Nothing so moves a sinner to repentance as eternity, and nothing is so useful to every Christian as remembrance and contemplation of eternity. Eternity restrains a man from sin, calms his passions, turns him from the world and all its vanity, makes his heart contrite, gives birth to tears of repentance, incites him to prayer, and works true sighing of the heart. Contemplation and remembrance of eternity can correct even the most depraved man.
Contemplation of eternity filled dwellers of the desert, caves, mountains and clefts of the earth. By contemplating eternity the holy martyrs willed to endure the most grievous torments rather than submit to the will of ungodly kings and deny Christ.
From consideration of eternity brigands, murderers, robbers, fornicators, and prostitutes, and all manner of grievous sinners were made saints and the elect of God. Glory to God Who loves mankind, for He opens the doors to Himself unto all, even the most grievous sinners!
It is amazing that Christians of the present age while hearing in the Holy Scriptures of eternity, are nevertheless so attached to the vanity of this world, and seek honors, glory, and riches in this world, and build, add onto, and adorn their houses and other edifices, as though there were no eternity. Forgetfulness of eternity works this in them, and the enticement of the vanity of the eyes darkens their hearts.
Beloved Christians! Let us inscribe eternity in memory, and without fail, ceaselessly, in true repentance, contrition of heart, and prayer, let us not be enticed by any vanity of this world, and let us shun every sin as a venomous serpent. All that seems beautiful, pleasant, and dear to the sons of this age is loathsome to us. Let us truly be content with a morsel of bread and a little shack and ragged clothing. Remembrance and consideration of eternity will work this contentment in us.
Do you know what eternity is? Eternity is beginning without end. That is, once it begins it never ends. Or, it is always and never. That is, it shall always be and never cease. This is eternity. All the ages from the foundation of the world to the end are as the smallest speck as compared to the whole world, or as a minute as compared to thousands of years.
There are two eternities, that most fortunate and that most unfortunate.
In fortunate eternity there shall be the Kingdom of God, God will be seen face to face, and there will be unspeakable joy and gladness. The soul and body will receive their perfect blessedness, and a man will be vouchsafed good things which the eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man (I Cor. 2:9). Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Mt. 13:43).
In unfortunate eternity there shall be deprivation and separation from God, and every suffering and torment of body and soul. There men will wish to die and death will flee from them, that is the second death and eternal death.
Sinners! We hear of eternity from the word of God, and we see that there are two eternities. Fortunate eternity is full of joy and everything good, and is eternal life. Unfortunate eternity is full of torment, sorrow, disease, and everything evil, and is eternal death. Let us repent, then, and wash away our sins with tears that we may avoid the unfortunate eternity and that we may enter into eternal life and the Kingdom of God.
After the Dread Judgement of Christ all shall go to their eternity, for then Christ as Judge shall pronounce a fitting sentence on everyone. He will open the doors of His Kingdom to the righteous, and He shall say to them, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Mt. 25:34).
To sinners He shall say, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels... And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal (Mt. 25:41, 46).
Remember us, O Lord, when Thou enterest into Thy Kingdom.
Source: St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, 1991, Journey to Heaven: Counsels on the Particular Duties of Every Christian, Holy Trinity Monastery, New York, pp. 181-183.