From Sermon V of A Course of Sermons on Solemn Subjects (1845).

There is none of us all, whom God will not call to account; no one so poor, so wreak, so ignorant and helpless, but the secrets of his heart, his idle words, his profane and careless doings, will be made manifest. Every one will be tried, and for every thing; and not only for what we have done, but also for what we have left undone. For the unprofitable servant was cast into outer darkness, not for making a bad use, but no use, of his talent; for hiding it in the earth, as if it were not worth improving. It was but one talent, and therefore, in a willful mood, he went on as though he might safely neglect it altogether. Let the poor, the hardworking, the uneducated, mark this; for they are apt, in their want of many outward advantages, to excuse themselves strangely for their neglect of what little they have. Let them remember the poor widow and her two mites, and the high praise she received from Christ our Savior. Let them remember the reward promised even to a cup of cold water given to a Christian for Christ’s sake. Let them encourage themselves with the thought of the good centurion, who, compared with one of God’s own people, had surely but one talent, but for his devout use of that one obtained from our Lord more praise, than any of the Israelites themselves with their ten talents. “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel.”

I wish this thought was more considered than it is; that we are all, every one of us, to appear, or be made manifest, before the judgment-seat of Christ. The poor aged helpless person must appear, to give account of his poverty, age, and helplessness, whether he have improved them rightly, as opportunities of great patience, sweetness of mind and behavior, command of temper, submission to the will of God. Those who are sick and in pain must appear, to give an account of their pain and sickness, whether they have made the most of it, as an opportunity for obtaining something like a martyr’s crown. Those who are weak and slow of understanding, or incurably ignorant from want of education, they too must appear, to give an account how they have acted on what little knowledge they had: whether they have kept the plain rules of honesty and truth; whether they have been temperate, chaste, and sober; whether they have kept their tongue from swearing and other bad words; whether they have been kind, and have done to others as they would wish to have done to themselves; whether they have tried to say their prayers heartily in the Name of Jesus Christ crucified…Servants must give an account how far they have profited by opportunities given them in strict and holy families; and in particular, whether they have not willfully forfeited the grace which God there provided for them.. And masters in their turn must give, account – and a sad account it will be to many of them –of their too great easiness and carelessness about the souls of their servants, of their suffering the law of God to be broken in order to save themselves trouble or inconvenience; and worse still, of the bad examples they have set, and stumbling-blocks put in the way of the little ones of Christ, committed to their charge as part of their household. They who have wealth, will have to give account of their wealth, as the poor of their poverty.

All evil or good is from God; all therefore is a talent, and we know that His most precious, deepest gifts are sickness, sorrow, pain, bereavement, poverty, suffering, whatever, in a word, likens us to the sufferings of our Lord. We shall have then to give account of things which people commonly call God’s gifts, or of their absence; not only whether we bore patiently God’s merciful chastisements, but whether they produced in us that amendment or penitence, or deepening of our souls for which God sent them…Which of us can have any other hope, than that “mercy may triumph over judgment!” which of us but must earnestly pray, “Enter not into judgment with Thy servant, O Lord; for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified!”

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. Sermon V is part of a series of sermons he preached in the week after the consecration of St. Saviour’s Church in Leeds.  Pusey anonymously funded St. Saviour’s construction and helped to form it as a model of Catholic worship, teaching, and social witness in a slum district of the growing industrial city. He is commemorated on September 18 on the calendars of several Anglican churches.