From “God Calleth Thee” in Parochial Sermons, Vol. 1.
We have been often-times called, re-called, re-re-called. We were called at our baptism, by instruction in our childhood, through parents or God’s ministers, by the prayers we were taught, our confirmation, our first communion, the early drawings of our inmost souls, terrors, warnings, hopes, deaths of others or of those beloved, our own sickness, God’s pleadings in our consciences, the emptiness and weariness of things present, thoughts of eternity and judgment to come, the loathsomeness of sin, the beauty of holiness, the bright light in others, the innocence of children, the sweepings by of time, thoughts of the blissful company of heaven, or of the dreadful fellowship of devils.
If we would hear, surely we might rather say that God calls us, at all times, in all places; by all things, persons, deeds, words; by night and by day, all our lives long, than dare to say for ourselves before God’s all-searching eye: “No man has heard us.” For so it is for those who have heard the first call; everything calls them when the heart is awake; every, the lowest, whisper calls it. The world is one great mirror. As we are who look into it or on it, so it is to us. It gives us back ourselves. It speaks to us the language of our own hearts; our inmost self is the key to all. The heart where God dwells is in all things called anew by God. His blessed presence draws it by its sweetness; or his seeming absence may, by the very void, absorb it yet more, by the vehemence of longing, into himself.
He bids us, “Go work in my vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.” he promises not to us, as to those first laborers, a certain hire. Even while he would wholly restore us to his mercy, he would keep us in the humility of penitents. He seems to tells us this: that we have forfeited our claim, that we must labor on in faith and hope and confiding trust, making no bargains with him, looking for nothing again but what he of his free bounty will give us…This is our true hope and trust and gladness in our toil, that we do not labor with any calculating spirit, or to set up for ourselves any claim with God; the rewards of deserving were finite; the reward of grace infinite, even himself, who has said, “I am your exceeding great reward.”
He calls you now: he calls you that in death he may again call you to place you near himself: he calls you that he may save you from the pit where his voice is not heard, to place you above the stars, with cherubim and seraphim, there to sing everlastingly, “Holy, holy, holy.”… He calls you to himself, that he may give himself unto you. He calls you to give up all which is not him, that he may give you all which he is.
Such is the hire which God offers you. What would it be, could Satan offer you not this earth only, but countless worlds? Things out of God may take you up; naught but God can fill you. He calls you, ‘Child, give me your heart;’ and he will give you his own all-encompassing, unencompassed love.”
Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-1882) was a priest who served as Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford for more than fifty years. He was among the primary leaders of the Oxford Movement, Anglicanism’s Catholic revival. He wrote several of the Tracts of the Times, and sacramental confession and religious sisterhoods were restored in the Church of England through his influence. He is commemorated on September 18 on the liturgical calendars of several Anglican churches. The text is slightly altered for contemporary readers.