Page images
PDF
EPUB

other is himself but little, if at all, elevated above the condition of an object of charity; yet he steals from his own repose to watch by the sick-bed of a neighbour; he defrauds his own scanty meal to share it with those who are yet more necessitous. The one is a mighty river, which bears wealth and fertility to many provinces; the other is a little mountain spring, whose rills are but sufficient to nourish a drooping flower, or to offer a cup of cold water to a fainting traveller. But is the widow's mite forgotten? or who shall doubt that, under circumstances of which God alone is the fitting judge, it may be, when the river and the spring have alike rolled their waters to the ocean of eternity, that the one may, in proportion to its course and its quantity, have been as valuable as the other !

The same observation will apply to a longer and a shorter life, or, to approach more closely to the particular circumstances of the parable, to the strongest case of all, of an earlier or later conversion to the faith and practice of Christianity. It is a great and blessed thing when a man' has, from his youth up, been faithful ; neither transgressed in any considerable respect, the will of his Heavenly Father. For such a one a crown of glory is laid up; for such a one the promise abideth sure that he shall dwell in the presence of God for ever! How many dangers does he not escape who, from the beginning of his course, has never widely wandered! How many fears, how many bitter sorrows,

how many struggles against habits of lengthened evil, how many agonies unspeakable of repentance, of shame, of doubt, of terrour and despair, has he escaped, which must be assuredly undergone by him who at the third, the sixth, or, still more, at the eleventh hour, is awakened to a sense of his condition. Yet even of this last, whose day is drawing to a close, the case, though most perilous, is not altogether desperate. His heart may yet be touched; he may yet seek the face of the Lord sincerely, humbly, penitently; and that gracious Lord, before whose angels there is joy on the conversion of a single sinner, that Lord who bare with Him from the cross the spirit of the penitent thief to Paradise, will not disdain even the offering of a single and a last hour, nor shut the gates of Heaven against repentance under any circumstances. But ean he regain his lost ground in the race? Can he, beginning late, yet equal his earlier competitors ? that must depend on ten thousand different circumstances; but it must, under all circumstances to a certain degree, depend on himself. His task will be the harder, too hard I own for a dying man; and for an old man, unassisted by an extraordinary measure of Divine grace, beyond the reach of possibility ; yet much may, in the strength of the Most High, be done; and if he sanctifies his few remaining years to the service of God, with a livelier faith in proportion as his end is nearer, a deeper sorrow in proportion as his sense of guilt is keener, a holier fear in proportion as his danger is great, and an

unbounded love in proportion as the mercy

shown to him is unbounded, it may be that some of those who have in past life accounted him reprobate, may to their surprise, but in Heaven surely not to their envy, hear the sentence, “ I will give unto this last even as unto thee !"

The sum of all is this, that the most experienced Christian has great need to fly from confidence ; and the most dispirited penitent no reason for indulging in despair. The first, even in his most prosperous course, will do well to take heed, lest those, whom he has left far behind, should, through his carelessness, be gaining ground on him; and he should learn to think more comfortably and hopefully of many whose present condition appears most estranged from God, inasmuch as we know not but an acceptable time may yet be found, in which they may be called of God, and hear His voice, and gladly and successfully become His labourers. The second may be emboldened to a more excellent zeal and a warmer piety, to improve to the best advantage whatever time remains to them, by the assurance that for those who labour well even a single hour, a reward may be in store, at which even their associates in glory may be astonished. But let all men beware how they suffer precedents of this sort to withdraw them from a timely care of their salvation, as knowing that whenever they are last called is the eleventh hour to them, that the later our repentance is deferred, it must needs be the more arduous and sorrowful;

that neither youth nor middle age are exempt from the accidents of mortality; that though life should be granted, it does not follow that grace will return; and that he who commits his soul to the chance of an evening which may never arrive, and a warning which may never be granted to him, may learn too late the consequence of his unspeakable folly, when the vintage is ended and the night is come, and the steward of the vineyard shall descend in His Father's name to recompense their deserts alike to the profitable and unprofitable servant !

SERMON XI'.

THE CONVERSION OF THE HEATHEN.

[Preached at Bombay, on Whitsunday, May 22; at Colombo,

September 18; and at Calcutta, on Advent Sunday, November 27, 1825; in aid of the Incorporated Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.]

Acts ii. 38, 39. The promise is unto you and to your children and to all that

are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

On the nature and certainty of that illustrious event which we are assembled this day to commemorate ; on the personality and divinity of that mighty Spirit whose advent has been now re

This Sermon is published agreeably to a promise made by his Lordship to the several Archidiaconal Committees formed upon its delivery. It is printed exactly as it was originally preached at Bombay. The body of the Discourse was substantially the same when delivered at Colombo and Calcutta, the introduction only, which relates to the day of Pentecost, being altered as the several occasions required. It was the intention of the Bishop to deliver it again at Madras on his return from his visitation of the Peninsula. It is unnecessary to relate the sad event by which this intention was frustrated. Calcutta Editor.

N

« PreviousContinue »