever. Dear children, think about this! If you love nothing but playing and eating sweets, and fine clothes and story-books—and do not love Christ, you are not in the right way! Take care! When you die, you will go to Hell—the place where there is NOTHING BUT "CRYING."

I will ask you another thing—Do you try to please Christ? You ought to do so. I read in the Bible that Jesus Christ said, "If you love Me—keep my commandments." "You are my friends—IF you do whatever I command you." Dear children, think about this! If you are selfish, or angry, or tell lies, or quarrel with one another, or do not obey as you are told—you are not Christ's friends. Take care! When you die, you will go to Hell—the place where there is NOTHING BUT "CRYING."

I will ask you another thing—Do you pray? You ought to do so. God will never be a friend to you—if you do not speak to Him, and ask Him to take care of your soul and make you good. If you never pray, or say your prayers without thinking—your heart will soon be full of mischief and sin. It will never stay empty for a day. I once heard of a boy who had a little garden full of flowers, given to him. But he did nothing for it. He never raked it or weeded it. And after a few weeks, the weeds came up so thick that the flowers died. Dear children, think of this! If you do not ask God to put the Holy Spirit in your hearts, the devil will soon fill them with sin! Take care! When you die, you will go to Hell—the place where there is NOTHING BUT "CRYING."

I will ask you one more question—Do you read your Bible? You ought to do so. That beautiful book is able to keep you from Hell and save your soul. If you use the Bible rightly—you will not be hurt by the devil. I once heard of a little boy in Africa, who was sleeping with his father in the open air, near a fire. He awoke in the middle of the night and saw a great lion close to him, looking as if he was going to seize him. The little boy took up a burning stick out of the fire, and put it in the lion's face—and drove him away. Dear children, think of this! The devil is "a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour." But he cannot harm you—if you make a right use of the Bible. If you would drive him from you, you must read your Bible. If you can read, and yet neglect your Bible, you are in great danger. Take care! When you die, you will go to Hell—the place where there is NOTHING BUT "CRYING."

Beloved children, remember my four questions. Think of them often, and test your own hearts by them. I am not afraid about children who love Jesus, and try to please Him, and pray and read their Bibles. I am not afraid that they will go to Hell if they die. But I am afraid about children who care nothing about these things. I think they are in great danger of going to Hell!

I will now speak of the third place about which I promised to tell you something.

III. There is a place where there is NO CRYING AT ALL.

What is this place? It is HEAVEN. It is the place to which all godly people go when they are dead. In Heaven, there all is joy and happiness. There no tears are shed. There sorrow and pain and sickness and death can never enter in. There can be no crying in Heaven, because there is nothing that can cause grief.

There will be no more work in Heaven. People will no longer need to labor for their food. The head will no longer have to ache with thinking. The hands will no longer be painful with toiling. There will be an eternal rest for all the people of God.

There will be no sickness in Heaven. Pain and disease and weakness and death will not be known. The people who dwell there shall never say, "I am sick." They will be always well. There will be nothing but health and strength forevermore.

There will be no sin in Heaven. There will be no bad tempers, no unkind words, no spiteful actions. The great tempter, the devil, will not be allowed to come in and spoil the happiness. There shall be nothing but holiness and love forevermore.

Best of all, the Lord Jesus Christ himself will be in the midst of Heaven. His people shall at last see Him face to face, and never leave His presence! He shall gather His lambs into His bosom, and wipe away all tears from all eyes. Where He is—will be fullness of joy, and at His right hand, shall be pleasures forevermore.

Dear children, would you not like to go to Heaven? We cannot live always in this world. A day will come when we must die—like the old people who have died already. Children, would you not like to go to Heaven when you die? Listen to me, and I will tell you something about the WAY by which you must go to Heaven.

If you would go to Heaven—you must have your sins forgiven, and your hearts made new and good. There is only One who can do this for you. That one is the Lord Jesus Christ. God has appointed Him to be the Friend of sinners. He can wash away your sins in His own precious blood. He can make your hearts new by putting the Holy Spirit in them. Jesus is the Way and the Door into Heaven. He has the key to Heaven in His hand. Children, if you want to go to Heaven, you must ask Jesus Christ to let you in.

Ask Jesus in prayer to get ready a place for you in that world where there is no "crying." Ask Him to put your name in His book of life and to make you one of His people. Ask Him to cleanse you from all your sins, and to put the Holy Spirit in your heart. Ask Him to give you power to fight His battle against sin, the world, and the devil. Ask Him to give you grace to make you good while you are young, and good when you grow up, that so you may be safe while you live, and happy forever when you die.

Children, Jesus Christ is ready to do all this, if you will only ask Him. He has done it for many people already. He is waiting to do it for you at this very time. Do not be afraid to ask Him. Tell Him you have heard that He was very kind to people when He was on earth, and ask Him to be kind to you. Remind Him how kind He was to the poor dying thief on the cross. Say to Him, "Lord Jesus, remember me; I want to go to Heaven. Lord, think upon me. Lord, give me the Holy Spirit. Lord, pardon my sins, and give me a new heart. Lord Jesus, save me!"

And now, children, I have kept my word. I have told you of three places. I have told you of a place where there is nothing but crying. I hope none of you will go there. I have told you of a place where there is no crying. I hope you will all go there. I have told you of a place where there is a great deal of crying. That place is the world in which you are living. Would you like, last of all, to know the best way to be happy in this world? Listen to me, and I will tell you.

The happiest people in this world are those who make the Bible the rule of their lives. They read their Bibles often. They believe what the Bible says. They love that Savior Jesus Christ of whom the Bible speaks. They try to obey what the Bible commands. None are so happy as these people. They cannot prevent sickness and trouble coming to them sometimes. But they learn from the Bible to bear them patiently. Children, if you would get through the world happily—make the Bible your best friend.

Shall I tell you a story that I once heard about a little boy and the Bible? Perhaps it will help you to remember what I have just been saying. I want the words I have just written to stick forever in your minds.

"Father," said this little boy one day, "I do not see any use in reading the Bible. I do not see that it does people any good." Little Johnny said this in a rather cross and cranky way, and his father thought it best not to begin reasoning with him. "Johnny," he said, " put on your hat and come out, and take a walk with me."

Johnny's father took him first to a house where there was an old woman who was very poor, and he talked to her about her poverty. "Sir," said the old woman, "I do not complain. I have read in the Bible these words, 'I have learned in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.'" "Johnny," said the little boy's father, "hear what the old woman says."

They went on to another house, where there was a young woman who was very ill, and never likely to get better. Johnny's father asked her if she felt afraid to die. "No!" she said, "I find it written in the Bible, 'Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for You are with me.'" "Johnny," said the little boy's father again, "hear what the young woman says."

Children, when Johnny and his father came home that afternoon from their walk, his father asked him one question. "Johnny," he said, "do you think it is of any use to read the Bible? Do you think reading the Bible does people any good?"

And now what do you think Johnny said? I will tell you. He held down his head, and said nothing. But his face got very red, and he looked very much ashamed.

Children, from that very day Johnny was never heard again to say, "It is of no use reading the Bible."

Beloved children, remember my parting words. The way to get through the world with the least possible crying, is to read the Bible, believe the Bible, pray over the Bible, and live by the Bible.

He who goes through life in this way will have the least "crying" in this world. And best of all, he will have no crying at all in the world to come.