‘The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man … which went out early in the morning to hire labourers … And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle … Again he went out, about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle.’ Matthew 20:1,3,5–6
Some of us in time and in eternity will have to utter a special song of thankfulness to the love which took us in our days of folly and simplicity, and conducted us into the family of God. Look at the grace which calls man at the age of twenty, when the passions are hot, when there is strong temptation to plunge into the vices and the so-called pleasures of life. To be delivered from the charms of sin, when the world’s cheek is ruddy, when it wears its best attire, and to be taught to prefer the reproach of Christ to all the riches of Egypt, this is mighty grace for which God shall have our sweetest song. To be called of the Lord at forty, in the prime of life, is a wonderful instance of divine power, for worldliness is hard to overcome, and worldliness is the sin of middle age. With a family about you, with much business, with the world eating into you as does a canker, it is a wonder that God should in his mercy have visited you then, and made you a regenerate soul. You are a miracle of grace, and you will have to feel it and to praise God for it in time and eternity. Sixty again. ‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.’ And yet you have learned; you have had a blessed schoolmaster who sweetly taught you, and you have learned to do well. Though your vessel had begun to rot in the waters of the Black Sea of sin, you have got a new owner, and you will run up a new flag, and you will sail round the Cape of Good Hope to the Islands of the Blessed, in the Land of the Hereafter. But what shall I say of you that are called when you are aged? You will have to love much, for you have had much forgiven.
Sermon no. 664
10 December (1865)